Bug’s Former Dutch Girlfriend Joanne Noordink was missing. Her Body is found in Aalten, The Netherlands.
Written By Bug
Joanne Noor Dink
I better get this said while I can still write. How do I begin to put into words my feelings as I sit here before I make this announcement?
My former Dutch girlfriend Joanne Noordink had been missing since December 11, 2008. More than one hundred days was yesterday the lifeless body was found. Today the Aalten Police announced and confirmed that body is Joanne’s. She was found in the back yard at High Street in Aalten house of arrested 32 year old Iranian Eshan and his Italian wife Tamara. There is another suspect who had stolen items from Joanne’s home. He is 49 year old Iranian.
In the end of November I had received a last e-mail from Joanne a few days before she disappeared. She thanked me for wishing her a happy belated birthday. After that we haven’t spoken for nearly two months. I thought it was strange because she usually emailed me almost everyday. If I don’t email her, she would write and check on me and see how I am doing but she did not. I decided to google her name and was very surprised to see her parents and relatives on the videos of Missing Person Program on the television. I learned that Joanne had gone missing in her hometown of Aalten, the Netherlands, most likely kidnapped on December 11th.
Then I contacted her father Arent in Holland. I used the Sorenson Video Relay Service (SVRS), it enables Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to conduct video relay calls with family, friends, and business associates through a certified sign language interepreter, videophone, television, and a high speed internet connection where I can see the interpreter on my television and sign to the interpreter, who then contacts the hearing user via a standard phone line and relays the conversation between the two parties.
We spoke for a few minutes. Arent believed that somebody kidnapped her. My heart sank so deeply. I spilled my bitterness of tears in my eyes. Joanne’s disappearance has brought breakbreak and anguish to her families, friends and including my American families and friends.
After I spoke with Joanne’s father. I hurrily drove to McGraw Elementary World School in Fort Collins, Colorado where Joanne used to work in the spring of 2005. I shared the news with school. They were shocked. Also, I contacted my mother in Los Angeles and told my friends about this terrible news. Most of them met her when Joanne and I were in the relationship. They are heartbroken.
How could this happen to Joanne? Why her? She had a sweet and bright personality. She did not have any enemies. It was more than 100 days since her disappearance, there was no trace of Joanne yesterday.
For three month and half months many people wondered if Joanne was a victim of a crime. Some people thought that she committed suicide. Some news medias said that Joanne might be no longer living. Others believed that she was alive. Joanne’s family and I personally didn’t believe that she committed suicide because she embraces her life.
On December 11th, before Joanne’s disappearance, a witness saw her wearing a winter coat at about 8:30 a.m. Two hours later Joanne called her mother Helma and talked about shopping at the market. A few hours later Helma drove to Joanne’s home and wanted to have a cup of coffee with her. She showed up and pressed the intercom at the joint entrance to Joanne’s apartment but got no reponse. Mother left.
On same day Joanne’s friend Jolanda showed up at the door and pressed the intercom. Again, no reponse. She walked toward to the back of apartment and looked at the kitchen window on the second floor. There was a flickering light and the television was on then Jolanda texted Joanne a message and asked her to contact her when she wakes up. Jolanda left.
Later in the late evening Helma repeatedly calling her daughter but no reponse. Next day Helma and Arent drove to her apartment and opened the door with the only spare key. They walked in and saw no Joanne. Her keys were on the table. The Netherlands passport, purse, cash, debt cards, driving license, and everything else were still there except her mobile phone and personal laptop. All winter coats were still hanging on the coat rack. Her car and bike were still there. Two cats were still in there but their water and food bowls were empty.
Aaltern Police was called and they came to investigative. The team checked everything such as blood, fingerprints, hair, etc. No evidence of a crime was found. No trace of Joanne. Next day the parents received a strange email. They didn’t recognize as a message from Joanne. It was not the same as Joanne’s writing.
Since Joanne’s disappearance, the investigation team was still working for 24 hours, 7 days. The police helicopter flew above the lake and the whole town. Police dogs sniffed everywhere. They received many tips. Again, no trace of her. The reward was offered by Joanne’s parents, friends, and Public Ministry. They raised to $30,000 Euro (about $40,456.00 U.S. dollars) for finding Joanne.
On March 24th, (103 days since Joanne’s disappearance) the investigation team has arrested a 49 year old male Iranian suspect in the provinve of Friesland, the Netherlands because he had some Joanne’s missing personal belongings. A few hours later 32 year old Iraqi man as a second suspect was arrested in Aalten. He was suspected of involvement in the disappearance of Joanne. His name is Eshan. His possible motive for the murder of Joanne is still unknown. Also his wife was arrested too. After that Joanne’s parents were informed right away. Eshan is an acquaintance of the family. He previously in Joanne’s home to do the house chores. He was her handyman. Many local residents said that he was without a permanent job.
Yesterday on the 25th of March, there was an investigation into the house of Iraqi man. The police put the direct vicinity of the house with fences and a red and white ribbon off. Press medias and reporters were kept at a distance. The car arrived just after three hours with sniffer dogs who specialize in the search for human remains. Detection wrapped in white suits detectives were in the house. The police was looking for traces of missing Joanne since December 11th. In the small backyard behind the house was dug and prodded with long poles. Finally, the lifeless body was found. The missing developments in the case struck this week in a rapids. Monday gave the police a 49 year old man from the other town, who was in possession of the jewels of Joanne. The trail led to the 32 year old man, whom he would have the stuff. The Iraqi , who is married to an Italian, was arrested. He was found in possession of Joanne’s mobile phone. Many neighbors of the suspect are speechless. One of them said if he did it, “I think humanity is no longer,” said one neighbor. “He is a friendly, well intergrated man wo speaks excellent English and always friendly and helpful. But it says no probably nothing. Apparently there lies a monster in him,” neighbor said.
How did Joanne and I met? In the early spring of 2005, Joanne flew to Colorado from the Netherlands to do her internship at McGraw Elementary World School in Fort Collins, Colorado. She loved working with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. Joanne’s friend was my American Sign Language (ASL) student at Front Range Community College. She asked if she could bring Joanne as a guest to my class and introduced her to me. I accepted and was looking forward to meeting her. After Joanne and I became great friends. We spoke a lot about the cultures such as American culture, Dutch culture, Deaf culture and Hearing culture. I taught her ASL. She taught me Dutch. A few weeks later we fell in love with each other. She loved talking about the Up with People (UWP). UWP is the name of both a motivational organization and a musical performance, both related to each other. Joanne loved being a member of Taize Community. It is an ecumenical Christian monastic order in Taize, France. It is comprised of a little over 100 brothers who come from Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions. Its a place where people go for prayer, Bible study, sharing, and communal work.
In the summer of 2005, I flew to the Netherlands to visit Joanne. She introduced me to her favorite brother Thomas and lovely parents Arent and Helma in their hometown Aaltern. I was very impressed with them because they learned some basic ASL before I met them. They’re very gentle Dutch family. Her brother made fun of my white socks and said, ” You are American! You wear the white socks! We wear the black socks.” I laughed and learned my lesson not to wear the white socks in their country or they would make fun of me as American. Thomas gave me Dutch beer which it was called ” White Beer”. It tasted so great. I loved eating their meals at parent’s. I enjoyed drinking her father’s wine. He got many more wine bottles because he knew that I would drink more. I love her mother’s cook. Joanne and her lovely family took me to many different cities in Holland. I enjoyed my trip.
Our American/Dutch relationship was very special and sweet. Joanne opened my heart for the first time in 10 years which I never dated with anyone before I met her. Joanne took me to the lake not far from her parent’s home. While walking beside the lake, she stopped and looked at my eyes for a while. Then she put a beautiful Dutch ring on my finger. She said “Here’s a special gift from me. This is a “friendship” ring and promised that we would be together forever. ” I smiled and accepted her gift. In American culture, we called it as a promise ring so they called it as a friendship ring in their Dutch culture.
A few months later Joanne flew back to Colorado and visited me and her host family in Loveland and Dillion. It was a greatly plesaure to see her. She stayed with me for about two and half weeks. We attended to my friend Debbie’s Deaf Bonfire Party. There was about 200 guests. Joanne enjoyed signing ASL with everyone. Other night my friend John invited us to his Halloween party in Denver. We wore the orange Halloween shirts at the party. We had nice time together.
Before she flew back and said that we needed to end our relationship for some reasons. We were very sad to let each other go so I wrote her a last letter and put it in her suite case before she left for the Netherlands. I wrote:
October 31, 2005
Since I met you, my heart had been captured roped by your Dutch warm friendship and love. I knew inside that it had always been yours. You wore a mask. I lived in a sea clam. Both of us were free from them by the love. I often dreamed that we would be together forever so we could travel to the island, Africa, and visit each other in two countries.
We had a wonderful life together.I will close my eyes sometimes and listen to your music even my ears are deaf but not for my heart.
You were my best friend as well as my lover and I do not know which side of you. I enjoy the most. I treasure each side just as I have treasured our life together. You have something inside you, Joanne Something beautiful and strong. That’s what I see you when I look at you.
I know you thought me crazy for fighting what I would not give up and tried to save our relationship. When I am a fighter, my words are either beautiful or ugly, they are the true of my soulful language when I am hurtful and angry. I am struggling for words. But I will never and would never meant to hurt you, my darling. I have my reasons and I thank you for your patience. And though you asked, I never told you why but now I think it is time you knew. You know how fearful I was and I was frightenend by the knowledge that all this will be ending soon as you fly off. I wonder if I will see your tears, if it is not then I know you’re crying inside.
I fear the pain I know I will go through so I will also fear the pain and saddness when you leave. I am at a loss for words. So I love you so deeply, so incredibly much. No matter how it happens, I promise you that I will be thinking of you for the rest of my life. I believe that you are my first and last love. Please don’t be angry with me. I am sorry if I often said I love you in the past. I will never regret for loving you.
And if you save this letter to read again, please believe what I am saying. Joanne, wherever you are and whenever this is, I love you. I love you now as I write this and I love you now as you read this if this is 500 years old letter. And I am so sorry if I am not able to tell you.
I can’t escape the feeling that it’s time for us to move on. Of course, I forgive you. I forgive you now. I loved you too much to have let you go again. Though I am still grieving over what might have been I find myself thankful that you came into my life for ever a short period of time. Sometime my grief is overwhelming and even though I understand that we will never see each other again, there is a part of me that wants to hold on to you forever. This is not a good bye darling, this is a thank you…. Eric”
About two weeks later Joanne and I got in touch. She wanted me to know that she still loved me and asked for my chance. I gave her a chance. It was good but our relationship did not last. Sadly,I never spoke with her again since Feburary 2006.
Two years later Joanne and I got in touch for the first time in March 2008. She was so happy. We rebuilt the friendship slowly. She wanted me to find forgiveness in my heart for her. She understood that I was not ready because I was still hurting. Other than that we had many nice chats about many things such as our memories, her love for Uganda people, two cats, her little Joanne as her adopted child in Uganda, etc. We enjoyed talking about the hot spring pool we swam at Glenwood Springs and visited Aspen. She asked me about her friends Cathy, Jaime, Megan and others at McGraw School because she missed them. Joanne said she was coming to Colorado sometime this year to visit me and others. I was excited. I felt so ready to forgive her in person and ask for her forgiveness too.
I knew as I prepared to see Joanne. I wanted to hug her. I knew it’s her I wish to see but I saw her name in the news. It means she is not coming to see me. Joanne is dead. My heart is bleeding. My spirit is broken. A part of me died with her. I will never have a chance to tell her that she is forgiven. I wanted to tell her that she is a wonderful and sweetest Dutch gal I ever met in my life. But it is too late to tell her in person. How painful and angry I was after I learned that her lifeless body was found yesterday. I’ve wished so hard that I could have saved her from those evil fools. I would give my life if somehow it would bring her all back to her dad, mother, and brother. My heart goes to her family and friends.
I want to write this note for Joanne because I never have a chance to say it to her in person.
March 27, 2009
Hopefully, this note and God will guide me in the right direction and take this pain from my heart and mind, and allow you to rest in peace. Please don’t ask me why it took so long to get it off my chest. My life and feelings have been out of control for all of these years. I was angry. It was too late to forgive you in person and ask for your forgiveness. Two years ago I had been meaning to see you in Holland when I was in Germany but I was not ready to see you. I was hoping that I would see you one more time but I did not realize your life was short and you are gone. I am so sorry. I know you have a lot of rich experiences in your life that most people don’t have.
Please know that you are wonderful and loved. You are forgiven. Forgive me. I have long admired you and still miss you. Thank you for being part of my life.
I believe most people around you, were touched by your love and kindness. At last you live again but not just in the hearts of us who loved you. You live in the Netherland’s heart as well.
Here is my favorite photo I took of you when we were in Snowmass, Colorado. This picture makes me think that you are with God now. I knew that you are at peace. Bless you, for you are the hero. I loved you, I love you, and I will always love you. Rest in peace, my lieverd.- Eric Fifer