For 13 years, the police and the public prosecutor’s office have been investigating and evaluating more than 10,000 clues. There were mass DNA tests, searches and several TV calls for “Aktenzeichen xy… unsolved”, but also glitches and criticism of the investigators’ actions. Now one of the best-known unsolved murder cases in Germany is being shelved for the time being. Because in the case of the kidnapped and murdered banker’s wife Maria Bögerl from Heidenheim in Baden-Württemberg, no perpetrator could be found so far.

But it is also clear: murder does not become statute-barred. The officials still have a genetic trace that “can be clearly assigned to a male perpetrator,” as the spokesman for the Ellwangen public prosecutor’s office, Maximilian Adis, said. In the event of a hit, the investigation would be resumed immediately.

The ransom was not collected

Flashback: One morning in May 2010, Maria Bögerl, wife of the then Sparkasse boss, was overpowered in her house in Heidenheim an der Brenz, tied up, taken to her car and kidnapped. A short time later, her husband Thomas Bögerl’s phone rang. The kidnapper demanded a ransom of 300,000 euros. Bögerl was supposed to deposit the money at a spot on Autobahn 7 marked with a German flag.

But the money was never picked up. Investigators later admitted that there was a glitch: the ransom could not be deposited in the agreed place on time. The kidnapper or kidnappers did not get in touch afterwards. The man who demanded the ransom over the phone is said to have been middle-aged and spoke a “local Swabian dialect”.

He began an almost unbearable wait: for a sign of life, for another call from the kidnapper. In their desperation, the husband and children of the abductees turned to the public about a week later via the ZDF program “Aktenzeichen XY… unsolved”. They begged for their mother and wife to be released – in vain.

Mass genetic testing unsuccessful

Almost three weeks later, a walker with his dog found the decomposed body of the 54-year-old near the money transfer point. The body lay on the edge of a forest and was covered with branches. The police had also searched the area on the days after the kidnapping on May 12, but without sniffer dogs.

In the vicinity of the discovery site, around ten kilometers from the Bögerl family’s home, the police also found the 54-year-old’s mobile phone. The police discovered your car after looking for clues in the courtyard of the Neresheim monastery. The police found DNA traces in Bögerl’s car – presumably from the kidnapper or kidnappers. Thousands of men later took part in a mass genetic test. There was no hit.

Tragic twist

Investigators now suspect that Maria Bögerl was stabbed to death shortly after her kidnapping – presumably between the blackmail call and the money handover. “Presumably she could not have been saved,” said Thomas Friedrich, who led the investigations into the case at the time, on the tenth anniversary of the murder.

One kidnapping expert believed the perpetrator was likely local and acting alone and unplanned. Because the ransom demand was rather small. The perpetrator may have wanted to get money quickly. Professionals would do things differently.

The tragic events did not stop for Bögerl’s children Christoph and Carina. Almost a year after the death of the mother, the father took his own life. He was suspected of being involved in the case. The slander, the unsuccessful investigations by the police and the loss of his wife he could not endure, according to the family obituary at the time.

The investigators in the Maria Bögerl murder case certainly didn’t have it easy. They suffered repeated setbacks, were repeatedly criticized and even fooled by a false witness. But the case is only considered closed when a perpetrator is found.

Since a murder allegation does not become statute-barred, the procedure can be resumed at any time if there are new investigation approaches – for example, if a DNA trace is found in another crime that corresponds to that in the Bögerl case. New methods are now making this increasingly possible. The Ulm Police Headquarters remains responsible for the case – and here the main clerk and the former head of the special “flag” commission that was dissolved in 2016, “in order to leave all the necessary detailed knowledge of the facts in experienced hands,” as the investigators write.