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Appeal launched over 30-year-old murder of German backpacker whose body was found in forest

Inga Maria Hauser’s body was found in Ballypatrick Forest in Co Antrim on 20 April 1988.

Inga Maria Hauser murder Inga Maria Hauser Source: PA Archive/PA Images

POLICE IN NORTHERN Ireland have launched a fresh appeal for information regarding the murder of an 18-year-old German backpacker who was last seen 30 years ago today.

Inga Maria Hauser had travelled to Northern Ireland from Scotland on that date, and appeared to be in high spirits before her disappearance.

Her body was discovered at the remote Ballypatrick Forest, near Ballycastle in Co Antrim, on 20 April 1988. Police believe she was subjected to a ruthless assault, which left her with a broken neck, shortly after arriving by ferry at Larne in the northern county.

Now the PSNI is set to launch a two-week operation aimed at bringing Inga’s killers to justice.

“We still believe we are extremely close to progressing criminal justice action against Inga Maria’s killer or killers,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray, the officer leading the investigation which will span both Northern Ireland and Scotland and will see fresh information released into the public domain.

We hope this sustained approach will help jog people’s memories and encourage anyone who knows anything about the murder to come forward to police.

DNA evidence

The operation will seek to identify the DNA of a man which was found at the crime scene.

“A previous DNA screening process was one of the largest ever conducted and involved many hundreds of people, throughout the UK,” said Murray.

Inga Maria Hauser murder Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray with pictures of Inga Source: PA Archive/PA Images

As time evolves so does DNA science so we have carried out further familial DNA screening and are keeping an open mind about where this will lead the investigation.

A postcard written by Inga to a friend in Germany showed her excitement at travelling to Ireland:

“‘My journey through England is wonderful – I’d rather not come back. The day after tomorrow – it’s on to Ireland – which pleases me most of all,” she wrote.

Inga maria Hauser poster 1

She is described as having been a friendly and popular person by friends and family, someone with a keen interest in meeting new people.

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Murray says he hopes to speak to anyone who may have seen Inga in Scotland, and particularly on her ferry journey to Larne, where her trail ran cold.

‘Scratches on his face’

“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 said, adding that whoever killed Inga owes it to her family to come forward so they can have closure.

Inga Maria Hauser murder The scene in Ballypatrick Forest where Inga Maria Hauser's body was found on 20 April 1988 Source: Niall Carson

“I am making a direct appeal to the family and friends of the murderer or murderers to come forward. Thirty years have passed and in that time we have to ask not only what impact this murderer has had on the Hausers but what impact has he had on his own family,” he said.

After 30 years it’s time to tell us what you know.

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