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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.

GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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