What devilry hides in plain sight? What lies buried in the details, something not quite right?
True crime maestro Nick van der Leek sat in on Henri van Breda’s testimony-in-chief on Halloween 2017, as well as the state’s multi-day cross-examination. By sitting at arm’s length from the accused and the state prosecutor, Van der Leek absorbs a smorgasbord of direct, first-hand hand insights beyond the range of the livefeed cameras.
Who is the strange young man at the centre of this trial, accused of murdering his own flesh and blood with an axe?
Van der Leek performs another meticulous analysis, this time casting an intuitive net over the accused’s marathon testimony.
He deals with the young Van Breda recounting that terrible January night in 2015, distilling all the key micro expressions, idiosyncrasies and crucial body language the 23-year-old heir leaks while on the stand.
Van der Leek lays these out in scrupulous detail, showing where blocks of time don’t fit or are added, seemingly ex post facto. Besides a number of critical contradictions, the author also highlights a fascinating key “tell” in the accused’s court room poker game of poker.
Are there any instances of duping delight?
The author’s deep dive cross-references the police statement to the plea explanation to Van Breda’s testimony. It plumbs even greater detail than the state prosecutor, but ultimately reinforces many of Susan Galloway’s original arguments.
“A serious problem with Henri’s version of events, both in terms of the police statement and his – far more vague – plea explanation, is that the timeline doesn’t seem to add up.”
In the end, Van der Leek’s experience in the court room provides a chilling and at times, terrifying analysis.
“If Henri didn’t love his family then he hated and murdered them. And it’s Henri who gives us this most macabre detail of all, a detail he didn’t need to give, but gives us anyway: that whoever butchered his family, did so while laughing…”
“If one entertains the worst case scenario in this terrible story, the question becomes: what primary driving force could there possibly be to hate one’s own flesh and blood, enough to want to dispatch each in turn with an axe, and then revel in their suffering afterwards?”
They say God is in the details, but what about the Devil?
Diablo is available exclusively on Amazon Kindle.