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

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.

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

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.


Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.