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Help bring an end to my 21-year nightmare

Family snaps reveal a carefree young German girl, but her mum is still haunted by the day she was murdered in Ulster

By Victoria O’Hara

The mother of murdered German tourist Inga Maria Hauser last night broke her silence of almost 18 years to appeal for help in finding her daughter’s killer.

Speaking exclusively to the Belfast Telegraph, Almut Hauser opened up her private family album to reveal new photographs of the teenager which we are publishing in a bid for fresh information.

The notorious cold case has left detectives without an arrest or conviction for almost 21 years.

But this week they revealed that they had a DNA-linked “breakthrough” in the case which could finally lead to the killer.

Mrs Hauser said she is “relieved” that the investigation is continuing. But she believes that Inga is not the only one who had been “tortured by this killer” adding that it is “very, very important that the killer will be caught”.

Inga Maria: the pain behind the pictures

Still grieving for her murdered daughter Inga Maria after almost 21 years, Almut Hauser has opened the family album to reveal never seen before photographs of the teenager.

The Belfast Telegraph publishes these pictures today in a bid to attract new information about the brutal killing that shocked Ulster amid the horror of the Troubles.

Now aged 66, Mrs Hauser revealed how her husband Josef died two and a half years ago, never getting the chance to see his daughter’s killer brought to justice.

Inga-Maria’s body was discovered in a shallow grave in Ballypatrick Forest Park near Ballycastle on April 20 1988.

She had been hitch-hiking around Europe, and was just one month away from celebrating her 19th birthday when she was |murdered.

After thousands of hours of police work, including appeals, interviews and DNA tests on hundreds of people north and south of the border, the killer of the Munich teenager has so far escaped arrest.

Speaking through an interpreter Mrs Hauser, who still lives in Munich, said the last contact she had with the police in Northern Ireland was 10 years ago.

The RUC wrote to her to say that the investigation into her death was not closed.

She said her hope that they will find the murderer of her “beloved daughter”, was nearly gone.

Mrs Hauser explained that in 1988 Inga wanted to see a girlfriend from Germany during the Easter holidays in Wales.

Inga had already bought the ticket for the train when the girlfriend said that they had to change their date.

“My Inga was not very sad about this,” she said. Her big dream was to visit Ireland so she wanted to go there instead. She loved the solitude.”

Mrs Hauser said she had called her family every day and then — silence. She said they didn’t hear anything for about 13 days.

And it is this period of time that her mother believes is key in finding the killer.

“It’s very, very important for me to know what had happened in these days,” she said. “I want to know ... what happened? I’m sure, that my Inga is not the only one who had been tortured by this killer.”

Mrs Hauser said it is “very, very important that the killer will be caught”.

In 1991, Mrs Hauser along with her husband issued a reward of £3,000 — their life savings — for any information that led to the |arrest and conviction of Inga-Maria’s killer.

No information came forward.

But she said that despite the length of time that has passed without a conviction she feels a sense of “relief” that the PSNI are still searching for the killer.

Mrs Hauser said after the murder the RUC officers travelled to Germany and interviewed all of Inga’s friends.

And in that aftermath the only way she survived was through the support of friends and members of the public.

She revealed the couple received letters of support from across Ireland and she has remained in contact with Inga’s friends.

And on what would have been her 21st birthday they invited all of her friends to their flat in her memory.

Inga’s mother still lives in the same street she did 21 years ago, but moved to a smaller apartment after her husband died.

He passed away on April 18, 2006, after battling cancer — |almost 18 years to the day his daughter’s body was discovered.

The walls of the apartment are full of photos and drawings done by Inga.

And every three or four days she travels to the cemetery to light a candle for her daughter.

A riddle stretching back to 1988

  • Start of 1988: Inga Maria Hauser arrives in England from Germany. She then travels to Scotland.
  • April 6, 1988: She boards the Sealink sailing to Northern Ireland on Galloway Princess in Stranraer. Two people confirm spotting her on the boat.
  • April 20: The 18-year-old’s body is found in a shallow grave in Ballypatrick Forest near Ballycastle by a farmer. The RUC launch a murder hunt.
  • June 1988: BBC Crimewatch stage a reconstruction of Inga Maria’s last known movements.
  • March 1989: Inga Maria’s parents visit the murder scene and make an impassioned appeal for information.
  • August 25, 1989: Police discover genetic evidence to connect a man with the murder
  • April 23, 1991: Her parents, Josef and Almut Hauser, offer a reward of £3,000 to help catch their daughter’s killer.
  • May 1991: Appeal made to the writer of an anonymous letter, which claimed to have seen Inga Maria with a couple in Botanic Gardens three days before her body was found.
  • 1993: Fresh door to door inquiries in Ballycastle.
  • 1997: BBC Crimewatch televises another reconstruction of Inga’s last days in the hope of gaining new information.
  • April 2000: Police say science advances may point to attacker.
  • April 2002: Detectives appealed for people to think back to 1988 to recall any suspicious behaviour. They also confirm that they have a DNA profile of her killer.
  • April 2008: 20 years after her murder police reveal they believe the killer had detailed knowledge of the remote Co Antrim beauty spot where her body was dumped.
  • February 2009: PSNI say they are closer to catching the killer after new DNA evidence narrows the field of suspects.

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