What words do you find when you are speechless? "It breaks my heart and I'm deeply sad," Berlin's governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) tries to express during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday what many people in her city are likely to feel.
A five-year-old girl is dead. A passer-by discovered her lifeless late Tuesday afternoon in the Bürgerpark Pankow, a spacious green area in the north of the capital. Alerted rescue workers cannot save the child. She succumbs to her severe injuries in the hospital. It quickly becomes clear: the girl was killed.
"It had injuries where you have to assume that it was a homicide," says the police spokesman. At least one stab wound. And he says: "A suspect has already been arrested in this connection." The arrest took place just a few minutes after the girl was found "on the edge of the park".
The suspect is said to be a 19-year-old. A day after the crime, the investigators express a horrific suspicion: the young man was the girl's babysitter, a friend of the mother's.
After finding the girl, the police move out to the Bürgerpark Pankow, normally a green oasis in the hustle and bustle of the big city, with large cutlery. On Tuesday evening, mobile searchlights illuminate part of the park, while warning tape blocks access. Police vans are parked on the edge of the green area, police officers are looking for clues around the site of every square centimeter. A drone flies over the area for overview shots. The fourth murder commission of the Berlin State Criminal Police Office takes over the case, officials question possible witnesses.
The investigators want to know: what happened on Tuesday afternoon? And why would a 19-year-old possibly kill a five-year-old? There are only a few answers on Tuesday – at least not for the public.
One thing is clear: the police searched for the girl for almost three hours beforehand. Around 100 officers are involved in the search, reports Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, and a helicopter also rises. "In the afternoon a police officer was in the store and asked if we had seen a man with a little girl," the employee of a restaurant in the area later told a reporter from the DPA news agency.
The next day, investigators report that the 19-year-old was supposed to take care of the girl and her family of three siblings and was with them on the playground. He then went away with the five-year-old, allegedly to the toilet. He asked other people to take care of the three other children before returning a little later - without the five-year-old. He claimed to have lost her. The girl is reported missing, the police start their search. At 5.40 p.m., a passer-by made the horrific discovery in a bush.
The girl's body will be examined by the coroner's office on Wednesday morning. The report is not yet available, a spokesman for the public prosecutor said in the afternoon of the star. The exact cause of death has not yet been determined.
The 19-year-old suspect is meanwhile before the magistrate. The young man is the last to see the girl before the crime. So is he the culprit? The public prosecutor's office did not reveal whether he would comment on the allegation. He will be taken into custody on Wednesday evening, there is an urgent suspicion. The arrest warrant is for manslaughter. The investigators cannot yet say anything about a possible motive for the bloody deed, only one thing can be ruled out for the time being: a sexual background apparently does not play a role. The investigations of the fourth murder commission continue, and the murder weapon has not yet been found.
As early as Tuesday evening, mourners laid flowers at the Bürgerpark Pankow, lit candles and commemorated the five-year-olds who died. A small teddy bear is crouching on the sidewalk. The day after, people kept stopping near the site, reporters report. Some have tears in their eyes.
Sources: Berlin Police, Berlin Public Prosecutor's Office, Franziska Giffey, Berlin-Brandenburg Radio, DPA and AFP news agencies