80 days of hell! Little Sabine Dardenne survived the kidnapping and imprisonment in the basement of a serial killer

Sabine Dardenne was kidnapped at the age of twelve by the child molester and serial killer Marc Dutroux in 1996. He lied to Sabine all the time to keep her in his "death trap".

Sabine Anne Renée Ghislaine Dardenne was born on October 28, 1983 in Belgium. In 1996, she was kidnapped by the notorious pedophile and serial killer Marc Dutroux. Dardenne was one of Dutroux’s last two victims.

The kidnapping of Sabine Dardenne

80 days of hell! Little Sabine Dardenne survived the kidnapping and imprisonment in the basement of a serial killer 1
Sabine Dardenne © Image Credit: History InsideOut

On May 28, 1996, a teenage Belgian girl named Sabine Dardenne was kidnapped by the country’s one of the most infamous pedophiles and serial killers Marc Dutroux. The kidnapping took place when the girl was riding her bicycle to school in the town of Kain, in Tournai, Belgium. Even though Sabine was only twelve, she fought back Dutroux and plunged him with questions and demands. But Dutroux convinced her that he was her only ally.

Dutroux persuaded the girl that her parents had refused to pay a ransom to save her from the kidnappers who had announced that they would kill her. Of course it was a bluff because there were no kidnappers, it was absolutely fictitious, and the only man who threatened her was Dutroux himself.

“Look what I’ve done for you”

Dutroux trapped the girl in the basement of his house. The man allowed Dardenne to write letters to his friends and family. He promised Sabine that he would send her letters, but as you can guess, he did not keep the promise. When, after weeks of captivity, Sabine said she would love her friend to visit her, Dutroux kidnapped 14-year-old Laetitia Delhez, saying, “Look what I have done for you.” Delhez was kidnapped on August 9, 1996, returning from the swimming pool to her home in her hometown of Bertrix.

Rescue of Sabine Dardenne and Laetitia Delhez

Delhez’s abduction turned out to be Dutroux’s undoing, as the witnesses to the girl’s kidnapping remembered his car and one of them wrote down his license plate number, which police investigators quickly tracked down. Dardenne and Delhez were rescued on August 15, 1996. by the Belgian police two days after Dutroux’s arrest. The man confessed to the kidnapping and rape of both girls.

Victims of Marc Dutroux

Sabine Dardenne’s imprisonment in the basement of the Dutroux’s house lasted for long 80 days, and Delhez’s 6 days. The man’s earlier victims were eight-year-olds Melissa Russo and Julie Lejeune, who starved to death after Dutroux was imprisoned for car theft. The man also kidnapped 17-year-old An Marchal and 19-year-old Eefje Lambrecks, both buried alive under the shed by his house. While examining the crime scene, another body was found belonging to his French accomplice Bernard Weinstein. Dutroux pleaded guilty to drugging Weinstein and burying him alive.


The Dutroux case lasted eight years. A number of issues arose, including disputes over legal and procedural errors, and allegations of incompetence by law enforcement and evidence that mysteriously disappeared. During the trial, there were several suicides among those involved, including prosecutors, policemen and witnesses.

In October 1996, 350,000 people marched through Brussels protesting the incompetence of the police in the Dutroux case. The slow pace of the trial and disturbing disclosures of subsequent victims sparked public outrage.


During the trial, Dutroux claimed to be involved in a member of a pedophile network operating across the continent. According to his statements, high-ranking people were belong to the said network and its legal establishment was in Belgium. Dardenne and Delhez testified against Dutroux during the 2004 trial, and their testimony played an important role in his subsequent conviction. Dutroux was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.


Dardenne’s account of her abduction and its aftermath is documented and its aftermath are documented in her memoir J’avais douze ans, j’ai pris mon vélo et je suis partie à l’école (“I was twelve years old, I took my bike and I left for school”). The book has been translated into 14 languages ​​and published in 30 countries. It became a bestseller both in Europe and Great Britain where it was released under the title “I Choose to Live”.

Final words

Sabine Dardenne’s search lasted eighty days. Photographs of the missing student in school uniform were stuck to every wall throughout Belgium. Luckily, she is one of the few victims of the “Belgian monster” to survive.

Years later, she decided to describe everything she had gone through in order to let it out and never again answer difficult questions, and above all to sensitize the justice system, which often relieved pedophiles from serving a significant part of the prison sentence, e.g. for “good conduct.”

Marc Dutroux was charged with six kidnappings and four murders, rapes and child torture, and most interestingly, Marc’s closest accomplice was his wife.