Mistakes made in assessing mental state of suspect in American student's murder: report

The Rotterdam hotline for disturbed persons and its social workers may have made mistakes in assessing the mental state of Joel S., who is suspected of stabbing his 21-year-old American housemate Sarah Papenheim to death in their student flat in December last year, NOS reports based on documents its journalists managed to get a look at.

"We have seen documents that show that social workers were aware of Joel. S.'s mental distress", reporter Henrik-Willem Hofs said to NOS. "The disturbed persons reporting center was notified by Sarah Papenheim herself. They visited S., but estimated that he had no acute problems. He looked well-groomed, was approachable and had a clear mind."

On the same day that the social workers visited S., he had told Sarah that he wanted to become a serial killer and that it was time for "revenge", according to the broadcaster. That was known to the social workers, but they did not take immediate action and did not inform the police. 

Sarah was found stabbed to death in her student apartment in Rotterdam's Kralingen neighborhood on December 12th last year. The police responded to the apartment where S. and Sarah both lived after S.'s mother called them. S.'s mother told the police that her son had called her and said he stabbed one of his roommates. The young woman had 37 stab wounds and cuts on her body. 

S. was arrested at Eindhoven train station a short time after Sarah's body was found. He confessed to the stabbing

According to lawyer Sebas Diekstra, who is representing Sarah's mother, the social workers could have prevented the American student's death. He called the social workers insufficiently qualified.