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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The Michael Vanderlinden Murder-Suicide Case

     In mid-August 2012, 38-year-old Michael Vanderlinden, a native of Belgium who worked in the information technology field, was about to move out of the new, spacious two-story house he lived in with his wife Linda and their two sons, Julien, age seven and Matthew who was four. Vanderlinden, with a history of mental illness and depression, was seeing a therapist. In November 2010 he had attempted suicide by overdosing on pills. His emotional and mental health problems had strained his marriage which was the reason he was in the process of moving out of the family home in Van Buren Township. A neighbor saw Vanderlinden walk out of his house in the Homestead subdivision outside of Detroit and drive off at 9:30 in the evening of August 15, 2012. No one in the subdivision saw him after that.

     On Thursday August 16 at 1:35 in the morning on Interstate 94 in La Porte County Indiana just south of the Michigan state line, Vanderlinden drove out of a rest area via the entrance ramp which put him in the westbound lane traveling east. Moving at a high rate of speed Vanderlinden's vehicle, with its headlights off, plowed head-on into a car traveling eastbound on the interstate. Both vehicles burst into flames on impact, burning Vanderlinden and the driver of the other vehicle, 45-year-old Julian Nelson, beyond recognition. Mr. Nelson, the victim of Vanderlinden's suicide, was from Portage, Indiana.

     Later in the morning of the automobile fatalities on I-94 the Indiana State Police asked officers in Van Buren Township to notify Vanderlinden's wife of his death. At 8:30 AM a township patrolman rang the doorbell to the Vanderlinden home. Seeing a car in the garage the officer assumed that the house was occupied. When the doorbell failed to bring a response the officer tried the front door, found it unlocked, and entered the dwelling.

     In the master bedroom, the officer found 34-year-old Linda Vanderlinden, a charter school teacher, dead with a stab wound to her chest. She had also been strangled which turned out to be the cause of her death. In separate bedrooms the officer found the murdered children, each with multiple stab wounds from an 8-inch kitchen knife.

     The forensic pathologist with the Wayne County Coroner's Office was unable to determine the exact time the Vanderdindens' had been murdered. Because there were no signs of forced entry into the house, no one had been sexually assaulted and nothing had been taken from the death scene, investigators identified Michael Vanderlinden as the murderer. 

   The Indiana State Police concluded that Michael Vanderlinden had purposely caused the fatal, head-on crash.

     In murder-suicides the question is always the same: if a person is going to kill himself, why would he take other people with him? In this case, Vanderlinden, for no reason a sane person could understand, slaughtered his family and in the act of killing himself murdered a total stranger. 


  1. I wish the American Government would do something for the Mentally ill, But they just choose to ignore it...

  2. I always figured that the suicide was either out of remorse (not being able to live with what he or she had done) or not wanting to risk being captured. Better off dead now than dying in prison, that sort of thing.