Police following new leads in 1988 killing of German tourist

 

DETECTIVES INVESTIGATING the murder of a German backpacker more than 20 years ago have narrowed their inquiries to a cluster of villages in Northern Ireland.

Police are also now examining whether more than one person was involved in the killing of 18-year-old Inga Maria Hauser in 1988.

Fresh leads received from the public at the end of last year have given a new impetus to the investigation. In one of the largest DNA screenings to have been undertaken in the UK, 2,000 samples have yet to produce a definitive match to a male genetic profile found at the murder scene, but between 30 and 35 samples have been deemed inconclusive, which means a link cannot be ruled out.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Det Supt Raymond Murray, said: “We are tantalisingly close to making significant progress. We just need those remaining pieces of the jigsaw.”

The last confirmed sighting of the Munich-born teenager was on board a ferry from Scotland to Larne, Co Antrim, on the evening of April 6th, 1988.

Her battered body was found two weeks later 40 miles north in a remote part of Ballypatrick forest on the outskirts of the seaside town of Ballycastle. Detectives believe whoever killed her had a sexual motive.

Police are focusing their hunt on a small area to the southwest of the forest in the belief that those local communities can help them find her killer.

Officers will conduct door-to-door inquiries in the coming weeks in and around the rural region east of Ballymoney, incorporating the villages of Armoy, Loughgiel and Cloughmills.

“I cannot rule out the possibility that more than one person was involved in Inga Maria’s death,” said Det Supt Murray.

“I also have a report that a man in the rural area east of Ballymoney was seen soon after the murder in April 1988 with scratches on his face and that there was concern in the community that he had some sort of involvement.

“We have been able to collect many pieces of the investigative jigsaw but there are still gaps.

“I believe those gaps can be filled by individuals with information, individuals possibly in the rural area east of Ballymoney.”

Police say there are a number of reasons why people may not have come forward until now, including bonds of friendship, family loyalty and traditional distrust of police within nationalist communities.

Det Supt Murray said: “I am asking for information, as opposed to statements or formal evidence. I recognise that some people may still feel uncomfortable talking directly to police, perhaps because of their past, or their allegiances.

“I am not interested in them for those reasons. I am only interested in what they know about Inga Maria and how it can help the inquiry. To that end, if someone feels unable or unwilling to talk to police, I would ask them to go to a trusted person who they feel would be in a position to pass the information to police.”

The teenager’s father, Joseph, died a number of years ago but her elderly mother, Almut, still writes to police in Northern Ireland in the hope that justice will some day be done. – (PA)