A memorial to Inga-Maria Hauser, the definitive story of the only case of its kind in Northern Ireland and the continuing mission to uncover the truth behind a murder still unsolved after more than 29 years despite one of the largest DNA screenings in policing history
By Keeley Moss
PART 14 CONTENTS Chapter 39 – Universal Traveller Chapter 40 – Caught in the Headlights Acknowledgements for Part 14
Chapter 39: Universal Traveller
In this sprawling landscape
How’d you know just where I’d be?
Real Estate – ‘Horizon’
Something I have dwelled on a great deal is the distance between what’s known and what’s unknown in the case – and my underlying desire to find a way to bridge the gap between that crucial chasm. In an interview published in 2012 the detective leading the investigation, Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray told RTE Crime correspondent and author Barry Cummins exactly what the police need in order to be able to advance the investigation into Inga-Maria’s murder, “What we need is the piece of information which helps to put all of this into proper perspective, that might help us understand the chain of events that brought Inga-Maria from Larne to Ballypatrick Forest, and that we learn what happened on that journey, be it on the coast road or an inland road en route which completes the picture”.
Inga-Maria knew no one in Northern Ireland, and she knew no one in the Irish Republic either. No one anticipated her arrival in Larne on the night of April 6th 1988. There was no one expecting her to arrive in Belfast that night by a certain time, no one in a position to raise the alarm when she didn’t arrive. It is my information that those responsible for her brutal murder encountered her onboard the Galloway Princess. But how is that they managed to notice her in the first place when almost none of the 420 other passengers aboard had?
I find it incredible that out of the 422 people on board the ferry that night, a mere two people (who were traveling together, so not even two separate people) were the only ones who reported spotting Inga-Maria at any point during the ferry crossing. I recently discovered some facts that are not widely-known – and these are indeed facts – verified facts, not just the sort of urban myths and Chinese whispers that have dogged this case, which I can reveal here. I have learned in recent times that as Inga-Maria was entering the ferry terminal in Stranraer on the evening of April 6th 1988 for the ferry journey that would unwittingly change the course of her life irrevocably, the two people who would later spot her on board the ferry had accidentally bumped into her as she was approaching the doors that led to the walkway up to the ferry. They were two women from Northern Ireland, one young woman and one older woman, who immediately followed Inga-Maria up the stairwell and onto the ferry. And what’s more, each of these two women separately spotted Inga-Maria at points during the crossing, and furthermore in two very different parts of the ferry, which is also something I had not been aware of until only recently.
The first sighting of her on the ferry itself was when the older woman saw Inga-Maria opening a door that led to the lounge, and watched as she crossed the lounge. She was still on her own but – and this is very interesting – she was without her backpack and any of her other bags. Bear in mind that her backpack and bags contained her expensive camera, her diary, her passport, and all her other belongings. Would she – would you – leave such essential and valuable personal items totally unguarded in a public place with more than 400 people in the vicinity, none of whom you knew? I consider it most unlikely she would have left those items unguarded, even just for a few minutes while she visited the loo or wherever she was going when she crossed the lounge. It hasn’t been established for certain but I consider it likely that she left those items with one or more people who had befriended her onboard the ferry, and considering these people have never come forward or made themselves known to investigators, I consider it highly likely that if that was so, then that person or persons included her killer or killers.
The second time Inga-Maria was spotted onboard the Galloway Princess that night was actually up on deck, and this sighting was made by the young Northern Irish woman who had followed her directly on to the ferry when boarding in Stranraer earlier that evening. This time Inga-Maria had gone up on deck for some fresh air and to take in the sight of the Irish Sea as the ferry made its way towards the port of Larne. The young woman, whose name is known to me but whom I have not spoken with so I shall refrain from naming as her name has never been published anywhere, saw Inga-Maria lifting up the ferry’s on-deck telescope through which a clearer view of the approaching land could be made. Again, Inga-Maria was alone and again she did not have her backpack or any of her additional bags with her. With the exception of a sighting made by a third female passenger aboard the ferry that night of Inga-Maria entering a lorry as the ferry docked in Larne, a sighting that wasn’t reported until 2005 and which has never been confirmed to have been Inga-Maria (this sighting I discussed earlier in Part 3 of The Keeley Chronicles) that was the last time she was ever seen alive.
Imagine being one of those women, imagine knowing in the aftermath of her murder that you very briefly crossed paths with someone who was about to be erased from this existence in such a tragic and shocking way, and in such a standalone case that the news of the release of her singing and playing guitar, something not heard before in Ireland or the UK became the lead item on the main evening UTV News on November 2nd 2017, almost thirty years after the murder. Imagine knowing that that night aboard the Galloway Princess that you were that close to the truth behind one of the most baffling murder mysteries of the last three decades, and yet still even for those women the precise truth of what followed remains tantalisingly out of reach. What would have seemed such mundane moments for them at the time – accidentally bumping into someone as they entered the ferry terminal in Stranraer, following her onto the ferry, later seeing her crossing the ferry lounge, and later still seeing her up on deck gazing out in wonder, hope and expectation towards the land she would barely set foot on before her life was so brutally taken. These apparently mundane moments were to become some of the most important and memorable details of those women’s own lives, for it’s not every day or even every decade that you become one of the only witnesses to part of a sequence of events that are still making headlines almost thirty years later.
All the same though, even considering that fact that due to the two Northern Irish women accidentally bumping into Inga-Maria as she entered the ferry terminal in Stranraer and them subsequently following her directly onto the ferry itself making it more likely that they would remember her, I still think it very strange that no one else among the hundreds of passengers later tracked down and questioned by the then-RUC reported having seen her on board the ferry. She was strikingly good-looking, and more unusual still she was a lone young woman, an 18 year-old tourist travelling to a region that was at that time in the midst of a vicious internecine conflict. How the hell could she not have been spotted by more people? Two out of 422? I know from the correspondence I have received that I’m not alone in finding that ridiculous.
Don’t believe his heart, I beg you please it lies
There’s murder in the eyes of men and treason in the sky
She crossed the room in honour and took his words in vain
He smiled the smile of murder
And in his head, shook his hand
The House of Love – ‘32nd Floor’
Another point I’ve mulled over a lot is relevant to the title of this chapter – Universal Traveller, which is the title of an excellent, eerie song by the French band Air and a piece of music that always makes me think of what it might have been like on board the Galloway Princess that night. For one thing, that’s what Inga was – a universal traveller. She could’ve been anyone – anyone’s daughter, anyone’s sister, anyone’s friend. To me she’s symbolic of young people everywhere with hopes and dreams setting off on their first journey abroad. Except where the vast majority of them will return home, ready to regale with their tales of the road, Inga never did and never will.
The murder of Inga-Maria Hauser is as I said at the beginning of Part 1 of The Keeley Chronicles, the only case of its kind – the only sexually-motivated murder of a tourist in Northern Irish history. But for the individual who drove her off that ferry and whoever else who may have accompanied him, she arrived totally unnoticed in Northern Ireland on the night she died and instead of receiving the warm Irish greeting she deserved, was instead subjected to a horrendous ordeal, which left a long dark shadow hanging in its wake and which will never be resolved for as long as her killers and those shielding them carry on denying her justice like they denied her her life. And yet although Inga may have been ‘just’ one person, she is in a way every backpacker, every overseas explorer, every human being who ventures outdoors to see the other side of this life. Not a day goes by where her friends and I don’t think of her, and I know there are likewise so many people out there all across Northern Ireland who have never forgotten her, not least John Dallat who has campaigned long and hard for answers and justice on Inga-Maria’s behalf. I notice that she’s particularly on my mind whenever I’m in a train station or at a bus depot or in an airport, any of those places with a transitory ambience, that palpable melancholy atmosphere that seems unique to those places, where so many people are constantly moving, fleetingly passing in transit on their way from one point to another and perhaps leaving only the faintest trace of their souls as they roam.
Chapter 40 – Caught in the Headlights
So maybe you’re standing
In some foreign town
You’ve walked for miles
And your jeans and your curls
Are bleached and split
As the words on these pages
Maybe I’m reminded
Caught in the headlights
And I’m yelling it at you
Why is it girl
When the world is lit by lightning
So you’re ten miles out
Of this city at night
When do coloured lights
Become paint and glass and dust?
How I wonder
What light to trust?
The light of the distance
Or the candle that might just burn?
Moonshine and starlight
Pockets full of rainbows
It will call you
When the world knows your name
Deacon Blue – ‘The World Is Lit By Lightning’
The one thing that has always puzzled me most about Inga-Maria’s murder isn’t the fact that she had seemingly taken a lift on the night of her death – even though that was something considered very much out-of-character, and actually unnecessary (due to her being in possession of a valid Interrail pass) and as a result something that has long baffled the detectives investigating her case. No. I felt I could relatively easily rationalise and envisage the sort of scenario that would have given rise to her diverting from her established code of practice, one I’ve outlined in a theory I spoke of in an interview I gave the Belfast Telegraph in July 2017. Inga-Maria’s last-ever diary entry written in Stranraer before boarding the ferry began with the heartbreaking words “Wonder where I stay tonight?”, and this I feel makes it at the very least conceivable that she would have been receptive to an offer of a lift specifically to a B&B or a hostel, considering it was night-time when the ferry docked at Larne and had she caught the train from Larne Harbour as planned it would have been approximately 11pm when she would have arrived at Belfast’s York Road station, far from an ideal time to arrive in a totally-unfamiliar city, especially considering it was in the middle of a war and she was an 18 year-old girl on her own with no friends or family there to call on, and bearing in mind this was an age long before smartphones and Google Maps made navigation of an unfamiliar territory so much easier.
No, what mystifies me more than anything else in this story is one very striking and very unusual anomaly, something I considered so unlikely as to be possibly unprecedented in the annals of criminal history. How could Inga-Maria be the only tourist ever to have been the victim of a sexually-motivated murder in the province? The extent of ruthlessness and savagery and the degree of confidence, arrogance even, deployed in the course of her assault and murder point to an individual or individuals who have committed such a crime at the very least once before, possibly numerous times. In all my many years of reading True Crime I have not once encountered a killer or killers who were ‘The finished article’ from the get-go, whose murderous methods emerged fully-honed and developed to the extent that Inga’s killer or killers were. And yet, in 1988 there was simply no precedent in Northern Ireland – and what’s more, in all the years since there’s been no subsequent instance – of a sexually-motivated murder of a tourist taking place there. And furthermore, police went to the trouble in the last decade of painstakingly compiling a list of approximately 1000 ‘male nominals’ considered by them to be the individuals most likely to be capable of a crime involving sexual violence against a woman, on the basis of a previous conviction or due to having come into consideration in some way during the incredibly long-running investigation, and yet even in a geographical area as small as that of Northern Ireland, and with all of the geographical and behavioural profilers enlisted by the PSNI reportedly united in their belief that the offender or offenders were very local to the area where her body was eventually discovered, still the identity of the “crime scene donor” as the PSNI have pointedly described the man whose DNA profile they possess proved frustratingly, maddeningly elusive. For months I had put the various permutations of this equation to work in my mind. And time and time again I arrived back where I’d started. She couldn’t have been the first, the last, the only one. And yet the evidence shows that yes, she is.
The first, the last, and so far the only. Caught in the harsh headlights of history. Lured by the urge to wander, purged from the surface of the Earth, expiring in the expanse between the digits of the missing minutes that separate day and night from any afterlife. Squandered by a monster, the forever-frozen future of a universal traveller.
Inga-Maria Hauser. Born May 28th 1969. Died April 6th 1988. Never forgotten.
Please get in touch with me via email in the ‘Contact’ section if you have any information in relation to this case.
Copyright: Keeley Moss ℗&©2017. All rights reserved.
Acknowledgements for Part 14
Very special thanks to Gary Watson and someone who I shall refer to only as I.R.
‘Horizon’ written by Martin Courtney IV. Published by Domino Publishing Company ©2014
‘32nd Floor’ written by Guy Chadwick. Published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC ©1990
‘The World Is Lit By Lightning’ written by Ross/Prime. Published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC ©1989