Dutch authorities have confirmed the main suspect in the murder of an elderly woman stabbed to death in her home is a 30-year-old asylum seeker who had been living in a temporary refugee shelter nearby.
Seventy-year-old Fenny suffered fatal stab wounds in an attack at her home in Groningen on Jan. 31. She is understood to have run outside after the attack crying, “I’ve been stabbed. I’ve been stabbed,” showing a wound to her abdomen to a neighbor who called for help.
Fenny was transferred to the hospital where she died a few days later as a result of her injuries.
After an investigation, the Dutch public prosecutor confirmed a 30-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of qualified manslaughter. The police are working on the assumption the elderly victim was murdered after a botched burglary attempt in the quiet Dutch neighborhood.
Despite the prosecutor’s office refusing to divulge further information about the suspect, insisting, “We never go into the background of a suspect,” Dutch media outlet DVNH reported on Thursday that the main suspect is a 30-year-old asylum seeker whose country of origin and asylum status is currently unknown.
The case has caused uproar in a local area that had already recently challenged the government’s decision to accommodate asylum seekers in temporary housing in the city.
Dutch media reported how the murder suspect had recently been residing on a boat in the Eems Canal, which has been used by the local government as a winter shelter for asylum seekers. The boat is close to the victim’s home in De Holtstek, an area close to the city center but a quiet neighborhood.
“This is another neighborhood, where we look after each other’s house and cats. I’m very sorry that this happened here,” one resident told local media.
A number of local residents had expressed concern about the number of new arrivals to the area after two asylum centers were established nearby: the canal boat and another location for daytime activities for asylum seekers located on the Eemskanaal Noordzijde.
“Our neighborhood has become a drain,” one resident of De Holtstek told DVNH who claimed he and his neighbors had told local authorities they feel unsafe due to the aggressive behavior of newcomers who hang out in the residential courtyard.
“We have not heard from the police. How dangerous is it to live here? Is there a chance of recurrence? Everyone here is worried,” said another resident, while a third woman added, “We are careful, we feel unsafe. It’s like the devil is after us.”
The victim had been due to go on holiday with a fellow neighbor and had been discussing plans with her friend the night she died. Were it not for the attack, “they would be in Bali now,” said a neighbor.
Local government has sought to reassure residents the matter was an isolated incident and there is no further threat to the public.
“Of course, we can well imagine the feelings of unrest among local residents following this tragic incident,” said a spokesperson for the municipality. “That is also the reason that the municipality and network partners have been in the neighborhood many times in recent days, and are in close contact with the neighborhood organizations,” they added.