Simon de Vries is a 21-year old Dutch student. By all accounts, Simon comes from an ordinary family, was not known to be depressed, and had never run away from home. He was studying for a degree in Industrial Product Design in The Hague, Netherlands. Although he had mentioned that he wanted to quit his studies, a month before his disappearance, he had still paid the tuition for the coming school year.
Summer 2020: Sim Tour
Simon and friends travel to Albufeira in Portugal, as it was one of the few spots in Europe still available to visitors without corona restrictions. But just when the group reached, Albufeira passes stricter restrictions, and the group spend the vacation mostly hanging around in their rented vacation residence. Simon’s friend noted that Simon complained about having a tough time with the corona measures in the Netherlands, and also felt demotivated by virtual learning and was considering quitting his degree. Despite this, Simon still appeared to be active and in decent spirits, as his usual self.
Saturday, October 3, 2020: Simon Enjoyed Holidays
Simon is spending his school vacation in his hometown Heerhugowaard, in the north of the country. He completed working his shift at Action, a discount store. He then ate dinner at the house. In the evening, he left home with a cooler of beer, to meet with friends for a drink. According to his parents, he was in a pleasing mood. Because of corona restrictions, the group of friends decides to split up into two groups rather than meeting altogether, and therefore no one notices that Simon is never seen that evening. He was presumed to go to his friend Kayleigh’s home, just a few houses away from his own. When he is never noticed, one group thinks he is with the other group and vice versa.
His parents just find out the next morning on Sunday that he is not at the house. He hasn’t sent a message and his bike isn’t there either. Generally, Simon would always be communicative. His dad is concerned but can’t get a hold of Simon. Messages the friends send to Simon’s cell phone don’t arrive. This indicates that the phone is either turned off or there is no connection. Via friends and family, a big search party is mobilized in the town, but no evidence of Simon, or his bike.
Simon has left behind his laptop and his old phone, and in an email, his dad and brother discover a hotel reservation made recently. It turns out that Simon has checked in on Saturday evening at Hotel Bastion in Maastricht (instead of going out with his friends). That would be a very lengthy 3-4 hour journey from his hometown, with no direct train, and Simon had no motive to go there. The father calls the police and decides to travel there himself.
Police did indeed locate Simon at the hotel. They talk with him for a long time but do not see anything suspicious. Simon claimed he just wanted a weekend away. When his dad reaches sometime later, Simon tells him the same. His dad attempts to convince him to go home. But Simon wants to relax and guarantees to be home the following Wednesday. When asked why he decided to go to Maastricht, Simon said that was the distant place he is authorized to go during corona restrictions. Maastricht is at the far south of the country. He also tells he will keep his mother informed. But he would never keep either promise.
The next day is Monday
Around 7 am, Simon activates his cell phone, and all the un-delivered messages from days past are delivered. But he deactivates his cell phone again soon afterward. After Simon left the hotel around noon the following day, all traces are missing.
After a few days, Simon is no longer heard from, his dad decides to call in the police again. But because Simon is an adult and the police recently spoke to him in good health just before that, no action is taken.
After two weeks, the police conduct an inquiry which showed. That Simon has no longer withdrawn any cash from his bank account and also does not have a passport with him. To the frustration of the family, Dutch authorities do not authorize them to trace his cell phone. He no longer uses his phone, but the device can be tracked via the IMEI number. But tracing is not authorized, because there is no evidence of a crime committed. It also becomes obvious that Simon has not used his public transport student card. He doesn’t have a car, but he does have a driver’s license. His bicycle is also missing. Simon may have had at most 100 euros with him, as he made a minor withdrawal from his bank account before his disappearance.
The police have added him to the register of losing persons, as an “unexplained disappearance”.
The parents elaborated more about Simon’s mental state. They said Simon was an active individual, nonetheless, due to the corona restrictions, he was expending more time indoors at his laptop. His friend, in an interview, mentioned that Simon had complained about virtual learning. “I can’t bear it, sitting in my room every day behind my laptop”. Simon’s mum remark that Simon had earlier inquired “can someone’s location be tracked if they use their bank card?”. The parents have two scenarios in mind. First, Simon could have left for a warmer country. Second, Simon was not pleased and his mum has “doubt if he is still alive today”.