Belfast Telegraph

Police close the net on killer of German backpacker Inga Maria Hauser

By Deborah McAleese

Detectives investigating one of Northern Ireland’s most notorious unsolved crimes — the murder of German backpacker Inga Maria Hauser — are tracking down a number of people they believe may know her killers.

Almost a quarter-of-a-century after the 18-year-old’s body was discovered in a forest outside Ballycastle, detectives will be carrying out new door-to-door inquiries within a small number of north Antrim villages as they believe there are people living in the area who have important information that could help them finally crack the case.

According to sources close to the investigation, officers will be focusing their attention on a small area east of Ballymoney encompassing Armoy, Cloughmills and Loughiel.

And in a new twist to the case, police now have information which has led them to believe that two people were involved in the teenager’s death.

Since October last year detectives are understood to have made significant progress in the investigation due to tip-offs to officers on the ground and advancements in DNA profiling.

Forensic officers are looking at a particular type of DNA — known as Y-STR (Short Tandem Repeats) — which refers to the male chromosome and is especially helpful in cases where there is more than one perpetrator.

Inga Maria, who was from Munich, travelled to Northern Ireland on April 6, 1988, arriving in Larne on a ferry from Scotland.

Her body was discovered in a remote part of Ballypatrick Forest on the outskirts of Ballycastle two weeks later on April 20, 1988. Her neck had been broken during a vicious attack.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray (below), said that police believe they are closer then ever to identifying the killer or killers and that gaps in the investigative jigsaw can be filled by individuals with information, possibly living in the rural area east of Ballymoney.

“We are tantalisingly close to making significant progress. We just need those remaining pieces of the jigsaw,” said Mr Murray.

He added: “To that end, police plan to conduct a new series of house-to-house inquiries in parts of north Antrim in the coming weeks.

“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 murder sparked one of the largest DNA screening processes ever conducted in the UK. More than 2,000 samples of various types of DNA have been prioritised and checked. It is understood that around 35 of these samples have come back inconclusive, so further work is being carried out to rule these people out of the inquiry.

“The important thing is that we bring this investigation to a successful conclusion, primarily for Inga Maria and for her family who have suffered too much for too long, but also for the people of north Antrim who will continue to have this lengthening shadow hanging over them until the killer or killers are caught,” said Mr Murray.

Anyone with information has been asked to contact detectives at Ballycastle on a special police line 028 7035 0929.

Background

In one of the largest DNA screening process ever conducted in the UK, more than 2,000 samples of various types of DNA have been checked in a bid to catch Ms Hauser’s killer, or killers. Police are now looking at a type of DNA known as Y-STR (Short Tandem Repeats) which is found on the male-specific Y Chromosome. The system is especially helpful when there is more than one assailant.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph