The only trace of the elusive criminal - DNA - 15 years found after murders, thefts and hijackings in different cities of Germany, Austria and France. She did not leave fingerprints or witnesses, and her accomplices refused to speak. "Lenta.ru reportTells the story of her quest.
62-year-old Liselotta Schlenger from the German city of Idar-Oberstein loved cats and was fond of homemade baking. 23 May 1993, she put lemon pies in the oven and invited her neighbor. Nobody knows what happened next, but when the neighbor came, nobody opened the door. Concerned lady called the police.
Liselotta Schlenger's body was found in the living room. She managed to place cups for tea on the table, next to flowers. Apparently, she did not expect an attack and let the killer herself into the house. He threw a string around her neck with which the bouquet was tied and strangled.
The attacker left almost no trace. Investigators interviewed dozens of possible witnesses, but they didn’t come close to a clue. The only clue was the DNA particles of an unknown woman left on one of the cups. The police could only hope that the woman would fall for another crime.
The next case had to wait eight years. In 2001, 61-year-old antiquarian Josef Walzenbach from Freiburg im Breisgau died. Someone strangled him with string and took a small sum of money that he had with him. Before leaving, the killer hung a “Closed” sign on the door of his shop.
On the body of an antiquary, on the door knob, on a plate and even on goods, the DNA of a woman from Liselotte Schlenger's apartment was found. There were no fingerprints again - it seems that the attacker knew what she was doing and worked in gloves. But who is she? There was still no answer to this question.
“Now we had two murders,” prosecutor Jürgen Brower recalled. “It was too early to call this woman a serial killer, but in these matters there were common traits. Once again, cash was stolen for a small amount, the same modus operandi during the murder, both crimes were committed on the premises without any signs of hacking. ”
The lack of evidence prevented the murder of an antiquary without further ado, and the mysterious criminal was forgotten for another six years.
Woman without face
In April, a 2007-year-old police officer died in the German city of Heilbronn, 22. Michelle Kizevetter and her partner served in the elite anti-drug unit. A patrol car with their bodies was found in the parking lot, where they stopped during the lunch break.
Investigators bit by bit restored the picture of what happened. Two intruders sitting in the back seat of the car, shot at policemen at close range and left, taking only their handcuffs with them. Everything happened so quickly that their victims did not even try to get a weapon. Michelle Kizevetter died immediately, her partner lay in a coma for several months. Waking up, he could not remember what had happened.
In the back seat and dashboard of a patrol car, the DNA of the same woman who was suspected of killing Liselotta Schlenger in the 1993 year and Joseph Waltsenbach in the 2001-m was found. Jürgen Brower was amazed. It’s one thing to strangle an old antiquary for money, and it’s quite another to cool police in cold blood. “I simply could not believe that she was capable of these two crimes,” the prosecutor confessed.
Now the police got down to business seriously - to find the killer of a colleague was a matter of honor. Investigators raised the archives and began to search for other unsolved crimes that this woman could have committed. From the facts found there was an unexpected and bizarre picture. Over the years, 15 has committed dozens of crimes of very different caliber, not only in Germany, but also in other countries. Every time she managed to get dry out of the water. Since no one knew what she looked like, she was nicknamed The Woman without a Face.
The first match was given by the database with the results of blood analysis, remaining on the syringe in the city of Gerolstein. He was held in 2001 year at the insistence of the mother of a seven-year-old boy who accidentally stepped on a needle on the playground. Judging by the DNA test, it was the killer from Heilbronn who threw a syringe with traces of drugs. Two weeks later, an elusive woman cracked a trailer on the outskirts of Mainz and forgot bite biscuits with teeth and saliva at the crime scene.
In 2003, the same DNA was discovered after being stolen in an office building in the town of Dietzenbach. The criminal broke into the room and took with her a tin with a trifle. Despite her modest loot, she acted no less carefully than in other cases. “It was a professional job,” said prosecutor Günther Horn. “There are no fingerprints left, only skin scraping.” However, it was enough to link the theft to a woman without a face. ”
A year later, she participated in the robbery of Vietnamese jewelers in the French city of Arbois (DNA traces remained on a toy gun, which robbers threatened the victim). In the autumn of the same year, the criminal left her sweatpants, a hooded cardigan, and other things in the hacked barn in the Austrian Tyrol.
In 2005, she returned to Germany. Her DNA was found on beer bottles and an empty glass at the scene of a robbery of a bar in Karlsruhe and on a pool after an exchange of fire in a Gypsy camp in Worms. The latter was especially strange, because the victim's brother started shooting. No mysterious women were seen there.
In addition to burglary, the offender hunted theft: about two dozen cases from 2003 to 2007 year. After the Heilbronn murder, her DNA was found in several cracked barns in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. Finally, in March 2008, she entered a house in the town of Niederstetten and stole a home pool that she had not used for a long time.
Nearly forty crimes - and not a single witness. A woman without a face preferred to work at night and not be seen by strangers. They preferred not to chat. Investigators found that sometimes she went to work with accomplices, and always different. Three of them managed to catch. The first came from Slovakia, the other came from Moldova, another one came from Serbia. All three were silent like fish.
Despite all the efforts, the police still had only the DNA of a mysterious criminal. As the Austrian investigators found out, its genetic features are characteristic of natives of Eastern Europe and Russia. Some signs indicated that she had blond hair and blue eyes. However, there was no confidence in this - the accuracy of the analysis is not great enough.
Judging from the case with a syringe on the playground, she took drugs. Irregular petty thefts show that from time to time she was in dire need of money. This is similar to the behavior of a drug addict who commits crimes to fuel his habit. However, this conclusion is poorly combined with caution, professionalism and accuracy of a woman without a face. Over the years 15 she did not make a single mistake.
DNA traces were found throughout Germany, in Austria and in France. This could mean that the criminal led a nomadic lifestyle. According to some versions, she was homeless or gypsy - the latter would have explained her traces on the bullet in the Gypsy camp in Worms. Prosecutor Günter Horn thought this was a hasty and probably erroneous conclusion. “There are a lot of people and communities that move around Europe,” he said.
Horn suspected that a woman without a face was working for a gang of thieves from Eastern Europe. This would have connected her with Heilbronn, where the attack on the police took place. The city was actively involved in the Eastern European mafia, and the site where Michelle Kizevetter was killed was considered a transit point for trucks carrying drugs and other smuggled goods.
The killings in Heilbronn were followed by others. A woman without a face was suspected of being killed by a nurse in the town of Weinsberg and the deaths of three businessmen from Georgia, whose bodies were found in the river in Heppenheim. The latter case seemed to the investigators especially promising.
Entrepreneurs came to Germany for the purchase of used cars. Suspicion immediately fell on a migrant from Iraq, who worked as a paid police informant. He denied the charges and claimed that in reality the murder was committed by an Islamist from Somalia, whom he knew. During a search of a battered white Ford, an Iraqi found traces of the DNA of the Heilbronn killer. Neither he nor the Somalis could explain how they got there, but the police had no doubt that they would be able to get to the bottom of the truth.
By November 2008, the German police spent 14 thousand man-hours and more 18 million dollars on a hunt for a woman without a face. The police took DNA samples of nearly three thousand homeless people, drug addicts and women who committed serious crimes, but the killer from Heilbronn was not among them. Neither psychics nor 300 thousand euros, promised for information about the criminal, helped.
Investigators traveled all over Europe, checking various versions, and finally found witnesses. Judging by the results of a genetic test, a woman without a face participated in a failed apartment theft in Saarbrücken in 2006. However, the man on the identikit, which was made according to the recollections of eyewitnesses, looked more like a young man with a short haircut and a tiny beard of the most ridiculous appearance.
This could mean that the killer is a transgender. “We cannot rule out that our suspect has become a man or looks like a man. “We just don’t know,” explained police spokesman Rainer Keller. He added: - This is a huge mystery. It’s impossible to believe that the suspect was able to hide for so long. ”
It was really hard to believe - and many did not believe. Back in April, 2008, the investigators studied the version that the DNA of a Woman without a face accidentally hits the crime scene on tools that forensic scientists use. In this case, she is not guilty of anything, and all these crimes were committed by other people - and, most likely, different.
Doubts strengthened after a case of a refugee who died in a fire in France. Heilbronn's killer DNA was found on the fingerprints he gave in 2002. Since the refugee was a man and the killer a woman, the test was repeated. This time, his results were different and much more believable. Now the DNA belonged to the man, and the link with Heilbronn disappeared.
Such an error could occur if the woman's DNA was on a cotton swab, with which samples are taken for analysis. As it turned out, the law enforcement agencies of many German lands bought them from a single manufacturer. The police preferred sticks, which were made in a factory in the Bavarian city of Tissau. “They were double wrapped,” an investigator from Baden-Württemberg explained to Bild. "We thought it was a Mercedes among cotton swabs."
The company hastened to declare that its cotton swabs are sterile, but not intended for microbiological research in general and for the collection of DNA samples in particular. Although sterilization kills microorganisms and viruses, there can be particles of human skin or sweat on the sticks that can affect the result of the examination. Such sticks are suitable only for routine hygienic and medical tests or for testing food.
DNA Women without a face could well belong to one of the factory workers, where they made cotton buds. Many of them came to Germany from Eastern Europe and were well suited for the description that the Austrian investigators made. To verify this, they took for analysis the genetic material.
In April, 2009, the German police announced that the mysterious woman was found. She turned out to be a 71-year-old polka, who for many years was packing cotton buds at a factory in Tissau. She did not even know about the fantastic criminal career, which she attributed. “This is a very shameful story,” a police spokeswoman admitted.
Many of the crimes attributed to the mysterious criminal were not disclosed, and the investigation into the murder of Michel Kizevetter had to start from scratch. The real culprits of her death were found only in 2012 year.