The Keeley Chronicles PART 32

The definitive account of the only case of its kind, a search for truth and a labour-of-love in memory of the victim of a unique murder mystery still officially unsolved 33 years on

Rear cover pic sharpened and reduced to 30%

By Keeley Moss

PART 32 – CONTENTS
Chapter 84: Troubled Waters
Chapter 85: Heavy Storms
Acknowledgements for Part 32

Chapter 84: Troubled Waters

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Keep on Truckin’: Ferry vehicle deck and passenger deck entrance, Cairnryan, Scotland. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2018

Every night I circle like the moon
It’s an act of simple devotion
But it can take forever when you’ve got something to prove

Crowded House – ‘Locked Out’

For anyone who hasn’t been following the previous eleven instalments of this blog, this is the next stage of my retracing Inga’s movements by undertaking a solo backpacking trip on an Interrail pass through England, Scotland and the north (and south) of Ireland for the purpose of researching my book about Inga and her case (which is a separate work to this blog) and to keep her memory alive by trying to complete the journey that she was so tragically murdered in the process of undertaking. I am also doing this in order to show just how far she travelled and the sheer effort she made to get where she was going before she was killed, a very important aspect of Inga’s legacy that was overlooked for too long. She came so far. So near and yet, so far…

Although I suspected that the next couple of hours would probably be intense from an emotional standpoint, I fully expected to find the ferry crossing itself a straightforward, benign modern-day travelling experience. I was here to retrace Inga’s steps but I genuinely did not expect any sort of danger whatsoever. After all, I live in a capital city and I’ve been all over the world. I’ve been on trains, boats and planes on my own countless times. I was hardly going to have a hard time on a ferry.

I was wrong.

By contrast I was shocked at what I encountered. I have never experienced such a sexually-charged and intimidatingly macho environment anywhere.

After making my way up the stairs and onto the passenger deck I instinctively gravitated towards the most brightly-lit and open-plan area of the passenger deck, which is the cafeteria. The cafeteria led directly to the ferry’s bar and lounge which my instinct told me to avoid. Conscious of why I was here and that this was the same ferry crossing that had played a crucial role in sealing Inga’s fate, I reasoned that it would be best to spend the majority of the crossing seated alone, listening to music on my headphones and reducing the possibility of making myself in any way conspicuous. Despite the fact that there were only two other people seated in the cafeteria for the majority of the crossing, two males, and one of them had his back to me, the other of the two, a well-built older male, was staring straight at me. Neither of these men had been on the coach that brought myself and the other foot passengers from the ferry terminal, so I knew they had to be motorists. In fact their appearance bore all the hallmarks of lorry drivers.

I tried to lose myself in the music I was listening to on headphones. I’d had ‘Mad at You’ by Joe Jackson on heavy rotation all day, a six-minute-long post-punk song that crackles with a relentless intensity. Still, my curiosity was such that I could not resist looking up every now and again. Each time I raised my head, expecting to see him looking elsewhere this time, instead his eyes remained firmly fixed on me. Eventually this had happened too many times for it to be a coincidence, or merely a case of my being paranoid, and I tried to find a way to diminish his interest. Realising that before leaving Stranraer I had put my hair up in pigtails in order to remedy my hair being out of shape due to having spent much of the day in high winds, I decided to take the pigtails out of my hair, belatedly guessing that perhaps this was what had drawn his eyes to me, and hoping that this interest would now cease. But still he persisted looking at me like he was about to enjoy a large steak. This went on…FOR AN HOUR.

Now, you may think in the cold light of day “Why didn’t you confront him and ask him to stop staring?” Or wonder perhaps why did I not hit him with some withering one-liner? But it’s always easy to be wise after the event. At the time I was just too taken aback to react at all, the fact it had never really happened to me before stunted me from knowing how to react at all. Also, I was on my own and I just didn’t feel like confronting anyone, let alone this guy who, as the phrase goes, ‘Was built like a brick shithouse’.

Although I had partly decided to retrace Inga’s footsteps in order to try gain as much of an insight into her movements as possible, never had I expected that I might gain an insight into her predicament on board the ferry crossing to Larne. But in that moment it occurred to me that this was precisely what was happening. I suddenly found myself in quandaries I had never really experienced before. In Dublin I generally feel invisible, afforded the easy anonymity that is part and parcel of life in a capital city. I’m not used to being noticed, let alone watched. In the course of having to think quickly on my feet to deal with this, I found myself struck by the realisation that it is possible in the light of what happened to Inga that she may have found herself occupying a very similar mindset during her fateful last ferry crossing.

Chapter 85: Heavy Storms

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Last Chance on the Stairway: The author sits it out on the staircase as the weirdness on board reaches a crescendo. Photo: Keeley Moss

All hands on deck at dawn
Sailing to sadder shores
Your port in my heavy storms
Harbours the blackest thoughts

Echo and the Bunnymen – ‘Ocean Rain’

Having sat motionless at the back of the cafeteria, and having been stared at the entire time by this guy seated halfway across the room with his travelling male companion, and with no sign of this situation changing, I wanted to get as far away from the cafeteria as possible. But how far could I go? I was stuck in the middle of the ocean, or the North Channel at any rate, with little room to roam. I was also faced with the issue of what to do with my backpack. Should I leave it in the seating area and run the risk of someone potentially tampering with it while I was gone? Or should I take it with me, and as a result impede my free movement? My thinking at this point was, what would be the point of going for a walk if I wasn’t going to be able to stretch my legs freely, having borne the weight of my rucksack almost constantly during the previous days of the backpacking trip. In that moment I had a blinding flash of clarity, as it struck me that Inga possibly grappled with such questions as she would have faced the same issues of what to do with her own rucksack when she prepared to explore the ferry (and it is a matter of record that Inga did indeed do that, thanks to the only two verified witness reports of Inga’s movements during the ferry crossing).

I decided to chance it. I left my backpack on the seat and walked out of the cafeteria and down a corridor, with little awareness of the layout of the ferry. And that’s when things took an even stranger turn. As I exited the cafeteria there was a man standing in the corridor that I took little notice of but as I passed by him I felt his gaze upon me, and in my peripheral vision I noticed his eyes follow my every step. What was this now? I tried to out it down to a coincidence but within seconds a third man passed me in the corridor and this guy was looking at me with even more intensity than either of the other two. I don’t go ‘out out’ very often but not even when I’ve been in clubs in Dublin dressed-up have I ever been subjected to anything like the intense male interest I was on this ferry. It was all the more surprising to me considering how rough I thought I looked due to having spent most of the day in the wind at Stranraer harbour and it’s train station.

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Silence, Sea and Sky: The view across the North Channel from the ferry shortly after leaving Scottish shores. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2018

I found myself trying to figure out what it was about me on this night that was different. Why was it the case that suddenly I was apparently being deemed an object of interest by the men on board? I wasn’t doing anything any differently than I would have back in Dublin where as I said I seem to be invisible. I was dressed like a typical backpacker for purely practical purposes – jeans, a top, cardigan, sneakers. And yet the extent of this interest, far from diminishing as the journey wore on, was actually intensifying. I figured that it probably had very little to do with me personally. I was the only female travelling solo on the boat that I could see and this fact, in addition to the peculiar sense of abandon that is rife on a ferry among gung-ho alpha male types had seemingly created some sort of perfect storm. As I walked around the boat there didn’t seem to be anywhere I could go without picking up a predatory vibe. I am far from prudish and ordinarily would have welcomed some interest but there was a palpably primal and I would say slightly sinister edge to it in this case that my instinct told me to be wary of.

I tried to stay focused on why I was here. Only two things are known for certain about Inga’s movements on the ferry, both of which are entirely innocuous. The second of them involved her going up on deck for some fresh air and to look out to sea at the approaching Ireland of her dreams. She was not to know that that view was pretty much all she would see of it.

I would have wanted to go up on deck anyway, to see the sea and take in the oceanic vista. And because I was here to retrace Inga’s movements to the letter, going up on deck as she had done was obviously necessary to maintain the integrity of my mission. But now I had a third reason to want, nay, need to go up on deck; The fact that I had by this point run out of places to go on the passenger deck that didn’t present one peril or another.

It was dark, cold and inevitably very windy when I ventured up on deck. Unlike when Inga walked up on deck on that fateful evening in 1988, there was no one else already there when I ventured up. So many things were running through my head. When I reached Larne, I would have to get to Belfast and find my hostel on foot and at night in a city that I’m not overly familiar with. I also had it on my mind that I would have to get from Belfast to Dublin the next morning to make it into work on time. But those more mundane concerns were now being overridden by blacker thoughts. I realised I didn’t really have a strategy for dealing with the situation I now found myself in. My instinct had already told me to avoid the bar and lounge area of the ferry. Then I had been practically driven out (no pun intended) of the cafeteria area by the guy who wouldn’t stop staring at me. Then I had gone for a walk through the ferry’s corridors only to find not one but two separate guys staring at me in a way that wasn’t what I was used to, and this had continued in other parts of the ferry that I wandered into. I reckoned there was no way of reasoning with the intensity I had been surprised to find on the passenger deck. Testosterone makes men crazy, at its zenith you can’t reason with it. It brings with it an incredibly strong compulsion, a drive so strong that it has played a vital role in fuelling the desire that has maintained mankind on this planet for millions of years as well as having been a significant component in the creation and perpetuation of wars, of the tendency of alpha figures to seek to control and dominate, and much else besides.

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Darklands: On deck between Cairnryan and Larne. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2018

After a while up on deck I headed back indoors and decided to sit on the stairway for the remainder of the crossing. Then I remembered I had left my backpack in the cafeteria, where the creepy guy and his mate were.

F**k.

I’d have to go back down there. Fortunately the ferry would soon dock. I was looking forward to getting on the train after arriving at Larne. A blizzard of images was flying through my mind.

The boat.

The train.

The space between the boat and the train.

The wheres, the whats, the whys.

Above all else, her. On that night, on this sea, more than 30 years before me. Approximately 280,000 hours before now. She was here, oblivious to her magnificence, and equally unaware of the horrendous fate that lay in wait. A force for good, an artistic avatar, an intrepid explorer, a gleaming beacon of luminous youth. Unwittingly trapped in time. And fast running out of time as the precious seconds ticked by. Caught in the jagged jaws of a monster’s merciless urges. Guided by the guiltiest of hidden hands.

That night. That evening, even. 160 mystifying minutes on a cross-channel ferry in 1988.

Three decades on, the aftershocks still haven’t stopped reverberating. Over the last few years Inga’s case has become more relevant and more topical than ever before, which is extraordinary, and a feat perhaps unparalleled in crime history after such an elongated timespan.

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Rabbit in the Headlights: A lorry in the vehicle dock of the Galloway Princess in a still taken from the 1988 Crimewatch UK segment on Inga’s case

Above all, what I found most surprising was that here I was on a trip where I had resolved to retrace Inga’s steps, and I was gaining a totally-unexpected insight into what it was probably like for her on the same ferry crossing. Except in Inga’s case it must have been so much worse. For 1988 was an era that predated many of the subsequent advances of feminism, and the significant softening of male culture that has simultaneously gradually evolved in society over the last three decades. Furthermore, the extent of alcohol consumption was arguably even more rampant in the 1980s, especially on cross-channel ferries which have a unique air of loose abandon to them, being literally ‘at sea’ and somewhat outside the confines of the codes of conduct that check the free reign of those so inclined on dry land. Even more pertinently, on the night Inga was on board this ferry crossing, she was one of 422 passengers. By contrast there seemed only a fraction of that amount of people on the ferry I was on, and yet despite that, and despite my belief that the present day is a far safer climate for people in general in Ireland and the British Isles than was the case in 1988, I was shocked at the predatory air that was filling this ferry.

I would walk off the ferry with one overriding, ominous question; If it was that intense for me in this day and age, just how bad must it have been for Inga in 1988?

The answer to that question can be most accurately gauged by what happened to her shortly after she arrived at Larne…

TO BE CONTINUED

Inga Maria Hauser Inga 1

May 28th 1969 – April 6th 1988. Never forgotten.

 _______________________________________________________

Copyright: Keeley Moss ℗&©2020. All rights reserved.

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Acknowledgements for Part 32

Locked Out written by Neil Finn. Published by Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd. ©1994

Ocean Rain written by McCulloch/Sergeant/Pattinson/De Frietas. Published by Warner/Chappell Music ©1984

The Keeley Chronicles PART 31

The definitive account of the only case of its kind, a search for truth and a labour-of-love in honour of the victim of a unique murder mystery still officially unsolved 33 years on

Rear cover pic sharpened and reduced to 30%

By Keeley Moss

PART 31 – CONTENTS
Chapter 82: A Candle for Her Cause
Chapter 83: No Birds Do Sing
Acknowledgements for Part 31

Chapter 82: A Candle for Her Cause

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Train in the Distance: The path to Stranraer station with the railway line that Inga travelled on adjacent to the now-derelict ferry terminal that she walked into on the fateful last evening of her life. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2018

The highway calls…

The House of Love – ‘Road’

For anyone who hasn’t been following the previous ten instalments of this blog, this is the next stage of my retracing Inga’s movements by undertaking a solo backpacking trip on an Interrail pass through England, Scotland and the north (and south) of Ireland for the purpose of researching my book about Inga and her case (which is a separate work to this blog) and to keep her memory alive by trying to complete the journey that she was so tragically murdered in the process of undertaking. I am also doing this in order to show just how far she travelled and the sheer effort she made to get where she was going before she was killed, a very important aspect of Inga’s legacy that was overlooked for too long. She came so far. So near and yet, so far…

By this point I had been on the road for three days. Which doesn’t sound very long, but during that time I had managed to cover a lot of ground, just as she had. She came so far (a lot further than me, due to her starting from her home in Munich in the far south of Germany whereas I started the same journey from my home in Dublin).

The train journey to Inverness alone (covered in Part 24) took twelve hours. From having studied Inga’s movements in detail in advance of the trip it occurred to me that the effort she had gone to in travelling as far as she had was something that has been overlooked in media reports over the years, but now having retraced many of those steps it was even more apparent just how true this was. When people try to get their heads around what Inga went through the night she was murdered, it’s important to bear in mind that she hadn’t just crossed the road to be in Larne – she had travelled thousands of miles. All on her own and all the way from the furthest point south in Bavaria, close to the Austrian border, up through Germany, into the Netherlands and all the way across the country to the Hook of Holland, across to Harwich (an 8-hour ferry journey back in 1988) then on to London before moving on to Cambridge and returning to London in order to get to Oxford, Bath, Bristol and Liverpool then onwards to the furthest point north of Scotland, Inverness, then back across to the furthest point west via Glasgow, Ayr and Stranraer and then across the North Channel to Northern Ireland. Just writing that itinerary that would make most people dizzy but Inga didn’t just write it – she lived it. She came so far, fortified by the zest of a first-time traveller and bolstered by the hope of achieving her “greatest dream”, of reaching the island she was in her own words “looking forward to best” – Ireland.

And now here I was at the same place Inga was on April 6th 1988, poised to complete the next stage of this spiritual mission, and with very mixed feelings for obvious reasons. One of the most important sections of the trip would involve sailing on the latter-day equivalent of the Galloway Princess, sailing from Cairnryan nine miles up the road from Stranraer to Larne on the same evening ferry crossing, and as a foot passenger just as Inga had been. Although the volume of foot passengers sailing on board cross-channel ferries has declined sharply since the mid-1990s as the advent of cheap flights has taken its toll, commercial transport business which had always been the lifeblood of the shipping industry remains as strong as ever. As a result, there were proportionately more lorry drivers in comparison with foot passengers on the night I made the crossing, and roughly the same amount of lorry drivers as there would have been on the night Inga sailed on the Galloway Princess. Nevertheless prior to sailing I anticipated no problems, expecting nothing more than a reflective if poignant experience on the boat.

But first, and unlike Inga when she was in Stranraer, I found myself with some time to kill in the town. I have a real soft spot for the place on account of it being the last place on land where Inga was on her own and therefore safe and well. For that reason, although it still feels like a heavy place emotionally because her brief time here preceded the horror that would follow, it has a different kind of darkness from that of Larne or Ballypatrick Forest. Since the transfer of the town’s shipping to Cairnryan in 2011, the heart has been sadly ripped out of it, something that was palpable during my stay. And of course, being situated where it is right on the water’s edge of the North Channel, there is no shield from the elements. If it’s windy there are few places windier than Stranraer and if it’s cold, there are few places colder (even then, it’s still not as cold as Ballypatrick Forest).

Having spent the day examining in detail Stranraer Harbour, Stranraer train station and as much of the old ferry terminal area as possible (as covered in Parts 28-30) I paid a visit to Stranraer museum and library. I thought there was little chance of there being anything in Stranraer to commemorate Inga’s brief but significant presence here back in 1988, and sure enough that was the case. There is nothing, nothing at all to suggest that she had ever been here. If you passed through here and you weren’t aware of the facts of the case, you wouldn’t know there was a connection with her. But she was the reason I had come all the way here and she’s the reason an entire community is holding a candle for her cause. One of the most poignant and most bittersweet facts of her story is how she’s made a huge impression on so many people, and the thousands of people in the 109 countries around the world who read this blog, without any of us ever having met her. That is something extraordinary. With all due respect I don’t think there are many people in history, living or dead, who could have that sort of effect on people. This is why I believe Inga’s case is even bigger and more important than anyone realises.

I had only made it to the museum fifteen minutes before it closed, so I was soon back on the streets of Stranraer. Being there I was struck by how small a town it is, having lived most of my life in Dublin so far, I often forget how big a city Dublin is and by contrast how few places there are to go to in a small town such as Stranraer. After a browse in the local charity shop, I sat for a while in a nice cafe called Dnisi’s to have something to eat but within a few minutes it closed as well. I went back out and tried to find somewhere warm to shelter but there was nowhere open apart from a pub, and being teetotal I’m not crazy about pubs at the best of times. I still had an hour to wait before the shuttle bus to the ferry, so decided to head back to the place with the strongest connection to Inga, namely the train station and the old ferry terminal area. It was now dark, and very blustery, but I didn’t know when I would get a chance to get back to what is such a remote place again, so I wanted to spend as much time at the station and ferry terminal area as possible. I had learned during the small hours of the night before (as covered in Part 28) just how spooky and isolated a place Stranraer station is after dark but being perpetually drawn to the deep end, I was not for turning.

I passed by the unlit old ferry terminal area and stared into the faceless void that lay beyond the wire mesh fence in the pitch dark. It felt eerie to be looking into nothingness. It was not unlike looking at the individual suspected of being her primary killer, an expressionless wall of emptiness. Soon I reached the railway platform again. It still felt so strange to know that she had actually been here, had actually walked here, in this very spot, in a time shortly before everything changed forever. It felt intensely frustrating to be here now, armed with the uselessness of hindsight. Having paid my respects, it was time to return to the centre of the town to catch the shuttle bus to the ferry terminal. I was bracing myself for a heavy emotional experience on the boat, but not for a moment did I think there would be any issues otherwise. The world has changed a lot since 1988, after all. I would soon see however that the world has perhaps changed less than I thought.

Chapter 83: No Birds Do Sing

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Terminal Frost: Cairnryan ferry terminal entrance, Stranraer, Scotland. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2018

It’s a dream and it screams in your head

Well it’s a deep blue sea
An impossible dream

The House of Love – ‘Hope’

The shuttle bus appears at the bus stop outside Dnisi’s on time and I climb aboard and pay my fare. I assumed there’d be a bunch of other backpackers joining me. But not only are there no other backpackers, there are no other people full stop. As anyone who has followed all ten of the last parts of this blog may recall, this is not an isolated occurrence. Time and time again during this trip I’ve found myself the only passenger on trains, in train stations and in passenger waiting areas. It’s as if no one goes to any of these places. After waiting a few minutes in vain for any more passengers to board the bus, the driver pulls out and begins the short drive to nearby Cairnryan just nine miles up the road. Upon arrival at the ferry terminal, I get off the bus, enter the building and present myself at reception where I collect my boarding pass. Everything is deemed to be in order and next I’m directed to the waiting area for foot passengers.

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Passenger Side: Foot passenger waiting area, Cairnryan ferry terminal. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2018

Again, there is no one else here, and during my time waiting no one else arrives. The palpable sense of isolation I had felt throughout this trip was increasing. After a while I’m beckoned to the security area where I’m subjected to a rigorous frisking and have some orders barked at me by the first unfriendly Scottish person I’ve met, a female security officer with all the courtesy of a bulldog. I’m commanded to put my backpack through the security scanner, and then having passed through a body scanner I’m led towards a corridor, and out into a backyard where to my surprise a van is awaiting. The van looks like it could accommodate no more than six or seven people, tops – surely this couldn’t be the full extent of the foot passengers that would be travelling on the ferry? In fact, it is even fewer. I’m the only woman, and the last to board, there are four guys already sitting in the van and that’s it. How they got there I do not know as they definitely weren’t in the waiting area inside the terminal. The van sets off and we drive in silence and in darkness to the ship, with all the lights switched off inside the van, which further compounds the weird sense of isolation. There’s an ambience of no allegiance, very much a case of ‘Together Alone’ to quote Crowded House. I would ordinarily crack a joke to break the ice, but my instinct tells me that such a move will fall on deaf ears among my fellow foot passengers.

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Decks Dark: The vehicle deck of the Cairnryan-Larne ferry. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2018

The journey doesn’t take long, the van driving through the port and up onto the vehicle deck of the ferry before we are ushered off. The other foot passengers quickly scurry through the door and up the staircase towards the passenger deck but I’m the last to get off, and given that I have a very different reason for being here, retracing the footsteps of a very special person with almost limitless artistic potential who was in the course of a brave and beautiful mission and who was subjected to the cruellest and most ferocious death imaginable, I can’t help but linger longer. I find myself standing in the vehicle deck, with a convoy of lorries directly behind me.

And then there it is. The smell. An unmistakable aroma hits me instantly upon climbing off the van and into the belly of the boat. It’s the odour of a noxious night, the coldness of the coast combined with a petrol-scented air. A fragrant indicator of a place where no birds do sing, where freight takes the place of feelings, where everything and everyone is transitory. A mechanical, cold and unfeeling aroma that I’m not to know is a precise precursor to the sort of energy I will encounter during the crossing…

TO BE CONTINUED

Inga Maria Hauser Inga 1

May 28th 1969 – April 6th 1988. Never forgotten.

________________________________________________________

Copyright: Keeley Moss ℗&©2020. All rights reserved.

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Acknowledgements for Part 31

Road & Hope written by Guy Chadwick. Published by Colgems-EMI Music, Inc. O/B/O EMI Music Publishing Ltd. ©1988