A helpful son and grandson. A talented skateboarder. A reliable brother and companion. Relatives remember Casper Verheijen as a golden guy who was there for his friends and family. He died a year ago, after he was stabbed at the Sloterplas. At his memorial, the pain is unabated. “We can’t close this. Never.”
It is impossible for Adriaan not to think about his brother every day. “You are reminded of it everywhere. In town, when I run into friends. Of a skateboard rattling by. And at work.” Casper and Adriaan were partners and ran a roofing company together.
The brothers had big plans: they were looking for a farm to get rid of cranes and other equipment. They looked alike, says Adriaan. “Casper didn’t excel at school and was looking for a long time, just like me. But as a foreman he did well.”
“Casper was stabbed right in the heart”
One year ago Casper Verheijen (29) from Nijmegen had just finished his working day near Osdorpplein. Three underage boys approach him at a popular coffee shop on the Sloterplas. An argument ensues and one of the boys pulls out a knife. “Casper was stabbed right in the heart,” says his grandmother. “We received a call that he needed surgery.”
Casper didn’t make it. That same day he died in an Amsterdam hospital. “We heard it from Adriaan: ‘Grandma, he’s dead.’ Horrible.”
Casper’s family and friends gathered on Wednesday, exactly one year after his death, at the spot where he was stabbed. His father Rik lights a candle on a green strip between the Meer en Vaart and the Sloterplas. Casper’s aunt reads a poem: “All those millions of times in those millions of years, where you think back to the last time together.”
Flower arrangements and roses are laid out next to the candle. After hugs, tears and a moment of silence, the wind picks up and the group swerves to an uncertain restaurant to warm up. The family is close-knit: the majority still lives in the Nijmegen area. They received a lot of support from the city’s community, says Casper’s grandmother. “Mayor Bruls of Nijmegen was on the doorstep that same evening.”
She is less enthusiastic about the support from the capital. “I sent Femke Halsema a short message, but we didn’t get anything back.” Rik finds it hard to digest that the Amsterdam police will stop with preventive body searches for the time being. “While I think it is necessary in today’s society.” He hopes the council will reconsider.
It is still unclear what exactly happened. The certainty against the three suspects probably offers more certainty, say the relatives. It starts next month, when the three boys stand before the juvenile court. They can await their case in freedom, the Public Prosecution Service says.
If that provides insight, that is of course good, says Adriaan at the bar of the restaurant. “But we still can’t close this. Never.” He must be strong, he thinks. “I have lost my brother, my partner. But my parents have lost a son. You want to be there for them.”