Minnesotan fatally stabbed while studying in the Netherlands

December 13, 2018 06:32 PM

A Minnesotan studying in the Netherlands was fatally stabbed near campus at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS confirmed Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the university, at which Sarah Papenheim was a student, confirmed the death Thursday.

The university spokeswoman said Papenheim was stabbed in her room in housing roughly a block from the campus Wednesday.

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Roland Ekkers of the Rotterdam Police Department said police found Papenheim in the building at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. She was pronounced dead at the scene, Ekkers said.

Ekkers said while many students lived in the building, it is not considered student housing connected with the university.

The suspect in the stabbing has been arrested, the university spokeswoman confirmed. Ekkers confirmed the male suspect was found at a train station nearby shortly after the incident.

Ekkers said Papenheim and the suspect knew each other, and that they lived in the same building. 

But Donee Odegard, Papenheim's mother, said the two were roommates. 

Odegard spoke about her daughter Thursday.

"Her smile just brightens a room," she said. "She'd walk right up to you like you were friends forever."

Odegard said her daughter was a talented drummer and had many friends in the Minnesota jazz music scene.

She was supposed to return home for Christmas.

Her mother said Papenheim had complained about the suspect becoming increasingly mad, having ups-and-downs and a temper. She said she told her daughter to get out.

But Odegard said Papenhaim would tell her she was "his only friend."

Odegard is traveling to the Netherlands Friday. Loved ones have set up a GoFundMe page to help with the expenses of bringing Papenheim home.

The university, meanwhile, said Papenhaim is being mourned there.

"The university is shocked by this terrible incident and is taking care of upset students and employees and will act towards relatives according to our protocols," the spokeswoman stated in an email to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

"We encourage our students and staff not to let each other alone in this difficult time and to get in touch with student-advisors and psychologists if they want to. We also arranged a memorial room. Students were very sad and said it was very helpful to be at this gathering. Our deepest condolences go out to all Sarah's family and friends at this poignant time."

The spokeswoman said the Rotterdam police were continuing to investigate.

"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."

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Brandi Powell and Rebecca Omastiak

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