German police launched a major manhunt today 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 dark net - an area of cyberspace that's invisible on the open internet and used by some for illegal activity.
Hesse was clearly identifiable, standing with bloody hands next to his victim, police said.North Rhine-Westphalia's top security official, Interior Minister Ralf Jaeger, said the images "left even the investigators stunned."
The photo has since appeared on regular social networking sites, Schuette said.
Meanwhile, police said they have not yet found any evidence of a second crime despite an online claim.
Bochum police confirmed Wednesday that someone purporting to be suspect Marcel Hesse had boasted online of torturing and killing a woman after slaying the 9-year-old boy. So far authorities haven't found anything backing the claim, but still aren't ruling it out, the dpa news agency reported.
Police spokesman Dirk Sopart confirmed Wednesday that the suspect also boasted of the killing anonymously on WhatsApp, dpa reported.
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.