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Man who threw five-year-old girl off balcony had no diagnosed mental health problem

The interior courtyard of the residential complex.
The interior courtyard of the residential complex. / SALVADOR SALAS
  • The family friend committed suicide moments after sending the girl to her death. The whole episode was witnessed by her older sister, nine, who tried to raise the alarm

The search for answers continues as a Malaga family mourns the loss of their five-year-old daughter who was killed by a family friend who then committed suicide on Tuesday morning.

The man, Ignacio J.M. A., grabbed the child, Daniela, and threw her off the sixth-floor balcony before jumping after her seconds later. The whole episode was witnessed by Daniela’s older sister who is nine years old.

She shouted to warn her father, Fernando, who was getting ready to take both girls to school at around 8.30am, however, it was too late for any reaction. The girls’ mother had already left for work.

The emergency services could do nothing to save their lives.

The incident took place in a complex in Calle Jalón in the Parque Litoral neighbourhood of Malaga city where the blocks overlook the central courtyard onto which the bodies fell.

A close friend

Ignacio, known by the family as Nacho, had been staying with the family for a few days as they celebrated his 50th birthday together with a weekend trip to the Caminito del Rey.

He was a former collegue of the girls’ mother, Emelina, at Ikea in Seville, where he lived, and they had kept in touch long after the family moved to Malaga. Emelina and Fernando now both work in the store’s branch in the city.

Nacho would frequently spend time at their home and go on holiday with them.

Possible mental illness

Following the incident, which seemingly had no motive with everyone having got on well during his stay (due to end with his return to Seville that morning), investigations immediately focused on a possible mental illness.

On Wednesday it was confirmed that there was no known record of mental illness with the health service, nor were the man’s parents aware of any condition for which he was receiving treatment.

Despite this, though, during his stay, the couple observed some paranoid behaviour. According to sources, the parents said that it seemed that there was only one thing on his mind;he was convinced that someone was following him, tracking his movements and intent on taking the money out of his bank account.

Ignacio was apparently was also convinced that someone had access to his phone and his WhatsApp account and he spoke of little else. The family, however, tried to play down his concerns and attempted to distract his attention, in vain.

It was this information, which points towards a type of persecution complex, that pushed investigators to consider mental illness as a possible explanation.

"It's a tragedy"

The news of the girl’s death came as a massive shock and made headlines nationally.

One neighbour said:“We are destroyed. They’re a great family and Daniela was a lovely little girl.”

Another said that they’re a “much loved” family and that the parents are “crazy about their kids. They adore them.”

News of the tragedy also reached the Ikea store where the parents work. One coworker said:“They brought us all together and told us what happened. It’s a tragedy.”

Malaga city hall called a minute’s silence on Wednesday and the mayor, Francisco de la Torre, phoned the parents personally to offer his condolences.