Dog park murders: Thijs H. gets 18 years for killing three

Thijs H. suspected in three fatal stabbings in The Hague and Heerlen
Thijs H. suspected in three fatal stabbings, including one in The Hague and two in Heerlen. Undatedphoto: Politie

A man accused of killing three people while they were walking their dogs in The Hague and Heerlen last year was convicted in a Limburg court on Thursday. Thijs H., 28, was sentenced to 18 years in prison, and additional mandatory treatment in a psychiatric institution.

H. previously confessed to killing a 56-year-old woman in the Scheveningse Bosjes, a wooded area in The Hague, on 4 May 2019. He also said he was responsible for two more murders three days later in Brunssumerheide in Heerlen. A 63-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man died in that attack.

All three victims were stabbed to death. The first victim was stabbed dozens of times, prosecutors said. He again confessed to the crimes in court, and said he regretted killing the three after hearing statements from the victims' relatives.

In his defense, he said he had received "messages and signals" from television shows, news reports, and even vehicle license plates. Experts who evaluated him on behalf of the court determined he was suffering from a "serious psychotic disorder" when the murders took place.

Prosecutors disagreed, saying, "There are also doubts about the reliability of the suspect's story and that of his family." The prosecution added, "In addition, the suspect himself had at least a hand in the development of a possible psychosis, because despite warnings he frequently used drugs and took medication that was not prescribed by a doctor." They recommended a sentence of 24 years behind bars, and psychiatric treatment.

In rendering its verdict, the court agreed that the suspect was somewhat "less accountable" for his actions because of the information revealed in the mental evaluation. "As a result, the court was able to impose not only [institutionalized psychatric treatment], but also imprisonment," the court said in a statement.

The court also ordered H. to pay restitution of nearly 104 thousand euros to five of the six victims' relatives who filed claims against him.