A ruthless killer who yearns for attention by discarding his victim‘s body parts in waterways, close to public places, in Hamburg, Germany, is on the loose and the police have run into a dead end after pursuing the killer for over two years. The victim, Maria Ngui, was known by the name Rosa to her friends and customers in St. George, a district of Hamburg, where she worked as a prostitute. The killer had dismembered Rosa into at least seventeen parts, and had placed some of her body parts in blue garbage bags before getting rid of them. The autopsy revealed that the killer could have spent up to three hours dissecting her, and that he possessed profound anatomical knowledge. As is the case with most notorious killers, the media quickly gave the murderer a nickname. The German media has christened him the “Stückelmörder ,” whereas the English media has named him a “Jack the Ripper-style murderer .” From the onset, the investigators admitted that they had not uncovered any meaningful leads. Nothing had changed after several months of intense investigation, setting up posters, and offering a reward of 5,000 euro. Thus, officials came to the conclusion that an appeal to the public for assistance would be valuable in a bid to solve the case. They presented the case and made the appeal on the popular TV Show, Aktenzeichen XY… ungelöst, and subsequently the police received dozens of phone calls and tips from the public but still, the killer remains at large.
In the Footsteps of the Stückelmörder
The evil compulsions of the Stückelmörder led him to scatter Rosa’s body parts in at least five locations and in addition to that there is St. George to consider, a densely populated city district within Hamburg, whereof the victim walked hand in hand with the presumed killer. These venues are described and analyzed below. As we shall see, the odd one out is clearly the remote and secluded Wittenbergen beach. While the beach bears this characterization, the others are within the city entailing a higher risk. On four occasions between June 2018 and August 2019, I drove to Hamburg and inspected the scenes related to the murder of Maria Ngui. I went from the northern part of Germany and had to partially follow the near 1000km long Bundesautobahn 7 that extends all the way to the Austrian border, bisecting the former East Germany from the West; for over 40 years until 1990, Germany was separated into a socialist and Marxist–Leninist state.
The Initial Encounter in St. George
On Tuesday, August 1, 2017, Maria Eulalia Ayetebe Ndong Ngui, age 48, also known as Lucy or Rosa, disappeared approximately three hours after she had told her friend that she would go for shopping at a discount store known as Penny on Steindamm 22 in St. George. She was a citizen of Equatorial Guinea in West Africa but lived in a small village outside Zaragoza in Spain and occasionally traveled to Hamburg for work. She told her friends that she did it to take care of her children in Spain .
Investigators were able to reconstruct her day to some degree and establish that the presumed killer and Rosa were seen at around 2 p.m. proceeding southwest on Brennerstraße, passed through Hansaplatz and then went down Bremer Reihe. Rosa lived at hotel “Zum Tower” on Brennerstraße 21. At the end of Bremer Reihe one can proceed right or left on the trafficked Kirchenallee or proceed straight to the Hamburg train station. No pictures were taken of the victim together with the suspect, which would have been expected if they had boarded a train. It therefore seems more than likely that he had arrived in a vehicle. Hereafter, what we know conclusively is that her killer dismembered her body and scattered the parts in waterways. The cause of death remains unknown. The police have stated that a witness described the suspect as a strongly built (“gross” and “kräftig”) man, about 50-55 years old, possibly an Eastern European. He had pulled up the hood of his pullover shirt, indicating that he was trying to avoid being recognized or have his photo taken by tourists or by CCTV . Curiously and conspicuously, he held a transparent plastic bag containing VHS tapes.
During my visits to St. George, a central area in Hamburg known for widespread prostitution and other activities you normally would not put on your CV, I made several important observations. First, it became obvious why the killer had eluded being captured by surveillance cameras: St. George, including the relevant streets, is notably without surveillance outside stores; quite paradoxical as it is densely populated and well-known for criminal activity. The area is a multicultural potpourri and on any given day you will doubtless observe plenty of fudgeling, street sellers, homeless people begging for a euro or a burger, tourists, drug dealers, pimps, and prostitutes who openly search for their next companion or poke you on the back in an attempt to entice you. During one of my late-night visits to St. George, heavy slanted rain hit my coat and hat as bullets from a sawed off shotgun. Out of nowhere the seemingly endless rain disappeared as suddenly as it had come, and a thick mist descended and shrouded people, restaurants, and brothels disguised as hotels. “Was the Stückelmörder hiding in plain sight, perhaps looking for his next victim right now as I was pursuing him?” I asked myself as I observed life at a distance. A strong odor of urine, liquor, and smoke seemed omnipresent wherever I went. Cynical moralists would have declared a verdict of the inhabitants thusly: Debauchees who harken only to libertine principles and materialistic ideations. Marquis de Sade, the father of sadism, could hardly have envisioned such a place would ever exist, except in his books, when he penned his evil brilliant, magnum opus, Le Philosophie dans la Boudoir, in 1795. If the Stückelmörder is an intellectual killer, like Ian Brady the Moors Murderer, he would probably have read de Sade’s works with great enthusiasm and relished his philosophical dissertations on good and evil. De Sade was an extremely controversial philosopher and pornographer who advocated freedom and anarchy in their most extreme forms. His proclivity for writing as well as his sadistic excesses cost him over 30 years in prison and asylums.
In his books, akin to a possessed madman, he constructed sophisticated arguments and proofs on page after page to support the contention that crime does not exist; morality is fiction; murders and other atrocities committed for one’s own gratification should never be punished. Man is the sole judge of what is right or wrong, he argued.
I attempted to interview a sex worker who offered her services in front of hotel “Zum Tower,” which is where the victim used to live. Much to my disappointment, the approximately 50-year old African lady could only speak French and Spanish, except for one particular word in English starting with the letter “F.” Upon eye contact, she immediately offered to accompany me.
On a different occasion, I had bought along a picture of Maria Ngui. The police have (unbelievably) admitted that her phone number remains unknown to them. As a civilian, I could perhaps get the number from one of her colleagues. If the killer had been one of her regulars, her phone record would perhaps point directly to him. I approached two African sex workers in front of the hotel. I introduced myself as a writer, which they obviously did not believe. They refused to speak any other language than Spanish even though they clearly also spoke English. I decided to change my tactic and flashed a picture of the victim. I asked, “Did you know Rosa?” They looked at me with some despair and one of the two ladies whispered her name, correcting my imperfect pronunciation – there was no doubt that they knew her. Yet, I got no further than this and I had to walk off as it appeared that their “manager” was not entirely satisfied with my presence.
It was reported that the killer carried a plastic bag containing VHS tapes, an unusual possession as they are outdated and went out of production years ago. On the same street as the victim walked together with the presumed killer, I found a video sex store that had thousands of DVDs for sale and also a small section of VHS tapes; such was advertised in large print on the outside of it. Not surprisingly there were no surveillance cameras outside or inside the store. After a small chat and discussion with myself, I entered the store. The counter clerk looked at me with some suspicion as people had in the street; clearly I should not have put on a suit that day. As I inspected the store and tried to cope with a horrendous smell of old, wet carpet, I saw thousands of DVDs, and in a small corner I noticed a small section of VHS tapes. The tapes were old, conceivably from the 1990s or even 1980s. There was no apparent reason as to why the killer would buy some of these rather than from the broad selection of DVDs. I asked the clerk how often people would buy VHS tapes, he replied, “1%.” Before I left, I considered advising him to deodorize the carpet before the health department showed up, but better judgment prevailed.
It seems curious that the killer apparently purchased tapes at around the same time that he was accompanied by Rosa. The more people he had contact with, the more would be able to provide information about him. This indicates that he may not have planned to kill her in advance or simple carelessness. The police have voiced their frustration more than once with the people in the area for refusing to cooperate. Maybe the killer had this insight, too, before using St. George as a place to get a victim.
In the early morning hours of Thursday, August 3, 2017, a fisherman alerted the police after finding a body part and personal items. He made the discovery at the shore of the Elbe River, in front of the road, Leuchtfeuerstieg, which leads to a lighthouse (22559 Rissen-Hamburg). The police collected into evidence a purse containing the ID of Maria Ngui, clothes, a thigh, and an abdomen. A scientist extracted DNA from the body parts and matched it to Maria Ngui .
Massive news reporting led two women to contact the police. Late at night, August 1, they had seen a man dump something into the Elbe River from the Wittenbergen pier, roughly 800 meters to the east of Leuchtfeuerstieg at Landungsbrücke Wittenbergen .
During summer time, the area is typically frequented by people picnicking on the Wittenbergen beach or anglers fishing from the pier. To get to the area, most people park their vehicles on the associated parking lot on Rissener Ufer Street and then proceed on foot. The only way to get to the pier, other than by boat, is via a well-designed and architecturally appealing bridge which connects the pier to the beach. Police officials have determined that the killer arrived in a white vehicle, possibly a transporter, and then walked to the pier and threw the body parts and items in the river .
One pulls onto Sülldorfer Brooksweg, about five to ten minutes from the Wittenbergen beach, after which it is relatively straightforward to get to the Rissener Uffer parking lot on which the killer parked his white vehicle. The roads are narrow, not allowing for a smooth transition of traffic. Expensive and exotic cars are parked in front of expensive real estate indicating that the upper middle class prefers this area to the traffic jammed and polluted city center. The outside world is kept in check by dense vegetation, horizontally steep hills, and hectares of oak-brown and emerald green wilderness add to the scenery and isolation.
The killer was not taken back by the fact that there is only one entrance way and thus only one escape route when he chose the beach as a disposal ground. When I arrived, the parking lot was packed and squeezed, but with a bit of clever maneuvering I pulled my Mercedes SLK200 into a tight parking spot that for several families were too small for their larger and more spacious vehicles. Clearly, a large percentage of Hamburg knows the beach, and judging by the segment I observed, especially families with kids are drawn to the area. The Stückelmörder aus Hamburg had most likely been here prior to the killing, perceived the incredible scenery, listened to the pulsing waves of the Elbe River and smelled the woody incense and felt the browning sunshine at the beach. It is unlikely to be a place he randomly found on a map or stumbled upon. During his trips to the place, the killer had likely noticed that there are no cameras of importance. The only cameras are attached to the outer walls on the building belonging to the German Life Saving Association, but the cameras are not pointing outwards.
When the killer arrived, he conceivably parked at the far north, as close to the beach as possible and picked up the items and body parts he wanted to dispose of. As soon as he put his foot outside his vehicle onto the sturdy and stomped soil, his pupils undoubtedly dilated as his adrenal glands released adrenaline and noradrenaline to prepare his body for “fight or flight.” His vision and other senses would have become sharpened and focused. His mind would have filtered away the orchestra of bird songs and harmonies emanating from the dark forest, and he would have zoomed in on any sound that could be traced to human activity. Was the killer armed at this point? Would he have murdered witnesses?
Two young women caught a glimpse of him throwing something into the water while they were enjoying the relaxing atmosphere on the beach at a safe distance. They probably jokingly expected it to be a body as they conceivably had seen too many Hollywood villains throw their victim into a lake or ocean at a time where animals and nature were the only ones watching.
If the killer covered the distance to the pier and back to his vehicle at a brisk tempo it would have taken about five minutes judging by a reenactment I made at the scene.
When I walked on the bridge toward the pier, which has been engineered and constructed in dense, German steel, I noted that the current of the Elbe River is considerable and major transport ships pass by frequently. With that in mind, it seems likely that the killer did not want the victim‘s personal items (ID and clothes) recovered. It has been speculated that the killer might be a sailor due to his affinity for water, but a sailor would probably have recognized that the current of a river is strongest in its center. Thus, something thrown into the Elbe River will likely just end up on land again, and that is what happened to the items and body parts that were discovered a bit further down the beach at a place where people generally do not go swimming as the place is covered with sharp rocks.
Next we move on to August 7. This Monday was not a monotonous and tedious wandering to a particular citizen of Hamburg. His presumably easily forgettable day suddenly became unforgettable when he saw Maria Ngui’s torso afloat near the corner of Tiefstackkanal and Billbrookkanal. Visibly shaken by what he had just seen, he promptly reached in his pocket, pulled out his cellphone, pressed 110 to call the police. The time was 6:30 p.m. On August 15, a total of 14 days after the disappearance of Maria Ngui, another gruesome sight terrified a Hamburg resident who saw a severed head, roughly 400 meters from where the torso came into view. It soon thereafter became public knowledge that her ears had been cut off . After divers had been summoned and secured the body parts, rapid DNA tests confirmed that the police were now two steps closer to completing the corpse puzzle. On August 30, 2017, another body part was discovered in almost the exact same spot as where Rosa’s head was discovered. The torso, earless head, and unspecified body part could have been submerged into the water from several locations, but police find it likely that it was done from the Liebig Bridge. The bridge is found in Rothenburgsort, a quarter of the Hamburg-Mitte, which is one out of seven boroughs of Hamburg.
On June 29, 2019, I had spent the day observing and exploring dump sites as well as St. George, the last place the victim was seen alive. I looked at my Bulova Precisionist wristwatch and noted that midnight was approaching rapidly, and I needed to get a hotel room very fast, unless I planned on sleeping in my car of which I had zero intentions. After scanning through several booking websites, one of the few available rooms was at the “Hotel Nevada,” and surprisingly at a discounted price of only €50 per night. Upon arrival, I realized why people preferred the Hilton and presumably all other hotels to this one. Even though the walls were plastered with no smoking signs, a distinct and omnipresent cigar smell characterized every room I entered. Tables had ashtrays on them contrary to the customary plastic flowers in most cheap hotels. It was dingy, dark, and cheap. I scratched my hair and handled the receptionist €50. My thoroughly unimpressed impression was further strengthened when the door handle came off as I tried to enter my room. With some ingenuity I got inside, but the rock-hard “bed” changed my mind about catching some rest before going to the Liebig Bridge. I took a shower and drove off.
If you are coming from the West side of Hamburg, Mühlenhagen Road leads to the Liebig Bridge. This road becomes Liebig Street at the onset of the bridge. At night time, the area is not well-lit, and during my visit no people were observed in the early morning hours. The area around the bridge is almost exclusively used for industrial production and heavy machinery, companies that are closed at night. Although some artificial lights have been affixed to girders at the top of the only 50 meters long bridge, the light is mainly concentrated on the actual road. One can step out of the light by adhering to one of the two footways running parallel to the railing of the bridge. The killer probably parked on the bridge as the killer would not want to carry a human torso and head for longer than necessary. If he then lifted the torso over the railing, and dropped it into the water it would have made a loud splash. Typically, multiple boats and smaller yachts are docked in close proximity to the bridge. There could be people sleeping on one or more of these. We can only assume that the police ruled out the possibility that the killer threw the body parts into the water from a boat. If he used his vehicle in the manner described, it would have been a swift event, especially if we consider that the assailant was described as strongly built.
On Tuesday, August 8, the horrific sight of a part of a leg was made in the Goldbekkanal. Large teams of divers and boats with police officials scouted the canal for additional body parts and two days later they found another one (an unspecified part). Continued efforts led to the discovery of a third one on Friday, August 11.
On June 27, 2018, I visited the Goldbekkanal briefly, but on April 21, 2019, I spent hours at the location and thoroughly examined the environs.
Initially there was some confusion in the media and elsewhere as to where the killer dumped the body parts, but the police have clarified that the body parts were probably thrown in the water between Barmbeker and Moorfuhrtweg Streets. Specifically, they have identified an area in front of Poßmoorweg 20 where a small, wooden pier, which is frequently used by canoers, serves as an excellent point for gaining access to the canal. The body parts were found in front and adjacent to it.
In the immediate vicinity of the pier is the popular Goldbek Schüle, and the canal is surrounded by boat-repair companies and many smaller houses, typically used during summertime for recreation. As I observed the canal, I made a quick calculation which indicated that dozens, if not hundreds, of canoers and rowboats pass it daily. The current of the shallow, row-boat friendly canal is not discernible, and considering that the three body parts were found within a few feet strongly indicate that the pier is the actual dumping site.
When viewed at a distance, the pier, which often is frequented by lovers taking a stroll, is unlikely to be a part of a large and morbid corpse puzzle, given numerous gathering points in the area; restaurants, stores, and a bank are all in close proximity to the pier. The Moorfuhrtweg Bridge, which is easily perceived from the venue, has at day and evening many bicycles as well as vehicles cross it. If the killer arrived by car, it is reasonable to assume that he parked as close to the pier as possible, hence Poßmoorweg Street. From this street, he could have walked straight to the pier and dumped the body parts. It would only have a taken a handful of minutes to go there and get back. Spacious apartment buildings surround the narrow Poßmoorweg Street, apparently that did not deter the killer. It also appears that he was not deterred by the fact that he would have had to have walked parallel to a large apartment building with many windows to get to the pier from the street. Additionally, finding a place to park during daytime, and presumably evening, is challenging. The conclusion is that the killer is familiar with the pier and the general area, including the trail that runs parallel to the pier. It can be inferred from the points outlined above that he wanted people to find the body parts, and he picked this location as a result of psychological factors rather than for a logistical and practical reason.
In focus came the Brandshofer Schleuse (“schleuse” means water lock), which is a part of the large Billhafen (“hafen” means harbor), on August 9, 2017, when a man, taking a walk, observed a lover leg afloat in the water. Police officials, forensic specialists, and divers were summoned. The carefully dissected lower leg was put into evidence and sent off for DNA as well as other analyses. Having noticed the killer’s affinity for dissection and dumping more than one body part in each location, the police and divers stuck around, and on August 12 they came one step closer to completing the corpse puzzle.
Once again, the ruthless and highly skilled killer of Maria Ngui had attained front page coverage in several, major newspapers.
Despite the two body parts being found almost in exactly the same spot (within a few feet), the police have not displayed any confidence in their ability to pinpoint the dumpsite. Perhaps they had drifted. If the Brandshofer Schleuse served as a disposal ground for the killer, he had an advantage as opposed to the Goldbek site, as it is easier to find a parking spot and walk to the water lock and drop the body parts into the water.
If you draw a circle around the scene with a diameter of 500 meters, you will encircle the German Food Additives Museum, a McDonalds, the Al Lido, an Italian restaurant, hotels, the GHR Großmarkt Hamburg Recycling, and many other companies. While being in the vicinity of many public places, the scene is a part of the harbor and thus characterized by industry. During day time, cyclists and joggers frequently cross the water lock, which serves as a bridge. At night, the place is mostly deserted. From a criminal perspective, the Brandshofer Schleuse is not a favorable place as you have to drive on trafficated roads to get there and the general area is populated. The harbor is also likely to be governed by CCTV. A camera visible at the water lock did apparently not monitor the killer; he could have dropped off the body parts just before it became visible. It is also not known if it is operational or useful at night.
On Wednesday, August 16, over two weeks after the killing, a seaman spotted an unspecified body part that soon after via DNA analysis was determined to belong to Maria Ngui.
For newcomers, getting to the area requires a GPS or intimate knowledge of the convoluted, complex, and densely trafficated Hamburg. In all probability, the killer did not use a GPS to get to the dump sites as big data experts undoubtedly pursued this possible investigative avenue without it leading to the killer.
First navigate to a district of Hamburg called, Rotenburgsort, which is surrounded by the Norderelbe River, an anabranch of the Unterelbe River, and by the Bille, one of three rivers which flow through the city. Follow Kaltehofe-Hauptdeich Road, cross the bridge, pull left onto the Kaltehofe-Hinterdeich Road (20539 Hamburg). Down this road, you will find the Moorfleeter Yachthafen of which the body part was located in front of in the Billwerder Bucht. Having been found over two weeks after the murder, it is expected that it had drifted to some extent. The road that leads to the Moorfleeter Yachthafen is entirely unfriendly for criminal activity: It is narrow, no escape routes, and it is a private road.
If it simply drifted with the current, he could have parked parallel to Ausschläger Elbdeich, about 260 meters east of the beginning of the bridge. At day time, the few available parking spots are often taken. In-between the parking spots and the waterfront is a strip of grass. People who go there typically pick-nick, fish, or enjoy the scenery from the comfortable contours of wooden benches. If the killer parked here, he was just seconds away from the waterfront. Unlike other possible drop-off points in the area, the probability of potential witnesses observing or interfering remains low at this particular place.
01.08.2017, M. Ngui disappears.
09.08.2017, Brandshofer Schleuse.
12.08.2017, Brandshofer Schleuse.
16.08.2017, Billwerder Bucht.
Analyzing the Stückelmörder
One theme that is noticeable in this case is criminal sophistication and meticulous planning. For instance, the lack of photographic evidence demonstrates careful planning. Such planning also suggests a high degree of self-control and criminal maturity. The killing of Rosa may not have been his first major crime and a potential suspect may have a criminal record, presumably of violence against women or in particular prostitutes.
If the Stückelmörder had wanted to stall the investigation by hiding his crime, he would not have dumped the body parts of Rosa within the city limits, in particular at the Goldbekkanal. Furthermore, usage of blue garbage bags would keep the limbs afloat and increase the chance they would be found at some point, even the color blue attracts attention. He appears to have engineered the crime to get as much media coverage as possible.
The killer we are looking for is, among others, probably driven by excitement and a deep hunger for attention. He probably spent a lot of time fantasizing about the impact the discovery of body parts would result in, how much media attention he would get, how would the prostitutes in Hamburg respond, etc.
He may have spread out the body parts to ensure long-term media coverage of the murder, hoping that they would be found over a period of days or weeks resulting in multiple cover stories; if that was his objective he succeeded as his actions resulted in multiple headlines and newscasts, even internationally.
The killer‘s actions may be better grasped from the point of psychiatry if we consider the accepted symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which, among others, include grandiosity and a need for admiration. Alv Dahl, professor of psychiatry and expert on psychopathy and narcissism, concluded in one of his books that the narcissist “wants to be a known person,” even “nationwide .” The narcissist is commonly preoccupied with concepts of power and greatness and may very well indulge in grandiose exhibitionism: He will boast, exaggerate, distort, and even invent stores of success.
Contrary to the common perception that killers are introverted loners with limited interpersonal skills and charisma, the evidence in this case suggests we are dealing with a killer who has well developed interpersonal skills. First, he demonstrated confidence in his ability to manipulate the victim to get her into his vehicle and then take her to a predetermined location where he would kill and dismember her. The killer used social skills or intelligence to identify her as an easy target and probably used a combination of interpersonal skills, charm, and finances to seduce her into accompanying him. It is indicated that the killer is socially well adept.
Victimology “is often one of the most beneficial investigative tools in classifying and solving a violent crime .” This is a notion that concerns identifying why a particular person was targeted for a violent crime. Rosa was a so-called high-risk victim for the reason that she was a prostitute. Prostitutes lead a lifestyle that makes them vulnerable to predators due to the fact that they will often get into a customer’s car and go to secluded areas with strangers. In an interview with the German newspaper the Bild, a friend of Rosa stated that “she went with each john. I warned her that it was dangerous but she did not want to listen to me .” On the day of the disappearance, “she wanted to cook an African soup that day and around 11 in the morning she went to Steindamm to go shopping .” It has not been determined if she actually went shopping, but she is not reported to have carried a bag with items.
There are no indications that the killer was considered a friend or enemy by the victim. Considering that she primarily lived in Spain and only occasionally traveled to Hamburg and could only communicate basic information in German, it appears more likely that she was not killed due to a personal dispute. If animosity between them had been present before August 1, the police would probably have had him by now as such usually leaves a trail. The killer and Rosa were probably acquainted superficially at most.
In an interview with a local newspaper, Hamburger Abendblatt, Criminologist Wolf-Reinhard Kemper stated that the offender is “ice-cold and very structured .” Kemper had contemplated the dynamics of the crime, and concluded that the killing of Rosa was not the result of some kind of milieu-related punitive action or the accidental killing by one of her customers. In the case of an unpremeditated killing, “the perpetrator is more likely to panic because he did not expect it to happen and then is not capable of a structured approach ,” Kemper reasoned. “Dealing with the dead is very disrespectful and shows contempt,” he also said. The one who is responsible, Kemper said, is someone who is “highly dangerous” and very organized .
The Man with the White Car
After the identity of the murder victim became known, the Hamburger Morgenpost interviewed a sex worker, only known as Sunny, age 45, who knew Rosa. Sunny said she had been a prostitute for 30 years and was terrified of the murderer. In the days leading up to the disappearance, a “creepy john” (“gruseliger Freier”) had offered staggering “hourly wages of 150 to 200 euros” whereas “normally only 30 euros are paid here ,” she said. He “wanted the girls to get in his car and come home with him .” Sunny stated that he drove a white car and “the man said that he is into whipping and bondage games .” Needless to state, the man characterized by Sunny should be regarded as the top candidate for Rosa‘s murder.
The killer is likely an experienced buyer of sexual services in Hamburg and possibly elsewhere. He killed a sex worker, he knew and felt comfortable in St. George, the so-called red light district, and the area around the Elbe River is commonly used for car sex, one prostitute told the Bild. A similar type killer might be Gary Ridgway, the notorious Green River Killer; he murdered dozens of prostitutes and later admitted that he simply decided to “kill as many women” as he “thought were prostitutes” as he “possibly could .” Incongruously, he was obsessed with having sex with prostitutes. He often dumped the bodies near lakes and rivers.
The fact that the killer dissected Rosa serves as a small opening into the personality, characteristics, and motivations of the assailant. While the police have been tight-lipped vis-à-vis the dismemberment pattern and what parts were found in the five disposal sites, we can deduce, based on news reports and press releases, that thirteen parts have been retrieved from the waters of Hamburg. The killer had decapitated her and cut off her ears. Her lower body was completely dissected: Abdomen, thighs, lowers legs, and feet. Likewise, he had severed her arms at the wrists, elbows, and at the shoulder joints. At this time, her feet and hands are still missing [13, 14]. Are they still floating around in garbage bags somewhere amid the hundreds of streams, canals, and rivers of Hamburg? Or perhaps he kept them as trophies or uses her feet and hands for his sexual gratification?
Criminal dismemberment is rare and a 1987 study showed that “in the period from 1959 to 1984 the Institute of Legal Medicine in Hamburg had to investigate 27 cases of criminal dismemberment. With regard to all legal autopsies the average frequency was about 1:500 .” It is important to note that a study, published in 1998 in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, which encompassed 30 years of data, showed that “in more than half of the cases” involving dismemberment “the perpetrator‘s occupation was associated with application of anatomical knowledge, for example, a butcher, physician, veterinary assistant, or hunter .” In accordance with this study, the autopsy report of Rosa indicated that the assailant had utilized profound anatomical knowledge during the dismemberment . However, other studies have not supported the statistics outlined in the aforementioned study that dismemberment is associated with the profession of the perpetrator . In regard to his employment status, it is interesting that he killed on a Tuesday at a time where most people are at work. If he is employed, he may have an unconventional work schedule.
In 2019, scientists at the Institute of Legal Medicine in Hamburg published a follow up study which updated their original 1987 study to encompass data up to and including 2016. During this time period they had worked on 51 cases of dismemberment, a relatively large sample size compared to other studies . This study provides us with plenty of statistical data. Police identified and convicted a total of 35 perpetrators, and it was indicated that dismemberment was mostly a one-time event as only one had amassed enough victims to be classified as a serial killer.
In 69% of the solved cases, the killer was from the immediate social circle of the victim whereas 31% was not known by the victim or at most casually acquainted.
Educational data was available for 29 of the 35 identified killers, and it was consistently the case that they had limited schooling and none had medical experience, and only one had worked as a butcher.
There was enough data available in 41 of the 51 cases to show that 27% of the dismemberments took place in “the apartment or house shared by the victim and perpetrator .” Eighteen cases or 44% of the 41 dismemberments were conducted in the killer’s domestic environment.
The cause was death was only established in 80% of the 51 cases of dismemberment. The most prevalent causes of death were sharp force (38%) and mechanical asphyxiation (33%) such as by hands, curtains, or tights.
A different study on dismemberment, published by scientists working at the Department of Forensic Medicine, Krakow, Poland, concluded that in most of the solved cases, homicide had not been planned . The strongest evidence for an unpremeditated homicide in this case is clearly that he picked up Rosa in broad daylight. There are plenty of available sex workers at night.
Dismemberment can roughly be put into two categories: Offensive and defensive. The offensive “is motivated by the perpetrator’s anger, personal gratification or satiation of a need and the motivation for defensive dismemberment is to dispose of a body or remove forensic evidence that could lead to the identification of either victim or perpetrator .” In this case, we are evidently dealing with the offensive type as the dismemberment of Rosa had no ostensible purpose other than to generate notoriety and horror. From a psychological point of view, there is an element of power and dehumanization involved in cutting a victim into pieces and essentially a killer destroys a victim completely by dissecting her . Cutting off Rosa’s ears appears ritualistic. If the dismemberment had been purely defensive, the killer would not have cut off her ears and abdomen. Through these activities another dimension to consider is that he may very well have attained immense sexual gratification. If Rosa was alive when it took place, it would indicate sexual sadism i.e. sexual excitement from administering suffering, pain, and humiliation to another person. Such proclivities would obviously harmonize with the suspect reported on earlier who said he would pay a high fee for sadistic type of activities.
The police have not disclosed whether or not they have extracted DNA, fibers, or other material from the body parts and other items which could link the killer to her body. They have been relatively forthcoming with information and accordingly it appears as if they have hit a dead end. The inability to identify the cause of death would undoubtedly also benefit the killer if he is ever apprehended. In similar cases, defense attorneys have often successfully exploited an undetermined cause of death to get a charge of premeditated murder reduced to manslaughter; he could claim that she had died by accident during sadistic activities that were consensual in nature. After which, he panicked and dismembered her. So even if identified, the killer might get out within a few years.
It is not known if the police utilized geographic profiling during their investigation. A series of crimes or locations connected to a crime can via the established principles of geographic profiling indicate the most probable area in which the offender lives.
The analysis of the venues demonstrates that the killer in all probability has a deep knowledge of Hamburg and its waterways, red light district, among other areas. There is little doubt that he had visited several of the relevant areas before the crime and therefore we can reasonably assume that he will return. If he purchased VHS tapes in the previously mentioned store, there is a good chance that he will return to buy more. According to the clerk, only 1% buys VHS tapes. Of these customers few will resemble the description of the suspect: Strongly built, 50-55, Eastern European. Perhaps the police could arrange a deal with the shop owner and investigate all those who purchase VHS tapes.
If our profile of the killer is accurate, i.e. he is, among others, driven by grandiosity, delusions of power, control, and a desire to get known nation-wide, it can be exploited to the point of leading to his capture. For example, if the police issued a direct statement to the killer that appealed to his ego and required his response, it is possible that he would communicate and leave clues for police to pursue.
Sunny, the aforementioned sex worker, may have seen the suspect again. It is not known if she talked to the police and whether or not they gave her strict instructions to call them if she ever saw him again. Sunny could be the key to solving the crime.
The “Stückelmörder” of Hamburg appears to have outwitted the police forces and special agencies working on the case. Hardly, it can be considered the actions of an inexperienced killer and it seems likely that he is responsible for other violent crimes, and it is conceivable that he will strike again.
About the writer: Søren Korsgaard, author of America’s Jack the Ripper: The Crimes and Psychology of the Zodiac Killer, is the editor of www.crimeandpower.com and webmaster of www.paulcraigroberts.org. Support Søren’s work by donating Bitcoin: 19Z22vsdaKJX4gy8GDy6J8QU1ZZ9EvSoEo
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