Local Police at the scene of the stabbing. | J. SOCIES

The stabbing to death of Ika Hoffmann in Colonia Sant Jordi on Sunday morning naturally caused great dismay and sorrow among neighbours. Her apartment was rented. The owner, Francisca Valls, said that it had been rented out to Ika for seven years. There had never been a problem. "She was a good woman. She was a widow. I think she had two daughters in Germany. As far as I know she didn't want men. She lived alone and quietly. I don't believe this man (the alleged killer) was her partner."

One of the neighbours had heard screams of "desperation" and had called the police. Most were unaware of what had happened until local police and the Guardia Civil arrived and cordoned off the area. It is normally busy along the road. Passersby stopped and expressed their astonishment and sadness when they realised what had occurred.

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One of the first people to enter the apartment was a vet from Ses Salines, Miquel Mercadal. Ika's dog and cats needed looking after. He said that the alleged murderer is known in Colonia Sant Jordi. "He used to work for the street cleaning brigade. I can't be sure, but I think he's now unemployed." Mercadal added that Ika was a cat lover, who would take in abandoned cats.

The mayor of Ses Salines, Joan Rodríguez, condemned the "social scourge" of such violence against women. "Events like this place us on the lowest rung as a society." The town hall declared three days of mourning.