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Confession in German missing girl case

September 21, 2018

Police are closer to solving one of Germany's most mysterious missing-person cases. A man has confessed to transporting the corpse of a 9-year-old girl who vanished 17 years ago to the forest where it was found in 2016.

Memorial stone for Peggy
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Ebenerm

German police said on Friday that a 41-year-old man under investigation for the 2001 murder of a young girl, known only as Peggy according to German privacy laws, has confessed to involvement only in the hiding of her body.

The suspect said that he had taken the body of the lifeless girl from another man, whom he named to police, at a bus shelter in the girl's hometown of Lichtenberg in the Bavarian region of Upper Franconia and transported it to a wood in the eastern state of Thuringia.

According to police, the man said that he had first tried to reanimate the girl, before wrapping her body in a red blanket and driving it to the wood.

Although the man is a main suspect in the alleged murder, he is not being held in custody, with prosecutors saying that there is currently not the "urgent suspicion" required for an arrest.

Read more: Missing persons: 'Uncertainty makes the situation worse'

'Relevant person'

Last week, police searched several properties belonging to the man, who had already been put in the category of "relevant person" in connection with Peggy's disappearance.

Investigators say that they found peat on paving slabs at the man's house that matched traces discovered on Peggy's body. They say that a forensic examination had also found paint remnants on the corpse matching traces of paint on waste produced by renovation work he had carried out.

Mysterious disappearance

Peggy, aged 9 at the time, disappeared on her way back from school on May 7, 2001. Part of her skeleton was found 15 years later by a man gathering mushrooms in a wood in Thuringia, some 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from her hometown of Lichtenberg.

The case hit the headlines again some months after the discovery amid reports that DNA belonging Uwe Böhnhardt, a deceased member of the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Underground (NSU), had been found near Peggy's remains.  Investigators later concluded that Böhnhardt had nothing to do with Peggy's death and that the DNA had been transferred accidentally by equipment also used in NSU investigations.

A mentally disabled man was found guilty of Peggy's murder in 2004, but the verdict was reversed in 2014. 

tj/ng (dpa, AFP)

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