A perfect crime is not a crime

The perfect crime?

Was it suicide?

A missing mechanic and tissue remnants in a shredding machine of a recycling company puzzled forensic doctor Klaus Püschel: Was it suicide? An accident? Or maybe even a murder?

A crime without a corpse is difficult to solve. If there is a corpse, traces can be secured, injuries can be seen, there are clues to the weapon and perhaps also to the perpetrator.

But the thorough recycling machine had left almost nothing of the employee. What was found ended up in forensic medicine: 17.8 grams of chopped biological mass.

The police took away personal belongings at the workplace of the disappeared person. His car was parked in front of the company and his cell phone was in his backpack. His wife was worried. There were family problems and her husband had behaved noticeably recently. An important indication of a possible suicide.

A molecular genetic analysis of the DNA from the human remains from the shredder clearly identified them as the missing employee. Of course, these findings did not provide any conclusions about injuries or external influences. Püschel only had the option of toxicological testing, but it turned out to be negative. Murder? Accident? Suicide?

The police finally discovered traces of the employee on the machine. Based on the statements of his colleagues, the case was finally reconstructed. The employee had parked the conveyor belt for the feed hopper, then climbed up to the hopper and dropped into the shredding machine.

There were no indications that another person was involved. Based on these findings, investigators concluded that it must have been a suicide.

The missing victims

A series of murders in Hamburg also caused a stir: the victims literally dissolved - but not in air, but in acid.

In December 1992 the Hamburg police were looking for the 61-year-old Hildegard K., who had been missing for years. A lead led the police to the property of master furrier Lutz R. in the north of Hamburg.

There they made a gruesome discovery: Under a two-meter-thick concrete ceiling they found an acid barrel with body parts floating in it. Klaus Püschel and his colleagues in forensic medicine were finally able to assign this to Hildegard K. The find was the last piece of the puzzle in a sinister series of murders.

A similar find had been made a few weeks earlier, in Basedow on the property of Lutz R.'s holiday home. It was the first case of this kind for Püschel and his team. When the contents were poured out, the hydrochloric acid burned the stainless steel surface of the forensic medicine dissection table.

In addition to corrosive acid, the forensic doctors also found body parts: the remains of the industrial clerk Annegret B.

Lutz R. had kidnapped, abused and tortured his victims before he killed them, dismembered them and put them in acid barrels.

Simply dissolve the victims in hydrochloric acid? What works in the "Breaking Bad" series is not that simple in reality. The condition of the first acid barrel victim was still very good for Püschel's forensic eye: "We were still able to distinguish the individual body parts very well and we found saw marks on the shin bone, for example."

So the corpses were carefully cut up before they were supposed to disappear forever in the hydrochloric acid. The condition of the second victim was significantly worse, but the remains of the teeth were used to identify the body.

The acid barrel killer Lutz R. was sentenced to life imprisonment with subsequent preventive detention.

A breathtaking case

In his 40 years of service, forensic doctor Klaus Püschel has carried out over 12,000 autopsies. Some of the things he got on the dissecting table were quite strange. In the case of auto-erotic accidents in particular, Püschel quotes the sentence: "There is nothing that does not exist."

Just like the case of this man: When Püschel takes care of the dead man, he discovers that the corpse is completely covered with cheese. The cheese topping is fixed to the body by nylon tights. The dead man is wearing a wetsuit made of neoprene. A plastic bag with a smell of ether is placed over his head. A perverted murder? No.

The police and forensic medicine classify this case as a typical auto-erotic accident. Some people look for ways to increase their pleasure in auto-erotic acts. The feeling of suffocation - caused by a plastic bag over your head - is said to release dopamine in the body and increase sexual sensation.

The man in the diving suit had sought pleasure and had died from suffocation.

Püschel recommends taking a closer look in such auto-erotic accidents. Was there another person present? Are there any traces that indicate a fight? Or was the victim perhaps under the influence of drugs?

Klaus Püschel wrote down his most spectacular murder cases in two books together with the court reporter Bettina Mittelacher. In it he tells of prominent victims, confusing bog corpses and false voodoo magic.