The definitive account of the only case of its kind in Northern Ireland, the ongoing campaign for justice and a tribute to the victim of a tragedy still unsolved after 31 years
By Keeley Moss
Part 18 CONTENTS Chapter 45: There is a Light That Never Goes Out Chapter 46: A Needle in the Haystack Chapter 47: Eternal Flame Chapter 48: Completing the Circle, Thirty Years On Chapter 49: Wish You Were Here Acknowledgements for Part 18
Chapter 45: There is a Light That Never Goes Out
These storms always find her
To remind her
To the endless sky
The pink over grey
She looks for an answer
But it’s too late
Maybe it’s true
Some things were just never meant to be
The Pretenders – ‘The English Roses’
At the close of Part 17 I mentioned that it was my intention for this instalment to focus on the meeting John Dallat MLA and myself attended with PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray at police headquarters in Belfast in the week prior to the 30th anniversary of Inga-Maria’s murder. Even though I was confident I could exercise sufficient discretion in discussing aspects of what was a very positive and encouraging meeting without revealing anything too sensitive, I still felt a degree of reluctance about discussing it in public at all. One of the reasons I have twice postponed covering it in this blog – and why I’m only going to reveal limited details of it now – is due to the great respect I have for DCS Murray and his investigation, and my wish to not run the risk of disclosing anything that he might prefer to remain in-house, even though he was clear with me from the outset of the meeting that there would be questions he would be prepared to answer and ones he would not, which was indeed the case, and which I understood and accepted.
I would like to take this opportunity to place on record my appreciation for the time that DCS Murray was willing to grant John and I to discuss the case and for John to inform him of the plans for Inga-Maria’s memorial event. I would also like to acknowledge the courtesy I was personally extended. DCS Murray had in advance proposed that the meeting take place in Belfast rather than Maydown (in Co. Derry) to take into account that I would be commuting all the way from Dublin, a most thoughtful gesture which was much appreciated. Some things from the meeting that I will disclose here is that DCS Murray told me he has read “most” of this blog and that although when he’d been informed that someone had written a blog all about Inga-Maria and the case he had approached it with a fair degree of trepidation, he found the writing “tempered” and “measured”, that “your research is good”, and that this had led him to read most of the reminder of the blog (which to be fair, at this stage after seventeen parts, some of which are considerably longer than those of any blog, is no mean feat). I consider that a great honour for this blog, given DCS Murray’s position in relation to the case. I would suggest that no one in the world knows more about the case than him, for no one else has overseen it for longer and more importantly during a period in which the case has advanced the most since its inception. He also told me he thinks the blog has a significant and beneficial role to play as it “helps to generate empathy for Inga”. I was especially heartened to hear that. For that reason I know I made the right decision to go ahead and self-publish all eighteen parts so far and make it free to read, rather than the alternative of hoarding it in a drawer while sending it to publishers. That might have made commercial sense but would have been of less benefit to Inga-Maria.
DCS Murray is a very busy man, responsible for overseeing not only the investigation into Inga’s murder but is also the head of the PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch. Chief Constable George Hamilton, the most eminent figure in policing in the province recently stated in relation to Inga’s case, “DCS Raymond Murray has a strong record in solving historical cases – on the 30th anniversary of this brutal murder he’s back doing what he does best”. One such historical case was the 1981 murder of nine year-old Jennifer Cardy in Ballinderry, County Antrim, the victim of notorious serial child killer Robert Black, for which Black was given a fourth life sentence in 2011, having already been convicted and jailed for life in 1994 for the murders of three young girls in England and Scotland in the 1980’s. The extent of thoroughness which Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray and his team pursued the case against Black can be measured from the fact that circumstantial evidence attesting to Black’s guilt of Jennifer Cardy’s murder had been obtained by searching through petrol receipts – 560,000 in total – stored in his former employer’s archives to ascertain Black’s whereabouts on the dates surrounding Jennifer’s abduction and murder. Black’s trial for the murder began with the prosecutor, Toby Hedworth, stating that the discovery of Black’s signature upon these receipts was as good as signing his own confession. As an aside, can you imagine the unbelievable levels of patience and dedication necessary in sifting through 560,000 documents? And this was only one strand of what was a very wide-ranging and complex investigation. I would ask people to bear that in mind when they question the resolve and commitment, as they have done from time to time in the comments sections of the various parts of The Keeley Chronicles and elsewhere online, of DCS Murray and the PSNI to solve Inga-Maria’s murder. Although of equal importance, I think it’s fair to say that Jennifer Cardy’s murder didn’t have the degree of media focus and public attention that Inga-Maria’s case has been subjected to over the last year. In other words, if the PSNI were that determined to solve Jennifer’s murder, of which just one aspect involved them having to painstakingly sift through 560,000 documents, can you imagine them being any less committed to doing whatever is necessary to solve Inga-Maria’s case?
We ended up getting to spend exactly ninety minutes with DCS Murray which was a considerably longer time than John and I were anticipating, which given his very busy workload meant a great deal and I think it is indicative of the depth of commitment he has to Inga-Maria’s case. The detectives working the case have to be vigilant and mindful of the potential legal implications of any public disclosures, and especially in a case such as this that has in recent times grown to such an iconic level of importance and public interest in Northern Ireland, the stakes have never been higher. But more than anything, at the heart of the investigation, when you strip away all the layers of the legalities, all the witness statements, all the facts and figures and forensic science, there is a young girl who was deceived and destroyed, and ensuring the safest passage for justice to proceed and finally be achieved on her behalf is paramount. The detectives have a job to do, official protocol must be complied with, and I like everyone else desperate to see justice done must be patient in supporting the police to conduct their investigation as they see fit. I’ve looked into DCS Raymond Murray’s eyes and seen for myself the resolve and determination to do all he can to bring the case to a successful conclusion, and it is my own personal belief that it is only a matter of time before he succeeds. So with that said, I hope the readers of this blog will understand that I have to balance my wish to be informative with a need to tread carefully when necessary with what is still an open investigation, all the more so given the sensitivity of the present time.
So instead I’ve decided to devote the bulk of this instalment to discussing another aspect entirely but one that illustrates how, just as Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray and the PSNI have never given up hope in trying to advance the investigation and bring the chief suspects to justice despite it being thirty years since Inga-Maria was murdered, with the various detectives on the team having spoken face-to-face with approximately 1,700 people in their efforts to match the DNA sample of the crime scene donor, there are other people out there who are willing to go wherever it takes and do whatever it takes to honour the cause of Inga-Maria Hauser, this artistic adventurer whose incredibly-brief presence on the island of Ireland and the horror that followed continues to resonate in ways she could never have imagined on the fateful night the Galloway Princess docked at Larne with her on board. In this instalment we will learn that although Inga’s parents have had to vacate the space they had long occupied in holding a torch for her due to death or ill-health, there are other figures emerging to ensure that, as I’ve quoted many times on social media at the foot of my statements about the campaign, “There is a light that never goes out”. And we will see just how inspirational Inga’s cause is, and how influential and powerful the human spirit can be, that a young woman could arrive on the island of Ireland in April 1988 alone, unknown and almost completely unnoticed and end up being murdered that night, and yet whose untold story all these years later would have such an impact that it would change the course of my life. Also in this instalment I will reveal for the very first time the inside account of how I came to be in contact with Inga’s family in the first place, which is a story in itself.
Chapter 46: A Needle in the Haystack
The last night on Maudlin Street
Goodbye house, goodbye stairs
The last night on Maudlin Street
Goodbye house forever
I never stole a happy hour around here
I am moving house
A half-life disappears today
Morrissey – ‘Late Night, Maudlin Street’ (1988)
Since 2009 when Inga-Maria’s mother Almut Hauser made a heartbreaking plea via a translator in the Belfast Telegraph to “Help bring an end to my 21-year nightmare”, nothing more had been heard publicly from any of Inga-Maria’s family members until recently. There had been intermittent media reports on the case on and off from 1988 up until early 2012 but then there were no more news reports or updates whatsoever for five years, until the spring of 2017 which was the 29th anniversary. Back when I began publishing this blog in 2016, at that time to all intents and purposes it seemed the case was dead – with their having been no updates or media articles for four and a half years by that point. My foremost intention when I started the blog was to try create something special for Inga-Maria, this person I had never met but whose story had touched my heart and left an indelible imprint on my psyche. It may sound naïve and hopelessly-idealistic but my thinking at that time was that if I could do something nice for Inga’s mum, then by proxy I could in a roundabout way do something nice for her, as a gesture from an Irish citizen to try make some very small amends for this horrible thing that Inga had suffered the night she arrived. Because there had been no new media reports for a full four years when I began researching what became this blog, and because no one I ever mentioned the case to in my native Dublin had heard of it, I assumed that that would be the case everywhere, and that nobody would be interested. That might seem hard to believe now given the eruption in interest there has been in the case over the last year or two. But it’s the truth. Back in early 2016, reading about what had happened to Inga had had such a profound effect on me that as I’ve said before that I simply could not get her or the case out of my mind, and as that feeling persisted and actually intensified week after week I resolved to try and do something, and spent the next four months researching and writing what would become Part 1 (I have since substantially enhanced and expanded the original text and photos).
When the blog captured the public’s imagination the way it did, going viral on the first day of publication much to my shock at the time, I felt so glad for one person in particular – Almut Hauser. I had read something she had said in the RUC press conference that she had addressed back in 1989 which was “I hope that the people of Northern Ireland do not forget Inga”. So when the blog took off in the way that it did, I was so looking forward to telling her that even after all these years, people had not forgotten Inga, and what’s more a large section of the community had felt inspired to come together to make a renewed and impassioned call for justice, that ‘people power’ was making its presence felt. So I wrote Almut a long letter, explaining who I was and why I had started the blog, and the response it had generated. I knew she didn’t speak English so I had my letter translated into German (Google Translate had turned out to be too unreliable so I asked one of my best friends who was originally from Dublin but had settled in Berlin if he would translate the letter and he kindly agreed). In the parcel I included a CD featuring four songs I’d written about Inga. I sent it off but was saddened not to receive a reply. After some weeks had passed, the parcel was returned with a message written (in German) on the front, on a sticker the post office in Munich had placed on it, which when translated read as “Unknown at this address”. This was a surprise to me, as I was fairly sure that I had the correct address for her in Haidhausen (a suburb of Munich).
So I continued trying to reach her, while working by day in the library where I was at the time and working on the blog by night. A woman from Larne who I’ve become friends with through this blog, her ex-husband’s friend just happened to be in Munich at that time and she very kindly asked her ex-husband to ask his friend to call to the address I had for Almut. When he did, he was told that there was no one named Almut Hauser there but that one of the previous occupants in the apartment block was an elderly woman who had since left the country. When this was communicated to me, I simply couldn’t believe that Inga’s mum would have left Munich and moved to another city much less another country as even though I didn’t know her, I knew she had always visited Inga’s grave and Inga’s dad Josef’s grave every day and I just knew how being able to do that would have been so important to her. Bear in mind that this was long before the news of Inga’s mum’s ill-health had been made public. And this is back when no one in Northern Ireland had heard of Viktor, or Friederike for that matter. The only living relative of Inga’s whose name was in the public domain (until 2018) was Almut. So at that time (2016) I had nothing else to go on. But I’m the sort of person who, if I feel passionate about something, I give it everything. So nothing was going to stop me.
I assumed Almut must still be living in Munich, and I set out to try to find her so I could tell her about the blog and that the people of Northern Ireland hadn’t forgotten Inga, as she’d feared might turn out to be the case back in 1989. The first thing I did was go on Facebook. I typed in the name Almut Hauser and it turned up a mere two matches. Surely it wasn’t going to be this easy to find her? Surely was right – it wasn’t. Neither of them turned out to be her. So next I typed in the name Hauser into the Facebook search engine, but I limited it to only people residing in Munich. It turned up 253 matches. I assumed at least some of them would be relatives of hers, most likely grandchildren and a few cousins. Saying that, it was becoming akin to looking for, as the fabled saying goes, “A needle in the haystack”. I felt however that if I was to stand a chance of these people responding to my request, that I would have to write to them individually and not just sending out a generic ‘mass message’ that given the volume of emails and messages people receive on a daily basis, plus how many demands are on peoples time, there would be more chance of being ignored. So I decided to address them individually, all 253 of them. The process took weeks. I eventually received replies from the vast majority of them. Those who did reply sent a polite message back, some more detailed and more warm than others. The majority of them kindly wished me luck with my search. But by the end, by the time I had messaged the 253rd and final person on my list, not one of them turned out to be related to Almut or to even know of her. This really surprised me, and left me very disappointed. But still I was not deterred. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better” as Samuel Beckett once wrote.
And so I tried again. I decided to dispense with social media altogether and went back to the fabled drawing board. I thought about my friend’s ex-husband’s friend calling to the address in Munich that I had for Almut and being told that there was no one living there with that name…but that one of the previous occupants in the apartment block was an elderly woman who had left the country. “Maybe she has left Germany after all?” I thought, perhaps because she could no longer bear to live with the memories of what had happened to her family, with her youngest daughter murdered and her husband now dead? I thought about it for a while and tried to put myself in her shoes. If I was her and if I was looking to leave Germany, for whatever reason, where would I go? I knew that she had been born in Austria and had grown up there, in a small town (the name of which I shan’t reveal here in order to reduce the chance of her being tracked down by any reporters, as she is not in a position to talk to anyone about Inga). I was conscious of how elderly people in general prefer familiar surroundings, how they find them more comforting. So I guessed that she had moved back to Austria, after many decades in Germany, and I guessed that of all the places in Austria it would be most likely that she would probably have moved back to her hometown. So I embarked on a search of the electoral register for the region of Austria where I knew Almut’s childhood home was located, and then eventually located the section of the register for that small town. And after a while of searching, there it was. I’d found her! It had to be her. What would be the odds of two separate people with the same obscure name having lived in the same small town? Well, probably pretty high given that quite a few decades had elapsed from when Almut originally lived there. Still, this was the best chance I had to reach her at last and communicate the news that the people of Northern Ireland hadn’t forgotten Inga as she’d feared back in 1989, and that in fact that her daughter’s case had become renewed with new energy, revived with new life, in a beautiful and poignant way that illustrates the indomitable nature of the human spirit and the refusal of this case to permanently fall silent until it is solved, until an ancient score is settled and Inga’s soul can be allowed to properly rest.
I ended up typing a completely new letter to her, in which I added a section explaining what had happened to the first letter and now I needed to find someone who could translate this new letter into German, as I felt I couldn’t ask the same friend who had translated my first letter due to my desire not to “melt his head”. After I sent out a request to all the staff in the RDS where I was working at the time, I was approached by a work colleague in another department who offered to translate my latest letter into German for me but who then proceeded to do nothing with it for months and no matter how gently I cajoled her or eventually how persistently I pleaded with her, nothing managed to rouse her from her inertia, instead she continually made every excuse under the sun (“The dog ate your letter” was about the only excuse she didn’t make for why she hadn’t translated the letter as promised). Eventually I ran out of patience and wrote a third, even longer letter, which the friend of mine who had befriended me through this blog very kindly arranged to have translated into German for me, something she managed to do within a mere two days. When it was sent to me I printed it out in work and sent this off in a parcel together with a new CD featuring four songs about Inga that I’d been inspired to write and record, to the new address I had for Almut in Austria, and waited.
Days passed. Then weeks. Then a month. But the only post that arrived was…The parcel I’d sent, returned – again. However, where the parcel I’d sent to the address in Munich had been returned because Almut had possibly left the country and no longer lived there, this parcel was returned bearing a most curious sticker. It read (in English) “Not collected”. Not collected? What the hell did that mean? I could see that the parcel was clearly unopened. So it hadn’t been refused. Just “Not collected”. I sat and tried to ponder what might have happened for the parcel to have been “Not collected”. I’d sent it to the address I had guessed she was living at in Austria, and unlike when I’d sent it to the address in Munich there was no word from the post office to say that the address was incorrect, or that the occupant wasn’t recognised at that address. If it was the case that whoever was living there was a different Almut Hauser then why hadn’t they opened what they would have expected was a parcel intended for them? And if it was the new home of Inga’s mum Almut that I was trying to reach how could she not have collected it if it was sent to her house? Surely she would only have to open the letterbox? So, now I guessed there must have been some reason that rendered her unable to open the letterbox. This was turning out to be a lot more complicated that I’d expected. But it struck me that ironically it was in keeping with the long and complicated route that the investigation had taken from day one. I then got the idea to send the parcel again but this time instead of addressing it directly to Almut I would address it “c/o Almut Hauser”, that way I figured that perhaps someone else other than her might feel more inclined to collect it and open it on her behalf and that hopefully they would communicate the contents of my letter to her. Still, I knew it was a long shot. It was becoming akin to sending out a message in a bottle.
But I sent it off again, for the third time, and again I waited. Initially I heard nothing back. However…a few weeks later an email landed in my inbox from a sender I didn’t recognise. From the tone of the opening words I just instinctively knew it was legitimate, and furthermore significant. I braced myself for whatever the email would contain. The author of the email identified themselves as Viktor Leibl, the grandson of Almut Hauser. He explained that the letter that I had sent had been passed on to him as his grandmother was unable to read it or reply to it. This – at last – would explain why I had received no reply to the previous letters I had sent her over the previous months. However when Viktor explained just why she was unable to read or reply to it, at that moment I burst into tears. I hadn’t cried for two years at this point, not since my own grandmother who I was extremely close to had died. But as I read Viktor’s first email further, it became apparent to me that one of the central aims I’d had in starting this blog and embarking upon the journey that had effectively taken over my life which was to try do something positive for Inga’s mum and therefore in a roundabout way as an Irish citizen to try make amends to Inga’s soul for the barbarism of those who murdered her, with whom I share the same nationality if nothing else, would not be possible. Ever. Because (as has since become public knowledge via the PSNI’s statements this year through the media) Almut had suffered a stroke not long before which had resulted in a heavy dementia, rendering her effectively no longer able to remember the past. This is something I learned twelve months (remarkably, twelve months to the day) before it entered the public domain but which I never went into detail about here in the blog or anywhere else online, not wanting to disclose any details unless or until the Hauser family themselves saw fit to do so.
The news that Almut, who had visited her daughter’s grave practically every day waiting for so many years to discover who had murdered her beloved daughter and what precisely had happened that night for Inga to have ended up many miles in the opposite direction to where she had intended to go, would now likely never be able to know or understand what had happened and who was responsible, I found incredibly-sad. It was a crushing realisation after everything else she’d had to suffer since 1988. In that moment I felt angry on her behalf, for that to be the outcome on top of all the other cruel injustices that had befallen her. But on the other hand it was some consolation to learn from Viktor that as a result of her condition no longer would Almut have to be conscious of the loss of her daughter in such horrific circumstances. It’s something I have since learned is commonplace among those who have had to bear the loss of a child in this way, where the development of Alzheimer’s or another such degenerative brain disease can be a way for the emotional system to guard against being overwhelmed by continuous grief.
Chapter 47: Eternal Flame
Ein herz und eine seele
German proverb that translates as “One heart and one soul”, as quoted by Viktor Leibl in the 2018 BBC Spotlight documentary ‘The Life and Death of Inga-Maria Hauser’ to describe the relationship between Inga-Maria and Viktor’s mother Friederike
After that first email, Viktor and I began communicating regularly and soon began conversing on Skype. I liked him instantly from the moment we began chatting. He seemed a little shy which is always an endearing quality I find. One thing I remember vividly from our early contact was Viktor telling me that my email had been “a wake-up call” for him – he’d had absolutely no idea that there were people campaigning on behalf of the murdered aunt he’d never gotten to meet and that a large public movement had assembled and been mobilised. Viktor told me that he’d informed his mum, Inga’s sister Friederike, about this blog and the campaign that had by then been advocating for some time on Inga’s behalf, and that had brought her unsolved case back to public prominence after those four and a half years out of the spotlight between 2012 and 2016. Even so, I was not expecting to hear from Friederike. I was aware that she has never given an interview in all the years since Inga’s murder and I knew from Viktor how wary she is of people in general, which I understood given the terrible things that she’s had to face in her life. Viktor had told me that his mum never discussed Inga, which I perceived as being her way of dealing with the grief. Some people deal with grief differently, and I would never want to be judgemental of whatever way someone who had been through an enormous trauma had found was the best way for them personally to cope with it. Friederike’s way was to avoid discussing Inga, to avoid contact with most people, and to shun any requests for interviews for twenty-nine years at that time, and even though this blog is a true labour-of-love I did not expect her to deviate from this long-held policy and make an exception for me.
Therefore I was stunned when I received an email from Friederike out of the blue in May 2017. It was a very nice email and one that meant so much to me. She was much more forthcoming than I would have expected, and I so appreciated her trust and candour. Over the following weeks we exchanged several more emails. I greatly appreciated being able to learn more about her as a person, as well as Inga-Maria. I sent her a photo of me so she’d have more of an idea of who she was communicating with, and she sent me a photo of herself in return. When I saw her photo I was struck by how closely she resembled Viktor, almost a mirror image in fact. I am very respectful of her privacy, especially considering all she’s been through, and all the more so given her being so wary of press attention, so I have never revealed any of the contents of those emails to anyone, and on principle it’s not something I would ever do. I also resolved to never mention Friederike’s name, as I knew it had never (at that time) entered the public domain (subsequently in Spring 2018 the PSNI referred to her by name in a press statement for the first time, which is why I’m now doing so here. But if anyone combs back through previous parts of this blog they will see references only to “Inga-Maria’s sister” as I didn’t want to compromise her privacy or make it easier for the press to track her down by referring to her by name). In one of Friederike’s emails, she told me something that made me realise she’s had an even harder life than people would imagine, even people who are aware of Inga-Maria’s murder and the fact it has gone unsolved for thirty years now. And it made me even more protective of her privacy, which isn’t always easy given the extent of press interest there now is in Inga-Maria’s case and how at times over the past few years I’ve found myself being somewhat in the middle between someone who doesn’t want to speak and a ravenous media who sometimes struggle to comprehend the family member of a murder victim remaining silent. However, that is Friederike’s wish and everyone, myself included, has to respect that.
As I’ve said, I have never revealed anything from any of her emails to me, neither in this blog nor to anyone in private. However, I hope Friederike will allow me one brief and minor exception. On May 28th 2017, poignantly on what would have been Inga-Maria’s 48th birthday, she replied to my previous mail and in addition to a number of other things expressed her sadness about that anniversary. I had revealed to her in a previous mail about the song ‘Plundered Past’, the lyrics of which I had written about Inga-Maria, and which at that time was about to be released as the second single by my band Session Motts. We’d assembled a film crew and had spent the previous week in Larne Harbour and other locations working on the video for it, a video which depicts Inga-Maria prior to and during her journey to Larne (see Part 10 of this blog for the full story of the making of that video, and to see the video itself). The opening of that email read as follows:
Today it is a very sad day, it’s my sister’s birthday today, thank you for writing your mail to me.
Hope everything will be great for your band’s new video.
I am sure, Inga will like it.
I am sure, Inga will like it. I couldn’t speak. Those few simple words blew my mind. For here was someone who actually knew Inga, and more than that, is the closest living link to this person who “crept in the back door of my mind” and stayed to quote one of the lines in ‘Plundered Past’. Whose cause continues to flicker undimmed and undiminished like an eternal flame. An internal flame. And now that the flame has caught aflame in the public domain no amount of dousing is going to stop that flame spreading.
Of course I have no way of knowing what Inga would have thought of the video, or the songs, or this blog for that matter. But having Inga’s family and friends respond favourably is the closest I’m going to get to know what she herself might have thought of it. And hearing from a number of them as I have that they think she would have liked it is enough for me to feel it has all been worthwhile, however long we have to wait for the case to be solved. I still believe it’s a matter of ‘when’ the case is solved rather than ‘if’, even if at the present time I seem to be in a minority where such optimism is involved. But as I’ve told many of the people who have contacted me since the most recent arrests in the case were made, I don’t share the current pessimistic mood that I’m aware is doing the rounds in response to the lack of further news and the fact no charges have yet been brought. I believe Inga’s case is going to be solved, and that those involved in her murder will see the inside of a courtroom. As the saying goes, it’s a marathon not a sprint.
Only time will tell if my faith is well-placed.
Chapter 48: Completing the Circle, Thirty Years On
Going on to Ireland next. I think I’m looking forward to that the best.
Inga-Maria Hauser, diary entry, Scotland, April 6th 1988
Viktor and I remained in contact and have become good friends since he first emailed me in early 2017. I can now reveal it was he who provided me with the recording of Inga singing and playing ‘Greensleeves’ when I explained to him my idea to publish it in this blog in the hope that the more people I might be able to get to hear it the more chance I felt there was of one particular person who is in a position to help bring the investigation forward hearing Inga’s voice, and that this idea, as unorthodox as it was, might succeed where other efforts behind the scenes had thus far failed in reaching out to that person’s conscience for Inga’s sake as I could not stop thinking that her soul must be crying out for justice. In early 2018 as the significant landmark of Inga-Maria’s 30th anniversary approached, I got in touch with Viktor to inform him of John Dallat’s idea to install an inscription stone at Ballypatrick Forest that would be the first memorial for Inga in Northern Ireland, that would mark the area where her life had been so cruelly taken, and furthermore would give the local community a focal point to reflect and pay their respects to the teenage traveller who had only wanted to visit their country when she was effectively executed practically upon her arrival on these shores. John and I wanted to invite Viktor to the event that was being planned to celebrate Inga as a person and to unveil the inscription stone. Viktor informed me that he would be unfortunately unable to attend due to work commitments, although he had requested time off to do so. I kept him informed of how the day had unfolded and emailed him and Friederike (and friends of Inga’s in Munich) a number of links and articles about the event, so that even though they were not there in person, they would be able to feel a part of it. One of Inga’s schoolmates later informed me that she actually watched the memorial event from Munich on an online news feed broadcast live from Ballypatrick Forest.
While Viktor had been unable to attend the memorial event, he messaged me in April with the news that he would be coming to Northern Ireland after all, in the summer, on an internship programme in connection with his work. He had originally requested being sent to Dublin but all of the places on the internship there were taken so he asked for his second choice, which was Belfast. I wondered if his decision was motivated by the fact that when Inga arrived in Northern Ireland she had been intending to travel to Belfast and then on to Dublin. It felt very emotional reading this message from him, the symbolic significance of it was immediately apparent to me. For it meant that thirty years on from the fateful night she had arrived in Northern Ireland, now Viktor would be “following in her footsteps” as the saying goes.
Before long it was June and Viktor was on the verge of arriving in Belfast as planned. Like Inga herself I tend to have a very open, freewheeling attitude to life in general with a perhaps foolhardy faith in ‘the Universe’ where I generally trust that everything will fall into place, and so far for me it has. I’m of course well aware that that approach did not serve Inga well in the end but instinctively I’ve learned to trust it and it works for me. I used to be overly cautious, and it severely limited my life, and led me to harbour regrets that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. So I tend not to worry about anything. But where the prospect of Viktor arriving in Northern Ireland was concerned, I was worried. I’ve heard a lot about how statistically Northern Ireland is among the safest countries for tourists anywhere in the world, and I feel my native Dublin is nowadays more safe than ever, but Viktor is no ordinary tourist – he’s the nephew of arguably the most notorious unsolved murder victim in Northern Ireland, someone who was as I have said on more than one occasion in this blog the only tourist in history to be the victim of a sexually-motivated murder in the province. Lightning couldn’t strike twice…Could it? The idea was so unlikely as to be unbelievable but then again, as Almut Hauser had said about Inga’s murder, “It was, and still is, unbelievable” – that a young woman could arrive in a country where no tourist had ever been murdered in such a way, and for it to happen to her and (to this day) only her, and what’s more for it to have happened before she’d even set foot on dry land? That was statistically so unlikely, and actually unprecedented – and yet it happened.
So I felt an urge to wrap Viktor in cotton wool as the saying goes, just in case something, anything, might go wrong. Fortunately he touched down safely in Belfast and made his way to his lodgings on the Ormeau Road where he and I met a few days later for lunch with the BBC Spotlight team who I’d put Viktor in contact with a few weeks previously during the production of the landmark documentary The Life and Death of Inga-Maria Hauser. It was a beautiful sunny day as I made my way from Dublin by coach to Belfast to meet with him in person for the first time. I travel everywhere by public transport, and like Inga-Maria my favourite mode of transport has always been the train. Perhaps because so much of the last week of her life was spent on trains, and that’s the period of time that has been most prevalent in my mind ever since I took such an interest in her case in the first place, I find I can’t stop thinking of her whenever I’m in a train station or a bus station, or an airport or ferry terminal, or on board any of those modes of transport. And here now, as I travelled to meet the first relative of hers to set foot in Northern Ireland since 1989, that was even more the case. I gazed out the coach window at the miles of wide open spaces that stretched out before me like a yawning mouth, the beautiful sunny day taunting with its glory as just another to add to the list of things that Inga was being denied the opportunity to witness or experience. Three hours after departing Dublin, the coach approached the outskirts of Belfast, that familiar kingdom of red-bricks and relics, a fascinating city with as many scars as homegrown stars, the historical and the hysterical combining to imposing effect.
I disembarked at Glengall Street and soon after hopped in a cab bound for the Ormeau Road. Within a few minutes I was there, and there he was before me, the closest living link to Inga I was ever likely to meet. His mere arrival in Belfast was a notable achievement – it’s something Inga tried but was prevented from doing. His presence in Northern Ireland saw the completion of a circle thirty years on. I felt it was akin to the passing of a torch – from one ‘Universal Traveller’ to another, from Inga-Maria to Viktor, the nephew she never lived long enough to see enter the world. Instantly the warm camaraderie we’d formed over many emails and Skype chats was solidified in person. He said something to me like “Finally you’re no longer just a blur of pixels!” and I laughed (he’s told me how notoriously-bad the quality of Wi-Fi can be in Germany which amazed me as I expected the exact opposite to be the case given the perception here of Germany being at the apex of cutting-edge technology but Viktor assures me that view is very far from the truth). We immediately fell into easy conversation and had a lovely lunch with the Spotlight production team (Conor Spackman, Pippa Cooke and Carla Speer), all of whom I became very fond of while working with them on the programme about Inga-Maria. We took some photos and chatted amongst ourselves until the Spotlight team had to go back to the office after which Viktor and I stayed on at the restaurant. I asked him how his grandmother was; knowing that her condition is not something that can improve but still wishing that somehow it might be otherwise. And I asked him how his mum is, and how his internship was going, and how he’s finding Belfast. Simple things really but significant things in a way. And as we spoke, the sun shone down on this beautiful day and I felt so melancholy that Inga couldn’t be here. For here I was I was in Belfast because of Inga. Viktor was in Belfast because of his internship (but although I didn’t ask him directly, I felt Inga must have had something to do with his initial choice of Dublin and then Belfast of all the places he could have done his internship, I mean why come all the way from Austria to those specific places otherwise?) But Inga – the reason I was there, and surely a reason for Viktor being there – wasn’t here. She’s nowhere.
And yet, in a sense, she’s everywhere. She may be dead but her inspiration is more alive than ever. There are several poets who have this year felt inspired to write poetry about her, there is a wonderful artist in Ballycastle named Oliver who was inspired to paint her portrait (which I intend to feature in the next instalment of The Keeley Chronicles) and in addition to this blog almost every song I’ve written for more than two years has been inspired by her. She was such a creative person, and although she died in a way that was an affront to creativity, she has inspired and is continuing to inspire creativity which I think will be her lasting legacy. And that can defy the lifelong silence her killer imposed on her. Because the individuals responsible for her murder can’t murder songs, or poems, or paintings. They can’t murder creativity, or passion, or inspiration. And all those things can live on long after those individuals have gone. Sometimes the quietest sounds are the loudest. There are some loud personalities in life who ultimately leave no lasting trace, perhaps for instance the sort of man who walks into a pub with scratches on his face.
And then there those who don’t live very long at all but who ultimately go on to make more impact than those who have lived more than three times the length of time they got to. Anne Frank is a perfect example of this. She died at the age of 15 and was completely unknown during her short lifetime. But after her death at the hands of the Nazis at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 the diary she’d secretly written her thoughts in while hiding with her family in a basement from the occupying Nazi forces was discovered and following its publication would go on to win a large audience around the world, since becoming a hugely-celebrated classic, and granting Anne Frank posthumous fame. The Nazi soldiers who captured her and imprisoned her? Who were they? What are their names? No one knows. No one cares. But Anne Frank – who died unknown and unmourned at the hands of her captors’ cohorts – would achieve more in death than they ever would in life, or in death for that matter. Do you see what I’m getting at? This is I think one of the most important points of this entire saga I’ve spent the past few years immersed in, an odyssey that’s admittedly been as curious to me as any of the by-now countless number of people who during that time have asked me why I’ve felt so drawn to this one case above all – and this one person at the heart of it all. For Anne Frank in 1945, read Inga-Maria Hauser in 1988. Sure, the circumstances of their deaths were different. But the parallels are undeniable. Both were teenage girls who met with an horrific demise. Both left creative treasures that were fortunately preserved and which emerged into the world years later (Inga-Maria had to wait a lot longer than Anne Frank for her artistic flair to receive public recognition). But both are now remembered and celebrated, by so many more people than were ever aware of them during their respective short lifetimes. And are in turn inspiring new artworks to be born. It’s a bittersweet but beautiful legacy to have left behind, something both Anne Frank and Inga-Maria would surely be very proud of. Which is a lot more than can be said for the very different sort of legacy those who condemned them to their deaths will leave behind.
Chapter 49: Wish You Were Here
How I wish, how I wish you were here
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year
Pink Floyd – ‘Wish You Were Here’
In Part 2 of this blog there’s a chapter titled I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish. Sharing a title with The Smiths’ 1987 single of the same name that was released five months to the day before Inga-Maria was murdered, I felt it described perfectly the journey she started but indeed, couldn’t finish. I have said many times that it’s one of the things that has bothered me most ever since I first read about the case, that sense of ‘unfinished business’, of a crusade that was never completed, a journey that had to be jettisoned. Inga-Maria’s trip through the UK and Ireland in the spring of 1988 was (or would have been) the realisation of a dream (her mum Almut was quoted in 2009 as saying, literally, “It was her dream”). In the period following the murder Inga-Maria’s parents visited Northern Ireland (on the first visit in 1988, Josef Hauser travelled to the province alone in order to identify her body, and the second, in 1989, in the period leading up to the first-year anniversary both he and Almut visited Ballypatrick Forest Park and later made the televised appeal for information through a translator in an RUC station that I referred to earlier in this instalment). So the fact that Inga-Maria never got to realise that dream that it could be said has hung suspended in the air for thirty years unresolved, is much like her unsolved case itself a continuous bugbear, and an undoubted source of angst and frustration for the good people of County Antrim and for people such as John Dallat and myself.
So when Viktor messaged me to say he was coming to Dublin, this struck me as having such a poignant but beautiful symmetry to it. As a result, thirty years after Inga-Maria should have reached Dublin, Viktor would became the first-ever member of the Hauser family to reach the Irish capitol, and what’s more, he would travel from Belfast to do so. This journey is precisely the one Inga-Maria would have undertaken on April 7th 1988 had she not been murdered the night before. The significance of that did not escape me. I wondered how much Viktor would be conscious of that as he made that journey.
After meeting him in Belfast, Viktor had contacted me a couple of weeks in advance to see which date best suited to meet up. I work weekends and he works weekdays but on the weekend of June 23rd-24th I was set to work the Saturday and the Monday, having Sunday free, which I felt was an ideal opportunity to host Viktor and take him on a tour of Dublin. So we arranged to meet on the Sunday. Therefore it was a surprise, but a very pleasant one, to receive a message from him while I was in work on the Saturday to say that he was already in Dublin with a work colleague, having travelled down a day early, and what’s more he messaged to say they didn’t have anywhere to stay. His exact words were, “Keeley, do you have a hint about a place to stay for my colleague Simon and me? We actually didn’t think about this”. At first I smiled when I read that last sentence, as I felt it was something that only a young person (Viktor is in his mid-twenties) would do, to travel to an unfamiliar city or town without having planned in advance where they would stay (it’s something I myself still do).
Then however it occurred to me that that is exactly what Inga-Maria had done on the last day of her life, having written her fateful last words “Wonder where I stay tonight? Need more money” in her diary before boarding the ferry in Stranraer that evening, a journey that would irrevocably change the course of her life, with fatal consequences. But where Inga had been in the words of one of the many people who have left a comment on one of the parts of this blog, “incredibly unlucky”, I have always been fortunate to have avoided peril on any of the many times I have travelled to a unfamiliar location without having arranged anywhere to stay in advance, and here Viktor would also be fortunate. Viktor told me that the first thing anyone said to him when he announced that he was planning on coming to (Northern) Ireland was, “Don’t get yourself killed”. Even though I tell people on a regular basis just how safe I believe Ireland nowadays is, due to the circumstances of what had happened to Inga within minutes of her arrival at Larne and the fact that Viktor is her blood relative as I said earlier I felt more conscious of his safety, and more protective of him, than would otherwise have been the case. So when he messaged to say that he was in Dublin and was suddenly planning to stay in the city overnight but had nowhere to stay, I phoned around B&B’s close to where I lived to see if I could book him and his colleague somewhere to stay. Had it just been Viktor on his own I would’ve offered for him to stay with me but my flat is very small and has just the one single bed. However, every B&B I phoned had no rooms available at such short notice, and when I broadened my search to hotels I was shocked to find that the only hotel rooms still available in the city that night would cost upwards of €230 for each person. I informed Viktor of this and assured him that I would sort something out, and that he could stay with me and I would have a think about where his colleague could stay. He soon replied to say that his colleague would be happy to sleep on my floor. So with that, it was sorted. I was still in work at this stage and wouldn’t be home until 8.30pm so wouldn’t have time to try and source extra bedclothes but I figured I could try and cobble together whatever else might be needed on the hoof.
On my train journey home from work I listened to the playlist of songs I’d made for Inga-Maria, and thought about all of the events that had led to this point, of her arrival on this island on a spring night all those years ago and all of the many twists and turns that had ensued since. And now here we were, thirty years on, with the police closer than ever to bringing some or all of those involved in her murder to justice, and here was a blood relative of hers finally in the city, my city, that she had come so tantalisingly close to reaching back in 1988. Where Inga-Maria hadn’t made it that far, Viktor had. Where she had sought sanctuary but found only savagery, Viktor had sought a safe harbour and found Bulloch Harbour, the serene marina near to where I live.
As I made my way home, I wondered how it would feel to see him in Dublin. I couldn’t shake from my mind the significance of him finally reaching here, and completing a circle that Inga-Maria had commenced but can never complete. As I made my way on to my street that night, one of the songs on the special playlist to the right of this piece, ‘Tell Yer Loved Ones’ by the brilliant Dublin band Tandem Felix suddenly came on the random shuffle on my phone. This immensely-poignant song always makes me think of Inga (even though it’s not about her). And here it was playing, and there he was in front of me. Standing there, already a fixture in my future memories of the past. I was aware of how much this moment meant. Within seconds we had greeted one another and had fallen into easy conversation as I showed him and his colleague the way towards the door of my home. Once inside I urged them to make themselves at home while I set about fixing some food. We chatted late into the night and before going to sleep, I decided to play them some of the new songs I’ve felt inspired to write about his murdered aunt. I hope Viktor doesn’t mind me saying this but while he’s a lovely person who I’m very fond of I think it’s fair to say he’s not a particularly emotional guy. So it surprised me the way he reacted to all three of the songs I played him (I never perform solo acoustic anymore, far preferring to play as part of a band but made an exception for Inga’s memorial event and likewise for when I played for Viktor). In particular after one of the songs, one which I wrote from Inga’s mum Almut’s perspective, I saw that he had tears in his eyes. His subsequent praise for these songs, as I told him at the time, meant more to me than any reaction in the world. Because of the extremely slow way the music industry operates, it’s possible that no one outside of my flat that night will hear these songs for years, if ever, and I wasn’t sure when Viktor would be in Ireland again or if I’d ever get another chance to play these songs for a member of Inga’s family, so I’m glad that I had the opportunity to do so.
The following morning, after a pleasant night’s sleep, I made breakfast and the boys chatted among themselves (and had a frankly hilarious argument with each other). Then we took some photos and went out, into an even more beautiful summer’s day than had been the case in Belfast. I thought I’d take them up to Dalkey and on from there to Sorrento Park, at the summit of which is arguably the best view in all of Ireland, a view said to rival that of the Bay of Naples, which is exactly the sort of sight I think Inga would have been most captivated by had she made it that far. After that we stopped for some soft drinks in Dalkey village and made our way into the city by train. By train – Inga-Maria’s favourite way to travel. The DART was packed with people on their way to various beaches, it being a hot Sunday in summertime. None of the people on the train had any idea who Viktor was nor the significance of his visit. That in a way would not be surprising given that Inga’s case is nowhere near as big a deal in the Republic of Ireland as it is in the North. I sat there on the train opposite Viktor, and it crossed my mind that Inga would have loved this moment had she been able to be here. A beautiful day, summertime in full flight, a free day ahead of us, on a train her favourite mode of transport, en route to show her nephew Viktor around the city. She would love that. She should be here. I wish she was.
We arrived at Pearse Station (I had taken Viktor and Simon to Pearse in order to let Viktor play the piano as I had learned he can play the piano and there’s one at that station for anyone to play. But he was quite shy when we got there so all three of us had only a very brief bash on it). I knew Viktor has a keen interest in science so next I took him to the science exhibition in Trinity College. After spending some time there, I brought them to what I think is one of the best places to hang out on a hot day in Dublin, namely the cricket pavilion on the grounds of Trinity College known to some as “The Pav” where we had ice creams and soaked up the sun for a little while before we had to make a mad dash so Viktor and Simon could catch their scheduled Enterprise train back to Belfast. We had to run something like a couple of miles to make the train which we made with literally one minute to spare – our amusement and relief is evident in the photo I took as they boarded the train (see directly below).
After we’d waved our last goodbyes, I turned around and headed for home. Feeling a little lighter, feeling fortunate I’d gotten to experience something so meaningful. I’d been given the chance to ensure that Viktor, my friend and Inga-Maria’s blood relative, had food, shelter and a safe passage while visiting the city that thirty years before had been Inga-Maria’s intended destination from Belfast. And as small a contribution as I’d made in that respect, it did feel a little like this was coming full circle, a chance to if not rewrite history then at least to ensure that history did not repeat itself. And that means a lot. Because as easy as it was for me to do, it was something that would have made all the difference in the world to Inga-Maria had those who murdered her instead been willing to see to it that she was granted the customary warm Irish welcome and safe passage that was the least she deserved on the night she arrived with a head full of dreams at the Larne ferry terminal on the 6th of April 1988.
But as I said, instead of being shown sanctuary she was shown only savagery. And so that shall remain the case for as long as justice is delayed. And justice delayed is justice denied. It’s high time we see the arrival of that tide, like the waves that carried a certain ferry forth on a long-ago Northern night…
May 28th 1969 – April 6th 1988. Never forgotten.
© Keeley Moss 2018
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form without the permission in writing from the copyright owner.
Acknowledgements for Part 18
Thanks to Inga Richardson and Marcus Baumann for their valued assistance.
‘The English Roses’ written by Chrissie Hynde
Published by Hynde House of Hits/ATV Music Publishing ©1981
‘Late Night, Maudlin Street’ written by Morrissey/Street
Published by Warner Bros. Music Ltd/Linder Ltd/Copyright Control ©1988
‘Wish You Were Here’ written by Waters/Gilmour
Published by Pink Floyd Music Publishers Inc. ©1975