The definitive account of the only case of its kind, a search for truth, a spiritual journey and a labour-of-love in honour of the victim of a unique murder mystery still officially unsolved 31 years on
By Keeley Moss
PART 33 – CONTENTS Chapter 86: One Step Beyond Chapter 87: The Most Beautiful Girl in the World Chapter 88: Stuck in the Middle with You Acknowledgements for Part 33
Chapter 86: One Step Beyond
Has gained momentum
Take a turn…
R.E.M. – ‘Pilgrimage’
For anyone who hasn’t been following the previous twelve instalments of this blog, this is the next stage of my retracing Inga’s movements by undertaking a solo backpacking trip on an Interrail pass through England, Scotland and the north (and south) of Ireland for the purpose of researching my book about Inga and her case (which is a separate work to this blog) and to keep her memory alive by trying to complete the journey that she was so tragically murdered in the process of undertaking. I am also doing this in order to show just how far she travelled and the sheer effort she made to get where she was going before she was killed, a very important aspect of Inga’s legacy that was overlooked for too long. She came so far. So near and yet, so far…
As documented in Part 32, my time on board the ferry to Larne was not without its problems. However, little did I know at the time that that was just the beginning of an extraordinary night.
Not long before the ferry docked at Larne, I decided to enter the lounge. So far during the crossing I had gone out of my way to avoid this section of the ship, for obvious reasons. But by this time, I was getting such an intimidating vibe everywhere else on the ferry that I thought it couldn’t be much worse there. No sooner had I found myself a seat in the lounge and plonked my rucksack down beside me than an announcement was made that the ferry was now docking. “Would all passengers please proceed towards the exits”, an usher then requested.
I went from being sat in the lounge to being ushered off the ferry and down the staircase that led directly into the vehicle dock before following the other foot passengers onto a small shuttle bus that drove from the vehicle dock of the ship to where it arrived at the back door of Larne ferry terminal. At this point the few other foot passengers and I climbed off the bus and proceeded to follow a short path into the terminal building. From there I walked down the eerie-looking red-brick corridor with blindingly-bright overhead lights that leads into the main concourse of the terminal, to the sound of Joe Jackson’s ‘Another World’, the song I was listening to on headphones. It will only become apparent later in this piece why I have chosen to highlight this, but the lyrics of this song include the following lines:
Then I turned around saw someone smiling
I stepped into
I stepped into
Into another world…
I was stunned at the speed at which these movements were accomplished. It seemed to take no more than a matter of seconds from my having been sat in the lounge of the ferry to facing the exit doors of the inside of the terminal building, something I would have found very hard to believe had I not experienced it for myself. It gave me a vital insight into not just how short a time Inga would have spent in the ferry terminal that night but how tiny a timeframe her primary killer had in which to approach her and manage to lure her into accepting his offer of a lift from Larne.
But I was not planning to leave via the exit doors. And I was certainly not intending to take any lift from Larne. The motivation behind my retracing Inga’s footsteps was essentially two-fold – one, for the purpose of researching the book I’m working on and two, as a personal pilgrimage and spiritual mission that I’m obsessed with, to try complete the journey Inga was denied the chance to. However, the climax would be in getting to complete the circle by taking the train from Larne Harbour to Belfast which had been Inga’s intention before events took such a disastrous turn that night in April 1988.
It will probably surprise people to learn that the layout of Larne ferry terminal (which opened in 1985, two and a half years prior to Inga’s fateful arrival there) has essentially remained identical from the day it was first opened up to and including the present day, almost 35 years later. Since Inga’s murder in 1988, so much in the world in which we live has changed beyond all recognition. But there are some things, and some places, that have not undergone any substantial alterations despite the enormous passage of time, places that have survived the march of modernity.
Having tracked down and interviewed former Harbour Police officers who were stationed at the Port of Larne in the late 1980s and 1990s, as well as a maritime expert with extensive inside knowledge of Sealink ferry practices and specifically the former Stranraer-Larne route and the Galloway Princess, I have been able to establish beyond doubt that Larne ferry terminal is, remarkably, one such place to have remained essentially unchanged since 1985, and more to the point, since 1988. So, when I arrived there off the ferry from Scotland, I knew I was seeing the place much as Inga had done during the very brief time she was in the vicinity. It made the experience feel even more poignant – and even more eerie – than might have otherwise been the case.
Chapter 87: The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
How can I get through days when I can’t get through hours?
I can try but when I do, I see you and I’m devoured
This kind of beauty is the kind that comes from inside
Prince – ‘The Most Beautiful Girl In the World’
So while in my peripheral vision I could see the other foot passengers, who were all ahead of me, briskly walk out the front doors of the terminal building I was instead firmly focused on travelling in the opposite direction. With that I took a sharp right upon exiting the corridor and walked the very short distance along a path and up an incline towards the doors that open onto the platform of Larne Harbour train station, just as Inga originally intended on that fateful night.
But as I was approaching these doors, I saw something that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was a poster. About Inga. The same PSNI poster requesting information about her movements that I had seen the last time I was in the building six months earlier while taking part in the making of the BBC Spotlight television documentary The Life and Death of Inga-Maria Hauser. The poster was a further reminder that Inga’s case is still unsolved all these years later and that police are still having to request the help of the general public as they strive to secure the evidential fragments required to close the case. One of only two notices on the noticeboard, poignantly it had remained in place all this time, despite it being only secured with Blu Tack and with there being no plate glass screen to protect it. So I was shocked to see it still here after such a long time.
The words on the poster, printed alongside a freshly-filtered photo of Inga beaming her most vibrant smile, and which I will reproduce word-for-word here, read:
30 years ago
In April 1988
Inga Maria Hauser
WAS FOUND MURDERED
in Ballypatrick Forest, Ballycastle
Inga Maria Hauser arrived in Northern Ireland on the Larne/Stranraer Ferry on 6 April 1988.
- Do you remember seeing her?
- Do you know anything about her movements from 6th April?
- Have you any information about what happened to her or who she was with?
If you think you can assist with the investigation please call the police on 101 and ask for the Detectives investigating this case or phone their direct line 028 7137 9783 or alternatively phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111
Chapter 88: Stuck in the Middle with You
Trying to make some sense of it all
But I can see that it makes no sense at all
Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor?
‘Cause I don’t think that I can take any more
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you
Stealers Wheel – ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’
Now I stood on the verge of walking through the doors of the railway platform and achieving the most vital part of my mission. Having spent the previous four days travelling almost constantly, suddenly I found that I couldn’t move. I was frozen to the spot. It was that poster. It might seem odd, I associate her with this place probably more than anywhere else and yet I just didn’t expect to see her photo still here. And when I did, it stopped me in my tracks so much I couldn’t move. I needed to start walking, and fast. From where I stood, the entrance to the platform, I could see the train mere metres away from me, the very train I needed to be on, the train she should have been on. Except for one thing.
I could not move.
One thought struck me above anything else. It was the fact that 30 years ago she was here, incredibly-briefly, in person. 30 years later she was here in the form of her photo on a poster. And now I was here. And I couldn’t go anywhere.
But I had to move. I had to make that train. If the train left without me the whole trip, or the main point of it at least, would essentially be ruined. And I wasn’t sure if I could go through it all over again. It didn’t feel to me like it had taken all that much physically to accomplish, even with all the travelling and the sleep deprivation of the previous four days, but emotionally it was a different story. It’s the kind of thing you do once. In fact, I have never heard of anyone doing it before, so perhaps it wasn’t even something you do once. All the same, I knew that I had to get my brain in gear and take the final steps towards that train.
Something in me then clicked, I freed my feet and started to move. I was on the platform now, walking towards the train. The train was still there, to my relief. But my mind was so consumed with thoughts of Inga and that poster not to mention the strange time I’d had on board the ferry from Scotland that I hadn’t noticed that there were absolutely no other people on the platform. I was in a strange state of mind, almost some kind of trance-like state, and eager to finally board the train and in my own small way complete a circle that had gone uncompleted for 30 years by that point that I just didn’t notice there weren’t any passengers on the train or on the platform. Perhaps the fact that most of my train and bus journeys over the previous few days had been as a lone passenger made me think nothing of there being no one on the train. I pressed the button to open the doors and waited for the sliding doors to widen. Literally a ‘Sliding Doors’ moment. But nothing was happening. I pressed the button again, but again, the doors failed to open. What was going on here?
Suddenly, I heard a voice from behind. I turned around to find a lady aged around 30, which if my estimation was correct meant she would have been born roughly around 1988, the year Inga was killed. She spoke with a Scottish accent and wore a broad smile.
Then I turned around saw someone smiling…
I stepped into
I stepped into
Into another world…
Events were again mirroring the words of the song I had been listening to only moments before.
The woman had followed me onto the platform, and her arrival here meant that now there was a whole two of us. She was one of those people you just warm to instantly. She told me she had been on the same ferry from Scotland and like me she was here to catch the train to Belfast. I found it strange that she could have been so far behind me, and also that it had taken her this long to follow me onto the railway platform. I had been the last passenger to get off the ferry, punctuality has never been my strong point so typically it had taken me longer than everyone else on board to get my things together. And I had spent what felt like ages in the ferry terminal reading that poster and trying to summon up the ability to resume walking towards the platform. So why was she only here now? It didn’t make sense.
Suddenly a third woman appeared on the platform, as if from nowhere. She hadn’t come through the doors of the terminal and none of the doors of the train would open so I simply do not know where she came from. However, unlike me or the Scottish lady she wasn’t looking to catch the train to Belfast. It was soon apparent she was a member of the rail staff and spoke with an Eastern European accent. I asked her in standard Dublin parlance, “What’s the story with the train?”
“This train isn’t going anywhere, it’s here to be cleaned”, she answered. I asked her what time the next train to Belfast was. And I will never forget her reply.
“7.52am”, she said.
a.m. you say?
“Yes”, she responded as if that was nothing out of the ordinary. “But it’s 10pm, and we’ve just arrived here off the ferry from Scotland!” I replied. To this she said nothing. I couldn’t believe there wouldn’t be another train tonight. So, I changed tack. “What time is the last train out of here at night?” I asked. “Nine o’clock”, she said.
Why would a train service that is literally connected to a ferry terminal and that is solely there in order to serve passengers disembarking from ferries leave halfway through the ferry journey?! It was so bizarre it was comical. Even more so for the fact that the Port of Larne is not a residential area at all, and on every single occasion I have been in Larne ferry terminal it has been completely empty, with no sign of any other person in the building. So presumably the last train must have left for Belfast with no passengers on board. That didn’t make sense either.
It was dawning on me that I would not be able to take the train journey Inga had intended to, and therefore I wouldn’t reach Belfast by train. I was devastated. I had staked everything on making it from Larne Harbour to Belfast by train in order to complete the circle. By this point I had introduced myself to my fellow stranded passenger and asked for her name. “Fiona”, she said. I made the few seconds walk to the waiting area in the ferry terminal and Fiona left the building altogether, saying she was going to find out the time of the next bus to Belfast. “F**k the bus. I want to know what happened to the goddamned train”, I said under my breath.
I found the terminal building completely empty as usual. No staff, no passengers, not a solitary soul. Fiona soon returned with the news that there were no buses. Period. First no trains, and now no buses too. “Oh for f**k’s sake”, I muttered. It meant we’d have to get a taxi, which we agreed to share the cost of between the two of us. Fiona rang a taxi firm based in Larne. They had no taxis available for the rest of the night. So, she phoned another, who reported that there were no taxis available anywhere in Larne all night.
Fantastic. No trains, no buses and now no taxis either. There must be some kind of way out of here? Said the blogger to the ferry passenger. The thing was, I had to be in work in Dublin the following morning. But far more importantly, I had to make it from Larne to Belfast in order to preserve the integrity of the mission I had set off from Dublin intending to complete four days earlier. Inga’s original mission that had gone uncompleted for thirty years. I was going to do it right, or not at all. It was beginning to look like ‘not at all’. Or at least no further than Larne.
But staying in Larne ferry terminal overnight was not going to be an option. Inga was only in the place for a few seconds and ended up dead as a result. Did I really want to spend the whole night here, and what’s more, on my own?
It was then that it occurred to me. Her words. Always her words. Words that Inga had written in her diary on the very last day of her life. The most painfully-ironic words I have ever read.
My journey has run without a hitch so far
Her journey had indeed run without a hitch so far – until she reached Larne. Now here I was thirty years later and my journey retracing her steps through the UK and Ireland had also run without a hitch so far – until I reached Larne. What was going on here? It was surely too much of a coincidence for it to be a coincidence. But if so, what was it? What did it mean? And would this be the only instance tonight of history repeating itself?
I was dumbstruck. This could have happened in any one of the dozen or so stations where I’d retraced Inga’s steps in London. Or it could have happened when I went to Headington. Or Oxford. Or Bath. Or Bristol. Or Preston. Or Inverness. Or in either of the two stations in Glasgow. Or Ayr. Or Stranraer. And it wouldn’t have been strange. But given the history of the case and the circumstances of why I was here, for this to happen in Larne? “Unbelievable”, as one of my friends in North Antrim who was following my account of the backpacking trip on my Facebook page commented, unwittingly echoing Inga’s mum Almut’s words to the Belfast Telegraph in 2009 when she summarised so succinctly the bizarre and unique circumstances of her daughter’s murder, “It was, and still is, unbelievable”.
However, events in Larne were about to take an even more improbable turn…
TO BE CONTINUED
May 28th 1969 – April 6th 1988. Never forgotten.
Copyright: Keeley Moss ℗&©2020. All rights reserved.
Acknowledgements for Part 33
Pilgrimage written by Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe. Published by Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group ©1983
Another World written by Joe Jackson. Published by Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd. ©1982
The Most Beautiful Girl In the World written by Prince Rogers Nelson. Published by Universal Music Publishing Group ©1994
Stuck in the Middle with You written by Rafferty/Egan. Published by © BMG Rights Management ©1973