De Vries, who has provided his expertise on criminal cases, has been under police protection for quite some time, as he earned himself a lot of enemies in the underworld. The journalist was even placed on the hit list of the “Angel of Death” crime cartel leader, arrested in 2019 in the UAE and later extradited to the Netherlands.
After he was shot in broad daylight on a street in Amsterdam’s downtown, famous Dutch investigative journalist Peter R. de Vries, acclaimed for his efforts in exposing the criminal underground, is currently struggling for his life. The 64-year-old reporter had just left a TV studio in the Dutch capital city when one of the five shots fired at him at close range wounded him in the head.
According to recent media reports, three individuals, including the alleged shooter, have already been apprehended by the police as of Tuesday night.
For his work researching the 2005 disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba, de Vries received an international Emmy Award in the current affairs category in 2008.
Here are some of his most well-known investigations, which brought de Vries millions of viewers and enormous popularity in his home country, while also earning him plenty of ill-wishers as well.
The Kidnapping of Freddy Heineken, Beer Magnate
De Vries has been working for a number of outlets over the years and has been a freelance crime reporter since 1991. But back in 1983, at the time working as a reporter for the Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf, de Vries took an active part in the investigation of the kidnapping of Freddy Heineken, CEO of the brewing business Heineken International and one of the wealthiest individuals in the Netherlands, and his driver Ab Doderer in November that year.
On November 30, they were released for a ransom of 35 million Dutch guilders or about $11 million, the biggest ransom paid to kidnappers at the time. Some of the kidnappers later became prominent figures in the Dutch criminal underworld.
De Vries often attended court hearings and paid visits to the French hotels where the kidnappers, Cor van Hout and Willem Holleeder, were being held after arrest awaiting their extradition.
The journalist subsequently wrote two books about his own inquiry and the case in general. One of them, published in 1987, The Kidnapping of Alfred Heineken, is a novel written from the perspective of Hout and based on interviews de Vries conducted with Hout and Holleeder over the course of four weeks during his last hotel arrest in France. This novel was later adapted into a movie in 2015 starring Anthony Hopkins.
It was thanks to de Vries that Frans Meijer, one of the kidnappers, who eluded punishment and spent years in Paraguay, finally was tracked down and apprehended there in 1994. And Holleeder was found guilty in 2013 of threatening de Vries.
De Vries Look Into JFK’s Assassination
In 2006, the reporter looked into the mysterious assassination of US President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, which took place on November 22, 1963.
De Vries along with Dutch businessman and Kennedy expert Wim Dankbaar produced a two-and-a-half-hour show about the killing. De Vries spent two weeks in Texas meeting with former CIA and FBI officers, as well as Lee Harvey Oswald’s ex-girlfriend.
But the most curious and talked about part of the documentary was the interview with James Files, a convicted felon, who claimed to be the assassin who killed the president on that dark day.
According to Files, the CIA and the mafia were involved in the assassination, contradicting the Warren Commission’s findings, which ruled that Oswald was the lone killer.
Natalee Holloway Disappearance
The long-running investigation that brought de Vries international recognition was about the mysterious disappearance of 18-year-old American Natalee Holloway on the Caribbean island of Aruba.
Holloway’s disappearance on May 30, 2005, near the end of a high school graduation trip to Aruba, garnered international headlines. Her remains were never found.
One of the last people with whom Holloway was seen alive on that fateful night was the then 17-year-old island resident, Joran van der Sloot, whose involvement in the disappearance of the girl was then probed by the police, but did not turn up any incriminating evidence. Due to lack of which, Van der Sloot was released and not charged, prompting sharp criticism of law enforcement from the parents of Holloway and de Vries, who began his independent investigation of the incident.
In November 2006, de Vries aired a program in which he blamed Joran van der Sloot for Holloway’s disappearance in Aruba.
During a talk show on Dutch TV in 2008 where both the journalist and the suspect were present, Van der Sloot flung a glass of red wine in de Vries’ face after his integrity was questioned on multiple occasions throughout the broadcast.
Soon after, de Vries told the media that he knew what had actually happened in the case of Natalee Holloway, adding that he shared his newly found evidence with the police. Later, in his TV special, he aired the undercover footage of Van der Sloot supposedly smoking marijuana and admitting to being present at Holloway’s death. In the undercover footage, Van der Sloot, apparently unaware he was being taped, said Holloway had had a seizure while having sex on the beach.
He claimed that after failing to resuscitate her, he phoned a friend named Daury, who placed her onto a boat and threw her body into the sea. The prosecution found the footage acceptable, but the evidence was ruled insufficient to warrant re-arrest. And Van der Sloot later claimed he was lying to de Vries’ undercover assistant.
Van der Sloot’s Sex Trafficking Business
However, for a professional investigative journalist, such an outcome of events remained unsatisfactory, and he continued to monitor the activity of the main suspect who escaped justice.
De Vries revealed an undercover film of Van der Sloot preparing for the alleged sex trafficking of Thai women in Bangkok in November 2008. Van der Sloot, according to de Vries, was paid $13,000 for each woman sold into prostitution in the Netherlands.
As a result of those revelations, Van der Sloot was probed for his possible participation in the abduction of young women he may have recruited for a Thai sex slave gang while posing as a production consultant for a modeling agency.
In the end, the fugitive, who constantly changed his story to fend off de Vries’ accusations, fled to Peru, where he committed the murder of a 21-year-old girl, for which he was eventually caught and sentenced to 28 years. Later, in 2016, in another undercover video, Van der Sloot apparently confessed to leading law enforcement by the nose and committing the murder of Natalee Holloway in 2005.
The Case of the ‘Angel of Death’ Crime Cartel and Death Threats
In the past, de Vries has received threats from the criminal underworld in connection with a number of cases. One of the notable instances is the case against purported drug lord Ridouan Taghi.
De Vries claimed he was counseling a certain Nabil B, a state witness appearing in the case against Taghi. The Moroccan-Dutch suspect and his accomplices are currently facing murder and drug trafficking charges in the Netherlands. Taghi had been on the EU police agency Europol’s most-wanted fugitives list until his capture in Dubai in late 2019.
Taghi himself reportedly made an extraordinary public statement in 2019 rejecting accusations that he had threatened to kill de Vries.
After Nabil B’s previous lawyer, Derk Wiersum, was slain in front of his Amsterdam house in September 2019, according to the local media, the case caused a stir in the Netherlands.