How One Girl’s DNA Was Discovered At 40 Crime Scenes


For over a decade, police desperately looked for a serial killer whose DNA was discovered at numerous crime scenes throughout Europe.

The determine got here to be referred to as the ‘Phantom of Heilbronn’ or the ‘lady with out a face’ and eluded police for years, seemingly taunting them.

Between 1993 and 2009, her DNA was picked up at over 40 crimes in France, Austria and Germany, various in diploma of seriousness, from homicide and drug use to housebreaking and theft.

However after they got here to verify her samples on their databases, they could not discover a hint of her. Nothing.

The primary time her DNA was discovered was on a teacup subsequent to the physique of a 62-year-old lady who had been strangled to loss of life in her house in Idar-Oberstein, Germany in 1993.

Credit: Alamy
Credit score: Alamy

Eight years later, it got here up once more: one other homicide.

This time it was a 61-year-old man who had been discovered useless in his house in Freiburg, and just like the previous girl, he too had been strangled.

Police discovered the mysterious lady’s DNA in a kitchen drawer, and because of the comparable strategies of killing, they believed they’d a serial killer on their palms.

After a couple of months, the ‘lady with out a face’ popped up once more, and once more, and once more.

5 months after the second homicide, her DNA was detected on a heroin syringe present in a playground, on a discarded biscuit on the scene of a housebreaking and on a stolen automotive in Heilbronn, amongst others.

One of the crucial perplexing of instances, although, was that in Could 2005, after a person had shot his personal brother.

In some way, the lady’s DNA was discovered on one of many bullets used.

Credit: Alamy
Credit score: Alamy

Two years later, her DNA was as soon as once more found, this time on the dashboard and the again seat of Michèle Kiesewetter’s patrol automotive.

The 22-year-old police officer and her 25-year-old associate had been on their lunch break when two males received into the again of the automotive and shot them within the head, killing Ms Kiesewetter and injuring her associate.

It was then that the killer started to be referred to as the ‘Phantom of Heilbronn’ and a €300,000 (£255,000) reward was put up for anybody that would present any info on who they had been.

All in all, her DNA was current at 40 crime scenes in a number of international locations. However how?

Properly, removed from being a mastermind prison who was evading police at each flip, the reality is far much less sinister.

Credit: Alamy
Credit score: Alamy

The officers who had labored on the crime scenes had all been utilizing swabs that had been contaminated by a employee at a manufacturing facility in Bavaria, Germany.

So the ‘Phantom’ by no means existed.

Talking again in 2009, Stefan König of the Berlin Affiliation of Attorneys stated the case confirmed the significance of not reaching conclusions based mostly on DNA alone.

He stated: “DNA evaluation is an ideal software for figuring out traces. What we have to keep away from is the belief that the producer of the traces is robotically the wrongdoer.

“Judges are typically so blinded by the shiny, seemingly good proof of DNA traces that they often ignore the entire image. DNA proof on a criminal offense scene says nothing about the way it received there.

“There’s good cause for not allowing convictions on the premise of DNA circumstantial proof alone.”

Police spokesperson Josef Schneider stated on the time: “It is a very embarrassing story.”



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