Berlin police solve unknown jogger enigma after neighbour tip off

Berlin police have identified a mystery jogger who has been in a coma for the past four months after a neighbour recognized his keys.

Berlin police solve unknown jogger enigma after neighbour tip off
The mystery man's neighbour recognised his door key. Photo: DPA

The mystery man, who was not named by police for privacy reasons, has been identified as a 74-year-old German citizen with Iranian roots, police said.

Police had been investigating the man's identity since March, when he was found unconscious in a park, apparently having collapsed while jogging.

The man, who then fell into a coma, carried no ID on him, only two unmarked keys and €15 in cash.

SEE ALSO: Berlin police left stumped by identity of unconcious jogger

No one reported him missing and no family members or friends responded when police released photos and appeals for information.

Police were stumped. The man had never been arrested, his fingerprints weren’t registered in police files, and neither was his DNA.

With nothing else to go on, investigators this week resorted to a more scattershot approach.

Ten teams of trainee police officers went around the neighbourhood where the man was found, trying copies of both keys in apartment door locks to see if they could find a match.

Police used to a map to search the neighbourhood. Photo: DPA

But after trying over a thousand doors with no luck, the operation was temporarily suspended. Then, on Thursday, police were finally given a lead.

A neighbour had seen a photo of the man’s keys in the newspaper and thought they looked similar to his own.

“Last night a neighbour of the jogger called our missing persons post,” wrote Berlin police on Twitter. “He recognised the key. In the apartment the man’s ID card was found. Thank you for your support in this unusual case.”

Officers tried the house door, found a match and were finally able to enter the man’s apartment in Brandenburgische Straße in Berlin’s western Wilmersdorf district.

The missing persons department of the regional LKA criminal office has thanked all involved with identifying the man, including residents' tip offs.

The man, who is still in a coma, is being looked after in the intensive care unit of Berlin’s Charite hospital. A legal caretaker has been assigned to his case, and will continue to search for family members.

The man in a coma in the hospital when police were still trying to identify him. Photo: DPA

Such cases are extremely rare in Germany, but experts fear they may become more common in an increasingly isolated society.

A recent survey suggested two-thirds of Germans are worried about loneliness and there have been calls for intervention by the German government to tackle the problem.

SEE ALSO: A third of German homes have just one person


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German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.