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Germany: Woman dies after attack near Neuschwanstein Castle

Published June 15, 2023last updated June 15, 2023

A male US tourist is accused of trying to sexually assault two women and pushing them into a ravine near the popular tourist site, German police said. The women fell 50 meters, with one later succumbing to her injuries.

Neuschwanstein castle
Neuschwanstein is one of Germany's most popular tourist destinationsImage: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa/picture alliance

Authorities on Thursday said that one of two women attacked near one of Germany's most popular tourist sights has died.

The attack took place on Wednesday near a historic bridge popular among tourists for its view of Neuschwanstein Castle, where the man is said to have pushed both women off a steep slope, after allegedly attempting to sexually assault them.

The two women, who were 21 and 22 years old, were tourists, but authorities did not disclose their nationalities.

Police in the state of Bavaria said the alleged attacker is a 30-year-old US national, who fled the scene after the crime but was caught and is in custody.

Footage on social media appeared to show the suspect in handcuffs being taken away by police from the site, as well as the air rescue operations.

US man held after attack at Germany's Neuschwanstein castle

"He did not say a single word. He didn't open his mouth; he didn't mumble," the person who took the footage later told the Associated Press.

"He just walked with the police and that was it."

What we know about the attack

In a statement that was released around 24 hours after the attack took place, police said the assault occurred near the Marienbrücke (Mary's bridge), which has views of the world-famous castle.

"Using a pretext, the man then directed the two to a difficult-to-see trail leading to a lookout point," investigators said in an initial report.

A police spokesperson said the younger of the two women was then attacked by the suspect.

"The older one tried to rush to her aid, was then choked by the suspect and subsequently pushed down a slope," the spokesperson added.

The alleged attacker then made an "attempted sexual offense" on the 21-year-old before pushing her over the steep edge as well.

In this August 2022 photo, tourists stand on the Marienbrücke bridge over a ravine near the Neuschwanstein Castle
The bridge near where the attack took place is located 90 meters (295 feet) above a gorge that overlooks the Neuschwanstein CastleImage: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa/picture alliance

The women fell 50 meters (164 feet) down the ravine.

Police said the Füssen mountain rescue service rescued the two injured women, airlifting the younger woman out of the site with a helicopter.

The 21-year-old woman died in a hospital overnight, while her 22-year-old companion was still in hospital with serious injuries.

Police investigating a case of murder 

Police said the suspect was arrested near the scene of the crime.

He appeared in the Kempten District Court on Thursday, where a judge issued an arrest warrant.

Police were investigating charges of murder, attempted murder, and a sexual offense. Their work was being hampered by the steep terrain where the attack took place. 

Specially trained officers from the Alpine Task Force were brought in to help with the investigation.

Police on the Marienbrücke overlooking Neuschwanstein
Police officers cordoned off the site on Wednesday, but authorities did not announce the incident until ThursdayImage: Allgäuer Zeitung/dpa/picture alliance

"The allegation is not yet established," said prosecutor Thomas Hörmann.

He said that investigators are looking into whether the man wanted to sexually assault both women.

Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most popular tourist sites in Germany, drawing around 1.4 million visitors every year, according to officials who oversee the castle.

In the summer, the castle sees around 6,000 visitors every day. The nearby Marienbrücke bridge is also a popular stop for tourists and hikers to take pictures of the castle and surrounding mountains.

zc, rs, lo/jcg (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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