Stabbing suspect lived on street with students

You move into a house on a lovely little alleyway full of other student houses you’ve found the perfect spot. Then one day the police show up and lead your neighbour away in handcuffs. It turns out he is a suspect of the deadly stabbing at the Jaagpad. This happened to students Mark, Kaj, and Koen.
By Hadassa van de Griend and Aafke Eppinga / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

On Tuesday afternoon, the students who live in House BTW in the Soniusgang in Groningen grab a brewski and watch women’s football, while Mark, Kaj, and Koen tells us what it’s like to live there.

If you’d asked them a week ago what makes their alleyway so special, they probably would have said the lovely atmosphere because of all the students who live there. But recently, they’ve changed their minds.

Messy

The Soniusgang – a narrow deadeend street near the Damsterdiep – is full of bicycles and cigarette butts, front doors plastered with student association stickers, and a few plastic garden chairs littered about where people relax on sunny days. It’s a typical student street: a little messy, a lot cosy.

But all of that changed on Monday when the police arrested their neighbour, who turned out to be a suspect in the death of 27-year-old Hidde Bergman. Bergman was stabbed to death several weeks before on the Jaagpad, which runs along the Reitdiep and the Zernike campus.

Noticed

The three students had noticed the suspect, a 26-year-old man, in the weeks following the the stabbing. ‘He was this weird guy in a yellow jacket who kept pacing up and down the alleyway bumming cigarettes off us’, says Kaj.

The police released a composite sketch of the suspect several days after Hidde Bergman’s death, but the guys didn’t make the connection. ‘He looked nothing like it’, says Koen. ‘It’s not like I was “oh my god, it’s the guy!”’, agrees Kaj.

‘One of us’

They aren’t particularly disturbed by the discovery that they were living next to a murder suspect. Kaj sips his beer: ‘Sure, you wonder if he could have attacked one of us. But anyone could jump out of the bushes with a knife. You could hide under your blankets and never leave the house, but that won’t help either.’

Mark’s mother didn’t take the news as lightly. He told her about what happened over WhatsApp. ‘She wrote back to please be careful.’

They don’t know yet whether ‘the weird guy in the yellow jacket’ is actually the killer. ‘The cops came in for a cup of coffee, but they wouldn’t tell us anything.’

The suspect’s roommates have affixed a sheet of paper with a hastily scrawled message to the press to please contact the police: ‘They will assist you further. We have no comment.’

Jaagpad stabbing

On May 14, 7.15 pm, Hidde Bergman was stabbed to death at the Jaagpad where he was jogging. He managed to call the emergency services before succumbing to his injuries at the scene.

The 27-year-old from Groningen graduated from the Hanze last year and worked as a (youth) trainer for an athletics club. Five days after the incident, the police publish a composite sketch of the possible suspect, based on eyewitness accounts.

On Monday morning, the police confirmed that they’d apprehended someone, but wouldn’t comment further in light of the investigation.

Nederlands

12 June 2019

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