A small white stuffed bear, a sandman doll and some roses and daffodils lie at the entrance to the park in the north of Berlin. Next to it are red grave lights on Wednesday. People keep stopping for a moment, and some have tears on their faces. On Tuesday afternoon, five-year-old Anissa, who had disappeared, was found dead near the B├╝rgerpark in the Pankow district of Berlin – with at least one knife wound in her body and lifeless.

Helpers tried to revive the girl. It was then flown to a hospital in a helicopter. There it died. Shortly after the discovery, the police arrested a 19-year-old “at the edge of the park” as a suspect. He is now in custody. A judge issued an arrest warrant for manslaughter as requested, a spokesman for the public prosecutor said late Wednesday afternoon.

The 19-year-old was a friend of the child’s family – and babysitter for the four children. So far, he has said nothing about the allegations, the prosecutor said. Since the motive is still unclear, the accusation is initially manslaughter, said the spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office. “He was arrested because he was the one who left with the girl and came back without her,” the spokesman said.

Motive still unclear

“A sexual motive does not play a role according to the current situation,” said his colleague beforehand. This was also confirmed by the autopsy of the body. A homicide commission is investigating the motive for the crime and other background information.

According to initial findings from the police and public prosecutor’s office, which are based on statements by the family and witnesses, the 19-year-old took care of the girl who was later killed and her three younger siblings on Tuesday afternoon on the Paule-Park playground in a green area in bourgeois Pankow.

At around 2:30 p.m., the young man left there with the five-year-old. As a reason he said that Anissa had to go to the toilet. He asked other people to take care of the three other children. A little later the man came back without the girl and said he had lost her.

Other people from the playground alerted the police around 3 p.m. and reported the girl missing. The police launched a major search operation involving more than 100 officers and a helicopter. The area was combed until passers-by finally found the girl around 5.40 p.m. about 700 meters away in the nearby B├╝rgerpark. The babysitter was arrested shortly thereafter.

Mothers of perpetrators and victims were delighted

The public prosecutor did not want to say whether the family and the suspect live in Pankow or in neighboring districts such as Gesundbrunnen on the western side of the former border between West and East Berlin. According to the police, the victim has German-Turkish-Polish nationality, and the suspect has German and Turkish nationality. The spokeswoman said his mother and the mother of the girl killed were friends.

The night after the fact, Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) reacted. “I’m shocked. (…) It breaks my heart and I’m deeply saddened,” she wrote on Twitter. Her thoughts are with the little girl’s parents and her loved ones.

On Tuesday evening, the forensic technicians from the State Criminal Police Office began searching for clues in the specially illuminated park and continued on Wednesday. The site where the child was found on a hill in the park was still cordoned off over a wide area.

Dozens of police officers scoured the park in a wide formation from where the body was found in the direction of the playground. The murder weapon was sought and was believed to be a knife. The police officers searched the bushes and leaves on the ground with sticks and rakes and also looked in glass containers. Police flew a drone over the scene to take aerial photos. The investigating authorities did not initially reveal whether the search was successful.