Murder investigation opened after 23-year-old woman disappears

The Judicial Authorities in Antwerp have opened a murder investigation after the disappearance of a 23-year-old woman from Schilde (Antwerp province). As we reported earlier Julie Van Espen went missing on Saturday evening when she was on her way to meet friends in the centre of Antwerp. On Sunday afternoon the Judicial Authorities confirmed that there are indications that the young women met a violent end. An Examining Magistrate has been appointed to take charge of a murder investigation.  

On Sunday morning the Van Espen family launched an appeal on Facebook to try and find Julie.

She had left her home in Schilde to cycle the around 15 km to Antwerp on her dark-coloured Peugeot women’s bicycle.

Police started a search for Julie Van Espen along the banks of the Albert Canal on Saturday night.

On Sunday afternoon the Judicial Authorities announced that a murder investigation had been opened.

"Certain things have been found along the route taken by the woman that require further investigation”, the Judicial Authorities’ Lieselotte Claessens told journalists.  

"I can confirm that there are indications that point towards a violent death”.