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Sara, 1, is observing the sea of candles in Porvoo on Tuesday morning, November 14, that have been lit for the memory of a local three-year-old girl who was tragically killed on Monday. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

”I hope he suffers.” A woman in her 50s was biting her lip while talking to another standing next to her. “I hope they lock him away for good,” she continued.

The cloudy morning of Tuesday in the center of Porvoo at Lyseo Park, known for its roses and the playground of small children, was illuminated with memorial candles. A note was hanging from the yellow fence protecting the deserted playground: “You were born into this world of hate . . . . Rest in peace small one.”

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Teddy bears of various sizes and colors were leaning against the fence, some holding their paws as if ready to hug. Maybe one of them had belonged to her.

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The entrance to the playground has been blocked with candles and lanterns. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

On Monday morning, a girl, 3, was killed here by her French father in his 40s — stopped too late by the police who tackled the man into the ground after seeing him “punishing the child.” The punishing turned out to be a knife attack. The girl was hurriedly carried away with a helicopter, but there was not much to do to save her. She died of her wounds in hospital.

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The suspect has been interrogated by the police on Tuesday afternoon but the authorities have remained silent about the details.

The court documents, however, reveal the sad struggle in the relationship between the father and the mother. The mother had visited a shelter for battered family members several times with their daughter. In September, the court had given her full custody. According to the court, there was real concern over the safety of the child.

The concern was based on an incident where the father had taken their daughter against the mother’s will to the Caribbean Islands, where the father is originally from. The mother had received a temporary restraining order against the father.

Instead of bringing their children to play at the Lyseo playground, the locals are bringing various memorial items. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

In 2015, the man had assaulted his other daughter, who at the time was 15. He struck his daughter several times with a belt. The man had said that he punished the child “according to his culture.” The father received a suspended sentence of 30 days.

On Monday morning, the mother was the first to call the emergency number. The father had taken their daughter from their apartment and was about to stab their child.

After the first call, the police patrol found the man quickly from the Lyseo Park. After the incident, he was handcuffed and taken to the police prison in Porvoo. He is suspected of murder.

On Tuesday at the Lyseo Park, Janina Snellman, 33, was holding her one-year-old daughter Sara in her lap. Sara was hugging a stuffed tiger. “I could have never thought that the man was capable of such horror,” said Janina, who knew the family.

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Janina put Sara on the ground. They walked to the sea of candles and lighted one. Sara stared at the flames. Janina burst into tears and lifted her daughter into her lap and as they left there was a moment of silence.

Soon sand was crackling in the distance.  Two girls were approaching.

They were holding memorial candles.


Sources: HS, MTV News, The Police