A Dead Girl Buried in a Box in the Woods: a Rusty Wire and a Showdown before Midnight

This is part five of a five part investigative series on Bavaria, transnational organized crime, and the Ursula Herrmann case.

One of the most perplexing episodes in this investigation centres around an unassuming length of wire. When the crime scene technicians arrived early in the morning after the discovery of Ursula’s bicycle, they spotted a wire hanging from a tree. A discussion followed as to whether this could be connected to the crime, and a fireman who took part in the search for Ursula said that this part of the forest was used by children as a playground. It was then decided not to secure the wire. The wire then resurfaced sixteen months later at an exclusive boarding school a few hundred meters away, when police visited the school. Two pupils, one twenty and one nineteen years old, stated that they had found the wire in the forest in the spring of 1982, probably some seven months after the abduction. They said that they were following an owl near the crime scene one afternoon, when they spotted the wire hanging from a tree. They then went on to describe how they removed the wire and rolled it up. One of the pupils then kept the wire in a lockable box in his room at the school. When the police visited, they decided to hand it in. They were also happy to provide a statement, and visited the crime scene with the police the following day to show them the exact location.

When they found the wire, either end was hanging down to the ground, and it spanned a considerable distance strung from one tree to the next, almost parallel to the path Ursula had taken. No devices were connected to it, a statement that is also supported by the crime scene technicians who saw it in September 1981. Looking at the location, it could only have served as a signalling device, perhaps with a switch and a buzzer or light bulb connected to it. Did the abductors start to clear up the crime scene and fled once the search had started? If so, there would only have been two very brief windows of opportunity during which they could have done so, the first half hour after the abduction before Ursula’s father and uncle arrived, and then again a brief period of time before the police, the fire brigade, friends and family arrived. The timing would have been tight, given that the box was 800m away. They would have to transport a dead or unconscious child through a system of paths they had cut into the forest, carefully checking for potential witnesses when crossing two forestry paths where they would be completely exposed. They would have to place the child into the box, lock it, pile 5cm of soil on it, plant young trees on top and make their way back. It seems unlikely they would have been able to make it within just half an hour. But perhaps one of the abductors stayed behind at the crime scene to clear up? Or alternatively, perhaps they ran back and arrived shortly before the police.

One of these pupils made a witness statement in the criminal proceedings against Werner Mazurek, in which he described their find again. The matter was all but forgotten until just over a year ago, when some startling new facts came to light. The father of one of the pupils owned a company that developed and produced paint similar to the highly unusual paint found on the outer lid of the box.


Whatever the matter, the removal of the end devices of the bell wire between the time of the abduction at 19:25 and the discovery of the bicycle at 23:19 was not the only activity that happened this night in the forest. At 23:00 an old lady who lived near the edge of the forest on the Schondorf side heard seven shots fired directly one after the other, “like in the war”. This lead remains unresolved. We know that it was not a hunter. Why should someone decide to fire shots in the forest in the dark?

Even stranger still is another witness statement. At 23:30, two witnesses spotted two cars parked on separate locations alongside the forest, one by the highway and one on a parking lot only a few meters from the location of the box. A few moments after the witnesses passed this second car, it suddenly drove away at excessive speed. The witnesses reported the sighting including the number plate of the car to the police, who traced the driver. He provided an explanation for his actions this night. However, the police refused to reveal the identity of the driver and the reason behind his actions to Ursula’s brother, who is entitled to view the case files. We know the make and colour of the car and the number plate, and we know in which village he lived.

The statute of limitations has now expired for all crimes with the exception of murder. While there is no suggestion that the driver of the speeding car was engaged in any illegal activity, except for the speeding, of course, firing shots in the dark without a hunting license may indeed have been in conflict with the law. It is therefore imperative to trace these persons who may have seen something. New insights have come to light and perhaps they witnessed something without realising its significance.

Feedback / Information on the Ursula Herrmann case can be submitted via https://ursulaherrmann.org/en-gb/home.

This is part five of a five part investigative series on Bavaria, transnational organized crime, and the Ursula Herrmann case.

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Author: mariathenewswriter

I am an independent writer with an interest in covering news stories.

2 thoughts

  1. Interesting and useful thread. I for one, do not really believe in the alleged perpetrator’s guilt. More likely, it was done by one or two students from the boarding school, i.e. scions of the degenerate aristocracy or children of the filthy rich – who have every interest in keeping the case closed, as well as the wherewithal to prevent this from happening. This kind of Lovely Bones/True Detective/Dragon Tattoo-tier depravity makes me angry.

    Short of new evidence coming to light, here are some possible leads.

    Are we sure that the school was indeed closed all summer? Is it possible some students stayed on? It is also possible that some students did not live all that far away, and could well have made the trips back to prepare the ground outside of the school year. Or else had a lakeside summer home. A former student would also have known the area very well too.

    Find out a list of male students from the boarding school at the time, as well as those who had graduated 2-3 years before, and see if any of them now “have form.” Something like this seems more than a prank gone wrong, and it is likely that this kind of person has become a full-blown psychopath. A male, mid-late-forties, name starts with Von… Presumably the government and high finance would be a good place to start looking… Less likely, the school caretaker or gardener (a la True Detective).

    Given the other case, someone who can be found in Charlotte Boehringer’s phonebook. Perhaps she had a younger lover? Perhaps the DNA evidence was not contaminated at all…

    Who were the students who came forward with the wire? Who was the English girlfriend who was never interviewed by the police? It sounds as though those students were coached by a lawyer. Was the student whose father owned the paint factory one of the students who handed in the wire – your article does not make this clear? If so, I would say that that man is a “person of interest” at the very least, and I would be checking to see who the other student’s father was too.

    Who are the drivers of the two cars and why haven’t their names been made public? What were they doing there?

    With respect to the ransom notes, looking at the dates it should be possible to figure out when they were posted from the different addresses, and then work out if those days correspond to times at which the students would have been absent from school.

    But what of the nitrous oxide? Would teenagers have had access to that? What teenagers? A dentist’s son perhaps? (What about the “retired dentist with a Nazi past”?) The kid whose father’s factory made the paint found on the box may well have had access to strong chemicals capable of knocking someone out. This changes the charges to that of murder, with no statute of limitations, if the cause of death can be shown.

    The wire business is perplexing: there is no evidence that something was attached to the ends, is there? If there was only one perpetrator involved (someone with serious autism and DIY mania) it would have had to have worked in an independent fashion, perhaps being activated by being attached to something placed in the road, a branch perhaps, and ringing a bell or lighting a lamp when someone passed over it.

    The box itself could well have been just built as a survivalist style bunker, like in the children’s novel “The Machine Gunners,” and only later repurposed as a holding cell. If only one person was involved, the it would have had to have been built in parts, with multiple trips being made.

    We know they somehow transported Ursula because of the sniffer dog the first evening. 2 people to carry a child, or one person with a barrow? Were the tracks large enough to accommodate such a thing?

    I think that an appeal for further information could potentially yield results. The criminal is probably already suspected by members of his entourage, given the proximity of the school to the scene of the crime, the dates they attended, and their likely personal proclivities now. We are looking at an upper-class Josef Fritzl, it would seem. I would bet a silver dollar that former teachers or policemen have a very good idea of who it may be, if they do not know for certain. 3-4 people seems unlikely, the more people are in the know, the more difficult their secret is to keep. I think 1-2 sounds about right.

    Rest in peace, Ursula.

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  2. I have reread the other articles carefully and note that the male students supposedly were all fingerprinted, but that these records were not stored. Assuming that the police did their job properly the first time, and that the fingerprint did indeed belong to the perpetrator, then the possibility of a former pupil (or employee) becomes increasingly likely.

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