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German police said Tuesday that two children are in custody suspected of killing a 12-year-old girl found dead earlier this week in the western town of Freudenberg, in a case that has shocked the country.
The girl, who was only identified by her first name Louise due to privacy reasons, went missing Saturday after visiting a friend. She was found stabbed to death on Sunday in a forest near a former railroad station, after a massive police search.
Prosecutor Mario Mannweiler told reporters that “we must assume that the crime was committed by two children from the (victim’s) circle of acquaintances.”
The two suspects, who are 12 and 13 years old, confessed to the killing, police officer Florian Locker said.
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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.
Police forces stand at a blocked off area in Freudenberg, Germany, on March 12, 2023. A girl went missing on Saturday and the police discovered her body on Sunday. Police have taken two children into custody in connection with the homicide. (Roberto Pfeil/dpa via AP)
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.
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Police said the victim had several stabbing wounds and died of blood loss.
The governor of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where Freudenberg is located, said he was appalled by the killing.
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“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.