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College Student, 21, Allegedly Killed by Roommate While Studying Abroad in Netherlands: Reports


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A 21-year-old American college student was allegedly stabbed to death by her roommate earlier this week while studying abroad in the Netherlands, where she had lived for several years, according to CNN, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and California TV station KRCR.

Police reportedly found Sarah Papenheim’s body in her apartment in Rotterdam on Wednesday, about a mile from Erasmus University. Papenheim was studying psychology and was focusing on suicidal behavior, as her older brother killed himself three years ago, the Star Tribune reports.

Her mother, Donee Odegard, told KRCR that Papenheim had been beaten as well as stabbed.

Speaking with the Star Tribune, Odegard said her daughter, who lived in the Netherlands since 2016, was likely attacked when she returned to her apartment from staying with her boyfriend in order to get some clothes.

Odegard told the paper that while her daughter had initially gotten along with her roommate, a 23-year-old man who has not been named by police, he had grown increasingly volatile.

“[The] last couple of weeks [he] was getting more and more angry,” said Odegard, whom PEOPLE could not reach on Friday. Mental health officials had also visited the apartment in recent days, she said.

“I told her she needed to get out of there, that he seemed dangerous,” Odegard recalled to KRCR. “But she told me, ‘No mom. I’m his only friend and he won’t hurt me.’ ”

After the attack, the man was taken into custody at a train station about 60 miles outside Rotterdam, according to CNN and the Star Tribune. He remains in custody, KRCR reports.

A possible motive is unclear. Rotterdam police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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“I’m heartbroken,” Odegard told KRCR. “I think I’m in shock. She was planning to come home next week. We talked about her staying here permanently and finishing school here. It was a week too late.”

Papenheim, who grew up in both Minnesota and California, was a well-known blues drummer in the Minneapolis area, according to local news outlets. She could often be found playing at weekly jam sessions with other musicians, TV station WCCO reports.

“I liked her because she hit the drums just as hard as guys did,” Jellybean Johnson, described as a friend and mentor, told the station. “So I nicknamed her ‘Thumper.’ ”

“The thing that is going through my head is that she was coming home for Christmas,” musician George Moye, who often shared the stage with Papenheim when she was home, told WCCO. “And we were all so excited to see her and to hear that she was coming back that way, and that was just tragic.”

Area musicians are organizing a benefit to help raise funds for Papenheim’s family. A GoFundMe page has also been set up.