In the 1980s in Belgium brutal bandits operated, nicknamed the “mad killers of Brabant”. During robberies, they mercilessly killed both children and adults, although their prey was clearly not worth it. They said it wasn’t about the money – their goal was to wreak havoc. After the bloodiest raid, the gang vanished without a trace as it appeared. Lenta.ru has discovered Belgium’s strangest criminal secret.
Before his death in 2015, retired policeman Christian Bonkoffsky confessed brother who was the leader of a gang that killed dozens of people. At first he didn’t even go to the police – he thought the dying man just wanted to draw attention to himself. However, two years later, he decides to make the confession of the deceased public.
Bonkoffsky worked for a special forces unit called the Diana Group. In 1981, he was expelled from the gendarmerie after accidentally shooting a pistol through his own stupidity. After the dismissal, the man became disillusioned with life and became addicted to alcohol.
It was then, according to him, that he became a member of an organized criminal group, which the inhabitants of Belgium called the “Mad Killers from Brabant”.
The gang killed at least 28 people and injured 40 others, stealing a total of $200,000 (about 15 million rubles) over three years. They were cold-blooded killers who seemed to be better at killing innocent and defenseless people than at stealing. It was not possible to penetrate their secret for more than 30 years.
Prepare for the killings
It all started on March 13, 1982 in the small Belgian town of Dinan. Two men dressed in dark clothing broke into an armory, stole a double-barreled 10-gauge shotgun, and fled the scene with nothing else.
The store owner remembered the appearance of the bandits. One of them is a lanky man in his twenties and thirties with light brown hair. The second seemed older – he was given at least 50. He was much shorter and taller than his accomplice.
Almost two months later, on May 10, two unidentified men approached a man who was parking his car. The criminals threatened him with long-barreled revolvers and stole his Austin Allegro. The police found the abandoned car the next day. By then the bandits had moved into a blue Volkswagen Santana, stolen directly from the Volkswagen showroom.
On August 14, 1982, the gang began declaring its presence in the country. Late at night, masked assailants smashed the grocery store’s glass door and went inside, but did not go to the checkout, but to the grocery aisle.
Taking a few bottles of alcohol and packets of coffee, the criminals ran out of the building, where the police were already waiting for them. Hiding from the persecution, they opened fire on the guards without hesitation. They managed to injure one of the policemen and escape in the same blue Volkswagen.
Next month will show that it’s not just a few frivolous hooligans. The gang had big plans and they needed weapons to make them happen.
Soon there were more bandits. Now they were three. On September 30, unidentified persons showed up at the Dekaise Armory gun store in city of Waver near Brussels. They ordered the store owner and two customers to lie on the ground and not move. They hesitated, so the thieves started beating them.
This time they took over fifteen guns. It should be noted that the attackers did not grab the first thing that came to them. They carefully chose each gun and, moreover, they knew where it was stored.
The robbery again ended in a shootout. They injured the policeman again, but now fatally. The gendarmes tried to block one of the escape routes, but that did not stop the robbers. At high speed, they rammed into a police car, jumped out of a stolen car and started shooting.
After injuring two gendarmes, the criminals quickly left in a smoking Volkswagen Santana. Later, the police will find a car doused in gasoline and burned in the forest, which has become a tool to commit several crimes.
The gendarmerie understood that it was about a very new gang. But who is behind? And what is its purpose? At the time, no one knew.
Relations with the police
With each outing, the bandits, nicknamed the Giant, the Old Man, and the Killer, became more and more ruthless. They raided shops, took money from cash registers and safes, and mercilessly killed anyone who tried to stop them. In total for 1983, the trinity engaged 12 crimes, including one of the most mysterious – the theft of body armor from the Wittock-Van Landeghem textile factory in Thames.
The production was secret and, to this day, it is unknown how the criminals managed to get wind of it. They shot a security guard who was working at night, seriously injured his wife, who was also at the factory, and escaped with seven bulletproof vests. For the next case, the Giant, the Old Man and the Killer have already been there.
The police began to suspect that the bandits were somehow accessing the internal data of the gendarmerie
There was a theory that the thieves were law enforcement officers acting outside the law for selfish motives. They knew well how to intimidate and control large groups of people, and it is the law enforcement officers who learn that.
The increased frequency of armed attacks began to disturb ordinary Belgians. Amid growing panic, many went to supermarkets less often, felt unsafe outside and asked their children to come home early. At any moment, the Mad Assassins of Brabant could still strike, which unfortunately it was impossible to prepare for.
The last raid took place on December 1, 1983. The criminals broke into the jewelry store, killed its owners – Poles Gina and Marie Shimuzik – and disappeared, taking only cheap jewelry and a sum of money insignificant. After that, there was a long lull, during which nothing more was heard of the gang.
It was in 1985. Although almost three years have passed, the bandits have not been found. Moreover, the investigators had no clues. Criminals have always carefully covered their tracks, so only a few clues have been collected. But they also mysteriously disappeared from police records, and even that didn’t immediately become clear.
A year and a half after the attack on the jewelry store, the gang has returned to commit the most brutal crimes in its history. They acted according to a proven pattern: first a robbery, then an armed robbery.
On September 27, 1985, a stolen Volkswagen Golf was parked in front of the De Pietro restaurant in Wallonia. The Giant, the Old Man and the Killer got out of the car and attacked the children playing in the street. Resting the barrel of a gun on the ribs of one of them, the gang entered the nearby Delhaize supermarket.
The criminals ordered three customers at the entrance to enter the store and immediately shot one of them for being slow. There is no doubt that the gang has become even more violent and intolerant.
Once inside the supermarket, they fired several warning shots and demanded that all customers lie down on the floor. One of them hesitated – and he too was killed.
Then, one of the thieves forced the supermarket clerk to put all the money from the cash register into a paper bag, while the second held the hostages at gunpoint. The third led the manager to another part of the store, to the safe. It was not possible to open it, but the manager remained alive – the bandit was happy with the small amount he found in the room.
This confirms one of the theories that the gang’s money had no special value. Most likely, the bandits were only trying to sow panic
He shot a passerby who was passing in front of the building and calmly returned to his accomplices. The deed was done and the gang rushed to the car. As they got into the car, the criminals killed another innocent man, released the child who was being held hostage, and hastily disappeared.
On the same day, the second attack took place. The target was again the Delhaize supermarket. Prior to the robbery, the trio shot a child at close range and took an adult hostage.
Everything was repeated: visitors had to lie down on the floor and employees had to withdraw money from the cash register. Taking the entire safe, the bandits quickly fled.
During the two robberies, they did not hesitate to shoot at anything that moved. It doesn’t matter if a box of cereal falls off a shelf or a bird flies out the window, thieves shoot anything that threatens them.
November 9, 1985 is a dark day for Belgians. The bandits again struck and killed eight people at once, including a nine-year-old girl who was waiting for her parents in the parking lot of the supermarket.
The police were nearby, so they quickly arrived on the scene. By this time, the killers were already sitting in the car, preparing to escape.
According to law enforcement officer Eddie Nevens, he shot the car three or four times and hit the largest of the accomplices – presumably the Giant. However, the gang still managed to get away from the police.
Later, one of the eyewitnesses contacted the police, claiming to have seen an injured or dead man lying near a car near the Ussier River. The next day, the police found the burnt-out Volkswagen Golf. Law enforcement officials also learned that the bandits threw a bag containing guns and ammunition into the river. It took a whole year to find the weapons.
Did Nevens succeed in killing the leader of the criminal gang? Maybe he’s the one who got the gang arrested? These questions will probably never be answered. But one thing is certain: the brutal killings have finally stopped.
The investigation has made little progress even in 30 years, so the dying confession of retired policeman Christian Bonkoffsky caused a stir. However, the hope was in vain. Bonkoffsky indeed resembled the leader of the bandits, who was called the Giant, but, most likely, had nothing to do with him. Analysis of DNA samples showed he was not involved in armed robbery.
Probably ruthless killers continue to roam free. If they are not found – and the probability is very low – the “Mad Killers of Brabant” will forever remain the most mysterious criminals in the history of Belgium.