A tribute to Inga-Maria Hauser, the definitive story of the only case of it’s kind in Northern Ireland and my continuing mission to uncover the truth behind an horrific murder still unsolved after 29 years despite one of the largest DNA screenings in policing history
By Keeley Moss
Part 1 Contents
Foreword - Forward Chapter 01 - Always On My Mind Chapter 02 - There She Goes Chapter 03 - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For Chapter 04 - Year In Song Chapter 05 - I Get This Feeling I'm In Motion, A Sudden Sense Of Liberty Chapter 06 - Hit The North Chapter 07 - Train Of Thought Chapter 08 - Road, River And Rail Chapter 09 - Vanishing Point Chapter 10 - Body's In Trouble Chapter 11 - Brilliant Disguise Acknowledgements for Part 1 Further sources
Foreword – Forward
Thank you to the thousands of people, particularly the people of County Antrim, who have played a part in these book excerpts going viral, something that happened almost immediately upon my posting the first chapter, and much to my amazement. What’s more it is something that has happened organically, generated entirely via word-of-mouth, and ‘people power’ in the form of sharing on social media. It is a testament to the depth of feeling that I am now aware exists in Northern Ireland for Inga-Maria and the heartfelt desire so many people there have to see justice done for her and for the Hauser family who have suffered too much for too long. Thanks to the many people who have commented and emailed with their recollections and views, and who have encouraged me in my efforts. Special thanks to several individuals who shall remain nameless, one of whom generously provided a remarkable photograph that has never been seen before and which exclusively appears later in this blog.
Chapter 1 – Always On My Mind
It sits apart, it sits apart from The Troubles. The murder is completely out there on its own.
The police have put hundreds and thousands of hours into solving this case.
– PSNI Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray
The murder of Inga-Maria Hauser is the only murder of its kind to have occurred in Northern Ireland…No other tourist was sexually-assaulted, murdered and their body hidden by an opportunistic attacker.
– Barry Cummins, The Cold Case Files
A case as unique as it is extraordinary. And yet…Have you heard of Inga-Maria Hauser before? Chances are you probably haven’t. Until relatively recently I myself had only ever read two brief mentions of her name over the past two decades, mentions which had omitted practically all of the details of her case, and I’ve had a lifelong interest in crime investigations, especially those dating from the 1970’s-1990’s, and furthermore this case happened on home soil. I would have expected to have read, seen and/or heard so much more about it. Unlike most murder cases, there is no Wikipedia entry for Inga-Maria, no reference to her on it anywhere in fact. And apart from a clip of a song I have co-written and uploaded (which features in Part 4 of this blog) and a short UTV news clip that I also uploaded (which features in Part 6 of this blog) there is also nothing to be found on Youtube and until this blog and the ensuing eruption in interest there was virtually nothing on social media either. No one before me had written a book on the case. A couple of friends of mine live close to Larne where Inga-Maria was last known to have been and even though they are of an age where I would expect them to be very familiar with the case, and they themselves have a keen interest in True Crime and one of them in fact several times a week takes the same train route that Inga-Maria had planned to take on the night she was murdered, they had never even heard of her. Certainly outside of Northern Ireland it’s a very little-known story, not having received the degree of publicity and indeed public outcry normally reserved for cases of this nature, even when taking into account the passage of time.
Why? Perhaps it’s because Inga-Maria was German, a foreign national on these shores? But that couldn’t be so, given the comparative avalanche of press attention and public awareness the cases of the American citizen Annie McCarrick and the French citizen Sophie Toscan du Plantier have received over the years, to name a couple of examples of foreign nationals murdered on Irish shores (a suspected murder in the case of Annie McCarrick, due to the continued non-discovery of her remains). So who knows what the reason is? Whatever the reason, one of my aims with writing this blog is to raise awareness of her case and in doing so try do my bit to keep the memory of Inga-Maria alive.
The three books in existence that each feature one chapter on Inga-Maria’s case, although well written and researched, are all written in a detached, formal style and focus almost entirely on the circumstances of her death and the subsequent investigation to track down her killers. I decided that my account would be different – not only did I see little point in writing another account in the same style as others, but I wanted my blog to focus as much as possible on Inga-Maria’s life not just her death, and specifically the journey through the UK and Ireland she was in the process of undertaking when the tragedy occurred. For I feel that that journey, as tragic as it’s conclusion undoubtedly was and is, meant a lot to her and stands as a testament to the person she was. I want to chronicle it as accurately as possible given the information that is currently known, in honour of her memory and for the sake of her surviving family. I can’t bring Inga-Maria back but in my own small way maybe I can give her and her interrupted journey through this world a sort of virtual afterlife. I also want to be able to tell the story of her life, and celebrate her for the human being she was.
At certain points throughout I have attempted to provide context with regards to the climate of the times, including many pop culture references. Almost every one of the 28 chapter titles that Parts 1-3 are comprised of are titles of songs or extracts from lyrics of songs released in 1988, or in a few instances had their initial release in 1987, but which saw release in 1988 in other territories. Some of the other titles and lyrical quotations date from other years where I felt they were simply the most appropriate one I could choose in relation to that particular chapter. In certain instances I have quoted from song lyrics only the lines I felt echo the circumstances of Inga-Maria’s case. For that reason some of the lyrical excerpts are not linear.
Another thing: I wanted to pool all of the available information on Inga-Maria’s case and present a single go-to resource, so in addition to having researched the case in-depth and provided throughout the course of this blog many previously-unconnected photographs, every relevant piece of information spread across the many accounts of the case from 1988 through to 2012 is presented in Parts 2 & 3 for the very first time. In addition, I wanted to draw attention to the continuing investigation into Inga-Maria’s murder, a unique and dogged pursuit quite unlike any other I’ve come across. Finally, and fittingly, I wanted this blog to focus as much as possible on the human being Inga-Maria was, rather than just depict her as a murder victim. She is that, but she was so much else as well. Ideally I would love for this blog to focus as much on her life as on her death, if not more so. However, first and foremost my desire is for the case to be solved, for the mystery of what happened all those years ago to be finally resolved and for Inga-Maria’s family and her friends wherever they may be now to finally receive the justice they have for so long deserved but been denied.
Now, please excuse a brief diversion for a little personal background (it relates to the story).
I’m Irish. I was born in Dublin and have lived in the South of Ireland my whole life. I’ve been fascinated by True Crime cases since I was a child, particularly any that occurred during the timeframe between the late 1960’s and the mid-1990’s (what it is about this particular timeframe that so engrosses me to the exclusion of all others I have never quite been able to fathom!) For practically as long as I’ve been able to read I’ve been, to quote Gene, ‘Drawn to the deep end’. Over the years certain cases have stayed with me longer than others, but from the moment I first read about what happened to Inga-Maria I can honestly say it’s affected me more profoundly than any case I have ever come across. An 18 year-old German woman, who came to Ireland with the intention of exploring my country, both North and South, for several days. Had she not fallen victim to viciousness on April 6th 1988, she was due to travel to my home city of Dublin either the next day or the day after. Sadly, she never got the chance. Knowing she came so close but never made it that far makes me think of her every time I go into Dublin city centre. And I think she would’ve loved Dublin, despite my belief that in 1988 it wasn’t nearly as good as the city it is today. But more frustratingly still, at the time of writing, almost 29 years on, the case remains unsolved, and the perpetrators remain at large, never having been held to account for what they did to her, a fact that continues to cause great pain to her surviving family members.
When I close my eyes I imagine what her last-ever Christmas might have been like, and in parallel I think of the Christmas I had as a child that same year of 1987…I imagine the last night she spent in Munich at home with the parents she would never see again…I visualise her in Stranraer in the most mundane of circumstances, about to board that ferry, queuing up with the other foot passengers, none of whom are aware of what will later unfold and how they will all unwittingly become bit-part players in this darkest of dramas…I try to imagine her movements during the crossing and process the impending events that she couldn’t possibly have had any awareness of…I picture the ferry about to dock that night while weighing up all of what is known and visualising the most likely scenario of what transpired. All the while time marches on and 1988 gets ever more distant in history’s rear-view mirror. But what eludes you moves you and to that end I feel a powerful and inexplicable inner compulsion to keep learning, keep searching…
And keep asking. Why, despite reportedly the largest DNA screening in policing history, despite the “hundreds and thousands of hours” police have spent on the case, despite the incontrovertible evidence of the full DNA profile of a crime scene donor being long in the possession of the PSNI and the comparatively-tiny areas in which the perpetrators are suspected of residing, have they been unable to crack this case? In a case with so few certainties, one of the few facts police are certain of is that she had to have boarded a vehicle that night in Larne. If she was abducted, how did not one of the hundreds of people who were aboard the ferry that night who have subsequently been tracked down by police report hearing or seeing anything untoward? If she boarded the killers’ vehicle voluntarily – why do so when she was considered “worldly” and not overly-naive, had never hitch-hiked or accepted lifts from strangers, and had no need to anyway due to her possession of a valid InterRail ticket? The questions linger like an endless stench, the truth eludes and the visions vex.
One point I feel needs to be reiterated: This is the only murder of it’s kind to have occurred in Northern Ireland, ever. Remarkably, within minutes of docking at Larne, this teenage tourist was gone forever. What are the odds that this would happen to someone who had literally not even stepped foot on the land? Had she been a regular visitor to these shores or had she say lived there for years then that would increase the possibility of such a tragedy occurring, although on the balance of probability it would still be very unlikely. But for such a thing to happen only to her and for it to occur from literally the moment she arrived? In the words of Inga-Maria’s mother Almut, “it was, and still is, unbelievable”.
One night soon after first having read about the case, I went to bed but later awoke with a start in the middle of the night, so upset was I by the knowledge of what had happened to her. That is the only time this has happened to me – and given that for many years I’ve regularly read and watched documentaries about true crime cases, alone at night, immediately prior to going to sleep without any problem whatsoever, that is no mean feat. This book is a testament to the beautiful and brave young woman with an admirable appetite for adventure who was so brutally cut down, practically on the cusp of her adulthood. It is the cautionary tale of a callously-curtailed journey and the shockingly-abominable culmination of a first trip abroad alone. It is the first fruits of an obsession, a case that gripped me and refuses to let go. It is an attempt to understand, to try make sense of what happened and how it came to be that this singular young European explorer (and very talented artist, with paint and pencil sketches) could have ended up where and how she did. It is a document that chronicles the incredibly wide-ranging and long-winding police investigation that has followed. It is an attempt to revisit, and deliver the fullest account yet of her generally-unknown first and last journey through what are often referred to as the Home Countries, namely England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, with the aim of posthumously honouring the life so cruelly taken in the North all those years ago.
It is a matter of life and death.
Chapter 2 – There She Goes
It’s 1988. The 27th of March 1988 to be precise. Aswad’s ‘Don’t Turn Around’ retains top spot on the UK Singles Chart, holding off Bros’s ‘Drop The Boy’. The day before, a teenage Alan Shearer makes his debut for Southampton in Division 1 of the English top flight in a valiant 1–0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. But far away from pop frolics and terrace chants a young woman is making her way from her home in Munich in the South of Germany to the North-West of the country on an InterRail ticket, having been dropped off at the train station by her mother Almut who hugged her goodbye. This isn’t any ordinary journey. It’s only the start, the entrance point to an intrepid adventure, but it turns out to be quite literally the fabled ‘trip of a lifetime’ – for as a result of the tragic circumstances at its abrupt and unintended conclusion it will be the only such journey she will undertake.
It had been an exceptionally snowy month in Munich and Inga-Maria embraced the open-ended possibilities of her trek with all the freewheeling zest of someone venturing abroad alone for the first time. By all accounts a confident and self-sufficient young woman, armed with the nerveless urgency of youth, untainted by the weary waves of later life, perched on a precocious precipice, caught on the cusp of her fast-disappearing adolescence and the adulthood which stretches out before her. She has quite literally everything to live for. What better way to live than to learn? And what better way to learn than to travel? The saying goes that travel broadens the mind and hers will be a broader mind than many, taking into account the litany of lands she will touch with her hands, the roads she will feel with her feet, the tracks she will weave and wind her way along as the first, German-based leg of her adventure gives way to a short stopover in the Netherlands, where towards the end of the month of March she is herself on the march – setting sail on turquoise waves from the Hook of Holland, before docking in Harwich (a journey of approximately eight hours) then moving swiftly on to the capital, a girl with a taste for the world, a young woman with a yearning for some London living.
Chapter 3 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Thursday 31st March 1988. Liverpool end the month with a daunting 14-point margin over second-placed Manchester United at the top of the First Division. Also in the news, human rights organisation Amnesty International announces it is to investigate the deaths of the three IRA members executed by the SAS in Gibraltar on March 6th 1988. Inga-Maria meanwhile travels from Harwich to London…and it’s the capital that first captivates her. It is not known precisely where in London she visited in those first days. Who she might have spoken to and briefly illuminated the life of there went unrecorded, as would have been the case for the vast majority of adventurers in the pre-digital age. Who saw this young woman on her way in those fresh late-Spring days of 1988 and might have wondered from where she hailed and to where she was bound? Who out there might possess in some far-flung corner of their memory bank a hazy recollection of a snatched conversation with her, and who unwittingly possesses a piece, however miniscule, of the ensuing puzzle? I hope to yet discover what inspired and intrigued her most during those earliest escapades on English soil. We do know that during that first day in London she phoned home, as she had every day since she set off from Munich, excitedly regaling her mother with the details of her journey on the open road thus far, and in turn being informed of and comforted by the scattered fragments of mundane antics that cause the heart ever more an attachment when overseas, all the more so if alone and far from the sanctuary of family and familiarity.
Chapter 4 – Year In Song
All my lazy teenage boasts are now high-precision ghosts
And they’re coming ’round the track to haunt me
‘The King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ – Prefab Sprout
The songs Inga-Maria would have heard on the radio during her week in the UK, a period characterised by the ubiquity of pop monsters on the airwaves both good and gruesome included more than a fair smattering of pure-pop brilliance, from the effervescent shimmer of Climie Fisher’s ‘Love Changes Everything’ and the romantic swagger of Belinda Carlisle’s colossal ‘I Get Weak’ to The Primitives’ apogee of anthemic candy, ‘Crash’, and Fleetwood Mac’s masterful crowning of the Soft-Rock canon with the deceptively-gentle brilliance of ‘Everywhere’, to Prefab Sprout’s buoyant sonic monument ‘The King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ to the Pet Shop Boys, then riding high on the crest of their imperial era with their second consecutive UK number 1 single, the sleek stylish siren that is ‘Heart’. And then there was Erasure, whose elegantly-melancholy ‘Ship Of Fools’ had been snugly nesting in both the UK and Irish Top 10 the week before Inga-Maria’s arrival on British shores and still doggedly clung to the lower vestiges of both countries’ Top 20 as she made her way through customs upon alighting the ferry on a dry, bright day at the end of March. ‘Ship Of Fools’, aside from the obvious maritime reference can be said to have well captured the zestful freshness of Inga-Maria’s coming-of-age travels as well as this blog’s attempt to gain an insight into her state of heart and mind at that time, in addition to the same song having accurately if unwittingly foreshadowed her imminently catastrophic course, in the lyrics, which warrant repeating in part:
My head is spinning
The flowers and the trees are encapsulating me
Oooh, do we not set sail on the ship of fools?
Oooh, why is life so precious and so cruel?
I close my eyes and I try to imagine
What you’re dreaming
‘Ship Of Fools’ – Erasure
Which of the aforementioned songs might have stirred Inga-Maria’s senses as she coursed her way through the veins of the valleys and the alleyways we can only speculate. At this point it seems worthwhile to wonder what if any trace of a human’s soul is left on the various points of a journey they choose to undertake? With the nature of life being as transitory as travel itself, perhaps, just perhaps, can our souls transcend the boundaries of the physical form and leave an imprint, however blurred or vague, on the places we pass through while alive? If so, where in the enormous husk of circus-like life that is London might the spirit of Inga-Maria still linger like that of the faintest scent? Is a trace of her soul’s spirit, like that of any other missing member of the mammoth mountain of ever-accumulating humanity that the capital can be said to amass, afloat somewhere or is it floating anywhere and everywhere where life is to be found? ‘Everywhere’ indeed. As unlikely as it may seem, I’m going to suspend my suspicions and hold out hope that a lasting legacy of one young woman’s age-old unknown journey be that the twinned senses of escapism and optimism which fuelled her foraging forward might in turn add – in a tiny but perhaps spiritually-significant way – to the gust of wonderment and thirst for experience that will send subsequent generations of backpackers and travellers on a similarly-winding worldly way, although hopefully without any of the vast tragedy that befell Inga-Maria and her family when she was so untimely and horrifically ravaged by several individuals who remain at large, cowering in their cowardice having laid waste to a beautiful young life in the midst of a meaningful mission.
Chapter 5 – I Get This Feeling I’m In Motion, A Sudden Sense Of Liberty
Saturday 2nd April 1988. Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest defeat league leaders Liverpool 2-1 at the City Ground in Nottingham. The weather is cloudy with spells of rain across the South of England. The same day Inga-Maria leaves London, and goes north, travelling via train first to Bath and later on to Oxford. In one of the postcards sent during these days she writes, “You probably cannot imagine how much England pleases me. The people here are so lovely that you don’t need to worry. I cannot imagine anything bad happening to me”. Reading that last line with the benefit of hindsight is particularly eerie and saddening. However, it is heartening to know that in the days prior to her extremely ill-fated decision to cross the Irish Sea, she was clearly enjoying life immensely and encountering warmth from those she met.
Chapter 6 – Hit The North
Sunday 3rd April 1988. Michael Jackson’s ‘Man In The Mirror’ is the No.1 single on the US Billboard charts. Meanwhile Inga-Maria spends time in Oxford, before moving on to Cambridge and later travels by train to Liverpool. What did she see while there? She may have visited the famous Liverpool docks, or Mathew Street, home to the site of the world-renowned Cavern, the tiny underground club where The Beatles built up a local following playing hundreds of concerts. Perhaps she took in a stroll through Sefton Park or took part in a tour of Anfield or Goodison Park, or went shopping in the centre of Liverpool. What is known however, is that she didn’t get to spend very long in the city before she embarked, again with her InterRail ticket, on the next leg of her adventure, this time venturing further north, to Scotland.
Nowadays it’s hard enough to get out of bed without half the world knowing. Back in 1988 there was no internet, very little CCTV, no smartphones, and mobile phones were the size and weight of a house brick and pretty much exclusively the property of Gordon Gekko-types ‘in the city’ anyway. It was so much more of a disconnected world, with all of the positives and negatives that entails. All investigators and by extension all we have to go on are the contents of the postcards Inga-Maria sent, her diary and the memories of the phone calls received by her family. Otherwise there’s a cloud of mystery shrouding the surroundings.
Chapter 7 – Train Of Thought
Monday 4th April 1988. Ten-man Manchester United draw 3–3 with Liverpool at Anfield after being 3–1 down, but remain eleven points behind the Merseysiders in the League table. In the USA, Governor Evan Mecham of Arizona is convicted in his impeachment trial and removed from office. Back in the UK, Inga-Maria travels a long distance by train all the way to Inverness where in addition to sightseeing she sends yet more postcards and as on every day of her journey, phones home, describing all of the places she is seeing. In one postcard sent while here she draws a small sketch of the Loch Ness monster and writes “I have just arrived in Inverness at Loch Ness where the monster lives but I have certainly not seen it yet. My journey has run without a hitch so far. And it really is indescribably beautiful here. Unfortunately my money is slowly running out”. She also continues the travelogue in her diary where with heartbreaking irony she writes, “The day after tomorrow I’m going on to Ireland. I’m looking forward to that the best”. Although she was blissfully unaware at this point, the Irish leg of her journey would turn out to be very memorable – for all the wrong reasons.
Tuesday 5th April 1988. Kuwait Airlines Flight 422 is hijacked while en route from Bangkok, Thailand to Kuwait. The hijackers demand the release of seventeen Shiite Muslim prisoners held by Kuwait. Kuwait refuses to release the prisoners, leading to a sixteen-day siege across three continents. Two passengers are killed before the siege ends. Inga-Maria meanwhile on what is a sunny but cool day with strong north-easterly winds travels to Glasgow where she writes in her diary, “Going to Glasgow now. Snowy mountains, wild landscape…”
Before long she’s on the move again, travelling from Glasgow to Ayr, a large but comparatively-obscure town on the west coast of Ayrshire in Scotland. Inga-Maria’s reasons for visiting Ayr and her actions on board the subsequent ferry journey have been the subject of wild conjecture in some quarters, the product of what I believe are dubious and deeply disrespectful notions that unjustly cast a slur on her character and that do not warrant airing in this blog or anywhere else for that matter. However, I have discovered that back in 1988 travelling from Glasgow to Stranraer necessitated a short stopover in Ayr in order to catch a connecting train or coach. It is interesting that she chose to go all the way to Inverness (at the very far north end of Scotland) which entailed having to travel back a fair degree southwards to reach Glasgow before going further south to Ayr and then yet further south on to Stranraer, but I believe her reasons for travelling to Inverness were no more than a desire to visit the home of the famous Loch Ness monster (to whom she referred by name in a postcard she wrote on the day she was in Inverness) and who had been the subject of so much mythology. She was on a sight-seeing trip after all.
Chapter 8 – Road, River and Rail
Down by the shoreline with my back to the land. I felt my feet sink down in the sand. Down by the harbour all alone…I watched the swans in diesel river, struck a match and watched it burn against the night. I traced my steps back through the night, back through the day all the way to the light. Boat’s full of cargo ready to unload…
‘Almost Prayed’ – The Weather Prophets
Wednesday 6th April 1988. In the news, in County Fermanagh close to the Cavan border an IRA bomb explodes under a car. A 51 year-old father of five who was a part-time member of the UDR is killed. Inga-Maria’s last diary entries are on this day, and record her travel up to boarding the ferry. In her diary she writes, “Went from Glasgow to Ayr and then to Stranraer to get over to Ireland. Saw the sea, beautiful and mysterious”. In a passage that’s equal parts eerie and poignant with the benefit of hindsight, she writes, “Wonder where I stay tonight, need more money”. That is the last entry she would ever make in her diary. Her remaining words would only be spoken.
At this point, after traveling to Stranraer, Inga-Maria boards the Sealink ferry to Larne, a vessel named the Galloway Princess. She couldn’t have known, but the next few hours will be her last hours alive on this Earth. The ferry leaves Stranraer port at 7.00pm. During the crossing she is spotted by two fellow passengers who were travelling together, both of whom would separately be able to later describe to the RUC the dress Inga-Maria was wearing, the distinctive colourful badges on her rucksack and that she had two white runners attached to her backpack by their shoelaces, all small but unmistakable details which would be crucial in later verifying these as confirmed sightings.
I was standing by the ocean when I saw your face…
‘Touched By The Hand Of God’ – New Order
It is already well into night when the ferry docks, leaving Inga-Maria little time to make it off the ferry, walk to Larne Harbour station, then board the train destined for Belfast, a journey during which would have taken her through Larne Town, Glynn, Magheramorne, Ballycarry, Whitehead, Downshire, Carrickfergus, Clipperstown, Trooperslane, Greenisland, Jordanstown, Whiteabbey and Yorkgate before arriving at Belfast Central, a journey that takes approximately one hour by rail. Given the disembarkation time from the ferry and the fact that it’s only a very short walk from the ferry arrival point to the train station at Larne Harbour, Inga-Maria could have expected to have perhaps reached Belfast by 11pm, even so a far from ideal scenario in such a dangerous city, particularly at night when it was virtually a no-go area. In addition, she had no geographical knowledge of the city having never been there before. Finally we know from her last diary entry quoted above that she had absolutely nothing arranged in terms of accommodation at that late hour, and what’s more in a country with notoriously-limited public transport after 11pm.
Inga-Maria had planned to meet with a university friend from Germany in Wales, a meeting which had originally been set for the beginning of April but which her friend had had to reschedule for April 9th instead, something Inga-Maria was made aware of while she was still in Munich. At that point she had already booked her trip to the UK and so decided to spend the week before meeting her friend exploring England, Scotland and Ireland before meeting her friend in Cardiff on April 9th. If she’d made it to Belfast as planned, it has been established she was planning to travel down to the South of Ireland, to Dublin either the next day or the day after and then would have to have travelled on from there further south to Rosslare in order to catch the ferry to Pembroke in Wales, from where she would have had a relatively short journey to the city of Cardiff, passing through Swansea en route. But these are journeys she would never get to make. In the next chapters we will discover why.
Chapter 9 – Vanishing Point
‘Desire’ – Talk Talk
Inga-Maria arrived in Northern Ireland at 9.40pm on Wednesday 6th April 1988 when the ferry docked at Larne having left Stranraer more than two and a half hours previously. She carried a large blue rucksack on her back and also had a distinctive canvas bag on top of the rucksack. The canvas bag was green but also had a lot of prominent red, blue and yellow colouring with stars and circles motifs and the letters ‘USAF’. She also carried a green shoulder bag and had a pair of white runners hanging by the laces from her rucksack.
Inga-Maria was not a hitchhiker. According to the results of subsequent police enquiries, at no stage of her travels through Germany, the Netherlands, England and Scotland had she hitch-hiked or taken lifts. Her friends and family considered her to be “worldly”, and notwithstanding her adventurous spirit and reckless decision to visit Northern Ireland alone during a vicious internecine guerrilla war, she had always been careful not to get into cars or rely on lifts from strangers. During the ferry crossing however, something – or someone – appears to have caused her to change her plans and deviate uncharacteristically from her avoidance of availing of the fabled ‘kindness of strangers’. If so, it was to be a decision which would cost her her life. She has to have gotten into a vehicle at Larne – there would be no other way for her to have reached Ballypatrick Forest that night, forty miles away and in the opposite direction to her intended destination of Belfast. But just who was behind the wheel and who else were accompanying that vehicle is the burning question.
Chapter 10 – Body’s In Trouble
We are living in desperate times…There’s no way out of here
When I’m trapped in a corner like this
‘Back To The Wall’ – Divinyls
On the night of April 6th 1988 Inga-Maria is driven for approximately one hour to Ballypatrick Forest Park near Ballycastle in County Antrim where her killers drove deep into the forest, to the furthest and most western part of the park. Here – in a most unusual move – her neck was broken in the course of what detectives would describe as a “ruthless, vicious assault”. Prior to her neck being broken, she was sexually-assaulted and beaten about the face and head. Detectives are convinced that at least one of her killers knew the forest “like the back of his hand”. They would subsequently enlist the support of both a behavioural and a geographical profiler who were unanimous in concluding that it was an area where a random roaming killer would not be familiar, and that it was a place of which at least one of her killers had an intimate knowledge. It was completely dark when they entered the forest, and drove along roads and trails unlit at that time, with nothing to guide them but their vehicle’s own headlights.
Detectives maintain an open mind to this day over whether the vehicle that drove into Ballypatrick Forest Park was the same one Inga-Maria presumably got into on the ferry. Considering the confidence that the killers displayed in driving over what was rough terrain in total darkness once they’d entered the forest, after which they had to manouevre their vehicle down a lengthy dirt track, it was quite possibly a particularly sturdy vehicle to have been expected to withstand such rigours, possibly a van or a jeep. It was not a lorry (despite the fact that a witness who came forward in 2005 claimed to have seen her climb into a lorry on the ferry that night) as not only would it have been unlikely that such a heavy goods vehicle would have been used to drive so far into a forest, given the risks the killer or killers were already taking in such a heavily-policed region and in a place and time of intensified suspicion as the North was in the late-1980’s, not to mention the logistical difficulties of trying to manoeuvre a heavy goods vehicle down unlit dirt tracks late at night for the purpose of carrying out a murder, an act that clearly ran a considerable risk of generating unwanted scrutiny and suspicion, but there were no tyre tracks found of anything resembling those of a lorry in the vicinity of the body deposition site. However, this in itself creates more questions than answers – if the vehicle that was used to transport Inga-Maria from the ferry was a lorry as some of those close to the case believe, and this was a different vehicle altogether to the one used to transport her to the forest, where were the vehicles switched? And how was such a transfer undertaken without arousing suspicions or any sightings?
What we need is the piece of information which helps 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.
– PSNI Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray
Chapter 11 – Brilliant Disguise
Bit by bit, torn apart
We never win
But the battle rages on
For toy soldiers
‘Toy Soldiers’ – Martika
Tragically and terribly, Inga-Maria died of a broken neck. This fact (something that a clinical pathologist later adjudged to have happened at the murder scene and not elsewhere, although it is possible that the sexual assault and the beating took place at another location) would indicate the killer was someone trained in the art of unarmed combat. Alan Bailey in a short chapter on the case in his book Missing, Presumed reported that police had looked into whether the perpetrator was possibly a soldier or other military personnel, particularly in light of members of the armed forces frequently using the Stranraer-Larne ferry to resume duty.
It was further suggested that Inga might have met up with a ‘squaddie’, that is a British Army member, returning to the North of Ireland on the ferry to resume duty. Coming, as she did, from a country that was awash with military from all over the world, it was felt that Inga might have struck up a rapport with him and trusted him sufficiently to take up any offer of a lift or accommodation. However, this line of enquiry did not yield any tangilble results. The wiser heads amongst the investigating officers believed that in the then-current political situation, any unarmed British officer would be travelling incognito, and would not have wanted it to be known that he was a member of the British Army, viewed by a certain section of the population to be a force of occupation…For this very reason it was felt that, if indeed there was a soldier on the ferry, then the chances that he would identify himself as such to anyone, even a fellow passenger as pretty as Inga, were remote.
I have to say I find that reasoning at best unconvincing. First of all, Inga-Maria was German and had never even been to Northern Ireland before nor did she know anyone who lived there. She was also not planning to even stay in the province any longer than approximately one day. For any or all of those reasons I don’t believe that a soldier or a member of military personnel who may have attempted to befriend her on the boat would have had any grounds to feel particularly concerned about revealing the nature of his profession to her. Furthermore, Inga-Maria was beautiful, uncommonly so. Given the nature of attraction it’s a not-uncommon practice for men to deviate from an established pattern of behaviour in the event of crossing paths with a beautiful woman. Lust is one of the most powerful influences possible on a person’s psyche, men most of all. In addition to that, why would there even have been any need for such an individual to reveal to Inga-Maria that he was a soldier or a member of military personnel if that is what he was? People lie all the time, certainly killers have been long shown to be willing to go to great lengths to lure a would-be victim into letting their guard down, lengths considerably greater than inventing a fradulent account of their life or masquerading in the guise of a fictitious profession. He or they could literally have told her anything and, notwithstanding the fact she was not considered overly-naive, how was she to know they might be lying?
I also think the fact that she died of a broken neck, a method of mortal combat very few people would be sufficiently skilled at to be able to execute with such lethal consequences, is highly-significant and ought to have remained a key line of enquiry. And even if the killer or killers did reveal that they were members of the military, I don’t believe such people would be afraid of revealing their military background to a vulnerable teenage tourist travelling on her own at night to a country she’d never been to before – particularly given what was presumably their knowledge that they were more than capable of killing her and in the process silencing her. There are no reports of her having spoken with anyone on that boat, and all indications are that she was taken straight off the boat to where she was attacked and killed. So who would a soldier have had to fear her divulging the information that he was a soldier to? She didn’t know anyone in Ireland, North or South. And never communicated with anyone on the boat or during the very short time she was alive in the North, other than quite possibly with her killers.
Let’s now take a look at the four key facts of the case:
1. She was either abducted or went willingly with a person or persons she encountered on the ferry.
2. She died of a broken neck.
3. Her body was left in a very obscure location, the most remote area of a remote forest that investigating detectives, behavioural profilers and geographical profilers all agree that at least one of the perpetrators would have been extremely familiar with.
4. There is a full DNA profile of a crime scene donor which despite the largest DNA screening in policing history has yet to be matched to anyone.
However there is one key thing that does not support the soldier theory – her family and friends, the people who actually knew her, are adamant that Inga-Maria would never have willingly gone off with men she didn’t know, and certainly not with soldiers or with one or more burly soldier-types purporting not to be soldiers. She was a student, and an artist, and furthermore a young woman on her own who was regarded by those who knew her as bright, intelligent and conscientious. Quite simply not the sort of person to gung-ho head off on a dark night on her own in a country she’d never set foot in before with one or more very strongly-built men she didn’t know. And there were no reports of screams and no evidence of a struggle or anything else untoward aboard the Galloway Princess that night which also makes the possibility of an abduction considerably less likely.
The questions linger like an endless stench, the truth eludes and the visions vex…
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 ℗&©2016. All rights reserved.
Acknowledgements for Part 1
Special thanks to an individual (who has asked to remain anonymous) for generously providing me with a unique, never-before-seen photograph that appears in this blog for the very first time.
‘The King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ written by Paddy McAloon. Published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC © 1988
‘Ship Of Fools’ written by Clarke/Bell. Published by Musical Moments/Sonet Publishing ©1988
‘True Faith’ written by Sumner/Hook/Morris/Gilbert/Hague. Published by Bemusic/Warner Brothers Music/Cut Music/MCA Music Inc. ©1987 Factory Communications Limited
‘Almost Prayed’ written by Peter Astor. Creation Records ©1986
‘Touched By The Hand Of God’ written by Sumner/Hook/Morris/Gilbert. Published by Bemusic/Warner Brothers Music/MCA Music Inc. ©1987 Factory Communications Limited
‘Desire’ written by Hollis/Friese-Greene. Published by Warner Chappell Music ©1988
‘Back To The Wall’ written by Amphlett/McEntee/Feldman ©1988 Chrysalis Records Ltd.
‘Toy Soldiers’ written by Margules/Marrerro. Published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC©1988
The Cold Case Files by Barry Cummins. Published by Gill & Macmillan ©2012
Missing, Presumed by Alan Bailey. Published by Liberties Press ©2014
The Police Service of Northern Ireland