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DNA evidence brings detectives "close" to solving 23-year-old murder

PSNI closing in on killer of young German backpacker Inga Maria Hauser who was buried in shallow grave in Antrim forest.

Inga Maria Hauser, whose body was found in Ballypatrick Forest, Co Antrim in 1988
Inga Maria Hauser, whose body was found in Ballypatrick Forest, Co Antrim in 1988

POLICE IN NORTHERN Ireland are hopeful that they will make a major breakthrough in a murder case that has taunted them for 23 years.

The body of German backpacker Inga Maria Hauser was found buried in a shallow grave in Ballypatrick Forest near Ballycastle, Co Antrim on 20 April, 1988. She had caught a ferry from Scotland to Larne two weeks earlier but it is believed that she was killed shortly after she arrived on land.

Now Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray, who is in charge of her unsolved murder case, says that his team is “tantalisingly close” to bringing the mystery to a close. UTV says that DNA taken from the crime scene will be key to solving the case. Det Supt Murray said:

Through a DNA screening process, which is one of the largest ever conducted, police have been seeking to eliminate people from being responsible for this crime scene stain material by comparing their DNA or familial DNA with this profile.

Two years ago, detectives had found that DNA taken from the crime scene showed similarities with the DNA of around 100 women stored on the UK genetic database. At the time, Det Supt Murray said that his team would be looking to speak to these women to eliminate their male relatives from their investigation.

Suzanne Breen, writing for the Sunday Tribune in 2009, had written of a report that Inga Maria had been watched on the ferry by a truck driver. The discovery of the 18-year-old woman’s body in a remote corner of the forest also indicated local knowledge of the area.

Two years on, scientists have made new progress with strands of the DNA sample recovered from the scene and believe it belongs to a male who has still to be identified. To this end, they are now focusing on door-to-door enquiries, according to the Irish News and BBC Northern Ireland.

Det Supt Murray added that more than one person could be involved in the murder, saying:

I also have a report that a man in the rural area east of Ballymoney was seen soon after the murder in April 1988 with scratches on his face and that there was concern in the community that he had some sort of involvement.

He made this appeal to the public:

I am asking for information, as opposed to statements or formal evidence. I recognise that some people may still feel uncomfortable talking directly to police, perhaps because of their past, or their allegiances.

Anyone with information can contact police in Ballycastle on 028 70350929.

DNA evidence brings detectives "close" to solving 23-year-old murder
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  • Inga Maria murder

    Source: Det Supt Raymond Murray with pictures of murdered German backpacker Inga Maria Hauser. Image: PA Images/Paul Faith
  • Inga Maria murder

    Det Supt Raymond Murray with a map of the area where the PSNI will concentrate fresh investigations in Antrim. Image: PA Images/Paul Faith.
  • Inga Maria Hauser

    An undated PSNI handout photo of Inga Maria Hauser, whose body was found in Ballypatrick Forest 1988. Images: PA Images/PSNI.
  • Inga Maria Hauser

    An undated PSNI handout photo of Inga Maria Hauser, whose body was found in Ballypatrick Forest 1988. Images: PA Images/PSNI.

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