5 Fast Facts about the Murder of Maria Ladenburger

▪ Maria Ladenburger was a medical student who volunteered at a refugee center
▪ Police don't believe that she and her assailant knew each other before the murder
▪ Accused killer is a teenage Afghan refugee who arrived in Germany unaccompanied

Freiburg, Germany — A teenage Afghan immigrant in Germany was arrested on December 2, 2016, and charged with the rape and murder of a female German medical student.

This map marker shows the location of Freiburg, Germany in southwest Germany. Credit: Google Maps

The suspect’s DNA was found at the crime scene. In addition, closed circuit TV footage helped investigators identify him, according to authorities at a press conference in the town of Freiburg, in southwest Germany, where the crime took place.

Here are the 5 Fast Facts you should know:

1Victim Maria Ladenburger Was Found on a Riverbank in Freiburg, the German Town where She Was a Medical Student

Facebook photo of murder victim Maria Ladenburger. Credit: Facebook / Maria Ladenburger

The 19-year-old victim, Maria Ladenburger, was a medical student in Freiburg, a university town near the Swiss border. In addition to being a student at Freiburg University, Ladenburger volunteered as a helper at a local refugee center.

However, it’s not known whether she might have met her murderer prior to the night of her death. She was last seen bicycling home from a student event. David Müller of the Freiburg police’s Special Commission said at a press conference,

“Through interviews and a web-based survey, we were able to reconstruct Maria’s final hours.”

He elaborated,

“The 19-year-old student had been at a party. By 2:37 a.m., she left the party. Maria then cycled home, as usual.”

Hours later, on October 16, 2016, Ladenburger’s body was found on the bank of the Dreisam River, which runs through Freiburg. An autopsy identified the cause of death as drowning. Police say she was raped before her body was dumped in the water.

As Müller put it,

“The young woman had been the victim of a sexual offense and a violent crime.”

One of her last Facebook posts, from August 25, shows a smiling selfie and the words:

“Children laugh 400 times a day, adults only 15 times . . . let’s not grow up!!!”

2The Accused Killer is a Teenage Asylum Seeker from Afghanistan

Hussein Khavari is seen here in a photo taken from his Facebook page. His faced has been blurred because he is a minor. Credit: Facebook / Hussein Khavari

The accused murderer is 17-year-old Hussein Khavari. He arrived in Germany last year and was given asylum as an unaccompanied minor. He has been living with a host family since that time.

Police identified him based on closed circuit TV camera footage discovered three weeks after the crime. The footage showed him on a local tram.

Authorities say he was easily identifiable in the video footage because he has a “very conspicuous hairstyle, an undercut hairstyle” with some of his long dark hair dyed blonde. According to authorities, investigators have not yet found a personal link between the alleged murderer and his victim.

3The Victim is the Daughter of a Senior Official with the European Union

The victim’s father is Dr. Clemens Ladenburger, a top legal assistant with the European Union. Credit: Europa Institut

The victim’s father is Dr. Clemens Ladenburger, a lawyer who is considered the top assistant to the legal director of the European Union (EU). Dr. Ladenburger studied law in Freiburg, Germany, the same town where his daughter met her death.

He joined Germany’s Federal Ministry of Justice in 1998. Since 2008 he’s been the assistant to the director general of the European Commission’s Legal Service. In the Frankfurter Allgemeine, their local newspaper, Dr. Ladenburger and his wife Frederika memorialized their deceased daughter as follows:

“For 19 years Maria was a great ray of sunshine in our family and she will remain so. We thank God for giving us this gift, and for letting her be our child. We are sure that she is safe with him.”

A requiem service was held for Maria in October at the Notre Dame des Graces Church in Brussels.

4The Case Is Inciting Anger Against the Open-Door Immigration Policy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel

"Angela Merkel im Christlichen Gästezentrum Schönblick" by Medienmagazin pro is licensed under CC BY-SA
Chancellor Angela Merkel is Germany’s head of state; she’s known for her permissive stance on immigration into Germany by refugees from the Middle East. Credit: Flickr / Medienmagazin Pro / Creative Commons

Chancellor Angela Merkel has become notorious for her permissive stance on immigration into Germany by refugees from the Middle East in general and from Syria, Kosovo, and Afghanistan in particular.

Last year the premier of the German state of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, attacked Merkel for permitting hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern migrants to enter Germany. He said,

“We’re now in a state of mind without rules, without system, and without order because of a German decision.”

Germany received 890,000 asylum requests in 2015. However, after an arrangement between the EU and Turkey to curtail the number of refugees entering Europe from Turkey, that number was reduced by about 75 percent between January and September 2016.

Merkel claims Germany can easily cope with the migrants. Nevertheless, a few crimes covered extensively in the Germany media have fueled the county’s anger about Middle Eastern refugees. For example, besides the Ladenburger case, in November 2016 police in Germany arrested seven Afghan refugees charged with the gang rape of a teenager.

5The Alleged Killer Was Identified By DNA From a Single Strand of Dyed-Blond Hair at the Crime Scene. Police Say He Has Confessed

The victim’s body, as well as DNA evidence incriminating the suspect, was found on the bank of the Dreisam River, which runs through Freiburg. Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Philipp Hertzog

As 40 police investigators combed the crime scene for clues, the victim’s black scarf was found near her body in the riverbed of the Dreisam River. In addition, a single seven-inch-long strand of dark hair partially dyed blonde was found nearby in a blackberry bush.

Investigators took DNA samples from both the scarf and the hair and ran these through their criminal database. However, they didn’t get a match. But after the suspect, who has a distinctive hairstyle that includes long dyed-blonde hair, was identified on closed circuit TV, he was detained and his DNA was compared with that recovered from the hair and the scarf.

Investigators got a match. The suspect was subsequently arrested by German police and charged with the crime. At first it was reported that he had said nothing to authorities about the alleged crime. However, it subsequently emerged that he had confessed. His case will go to trial in 2017.

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