The definitive account of the only case of its kind in Northern Ireland, our ongoing campaign for justice and a tribute to the victim of a tragedy still unsolved after thirty years
By Keeley Moss
PART 11 Contents Chapter 33 - Belfast Child Chapter 34 - The Everlasting Acknowledgements for Part 11
Chapter 33 – Belfast Child
He only loves those things because he loves to see them break
But some day you will ache like I ache
Some day you will ache like I ache
Hole – ‘Doll Parts’
Making my way from my home to Dublin Connolly I caught the Enterprise to Belfast (amusingly nicknamed “The Starship Enterprise” as I discovered recently), a train journey as long as it is expensive. €55 for a return train ticket would put a fair old dent in the Keeley coffers but needs must, and so off I went, boarding the high-speed train with my trusty electric-blue laptop, a cumbersome device with an increasingly-ravaged battery but one that is making a fine fist of valiantly refusing to give up the fight against the thorny forces of wear, tear and time.
On the way the train passed through Drogheda, Dundalk and Portadown. After two and a quarter hours I arrived in Belfast – where Inga-Maria would’ve arrived on had she managed to catch the train from Larne Harbour on the night she had her life taken from her – and I wondered what awaited me here. One thing I hadn’t expected being struck by however were immediate pangs of guilt upon stepping off the train. Here I was arriving in the city Inga-Maria had been in the process of trying to reach on the night she was so badly abused and her life was taken, and where she hadn’t made it, I had. Where she wasn’t allowed to arrive unhindered, uninterrupted, I was. So my immediate feeling upon arrival in Belfast was an overriding one of guilt. Why was it so easy for me and impossible for her? Why was I able to make it and she wasn’t? It might seem like a straightforward and mundane event, merely stepping off a train in Belfast but on April 6th 1988 it had been beyond her, this bright beacon of youthful exuberance who arrived in the province unknown and remarkably given subsequent events, totally-unnoticed. Unnoticed of course, except for the individual who it is believed spotted her and sought her out on the ferry and who drove her from Larne to the horrendous ordeal that culminated in her savage murder.
This is something that I think is so easy to overlook, that we’re talking about a real person here, not some abstract concept or some mythical figure. Flesh and blood, heart and soul. A daughter. A sister. A friend. A classmate. Someone with hopes and dreams just like the rest of us. Someone who presumably expected to be able to arrive in a new country and get to explore the culture and the folklore for a day or two, and who never could have expected in her worst nightmares that how she would actually be received upon her arrival was to be beaten around the face and head, have her neck broken, end up murdered and her broken body left like an animal carcass in that forest. I’m sorry to be so graphic and I genuinely have tried not to be throughout the course of my writing, wary as I am of sounding in any way sensationalist and because I myself find it harrowing. But sometimes in life it’s necessary to tell it like it is and strip away the veneer, the screen and the sheen. Central to the need to speak so directly is a simmering sense of indignation. From one soul looking out for another it rankles with me that what happened to her could have been allowed to be overlooked and/or forgotten for years at a time, and that the perpetrators have never had to spend even one minute atoning for erasing her from the world and plunging her family into a permanent pit of pain.
Chapter 34 – The Everlasting
My work on Inga-Maria’s campaign was recently the subject of newspaper coverage in the Belfast Telegraph. This was the first official print media coverage in Northern Ireland for The Keeley Chronicles and for my work on the case overall. The Belfast Telegraph are notable for in addition to being I believe the most widely-circulated newspaper in the North, are also the newspaper who have consistently held a candle for Inga-Maria’s unsolved case over the years, and have broken more exclusives in relation to it than any other media outlet. I am very grateful to them, the author of the piece Claire McNeilly and their editor for the tact, sensitivity and support they have shown me and Inga-Maria’s memory in having conducted themselves in an exemplary manner throughout. I’m also indebted to Roisin Boyd for her involvement in facillitating the interview in the first place. I have included links to the two articles directly above.
I’m also grateful to Hot Press magazine, their editorial writer Peter McGoran and commisioning editor Roisin Dwyer. Hot Press is Ireland’s leading music, entertainment and current affairs magazine who interviewed me recently in Dublin for an article in which I was supposed to promote my band but which I instead predominantly used to discuss Inga-Maria’s life and the case. There was a lot more that I said in the interview about Inga-Maria and also about music than what ended up in the article (the interview lasted 90 minutes, only a relatively-small portion of which could be condensed into the article) but nonetheless it’s yet more significant coverage for Inga-Maria’s unsolved case and is I believe the first time news of her case has entered the realm of music media. I shall attach the link here for anyone who would like to read the interview.
Although no one has ever communicated this to me it has crossed my mind that perhaps some people who have read this blog at some point have thought, “What has it got to do with her?” or “Why single out this one case from all the other tragic cases out there?” but if that has ever been the case, you know what? All it really has to do with me is that I’m a human being and she was a human being, end of. The fact that I’m Irish and from the South and that this happened in the North and that Inga-Maria wasn’t from either the North or South of Ireland is to my mind irrelevant. When I decided to work exclusively on her case it was with I felt good reason as I think I have more chance of doing something positive and hopefully-helpful if I give one unsolved case everything I’ve got rather than flit from case to case and have less of a chance of achieving something meaningful. Her interrupted journey through life has somehow many years later become part of my ongoing journey through life. In doing so I feel I am symbolically defying her destruction with my creation. The killers of Inga-Maria Hauser were able to freely murder her and get away with it for 29 years and possibly forever – they “achieved” that much. But I’m determined that that’s all they’re going to get. Because there’s a bigger picture I’m painting with all this. And that is to establish something that they won’t achieve. I am determined they won’t erase the legacy I think she unwittingly left behind on April 6th 1988, and which is at the absolute core of everything I’m trying to promote through this blog and through all the songs of my band that she is the beating heart of. The legacy that I’ve been trying to gradually grow for her in the course of all of my work on her case, a legacy that John Dallat MLA and the many good people of North Antrim are in support of. Inga-Maria Hauser didn’t even spend one day in Northern Ireland before she was murdered, not even one night. She was legally an adult for a little more than ten months when she died. But I would like to see to it that she effectively lives forever. That her memory far outlives those of her killers. And that the essence of her youth, her beauty, her adventurousness, her creativity can find a way to live on, in this blog, in the songs I’m involved in writing, in the music videos for those songs I’m involved in making with my band, in any and every way possible. She was murdered within hours or even minutes of arriving here. No one – no one (other than her killers) even knew she’d arrived in the country. She was spotted during the ferry crossing by a mere two people, both of whom were travelling together. The killers of Inga-Maria Hauser took it upon themselves to unilaterally alter the life-course of another human being and in doing so destroyed an 18 year-old girl who was just making her way through the world. But she’s going to live forever.
And that can maybe be her revenge of sorts from beyond the grave. The posthumous response of a knowing soul. The most dignified response possible. And as gentle and subtle as it might sound, a most powerful one too. As the saying goes, “Less force, more power”. We all only have a limited timespan on this Earth. But as the great Tony Wilson, the founder of Factory Records who gave the world Joy Division, New Order and the Happy Mondays said not long before his own death, “Great songs never die”. And I’m going to try see to it that the best songs I’m involved in writing are the ones inspired by her.
In recent months I have been privileged to have had correspondance with Inga-Maria’s family and one of her friends. They were kindly willing to share some recollections of her, and from that it is abundantly-clear to me that as well as being beautiful she was a beautiful person also. And she looked cool. Really cool, in an understated and very natural way. Take a look at the most commonly circulated photo of her, the one at the very beginning of Part 1 of this blog, an enlarged version which I’ve reprised below for the sake of comparison. The wind is blowing, she’s squinting due to the wind or the light at the time, she has no make-up on and is in the middle of searching in her bag for something. She looks as if caught unawares, certainly unprepared for the taking of a photo, not in ‘pose’ mode at all. And even so, even with everything against her, she still looks cool, effortlessly so. And what’s more, in 1988. In retrospect very few people looked cool in 1988. Off the top of my head I can only think of a handful of people (Emmanuelle Seigner, Johnny Marr and New Order). Looking back, the 1980’s was such a lovably-laughable decade where almost everyone – even the cool people – managed to look uncool a lot of the time. But not her. While most people were walking around in shellsuits, jumpsuits and massive shoulder pads, with permed hair and lashings of ozone-layer-decimating hairspray, cliched looks that have generally aged really badly, she – growing up in a quiet Munich suburb and unknown to everyone in the world except her friends and family – I think transcended her times and their accompanying fashion crimes.
I would love to have known what she would have gone on to do with her life. But I’ll never have the chance. Because she never had the chance. Because those who likely encountered her onboard the ferry apparently decided to deceive her into believing they were going to give her a lift to Belfast and instead took her in the opposite direction to where they inflicted on her one of the worst ordeals a human being can be put through, before ending her life in such a bewilderingly-vicious way. The permanent theft of that existence, the decades-long denial of her life, and the nagging angst I feel about that heartless larceny is largely what propels me to promote her short-lived presence on the Earth. I suspect that like most of us she would have liked to be thought of and be remembered.
And now, finish. I sail on the next tide
Tonight, Belfast, I’m saying my goodbyes
Tonight, Belfast, the distance in your eyes
Neon Neon – ‘Belfast’
Born May 28th 1969. Died April 6th 1988. Found April 20th 1988. Never forgotten.
Copyright: Keeley Moss ℗&© 2017. All rights reserved.
Acknowledgements for Part 11
With thanks to Roisin Boyd, Claire McNeilly, the Belfast Telegraph, Peter McGoran, Roisin Dwyer and Hot Press magazine.
‘Doll Parts’ written by Love/Erlandson. Published by Geffen Music Publishing ©1994
‘Belfast’ written by Hollon/Rhys. Published by Warp Music/Copyright Control ©2008