DNA links German neo-Nazi killer to child murder

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German police photos show (from L): Uwe Boehnhardt, Uwe Mundlos and Beate Zschaepe, alleged members of the farright terror cell National Socialist Underground German police photos show (from L): Uwe Boehnhardt, Uwe Mundlos and Beate Zschaepe, alleged members of the farright terror cell National Socialist Underground

DNA evidence could finally solve murder of nine-year-old Peggy Knobloch who went missing in 2001



New DNA evidence links a dead member of Germany’s NSU neo-Nazi killer cell to an unsolved child murder that shocked the nation, police said Friday.

Genetic material found near the skeleton of nine-year-old Peggy Knobloch who went missing in 2001 matches that of the late NSU gunman Uwe Boehnhardt, they said.

Police cautioned they were still working to rule out possible cross-contamination of DNA samples in the network of forensics labs, but said this was unlikely.

If confirmed, the discovery would link two of Germany’s most notorious crimes of recent years, and point to possible police failures in establishing a link sooner.

The NSU, short for National Socialist Underground, was a trio of far-right militants who shot dead eight men with Turkish roots, a Greek migrant and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007.

Police only pieced together the murders after its two male members, Boehnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, died five years ago in an apparent murder-suicide following a botched bank robbery.

Germany was shocked to discover that the killings — long blamed by police and media on migrant crime gangs and dubbed the “doner (kebab) murders” — were in fact racist hate crimes.

The third member of the trio, Beate Zschaepe, 41, has been on trial for the past three years.

The random discovery of the NSU in 2011 exposed police and domestic intelligence flaws and raised uncomfortable questions about how the cell went undetected for 13 years.

The new DNA find would also link Boehnhardt to the case of Peggy Knobloch, whose remains were discovered this year in a forest.

Peggy had vanished on her way home from school in 2001 near her home.

Hundreds of police and soldiers scoured the area for weeks, but her remains were only found in July this year, some 15 kilometers (nine miles) from her home, by a mushroom picker.

Since her death, a man with a learning disability had spent more than 10 years in jail for her murder before he was exonerated and released.

Now police say they have found Boehnhardt’s DNA on an object near her body — a small piece of a blanket, according to news weekly Der Spiegel.

In view of the find, investigators have pointed out that child pornography was found on a computer drive in the charred ruins of the NSU’s home, which Zschaepe had torched after the men died.

Police also say Boehnhardt had been questioned over the 1993 murder of a nine-year-old boy, Bernd B., in his eastern home town of Jena but was let go for lack of evidence against him.

“We will have to take a far closer look at that case,” said Thuringia state premier Bodo Ramelow.

A key organizer of the local far-right scene in the 1990s, when the three NSU members were radicalised, Tino Brandt, was jailed two years ago for 66 cases of child sexual abuse and other charges.

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