Murdered Minnesota Student’s Mom Knew Something Was Wrong
Authorities knocked on the door and the mother of a young woman killed in Rotterdam just knew. She had already been through the agony of losing a child.
When Sarah Papenheim’s mother answered her front door and saw a Minnesota sheriff, she knew something terrible had happened to her daughter in the Netherlands. Donee Odegard told a local ABC news affiliate that she had been down this road before—when her son committed suicide three years earlier.
“He was sad to inform me that my beautiful daughter had passed,” she said. “I kind of knew it was coming when you have done this before.”
Papenheim, an avid jazz drummer who was studying psychology and music in Rotterdam, was found stabbed to death on Wednesday afternoon. A 23-year-old Dutch man who lived in her off-campus apartment complex was arrested at a local train station about 65 miles from the scene.
He is the primary suspect in Papenheim’s murder, said Roland Ekkers of the Rotterdam Police Department. Witnesses in the apartment complex, which is not affiliated with the university but houses a number of students, reported hearing shouting and screams before Papenheim was murdered, local papers in Minnesota report.
The suspect, who Odegard says was a cello player also studying music, was a close friend of the victim.
“They loved talking about music,” Odegard told ABC. “Nothing concerned me until the last time I talked to her, when she told me this story: She said, 'Mommy he did this. He is acting strange.’”
Odegard then told Papenheim to stay away from him, but she said her daughter didn’t want to. “Mom, he is my friend.” the young victim reportedly told her mother. “I am his only friend. He would get angry, but I can always talk him down and change his mind.”
Ekkers told local reporters that they are not looking for other suspects, but that they do not yet have a motive for the heinous killing. “This is obviously a very, very tragic case,” Ekkers said. “We are somewhat happy we could arrest the suspect so soon, but that’s only a small drop in the pain that the family must feel. So our thoughts are with them.”
Odegard told local media outlets that her daughter was planning to come home to Minnesota for Christmas when her final exams ended this week. Now the mother is flying to Rotterdam to collect her daughter’s body. The family has set up a GoFund me page to help defray costs in the repatriation of the young woman’s body.
“Her smile just brightens a room,” Odegard told ABC. “She’d walk right up to you like you were friends forever.”
Tributes for the young woman filled her social-media pages. ”Thank you for impacting my life in such a positive way Sarah,” one said. “From picking out which selfies i should post, to deep talks, you really were one of the greatest human beings i have ever encountered.”