Flags at half-staff for Savannah Dekker, 14; Church, school offer community support

Half mast

Flags across Bunschoten are hanging at half mast today in remembrance of 14-year-old Savannah Dekker, who was found dead on an industrial terrain in the town on Sunday. Her family's church dedicated the Pentecost sermon to Savannah on Monday and her school arranged a meeting to offer support for teachers, classmates and parents.

"With great sadness, we have taken note of the report that our beloved student Savannah Dekker from class 2 E/F passed away", the Oostwende College wrote in a statement on its website. "We are deeply saddened by this great loss of our 14-year-old classmate and (fellow) student. There are no words for this and it can't be understood. Our prayers and thoughts are with Savannah's family and friends."

The Reformed Zuiderkerk in Bunschoten-Spakenburg dedicated the Pentecost sermon to Savannah. In the sermon, the preacher expressed his incomprehension. "I don't have the answer either. I'm also struggling with words. But through him we can get through this. With the strength of the Holy Spirit", he said, according to NOS. "We can use the Pentecost message this day. If comfort is needed anywhere, it is here."

Savannah's family was not at the sermon, but several of her classmates were. 

Hoevelaken is also in mourning the loss of a 14-year-old girl. Romy Nieuwburg was found killed in a ditch in Achterveld on Friday. "Deeply saddened by this terrible crime in which a young life was so abruptly broken", the mayor said n a statement about Romy's death.

Romy's school will focus on helping her classmates and other students process her death, director Jan Hofman of the J.H. Donner School in De Glind said to RTV Utrecht. On Tuesday police officers and Victim Aid workers will be at the school to offer their support. "I've set up a program to process this on the first day", Hofman said to the broadcaster. "We are going to discuss what we know with the students, they can ask questions and children can talk to adults individualy."

J.H. Donner School is an institution for kids with behavioral problems and who need some extra emotional guidance. "Here we have children who have been through a lot", Hofman explained. "I see them blossom with us again, and that was true for this student too."

Two underage boys were arrested separately on Monday in connection with Romy and Savannah's death. The police confirmed that Romy was killed in a crime. The cause of Savannah's death is still unclear. At this stage the police believe the girls' deaths are unrelated and their cases are handled separately. 

Savannah Dekker (left) and Romy Nieuwburg (right) - two 14-year-old girls found dead within 15 kilometers of each other during the first weekend in June 2017
Savannah Dekker (left) and Romy Nieuwburg (right) - two 14-year-old girls found dead within 15 kilometers of each other during the first weekend in June 2017Photos: Facebook