Belfast Telegraph

Progress in backpacker murder probe

Detectives investigating the murder of a German backpacker more than 20 years ago have narrowed their inquiries to a small cluster of villages in Northern Ireland after claiming they are tantalisingly close to a breakthrough.

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

In one of the largest DNA screenings ever 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, Detective Superintendent 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 6, 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 now focusing their hunt on a small area to the south-west of the forest in the belief that those local communities can help them find who was responsible. 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.

Mr Murray added: "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 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."

Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at Ballycastle on 028 7035 0929 or confidentially on Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

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