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His tall stature and distinctive voice immediately attracted attention, but what many will remember most about Peter R. de Vries was his tireless commitment to people who were wronged.

Despite being in danger, he refused any form of protection.

That proved fatal to him.

In the last days before the attempt on his life, Peter R. de Vries was busy with the fundraising campaign for Tanja Groen, the student from Maastricht who disappeared without a trace in 1993 after a party organized by the student association Circumflex.

De Vries launched a crowdfunding campaign entitled 'The Golden Tip', with which he hoped to raise 1 million euros intended to reward tipsters.

"There must be clarity about what happened to Tanja, how bad and how confronting that is," De Vries explained.

He said Groen's parents are "aged" and their biggest fear is that they will end up not knowing what happened to their youngest child.

A week after the attack, it was announced that the target amount had been achieved.

The fundraiser was full of De Vries.

Committed, always ready to help people who are mangled by the system, who are helpless, who are wronged.

In a recent interview in

Vrij Nederland

- the last major interview he gave - De Vries said that more than a hundred requests for help from citizens came in every day, all of which he answered himself.

"I always read everything and I have never delegated a letter to anyone else. It would be shocking if someone asks me for help and I ignore it."

150

Peter R. de Vries passed away: from crime journalist to support for relatives

Rebel in a cold and pious family

Peter Rudolf de Vries was born on November 14, 1956 in Aalsmeer into a family with six children.

It was a cold, hard family, in which the Reformed faith played an important role.

His demanding father was director of the gunpowder factory in Muiden.

At a young age, De Vries himself had little to do with faith, according to him the stories in the Bible could not be true.

To his mother's chagrin, he refused to go to church.

"In the family I felt like a kind of cuckoo boy. I deviated from the rest, I was constantly in resistance. I stole money from my mother's wallet, and candy and books from shops," he told

De Morgen

about his early years.

He described the fact that De Vries was a difficult teenager in his memoirs, which appeared in 2013 under the title

De R van Rebel: from petty thief to crimefighter

.

He smashed windows, fought with boys in the schoolyard and came into contact with the police.

De Vries presented his childhood experiences as a learning experience, as proof that everyone can make their own choices.

"I understand better than anyone that the dime in your life can sometimes roll in a different direction," he wrote on his website.

"But I also show that you can do something about it yourself."

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Avalanche of firsts

In 1978 De Vries came as a trainee journalist on the editorial board of

D

e Telegraaf

.

A few years later - the story has often been told - he changed his name to Peter R. de Vries.

There was another journalist called Peter de Vries, the name was common and he didn't want to be the thirteenth in a dozen.

Initially he was dismissed by his colleagues as a show-off and he had to make sure that the R. was not removed by an editor.

But over the years, the abbreviation of the Christian name Rudolf became his trademark.

At

De Telegraaf

he often worked together with Cees Koring, who is now retired.

He described the "emerging reporter" in that paper this week as "driven, forthcoming and tenacious".

Koring told the

Haarlems Dagblad

in 2011 about his collaboration with De Vries

: "We tracked down people and interviewed them like two detectives. According to the

good cop-bad cop

method. Indeed, Peter R. de Vries was the

bad cop

. He was very confrontational, I calmed things down a bit. We really had an avalanche of firsts. That was an exciting time."

De Vries builds friendship with Cor van Hout

When beer magnate Freddy Heineken is kidnapped in 1983, De Vries follows the case closely for his newspaper.

He travels to France and Sint Maarten, where the kidnappers ended up, before they were finally extradited to the Netherlands.

The bestseller

De abduction van Alfred Heineken was published

in 1987

, in which De Vries describes the abduction from the perspective of Cor van Hout, one of the kidnappers. He also speaks extensively with the other kidnapper, Willem Holleeder. Van Hout earns tons of money from the book: he receives 75 percent of the royalties. De Vries had to choose between no book or a book on these conditions. "Did you think Van Hout would do all this for nothing?", he told

Het Parool

in 2009

.

De Vries built up a lifelong friendship with Van Hout, which withstood all criticism.

On the windowsill of his office he had a photo of the criminal who was murdered in 2003.

"He was a crook and he admitted that," said De Vries in

Vrij Nederland

.

"He didn't regret the kidnapping and other things he did. That's actually how I am. I have very few regrets. Because I make informed decisions. It can turn out wrong, and you can be annoying find it, but that's different from regret."

Persistent detective grew into a media personality

In addition to

De Telegraaf

, De Vries worked for

Algemeen Dagblad

,

Panorama

and

Crime Time

.

He eventually got his own TV program on SBS6:

Peter R. de Vries, crime reporter

.

He made that program for seventeen years.

In recent years, De Vries grew into a media personality, who attended talk shows and radio programs almost every day.

His name will forever be associated with major crime cases, in which he often contributed to the investigation of the perpetrators through his persistent investigation into so-called "cold cases".

After years of investigation, De Vries revealed a miscarriage of justice in the Puttten murder case: two Puttten men were wrongly imprisoned for seven years for the murder of Christel Ambrosius. They were released in 2002. Finally, another man, Ronald P., was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the murder.

De Vries also acted as a confidant and advisor to the family of Nicky Verstappen, who was abused and murdered in 1998.

He built up a close relationship with Nicky's parents, they had contact with each other countless times by telephone or Whatsapp.

"This case had to be solved, it became a matter of honor," De Vries told NU.nl.

"Peter and Betty Verstappen are sweet and correct people, they needed help. And if I didn't help them, who would?"

In 2020, the main suspect Jos B. was arrested and sentenced to twelve years in prison, but appealed.

"I will keep working on it until the case is resolved," De Vries assured the family several times.

De Vries turned into confidential counselor

In recent years, De Vries changed his role a few times: from a crime journalist he became a media personality and from a media personality he became a confidant. He assisted Astrid and Sonja Holleeder in the case against their brother Willem, supported the family of Nicky Verstappen and also the parents of the murdered Marianne Vaatstra. He did the same in countless other cases that never made it to the media.

For a year, De Vries had been a confidential adviser to Nabil B., the key witness in the Marengo trial.

That case revolves around various murders, attempts to do so and preparations for it, with Ridouan T as the main suspect.



When Nabil B. called, he could not refuse, De Vries thought.

"If I had sold him no, I would no longer be able to look at myself properly in the mirror," he told

Vrij Nederland

.

"I often measure the police and the judiciary. I wouldn't be able to do that if I shy away from requests for help, even if they involve risks."

In May 2019, he said he ended up on a death list of T.'s gang, something the alleged criminal leader denies.

De Vries refused security, he did not want to let fear rule his life.

That has now become fatal for him.

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