I have been warned by friends and family not to write this article. Partly because I am about to share some extremely sensitive information, partly because they fear that I am about to lose myself in a world of paranoia and subterfuge. It is most likely more of the latter. Against these warnings, against all advice, and against common sense, I will tell you a story. This one begins at the end. It is the last Sunday before exam week and I have yet to open a textbook. I have spent the weekend frantically “researching” the Marc Dutroux case: reading posts on conspiracy forums and watching low-definition videos on YouTube about the Belgian paedophile and child murderer. I take breaks to lie on my bed and stare at the ceiling. This is not healthy, far from it, but I am captivated. It is undeniable that there was a massive cover-up of a wider network of paedophiles, that Dutroux was not just a uniquely evil exception but a cog in a well-oiled machine of exploitation, and that most of the culprits are still free to this day.
It is four o’clock in the morning and I have somehow found myself even deeper in the conspiratorial excrement. I am scrolling through the archives of a Belgian anarchist newspaper. Their allegations are mind-boggling, but to me, in my delirious mindset, they seem plausible.
The only thing bothering me is that the entire site is in Comic Sans. They claim that a series of unsolved murders committed by the so-called Brabant killers are linked to the Dutroux network. The Brabant Killers went around robbing gas stations and the like, killing 28 and injuring 22. They were incredibly, absurdly violent, and for what?
Certainly not for the loot: in their three active years, between 1982 and 1985, they stole less than $100 000 worth of money and goods. Often they would just take red wine and coffee, but then kill innocent bystanders in the process. The Belgian Comic Sans anarchists allege that at least some of their murders were not random. They targeted people who threatened to expose the high society paedophile network. One murdered couple, they claim, was in possession of a tape exposing the participators of a “pink ballet” – a party for the rich and powerful where they exploit underage girls.
This is the reason for my renewed interest in the Dutroux case. Last August, the infamous billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein died in prison. Virginia Giuffre, Epstein’s most famous accuser, says that she was coerced into being a sex slave, and lent out to be raped by other famous men including Prince Andrew and “a well-known Prime Minister”. I believe her. When I first heard about this case I considered myself a rational person. More than that, I believed that society itself was rational and that its events could be understood and explained. The Epstein case destroyed this illusion. Nothing makes sense. The official story is that Epstein hung himself in prison. Coincidentally, the cameras in his cell malfunctioned, and the guards who were supposed to check on him were asleep. Some weeks later, a forensic examiner named Michael Baden says that Epstein was likely murdered: the damage in his neck matches strangulation wounds. Michael Baden, by the way, is a renowned expert: he investigated the murders of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.
It’s not like those murders involved anything suspicious, right? In any case, a couple of days after the alleged suicide, a photo of Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein’s accomplice, emerges. Sent to the New York Post by Maxwell’s attorney, the photo shows Ms Maxwell posing for the cameras at a burger joint in Los Angeles. We are told in the article that the book she is holding is entitled The Life and Death of CIA Agents. A strange detail, especially since it is not visible in the photos. And why is this fugitive, accused of paedophilia and international sex trafficking, posing for photos in public in the first place? Turns out the photos were manipulated. The billboard behind Maxwell was photoshopped: according to the advertising agency, there was never an ad for the movie Good Boys. This photo was the turning point for me. Was it a message congratulating the murderers of Epstein? A diversion? A cry for help? We will never know.
The New York Post article changed my life; I embraced the kind of conspiratorial thinking I had been conditioned to scoff at. As soon as I saw this picture I felt a titillation: something big was going on before my eyes. My visits to the conspiracy forums became more frequent, at times obsessively so. All I could talk and think about was the Epstein case.