Dog-walking murders: Suspect thought TV spoke to him; Psychos in control of world
Thijs H., a 28-year-old from Limburg suspected of murdering three random people while they were walking their dogs in The Hague and Heerlen in May last year, thought that the world was controlled by psychopaths who communicated in code, codes that he spotted in TV shows and other places, was revealed during the first day of the trial against him on Monday. The first two days of the hearing are dedicated to assessing H.'s mental state during the murders, and whether he could be held accountable, according to AD reporter Niels Klaassen tweeting from the courtroom.
H. is suspected of stabbing three people to death - 56-year-old Etsuko in a wooded area in Scheveningen on May 4, and 63-year-old Diny from Heerlen and 68-year-old Fans from Hoensbroek in the Brunssumerheide on May 7. All three victims were walking their dogs when he attacked. He previously confessed to the murders.
In court on Monday, it was revealed that Etsuko was stabbed 30 times. Her little finger was also cut off. Diny had six cuts on her head and trunk. Frans was also stabbed several times and had defensive wounds. The Public Prosecution Service is charging H. with murder in all three cases.
Witness statements from people who know H. paint the picture of a smart young man who sometimes struggled in socially. His drug use increased in middle school. As a student in 2017, Thijs H. started experiencing stress complaints - he became listless, had trouble concentrating and was always tired. In the summer of 2018, his mental health deteriorated. He no longer had a grip on his emotions, he said in previous interrogations. "I started looking up everything about personality disorders, I felt lost, I felt that I was not myself," the judge quoted from one such session.
In August 2018, H. went to a mental healthcare clinic, telling the doctors there that the world is "in the hands of psychopaths who communicate in code language". He saw this code in television series, but did not tell others about it, because "then the unimaginable would happen. Murder, torture," he said in court.
In September 2018, after a night of using drugs and drinking with his sister and a friend, H. had a breakdown. A psychiatrist diagnosed H. as suffering from psychosis, caused by stress and cannabis use, was revealed in court. He was prescribed anti-psychotics, but stopped taking them in October 2018. In early November, H. attempted suicide. When asked why, he said: "I thought friends would kidnap or torture me, so I thought I'd do it myself. As a better alternative."
On May 1 last year, H.'s parents noticed that he was not doing well. His father went to get him from The Hague, and his mother called the mental health clinic that previously treated him. The next day he went out to dinner with his parents and received "assignments" in code. "I thought I was told to do something to people at the table. I didn't know what," he said. On May 3, the "assignment" became clear - he had to kill two people, H. said. He got this message through license plates, among other things.
"I know I made a plan: I am going to kill one person, and I'm going to be killed myself," H. said. On Saturday, May 4, he attacked the 56-year-old woman in Scheveningen. He cut off her little finger. "I thought I needed proof. But I couldn't take the finger in my coat." The next day, he returned to his parents' home in Brunssum. They saw that all was not right with their son and called his doctor, but the doctor so no reason to admit him.
On May 6, H. got more "messages" saying that this time there had to be two. He went out on Tuesday May 7. "I took the dogs for a walk, then I took a knife. Then I went to the Brunssumerheide to commit two murders." He first attacked Diny. "There was no one around. I ran to her, stabbed her from the back several times," he said in a previous police interrogation. He then went looking for his second victim. "I thought I have to do it this time. Otherwise I would lose more relatives," he said, referring to his uncle who died in April. He came across Frans, and attacked him. "I ran towards him, stabbed him from behind. But he hit me with the dog leash. But I kept going."
After the murders, H. said that he was "very upset" but also "somewhat" relieved. "It was over. License plates cheered me on after that. Messages that said: good job," he said.