Twentieth-century German police are no strangers to
serial murder. Since 1900, they have dealt with more compulsive killers
than all their continental neighbors combined, a lethal phenomenon
seemingly unrelated to historical phases of war and peace, depression or
prosperity. Inevitably, such familiarity produces a degree of
understanding, but authorities in Frankfurt were not ready for the
series of attacks on females that began in spring of 1980 and continued
for the next three years.
The first victim was Gabriele Roesner, 25,
a resident of Langen, ten miles southeast of Frankfurt am Main. On the
night of May 7, 1980, while sleeping in her own bed, she was attacked
and raped by an intruder, strangled with her own pajama bottoms.
Homicide investigators typed the killer's blood from semen samples, but
they had no other clues to his identity.
On June 14, Regina Barthel, a 14-year-old student
in the town of Dietzenbach, near Langen, failed to make it home for
dinner after strolling in the nearby forest. Searchers found her body
late that night; she had been raped and stabbed to death.
October 21. In Offenbach, another town in the same
general area, prostitute Annedore Ligeika was raped in her apartment,
strangled with a pillow case. While semen samples matched the killer's
blood type from the first two murders, there appeared to be no common
pattern in the crimes.
On February 7, 1981, the murderer invaded Frankfurt
proper, picking off Fatima Sonnenberg, another prostitute. Raped and
stabbed to death at home, she was discovered by police after an
anonymous caller -- thought to be her pimp -- reported the crime.
"Ordinary" crimes consumed the full
attention of authorities until December 20, 1981, when 16-year-old
Beatrix Scheible was raped and stabbed to death in a Frankfurt park.
Attacked on a short walk home from the movies, her body was still warm
when discovered by officers on routine patrol.
The slayer shifted back to Dietzenbach on May 9, 1982,
slaughtering young Regina Spielman in the same wooded area where Regina
Barthel had been killed eleven months earlier. Picking flowers for her
parents at the time she was attacked, the 17-year-old was raped and
stabbed to death.
Eighteen months elapsed before the killer struck again.
Police had finally agreed upon a pattern in the crimes, but now they
feared the killer might have slipped away, perhaps to practice elsewhere.
On the third day of November 1983, they greeted news from Babenhausen,
south of Frankfurt, with the mixed emotions of dejection and relief.
The latest victim had been Ilke Rutsch, age 21,
attacked and raped, then stabbed to death, while hiking in the woods
near town. The killer stopped in Offenbach a second time, November 26,
and claimed 22-year-old Simone Newin. Raped and strangled with her own
sweat pants while running through the woods, she was found a short time
later by other joggers. Three days later, the police got lucky. Walking
home from work, a 19-year-old Frankfurt woman was accosted by a man who
ripped her clothes off, threw her to the ground, and tried to rape her.
Interrupted by a group of party-bound municipal employees, her assailant
tried to flee, but he was overpowered and held for the police.
Confined initially on charges of assault and attempted
rape, 25-year-old Michael Wolter was an electrician from Neu Isenburg,
southeast of Frankfurt. A look at his record revealed two convictions
for indecent exposure, in 1979 and 1982, but Wolter had escaped with
payment of small fines on each occasion. This time, however, the charge
was more serious. On March 5, 1984, police announced Wolter's detailed
confession to five of the serial slayings, with further interrogation in
progress. The statements in hand were sufficient to earn him a sentence
of life imprisonment.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia
of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans
SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE:
MO: Rape-slayer of females age
25; victims stabbed/strangled
DISPOSITION: Life term on
confession to five counts.