Police believe they are closer than they have ever been to identifying Inga Maria’s killer or killers – DNA work will continue and new house-to-house enquiries will be conducted.
Serious Crime Branch detectives have released information about lines of enquiry they are following, along with an unpublished photo of Inga Maria, in an effort to persuade and encourage the small number of individuals they believe have information about the 18-year-old student’s murder to come forward.
Inga Maria travelled to Northern Ireland on April 6, 1988, arriving in Larne on a ferry from Scotland. Police believe that Inga Maria, who was subjected to a vicious and ruthless assault, died shortly after she arrived in the Province. Her body was discovered in a remote part of Ballypatrick Forest on the outskirts of Ballycastle.
New strands of work on a DNA profile obtained from the crime scene are being progressed. This DNA profile belongs to a male person who has not been identified, despite extensive police enquiries and appeals and assistance from the community. Through a DNA screening process, which is one of the largest ever conducted, police have been seeking to eliminate people from being responsible for this crime scene stain material by comparing their DNA or familial DNA with this profile.
The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Superintendent Raymond Murray, said: “DNA science is evolving rapidly.
“We are now looking at a type of DNA known as Y-STR which refers to the male chromosome. Overall, more than 2,000 samples of various types of DNA have been prioritised and checked.
“The voluntary DNA screening continues and a small number of the analysed samples are inconclusive in ruling people out of our inquiries about the crime scene stain material, so more work needs to be done around these individuals.”
Detective Superintendent Murray also disclosed a number of additional lines of inquiry being investigated: “I cannot rule out the possibility that more than one person was involved in Inga Maria’s death.
“I also have a report that a man in the rural area east of Ballymoney was seen soon after the murder in April 1988 with scratches on his face and that there was concern in the community that he had some sort of involvement.
“I want to acknowledge the assistance which the community in North Antrim has given to police in this investigation. We have been able to collect many pieces of the investigative jigsaw but there are still gaps.
“I believe those gaps can be filled by individuals with information, individuals possibly in the rural area east of Ballymoney. The investigation continues to make progress. We are tantalisingly close to making significant progress. We just need those remaining pieces of the jigsaw. To that end, police plan to conduct a new series of house-to-house enquiries in parts of north Antrim in the coming weeks.
“I am asking for information, as opposed to statements or formal evidence. I recognise that some people may still feel uncomfortable talking directly to police, perhaps because of their past, or their allegiances.
“I am not interested in them for those reasons; I am only interested in what they know about Inga Maria and how it can help the enquiry. To that end, if someone feels unable or unwilling to talk to police, I would ask them to go to a trusted person who they feel would be in a position to pass the information to police.
“The important thing is that we bring this investigation to a successful conclusion, primarily for Inga Maria and for her family who have suffered too much for too long but also for the people of North Antrim who will continue to have this lengthening shadow hanging over them until the killer or killers are caught.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at Ballycastle on 028 7035 0929.
Right: Police yesterday released this previously unpublished photograph of Inga-Maria Hauser