german news

DNA mystery in murder probe

27 May 2003

GOETTINGEN - German justice officials investigating a murder six years ago are faced with a baffling problem after a DNA sample appeared to confirm the killer.

The sample prosecutors found in connection with the murder fitted the DNA profile of a 40-year-old man. But their sole suspect had the perfect alibi - he was in jail at the time.

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"This is a very mysterious affair," admitted Hanover public prosecutor Thomas Klinge.

The September 1997 murder of a 61-year-old woman, whose body was left on a playground in Hanover after she had been beaten about the head with a stone, had baffled police for several years.

But last year specialists achieved a breakthrough when they discovered small traces of DNA material on the victim's bicycle.

A check of the BKA federal police department's DNA databank confirmed it matched the profile of a suspect with a previous record of violence and sexual offences.

However, the man has been held at a high-security unit at Goettingen's closed mental health hospital since the middle of 1997.

Officials at the unit have confirmed that it is absolutely secure. Director Gunter Heinz said he was "100 per cent certain" the suspect could not have left and returned.

Klinge said there could be no doubt about the accuracy of the DNA sample which had been tested by several institutes. Neither was there any reason to believe the evidence had somehow appeared on the bicycle after the crime.

But he added: "The alibi appears to be absolutely reliable, and we have no knowledge the man has an identical twin brother."




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