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Norbert Hans POEHLKE






A.K.A.: "The Hammer-Killer"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: German police officer - Bank robberies - Parricide
Number of victims: 6
Date of murders: 1984 - 1985
Date of birth: September 15, 1951
Victims profile: Siegfried Pfitzer, 47 / Eugene Wethey, 37 / Wilfried Scheider, 26 / His wife Ingeborg Poehlke and his sons Adrian and Gabriel
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Germany / Italy
Status: Committe suicide by shooting himself on October 23, 1985

Norbert Poehlke, 'The Hammer-Killer', was a German police officer who was found, after his suicide in 1985, to have committed several bank robberies and murders.

The Crimes

On May 3, 1984, 47-year-old Siegfried Pfitzer was found dead, shot in the head, at a highway rest stop in Marbach, West Germany. His car, found a quarter-mile from his body, was linked to a bank robbery the same day in Erbstetten. The assailant had smashed the teller window with a sledgehammer, and taken the money on the other side.

On December 21, 37-year-old Eugene Wethey was found shot dead in a rest stop near Nuremburg. A week later, Wethey's car was used in a bank robbery in Cleebronn by a man wielding a sledgehammer.

On July 22, 1985, 26-year-old Wilfried Scheider was found shot dead in a parking lot in Beilstein-Schmidhausen. He was shot with a Walther P5 pistol, a common police issue pistol. The victims car was found at the scene of a bank robbery in Spiegelberg. The sledgehammer robber had hit again.

End Of The Line

On September 29, while searching a Ludwigsburg railway station for bombs, anti-terrorist officers happened upon a police uniform in one of the lockers. The uniform was traced to Chief Inspector Norbert Poehlke, a veteran officer of 14 years in Stuttgart.

Poehlke said it had been left there after a quick change for a family member's funeral. Police became suspicious when they discovered no recent family deaths, but that his daughter had died of cancer in 1984. The long illness and death had left Poehlke in debt for $400,000.

The investigation was picking up when, on October 14, Poehlke requested, and got, some sick leave. Several days later police went to his home to ask him some questions regarding the murders and robberies. With no one answering, and fearing Poelhke had fled, the police entered the house. What they found was Poelhke's wife shot twice in the head in the bathroom and in one of the bedrooms was his son Adrian, also shot dead.

Three days latter, October 23, Poehlke and his other son, Gabriel, were found shot dead, a clear murder-suicide, in his car near Brindisi, Italy. Poehlke's pistol was confirmed as the murder weapon in the murders, and the case was closed.


Norbert Hans Poehlke

On May 3, 1984, a truck driver found the body of 47-year-old Siegfried Pfitzer, shot once in the head with a 9mm pistol, at a highway rest stop near Marbach, West Germany, not far from Stuttgart. 

Police soon determined that Pfitzer's missing car was used by the bandit who robbed a bank in Erbstetten, ten miles from Marbach, on the same day, smashing the glass teller's cage with a sledge hammer to reach the money inside. In the wake of the robbery, Pfitzer's vehicle was abandoned less than a quarter-mile from the scene of the murder. Seven months later, on December 21, 37-year-old Eugene Wethey was found shot to death at a rest stop near Nuremberg. 

On December 28, a hammer-wielding bandit used the dead man's car to flee a plundered bank in the village of Cleebroun, ten miles from Marbach. Police recognized the pattern, but it put them no closer to a suspect, and they could only wait while the killer plotted his next move.

On July 22, 1985, Wilfried Schneider, age 26, was found shot to death in a parking lot near his home, in the village of Beilstein-Schmidhausen. The murder weapon was identified as a Walther P5 pistol, routinely carried by many police officers, and authorities were not surprised when the dead man's car turned up at the scene of an attempted bank robbery in Spiegelberg, seven miles to the northwest. 

On that occasion, though, a quick-draw teller forced the thief to flee without his customary loot. Two months later, on September 29, anti-terrorist officers were searching the Ludwigsburg railroad station for bombs when they found a police uniform in one of the lockers. The garments were traced to Chief Inspector Norbert Poehlke, a 14-year veteran of the Stuttgart constabulary, who claimed the uniform was left in Ludwigsburg for a quick change after a relative's funeral.

Investigation revealed no recent deaths in Poehlke's family, but one of his daughter's had died of cancer in March 1984, after a long siege that left the inspector with debts of some $400,000. Authorities now had their motive for robbery, and recent deviations in Poehlke's behavior indicated a potential for sudden, unpredictable violence. 

The investigation was gathering steam when Poehlke requested sick leave on October 14, 1985. A week later, detectives stopped by his home to ask some questions, but they found only corpses. Poehlke's wife, Ingeborg, lay slumped in the bathroom, shot twice in the head, while his son Adrian had been shot once, in a bedroom. Three days later, on October 23, Inspector Poehlke and his missing son, Gabriel, were found at the beach near Brindisi, in southern Italy. 

They were together in Poehlke's car, both shot with his Walther service pistol in an obvious murder-suicide. Ballistics tests confirmed that Poehlke's gun had also slain the first three victims in the murder series, and the case was closed.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans


Poehlke, Norbert Hans

(d. 1985)


DATE(S): 1984-85

VENUE: Germany/Italy


MO: Police inspector who shot men age 36-47, using their stolen cars in robberies; also shot his wife and two sons

DISPOSITION: Suicide by gunshot, Oct. 23, 1985.







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