Love gone bad. A female skydiver who killed a love rival by cutting her parachute straps was jailed for 30 years, a couple of years ago.
Teacher Els Clottemans, 26, and mum-of-two Els Van Doren, 37, were both mistresses of fellow skydiver Marcel Somers.
Marcel would bed Clottemans on Fridays and Mrs Van Doren on Saturdays.
But when the 46-year-old tried to break up with the young teacher – forcing her to sleep on the sofa – the sounds of him and Mrs Van Doren making love in the next room were too much for her.
The jury was told that in a moment of jealous insanity she used scissors to cut the cords of her rival’s parachute which was in the hall of her lover’s flat.
The court saw footage from Mrs Van Doren’s helmet camera on her final fatal jump. She and her rival were among the last to leave the plane. Jeweller’s wife Mrs Van Doren jumped from 13,000ft with Dutch-man Mr Somers and another skydiver.
Clottemans delayed a few seconds and did not join in airborne stunts with the others. Mrs Van Doren looked up as she pulled her ripcord, hoping to see a canopy billowing above her.
But neither her main chute nor the reserve opened and she died the instant she crashed into a garden in Opglabbeek, Belgium.
Els Clottemans maintained her innocence throughout the trial.
But – despite a lack of physical evidence – the jury decided she was guilty of murder.
They said she acted with premeditation and that, as an accomplished jumper, she knew very well how to disable a parachute. The trial, broadcast live, was watched by millions in Belgium and Holland.
When it opened the teacher sat nervously near the mudcaked parachute and helmet her victim wore the day she died.
The jury heard she sent anonymous letters about Mrs Van Doren’s love life to friends and was psychologically unstable.
The prosecution described her as a “psycho-killer who felt intense hatred for her rival.”
But Vic van Aelst, defending, said: “There is not a shred of hard evidence to justify locking someone up for the rest of her life. Only a lot of hocus pocus.”
The judge said the only mitigating circumstance in the 2006 murder was Clottemans’ feeble psychological condition. She tried to kill herself in 2008.
The Parachute murder is a name the Belgian media gave the 2010 Belgian love triangle skydiving murder trial. The defendant, elementary school teacher and amateur skydiver Els ‘Babs’ Clottemans, was found guilty of murder by sabotaging the parachutes of another woman, fellow skydiver Els Van Doren, because Van Doren was a rival for the love of Marcel Somers, also a skydiver. The skydive in which Van Doren died occurred on November 18, 2006. Van Doren, who was a 38 years old married mother of two and a very experienced skydiver, died when both her primary and reserve parachutes failed to deploy. The dive was captured by a video camera mounted on Van Doren’s helmet. Van Doren dropped from a height of over 2 miles (3.2 km) landing in a garden in the town of Opglabbeek. Police later established that the cords of the parachute had been cut.
The case was entirely circumstantial. Clottemans became a suspect when she attempted suicide just before she was going to give a second statement to police a month after the incident. Police later learned that both Van Doren and Clottemans had a sexual relationship with Somers. The prosecutors alleged that Clottemans had the opportunity to sabotage Van Doren’s parachute the week before the fatal jump, when Clottemans, Van Doren, and Somers all spent the weekend at Somers’ home, with Clottemans sleeping in the living room while the other two were in the bedroom. According to the allegation Clottemans would have had the opportunity to cut Van Doren’s parachute’s cables, as the parachute was in the apartment, and experts estimated that it would have taken no more than 30 seconds to have cut the cables with scissors. While normally the three would jump together to create a formation, during the jump in question, Clottemans stayed on the plane a few extra seconds and watched Van Doren’s dive from above.
Investigators were not able to determine if Van Doren knew that Somers also had a relationship with Clottemans. For her part, Clottemans told the Belgian media in 2007 that “[she] always knew that [she] was number two for Marcel and that Els was number one. [She] never had a problem with this at the time as [she] had such a low image of [her]self that [she] could only ever imagine being number two.”
Clottemans was charged and arrested in January 2007, but released on bail in 2008. Her trial began on September 24, 2010 with jury selection and ended on October 20, 2010 with a conviction. Interest in the trial was so large, that “a room next to the courthouse had to be used for journalists to follow the proceedings through remote video.”
After the trial began, Clottemans, who maintained her innocence, was placed on suicide watch. On October 21, 2010 Clottemans was sentenced to a 30 years imprisonment. In sentencing her to 30 years rather than life, the judge took “her feeble psychological condition” as extenuating circumstances. Clottemans appealed the verdict on the ground that she was interrogated by police without the presence of her attorney. The appeal was denied in May 2011.
- Casert, Raf (September 24, 2010). “Prosecutors: Skydiving love triangle led to murder”. Bloomberg Businessweek. Associated Press.
- Waterfield, Bruno (September 24, 2010). “Woman skydiver on trial for murdering love rival”. London: The Sunday Telegraph.
- “Belgian skydiver ‘murdered love rival’ during jump”. BBC News. September 24, 2010.
- “Murder at 13,000ft: The dramatic final moments of skydiving victim captured by her OWN camera”. London: Daily Mail. September 25, 2010.
- “Skydiver allegedly tampered with love rival’s parachute”. Toronto Sun. QMI News. September 25, 2010.
- Casert, Raf (September 24, 2010). “Skydiver murder trial opens in Belgium”. The Sydney Morning Herald. Associated Press.
- “Els Clottemans again under special surveillance” (in Dutch). October 4, 2010.
- Wielaard, Robert (October 21, 2010). “Els Clottemans, Belgian Skydiver Who Doctored Parachute Of Love Rival, Gets 30 Years”. Huffington Post.
- Blenkinsop, Philip (May 3, 2011). “A Belgian teacher sentenced to 30 years for the murder of a skydiving love rival lost an appeal against her conviction on Tuesday”. Reuters. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
A sad story of love gone wrong. Two rivals entangled in each others lives, ending in a terrible disaster. No winners in this situation. Really sad. Do you have a sad love-triangle story that shows no winners but just losers? Share with us…..