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After 20 years ... net tightens on Inga's killer

By Deborah McAleese

Twenty years on from the horrific murder of a German backpacker in a Co Antrim beauty spot detectives today revealed they are closing in on her killer.

Inga Maria Hauser (18), a German backpacker, was viciously attacked and her body dumped in Ballypatrick Forest in North Antrim in April 1988.

Police have used behavioural and geographical profilers as part of the hunt and believe they have established that the killer was likely to have had detailed and specific knowledge of the forest area where the teenager's body was found.

Officers said the location is known to have been used at the time by people who rented forestry plots, Forestry Service employees and sub-contract labourers and turf cutters who had turbary rights.

Previously one of the main lines of inquiry had been that Inga might have been murdered by a lorry driver who picked her up as a hitchhiker.

For the first time police have also released a map showing the specific location where her body was found.

The German teenager 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 on April 20, 1988. Police believe that Inga died shortly after she arrived in Northern Ireland. She had been subjected to a vicious and ruthless assault.

The officer in charge of the case, Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray, said: "On the 20th anniversary of Inga Maria's murder, police are publishing a map of the precise location where her body was found and a photograph of this location.

"Our inquiries lead us to believe that whoever killed Inga Maria left her body in Ballypatrick Forest was familiar with that particular remote part of the forest.

"We need to talk to anyone who would have had such a knowledge prior to April 1988 - whether through their work, or if they rented forestry plots there or any had interest in that area."

The area where Inga's body was found is in the most western corner of Ballypatrick Forest approximately 2.5 miles from the Glenmakeeran Road. This location is well off the main scenic drive through the forest which is used by the general public.

"There have been significant scientific advances in recent years in criminal investigation and detectives from the PSNI's Serious Crime Branch are using a number of processes to further our inquiries," said Mr Murray.

He added: "We believe an important seam of information for this investigation lies within a small group of people who had a detailed knowledge of the area of forest where Inga Maria's body was found.

"We need those people to come forward and talk to us. All such persons are asked to come forward regardless of whether or not they feel they can help. It is vital that such persons come forward and speak to police regardless of whether or not they were spoken to by police during the original enquiry in 1988."

Police say the local community has responded positively to the ongoing investigation with hundreds of people voluntarily supplying DNA samples to detectives for this specific investigation.

Mr Murray said: "This investigation is active and it is progressing. Our focus now is on those people who knew that part of Ballypatrick Forest 20 years ago. We need them, or anyone who knows of them, to come forward.

"Inga Maria was a young woman with her whole life in front of her who met a terrible death in Northern Ireland. We owe it to her memory and to her parents back in Germany to bring her killer to justice.

"I believe a specific group of people with knowledge of Ballypatrick Forest can help us. I would ask them to do the right thing and contact the Incident Room at Ballycastle PSNI Station, telephone 028 7035 0945 or use the anonymous Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111."

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