BERLIN (AP) — German police launched a major manhunt Tuesday for a 19-year-old man suspected of killing a 9-year-old boy, then posting a photo and video of the slain child and boasting about his crime online.
A spokesman for police in the western city of Bochum said authorities received a call late Monday from a member of the public, who feared that a killing had taken place in the nearby town of Herne.
Officers searching the basement of a house found the boy's body, police spokesman Volker Schuette told The Associated Press. The victim and the suspect were neighbors, he said.
The suspect, identified by police as Marcel Hesse, appeared to be gloating next to the victim's bloodied body in a photo and video circulating on the so-called darknet — an area of cyberspace that's invisible on the open internet and used by some for illegal activity.
North Rhine-Westphalia's top security official, Interior Minister Ralf Jaeger, said the images "left even the investigators stunned."
Hesse was clearly identifiable, standing with bloody hands next to his victim, police said.
The photo has since appeared on regular social networking sites, Schuette said.
Police were using helicopters and sniffer dogs to search for Hesse, who is unemployed and had no previous criminal record. They said Hesse knows martial arts and could be armed and dangerous.
Authorities warned the public not to approach the teen, but instead to call police if they believe they've seen him.
The suspect was described as being thin, of average height, with short blond hair and glasses, and wearing clothes with a camouflage pattern.