Two schoolgirls, aged 12 and 13, are suspected of murdering a 12-year-old by stabbing her over 30 times in a German woodland in a case that has shocked the country.
German police said on Tuesday that two children are in custody suspected of killing a girl found dead earlier this week in the western town of Freudenberg.
The victim, who was only identified by her first name Luise due to privacy reasons, went missing on Saturday after visiting a friend and failing to return home.
Her parents tried to call her, but she didn’t pick up. Hours later, they reported her disappearance to the police, prompting an extensive search.
Luise’s body was found covered in stab wounds in an area of woodland near a disused train station in Wildenburg, some two kilometres (1.2 miles) from her home, the following afternoon. An autopsy later gave her cause of death as exsanguination, severe loss of blood.
Senior public prosecutor Mario Mannweiler said at a press conference on 14 March: “The investigations carried out so far confirm the suspicion that the girl was the victim of a homicide.”
He told reporters that “we must assume that the crime was committed by two children from the (victim’s) circle of acquaintances”.
The two suspected killers confessed to the killing, police officer Florian Locker said.
Citing the age of the suspects, officials refused to give any further details on their identity, gender, motive, or whether they knew the victim from school.
Commenting on the possible motive, Mannweiler said: “What may be a motive for a child to commit a deed may not necessarily be apparent to an adult.”
But, referring to the number of perforations to the victim’s body, he said it was likely “some emotions played a role”.
Due to their youth, the two children are below the age of criminal responsibility which is 14 in Germany. They were therefore not arrested but taken into custody of a youth welfare office.
The governor of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Freudenberg is located, said he was appalled by the killing.
“North Rhine-Westphalia is grieving,” Hendrik Wuest said. “It is incomprehensible and unbearable that children are capable of such horrible acts.”
He promised that the authorities would do everything in their power to shed light on the reasons and circumstances of the crime.