Police officers and detectives are routinely tasked with the near-impossible job of finding out why a crime took place. These dedicated individuals spend their lives trying to help the families and friends of homicide victims find much-needed closure, but it rarely plays out perfectly.

In 1995, the body of Nicole Van Den Hurk, a teenager from the Netherlands, was found murdered on the side of a road. Police launched an investigation, but they were never able to find a suspect.

Two decades later, however, startling new evidence was brought to police, and they hoped it would lead them to the answer they had spent years searching for…

In 1995, police in the Netherlands launched an investigation to find out who murdered a teenage girl named Nicole Van Den Hurk, but they came up empty-handed. Two decades later, however, new evidence came to light that detectives hoped would put the case to rest once and for all…

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Nicole Van Den Hurk was born in Erkelenz, Germany, on July 4, 1980. Her mother was a woman named Angelika Tegtmeier, and Nicole was the product of a one-night stand between her mother and an unknown married man. However, when Nicole was two, her mom met and married a Dutch singer named Ad Van Den Hurk, and he became Nicole’s stepfather.

Nicole’s mother had some emotional issues throughout the marriage, and in 1989, Angelika and Ad divorced. Surprisingly, Ad won custody of Nicole. This was a blessing in disguise because, six years later, Angelika took her own life. Would Nicole ever be able to resume a normal existence?

Because her stepfather was frequently on the road attending music gigs, Nicole would often spend time at her grandmother’s house in the Netherlands. It was a haven of comfort that helped her find the strength to overcome her mother’s suicide.

In 1995, 15-year-old Nicole landed a holiday job near her grandmother’s house working at the Woensel shopping center in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. Nicole left her grandmother’s home on her bike at 5:15 p.m. for her 6 p.m. shift one Friday afternoon, but she never got there…

Nicole’s grandmother phoned the police when her granddaughter never returned home that night. The next day, police found Nicole’s bike abandoned by a nearby river, and soon after, officers launched a full-scale investigation to find the missing teen.

Nicole’s grandmother and stepfather were completely distraught by what happened. Police initially told them they believed Nicole to be a runaway, but her guardians staunchly disagreed with the theory. Nicole wasn’t that type of girl.

A month went by, and police still had no promising leads on Nicole’s whereabouts. Then one afternoon, a driver spotted a body in the woods a few towns over from where Nicole worked. It was the body of Nicole Van Den Hurk, and she’d clearly been murdered.

After Nicole’s funeral, which was held shortly after her body was discovered, the local office of prosecution determined the cause of death was most likely internal bleeding caused by a stab wound to the chest.

Unfortunately, a proper autopsy was never performed because Nicole’s family wanted her buried quickly. This meant police were going to have a very difficult time finding her killer.

Nicole’s case garnered so much media attention that the police received an astounding amount of tips. Even after her body was found, phone calls still kept pouring in. There was an anonymous caller who said he knew who the killer was, but he quickly hung up before officers could broadcast his call over the media.

As time marched on, the number of detectives who were feverishly working the case started to dwindle. In early 1996, however, just a few months after Nicole’s body was found, a friend of the Van Den Hurk family was arrested for drug trafficking, and he shed some startling light on Nicole’s case.

He told police Nicole had somehow been involved in the drug trade as well, and the people involved in her murder had forced her to smuggle heroin to an undisclosed location.

Unfortunately, after police looked into it, the man’s story turned out to be completely fabricated. They thought they had a new lead, but they were wrong. Nicole’s stepfather, Ad, and her stepbrother, Andy, were also briefly arrested in connection with the killing because of their familial ties, but their names were eventually cleared.

Years went by and answers seemed to evade police everywhere they checked. Then, in 2011, Nicole’s stepbrother, Andy, confessed on Facebook that he was the one who killed her. Police were in shock. They immediately had Andy, who was living in England at the time, extradited to the Netherlands after being arrested by British officers.

At first, police were thrilled they finally caught the suspect, but after speaking personally with Andy, they realized he falsely admitted to the murder in order to bring attention back to the case so police would exhume Nicole’s remains for DNA testing.

And his plan worked! Although officers were irate that they wasted their time with Andy, Nicole’s remains were exhumed shortly after, and sure enough, forensic experts found foreign DNA on them. This presented many more potential possibilities…

It took several years of searching, but in 2014, police were able to match the DNA found on Nicole’s remains to an ex-criminal named Jos De G. Jos had been convicted of three rapes in the past, and he spent three years in preventive detention and compulsory treatment. It looked like police finally found their man…

The case went to court soon after the DNA match was found. The defense attorney for Jos argued he could not have possibly been the main suspect since there was DNA from two other men also found on Nicole’s remains, including her ex-boyfriend.

He also argued that Nicole had consensual sex with Jos and was possibly even pregnant at the time of her death. These outlandish claims caused the entire trial to come to a halt while police had to investigate these new potential possibilities.

The three sources of DNA made things especially difficult for police. They had been on quite a roller coaster of emotions over the course of this entire case. Finally, scientists brought the DNA back into their labs to test it one more time…

Although there were three types of DNA, Jos’s was the most evident on Nicole’s remains. His defense attorney attempted to convince the court that due to a nasty divorce years earlier, Jos couldn’t distinguish between consensual sexual encounters and forced ones.

The court didn’t buy into what Jos’s attorney was saying, and on November 21, 2014, Jos De G. was found guilty of rape and sentenced to five years in prison. While this was a win for police, it still didn’t solve Nicole’s murder. Did Jos De G. also murder her after the rape? Unfortunately, the world may never know. 

It’s so sad that a final answer was never found for Nicole’s family. They can take some comfort in the fact that Jos De G. was put behind bars for rape, but for the rest of their lives, they’ll wonder who killed their innocent girl.

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