The Explanation Makes Sense, But Is It The Truth?
A true crime story that urges us to question the stories we tell ourselves
For sixteen years, from 1993 to 2009, the German authorities chased a serial killer they never managed to apprehend. The murders were simply too spread out: they originated in southwest Germany but expanded to the southeast of France and the northwest of Austria. The modus operandi was too inconsistent: from stealthy strangulations to brutal, point-blank shots. The reasons were too varied: from small burglaries to drug-related crimes.
All the police had to go on was the minimal traces of DNA that connected the crimes throughout the years and locations, and that told them to look for a woman of Eastern European descent. And that was it.
The ‘woman without a face’, as she became known, was murdering pensioners in rural France and executing German police officers. She was also exceptionally muscular as reported by a jeweller’s CCTV footage in which she looked more like a brute male than the stealthy female they had been searching for over a decade. She also seemed to be addicted to heroin. In short, the story made no sense at all.
However, it was the story they had, a story based on scientific fact: DNA doesn’t lie, does it? And so the German authorities poured millions of euros in resources to capture the lethal killer once and for all. They were desperate. The faceless woman had to be caught. Her erratic yet unstoppable spree had to come to an end.
The desperation was such that the police conducted hundreds of DNA tests on random female citizens. Thousands and thousands of tests trying to catch the elusive killer. Imagine how hopeless you must be as a lead investigator to initiate such a tremendous operation! How do you go about testing all the women in a country like Germany? I’m pretty sure the officials weren’t feeling too confident. I’m pretty sure the thumbs-up were given because at least it would look like they were doing something.