‘Help! Help! There’s a fool in my house.’ New testimonies are emerging in the investigation into the fatal shooting of divorce lawyer Claudia Van Der Stichelen (58). What really happened that fateful morning?
As far as we know, four days after the murder of Claudia Van Der Stichelen, investigators have still not been able to put a name to the gunman who shot the woman in her front yard shortly after 1 p.m. on Saturday. Thanks to a number of key witnesses, they now have more or less an idea of what happened in and around the villa, where the woman had had a law firm together with her husband Eric Flamée (61) for years.
Local residents told investigators that they were suddenly startled on Saturday by Claudia, who was clearly terrified and fled from her house in her bare feet and shouted in their direction. Her voice trembled. According to the witnesses, the woman shouted that “there was a fool in her house”. Not much later they saw an unknown man walking down the steps at the front door. They noticed that the man did not run after her. They talk about “steps”. The man was wearing light-colored overalls.
Local residents told investigators how Claudia’s 22-year-old son showed up in the doorway with a gun – which later turned out to be a fake and certainly could not have fatally struck the shooter. They heard the young man in his twenties shouting for the man to leave his mother alone. Some witnesses saw how the unknown man in his overalls very calmly stretched his arm and fired the first shot. Claudia Van Der Stichelen was hit in the back. Local residents and passers-by speak of “a pale bang”.
The witnesses ducked and first brought a child from a parked car to safety. As they did so, they heard several more bangs – believed to be the two or three shots the gunman fired at the victim’s son. He was hit several times in the left shoulder.
Did not die immediately
Claudia Van Der Stichelen must have run away into her front garden after the first shot. This is evident, among other things, from the testimony of a woman who was driving by at that moment. She saw a man in overalls standing in the front yard, stretching his arm toward the ground and firing a shot. At least one of the local residents who had run away was also back outside at that moment. He stated that he saw something similar.
All witnesses again speak of a very cool shooter, who seemed anything but panicked. They described to the investigators how the man calmly stepped over the hedge and walked away towards Eilandbos. It is unclear whether he actually entered the forest, which has been closed for some time due to maintenance work. He may have walked towards the Market Square further away, but no one is certain.
The witnesses focused on the shot victim, who was in serious condition but initially still breathing. A woman who was cycling by at the time also stopped. In daily life she works as an ambulance driver. She tried to help resuscitate the woman who had been shot. The witnesses reportedly also asked the seriously injured lawyer if she could tell who did this to her. However, she would no longer have been able to answer. The victim also reportedly suffered injuries that could not be explained by gunshot wounds. She may have been hit with a heavy object in the house. She also had defensive wounds on her right hand.
In the meantime, the victim’s son, who was bleeding profusely, had run to another neighbor in panic. He then returned home, where he asked local residents and emergency workers several times whether his mother was still alive.
In the meantime, neighbors had also called the lawyer’s husband. That he urgently had to return home from his bike ride. Because something bad had happened. Not much later the man was in the front yard. Moments later his wife was pronounced dead. The husband drove with his son’s ambulance to the hospital, where the twenty-something was operated on for the first time this weekend. “Sorry, but I’m currently in the hospital with my son. It’s still too early to say much. All my attention now goes to my son,” Eric Flamée responded cautiously yesterday.
Based on, among other things, the testimonies of local residents and passers-by, it is also taken into account that Claudia Van Der Stichelen may not have known her killer. Presumably it wasn’t a client either, as she was wearing a casual dress and was barefoot. For example, the lawyer who specialized in divorces would never receive clients. She also spoke about “a fool or a madman”, without mentioning him by name.
Search in sewer
The police arrived again in the sealed villa of the lawyer couple on Monday afternoon. They seemed to mainly take photos at and in the entrance of the house. In the meantime, a specialized company also turned a clothing container diagonally opposite the house inside out – under the watchful eye of the police.
At the request of the investigators, a municipal worker also removed all the sewer covers over a distance of several hundred meters and then scooped all the sludge onto the street. In this way, investigators would like to rule out that the shooter dumped his weapon on his escape route. They also seem to be gradually taking into account that the man may not have fled through the forest – but may also have walked towards the Market Square. According to the witnesses’ descriptions, they also saw him “walking quickly” near the bush. They didn’t want to call it running or really fleeing.
Mainly based on the description of Claudia’s son, a robot photo of the perpetrator was allegedly drawn up. By noon on Tuesday, there were already about thirty tips from people who think they recognize the man. Unfortunately, that would not have led to a breakthrough.