The quiet and peaceful town of Noorderwijk, a suburb of Herentals in Belgium, has been recently shaken by the violent murder of the primary care teacher Mieke Verlinden.
The teacher, 59 years old, used to live and work in Noorderwijk at the 't Klavertje school.
She was found dead on the afternoon of the 10th of November by her husband in their house in Fabiolastraat.
He came back home from work, to found his wife in a large puddle of blood laying on the floor.
He immediately called for the emergency services, but there was nothing to do: Mieke was gone.
She has been taken away by multiple stabs resulting in the death of the teacher.
The news has brought the whole community together with a social distancing event organized by the KLJ Noorderwijk, a local youth organization.
The members kindly asked the residents to light up candles on the street on the night of Friday the 20th of November to commemorate their beloved teacher.
The streets of the town have been filled with candles and have burnt all night long.
Miss Mieke, as she was called by her pupils, has been buried Saturday the 21st, surrounded by the love and bright memories of her closest family and friends.
Her burial has been transmitted live by the funeral services to respect the present COVID-19 rules of Belgium of a maximum of fifteen people per service.
At the funeral, her sister shared her words to honor the life of Mieke.
And the husband, Michel, remarked his love towards his wife, who gave him a lovely family and a cozy home for over forty-five years.
A friendly couple, living a simple life.
The neighbors describe the couple as a friendly one, even though in the last months, the contact was limited because of the Coronavirus.
They are described as reserved and kind people, a couple who would often go to have a drink together and a good laugh.
The neighbors are still overwhelmed by what happened.
But on one thing they all agree, the husband has nothing to do with the murder of the woman.
Whoever has access to the sight of the main streets of Noorderwijk can remember the quiet arrival of an ambulance on the afternoon of Tuesday 10th of November, followed by cars of the police coming to restrict the house, with a crime-scene tape.
The house, a big one surrounded by an extremely aesthetic garden always freshly cut, and with the extravagant purple door, now is the silent holder of the mystery surrounding the death of Mieke Verlinden.
On the door, sealed by the Belgian Police crime tape, there is what seems to be a stain of blood, presumably of the victim.
The detectives are groping in the dark.
To the moment, the killer is still on the loose and unknown.
The detectives are currently groping in the dark and asked the people in Noorderwijk and Herentals to lock their doors.
Without a concrete trail, the police and the prosecutor's office are making their best effort to find the responsible for such a hateful crime, with still no luck eleven days after the grim crime.
Lieselotte Claessens, of the public prosecutor's office of the Antwerp province, is cautious about the case.
She declared that at the moment, they are looking in every possible direction, trying to find concrete proof leading to the responsible.
No trail is to exclude.
At the moment, it is not clear what happened and why it happened.
It is not clear if the killer was someone she knew or an unknown person.
But Claessens is determined in finding out who took away the life of Mieke Verlinden and the circumstances regarding this heinous crime.
The house is inundated by love.
Today I went on the scene to take some photos for my readers of the house.
Though the eerie atmosphere caused by the rainy weather is not helping a lot with the sad feelings, the front of the house is filled with fresh flowers, candles, memories, and letters left by the neighbors and friends of the beloved teacher.
Last week when I passed by, the bloody print on the door was still visible from afar.
Today the first seal on the door was broken, the print was almost gone, probably due to the ongoing investigations on the case and the rain.
And a new seal was placed by the police.
Mieke was the daughter of one of the biggest beer brewers of Belgium.
The family ran the business until the early '90s.
I have been asking around to people who knew the woman to try to understand a bit more of why a primary school educator, was killed with violence in her own house.
All of them, agreeing on how lovely she was with the kids.
A mother of two, who is a dear friend of mine, had one of her two kids being a pupil of Miss Verlinden.
She was at my place the day of the tragedy, and she asked me:
"How do I explain to my six years old that his teacher is gone like this? What do I tell him?"
We were thinking about how to communicate the news to her son while he was at his grandparents.
Unfortunately, he heard it from the breaking news on tv.
Her son said to his mother that he was going to protect her from the killer in case of emergency.
P. Vijverman, the father of another one of the pupils of Mieke, shared his thoughts on the whole tragedy with us:
"Sadness, bitterness, disbelief, despair, and fear...
I think I can name the most favored feelings of our villagers.
Everyone experiences the events differently, but we make the same justified statement.
It can be noticed by the talk in the village shop, but also by the frown on our children's faces, the compassion used to be rare as big as it is now.
Amid a discipline defined by Corona, to keep the distance from each other, villagers united in front of her house on Friday.
Noorderwijk is scattered, with small beaches of souvenir and co-feeling, small harbors of comfort.
′′What star would teacher Mieke be?" was the question just asked by my son to his classmate in this picture.
The killer took away a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and an exceptional example for generations of kids.
We keep on hoping that the investigations will lead to the culprit soon.