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Police hope mass DNA test will nab 'Germany's oldest serial killer'

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Police hope mass DNA test will nab 'Germany's oldest serial killer'
Photo: DPA
11:55 CEST+02:00
Police in the German state of Saarland are planning a mass DNA test in hopes of apprehending a man thought to be Germany's oldest serial killer some four decades after he killed six women.

The alleged murderer has anonymously contacted the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) several times, and clues collected from these letters have led police to create a profile from which they will gather more than 5,000 possible suspects in December, Die Welt reported on Friday.

“A very egotistical character is evident in the letters, and there is no word of empathy for the victims or their relatives,” chief investigator Knut Packmohr said at a recent press conference, adding that the suspect seems to enjoy playing with the investigators. “He feels he's been mischaracterized and doesn't want to be seen as the oldest serial murderer in Germany – as old and frail.”

In one letter to the BKA the suspect admitted to the murder of 13-year-old Lydia Schürmann in 1962, in addition to killing 29-year-old prostitute Heidrose Berchner in 1970 in Nuremberg. Police suspect the man also killed four other prostitutes within these eight years – but the suspect's letter rejected media characterization of him as a “monster.”

Another letter to Nuremberg police in 2005 came from someone who said he had a friend who had admitted to Berchner's murder, but had since died, “so now the files can be closed.” This time police connected traces of DNA from the letter to evidence left on Berchner's body at the time of the murder, the paper reported.

Some six months later, another letter arrived at the Westpfalz police station with the same handwriting and DNA evidence admitted to Schürmann's murder. Authorities were able to connect this evidence to clues left in the 1962 crime too.

Police found fingerprints on a third letter, this time typed, which threatened to kill Austrian pop performer DJ Ötzi at a local Weiskirchen concert.

Combined evidence led police to determine they should be searching for a suspect who is likely older than 64 and lived near Bielefeld in the 1960s and Nuremberg in the 1970s.

Other evidence leads police to believe he worked for a freight company, that he may now be suffering from a chronic disease and is living in one of the many retirement communities in the Hochwald region of Saarland.

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