Herne child murder case: What we know and don’t know

Police on Thursday night arrested the 19-year-old suspect behind the murder of a nine-year-old boy - leading them to the discovery of yet another body. Here's what we know so far.

Herne child murder case: What we know and don't know
A wanted poster for the suspect, Marcel H. Photo: DPA.

The gruesome discovery of nine-year-old Jaden, stabbed to death in Marcel H.'s basement on Monday, launched a nationwide search for the suspect, who police said could be contemplating further crimes.

Disturbing potential evidence emerged online, including a selfie appearing to depict the bloody suspect with the boy's body, and an audio message purporting to be the suspect describing the act in a “cold-blooded” manner, as police described.

After he turned himself in, the suspect gave police information that led them to find yet another victim.

What we know

The crime: The lawyer for Jaden's family said that their neighbour, Marcel H., lured the little boy over under a false pretext, the boy's brother noting it was to help hold a ladder.

Images of the suspect emerged online, and an internet user alerted police, who then found the boy stabbed to death in the basement. At about the same time as the police discovery, Jaden's stepfather arrived at the scene to look for the boy.

The arrest: Marcel H. was described by police at the beginning of the search to be potentially dangerous. Authorities received more than 1,400 tips over the course of the days-long hunt.

The suspect on Thursday went to a food stand and said: “I am the one they're looking for, please call the police”. Police were then able to arrest him.

Once in custody, Marcel H. told officers about a fire at a home nearby. There police found a dead male body.

What we don't know

The motive: The suspect was previously not known to police as a criminal. Police have described him as a loner who had little social contact with others. But so far police have not stated a potential motive.

They have also said that he was potentially suicidal. 

The online evidence: Police at first described the images posted online that led to the boy's discovery as being posted on the darknet. They later told reporters that someone who had been chatting with the suspect through messaging service WhatsApp had contacted them. These chats and images then somehow ended up on the online forum 4chan, as reported by Vice.

The online posts included the selfie of the suspect with a body.

Later someone online posted in a chat forum that they were Marcel H. and described fighting and torturing a woman to get her bank details. Police are still investigating whether these messages were indeed from Marcel H.

Then an audio message was posted online – on Facebook, according to Die Welt – also claiming to be from Marcel H. and describing the murder of Jaden. Police described the account as “cold-blooded”. And while they presume the message came from the suspect, police are not yet certain.

The second body: Police have not yet released details about the body found on Thursday, as of Friday morning. Nor have they said how the person could be connected to Marcel H.


101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

A 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard on Monday once again denied being complicit in war crimes during the Holocaust as his trial drew to a close in Germany.

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

Josef Schütz, the oldest person so far to face trial over Nazi crimes during World War II, is accused of involvement in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, has pleaded innocent throughout the trial, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said again at the close of the proceedings, his voice wavering.

Dressed in a grey shirt and pyjama bottoms and sitting in a wheelchair, Schütz insisted he had had nothing to do with the atrocities and was “telling the truth”.

READ ALSO: Ex-Nazi death camp secretary who fled trial to face court in Germany

Prosecutors say he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the crimes as a guard at the camp and are seeking to punish him with five years behind bars.

But Schütz’s lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, said that since there were no photographs of him wearing an SS uniform, the case was based on “hints” of his possible involvement.

“As early as 1973, investigators had information about him but did not pursue him. At the time, witnesses could have been heard but now they are all dead or no longer able to speak,” Waterkamp said.

Former Nazi guard

The 101-year-old former Nazi guard covers his face at the Neuruppin courthouse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

It would be a mistake for the court to try to “make up for the mistakes of a previous generation of judges”, the lawyer said.

Antoine Grumbach, 80, whose father died in Sachsenhausen, told AFP Schuetz “does not want to remember”, calling it “a form of defence”.

The trial was not just about “putting a centenarian in prison”, he said. It had also produced evidence that Sachsenhausen was an “experimental extermination camp”.

“All the cruellest methods were invented there and then exported,” Grumbach said.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor