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.


German jailed for life in double police murder

A German man was given a life sentence on Wednesday for shooting dead two police officers to escape being caught for illegal game hunting during a routine traffic check.

German jailed for life in double police murder

The regional court in Kaiserslautern found 39-year-old Andreas Schmitt guilty of the killings in January this year, which sent shockwaves across Germany.

His co-defendant, referred to by the court as Florian V., was found guilty of abetting illegal poaching.

The 33-year-old was in the car with Schmitt when the officers discovered dead game in the boot, investigators said.

“We are all to this day horrified that a supposed routine control could turn into a fatal incident,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a statement after the verdict.

READ ALSO: German prosecutors say poaching led to double police murder

The victims were a 24-year-old woman police officer still in training and her colleague, a 29-year-old man.

The young woman was killed by a single shot to the head, while the man was shot four times, investigators said.

The officers were able to report that they were checking a suspicious vehicle and that shots were being fired before radio contact broke off.

When backup arrived, the woman was already dead and the man fatally injured. The perpetrators had fled the scene.

The crime in the Kusel district of Rhineland-Palatinate state triggered a major manhunt, with police deploying helicopters and sniffer dogs, sealing off roads and warning local residents not to pick up hitchhikers.