American Student Killed in the Netherlands


By Laura Lassen, Staff Writer

An American student studying abroad in the Netherlands was stabbed to death in her apartment in Rotterdam on Wednesday, December 12th.

Sarah Papenheim was a 21-year-old student studying psychology at The Erasmus School of Social and Behavourial Sciences in Rotterdam. Originally from Minnesota, she had been living in the Netherlands since 2016. After arguing and shouts from her apartment were reported on Wednesday night, the police found her dead with stab wounds.

The suspect is Joel Schelling, her 23-year-old roommate whose motives for the murder are unknown. The two had connected over their love for music, but Papenheim’s mother reported that Schelling often had mood swings and became increasingly angry leading up to her death. According to Adam Pryor, Papenheim’s friend, she had texted him on December 6th saying that Schelling had threatened to kill three people.

“I think it’s such a terrible thing that’s happened,” said junior Maya Kachroo. “I really hope that in the next few weeks we find out what really happened and the person who did this is punished for such an awful crime.”

The entire event has taken a toll on the family, and it is not their first tragedy—her brother, Josh Papenheim, committed suicide three years ago. “My only two kids, and I’ve lost them both,” said mother Donee Odegard.

Sarah Papenheim is one of thousands who take their education overseas each year. For WHHS students, studying abroad is an extremely popular route to take after graduating.

When asked about her opinions regarding Papenheim’s death and the dangers of studying abroad, senior Emma Lombardi said, “it has nothing to do with where she was but who she was with.” Lombardi plans on attending a university in England after graduating, and added that she “would definitely get scared if something happens and I’m very far away.”

Papenheim’s family started a GoFundMe to safely bring their daughter home and to cover the funeral and burial costs. As of December 19th, the family has raised over $50,000.