Hitherto Undertaken Police Investigations
in the Murder Case Tristan

In the initial phase, about 100 to 150 detectives were assigned to the case. At the crime scene, the stream was drained to search for traces. Tracking dogs, metal detectors and probes were used. Unfortunately, this elaborate action brought no results.

The police carried out investigations in Tristan’s surroundings, in Frankfurt’s suburbs, and throughout Germany searching for conspicuous patients of psychiatric institutions or former prison inmates, for war criminals from the former Yugoslavia, and in the French Foreign Legion as well as in other European countries, North America, and Asia.

Correlations with other solved murders were examined without success. Among others, any associations with the cases of the “Cannibal of Rotenburg”, Johanna Bohnacker or Tobias Dreher were eliminated. In order to compare murder cases with a similar patterns of injuries worldwide, the police have worked together with experts from the FBI in Virginia, USA, and with investigators from Europol, among others. To date, no case with an injury pattern resembling Tristan’s is known anywhere in the world.
Ermittlungen am Tatort Liederbachtunnel
Police investigations at the crime scene in 1998.
(© PP Frankfurt)

The Most Important Trace: A Fingerprint

To this day the most important trace in the Tristan murder case is the fragment of a thumbprint left by the perpetrator in Tristan’s blood on his German textbook. The fingerprint had to be digitally processed so that it could be used for comparison. A comparative database search with fingerprints from over 70 countries yielded no result.

In 2002, a mass screening was carried out with a scope previously unheard of in Germany. More than 14,000 men from different parts of Frankfurt took part voluntarily. The 54 “conscientious objectors” who refused to give their fingerprints and over 800 men who had moved away from the area after 1998 were also checked.

Besides the fingerprint, there is also a DNA trace. However, this can only be evaluated genetically to a limited extent, as there are too few DNA systematic features for a serial genetic test.
Über 14000 Männer gaben ihren Fingerabdruck ab
In 2002, more than 14,000 men gave voluntarily their fingerprint.
(Symbolic Image) (© iStock / Prathaan)
Tristan’s German book which was found at the crime scene. The perpetrator left his thumbprint on it with Tristan’s blood. (© SPIEGEL TV)

Facial composite of the "Ponytail Man"

From 2006 onwards, all the files were once again reviewed page by page. For the first time, parallels between several witness statements became apparent. Different witnesses claim to have observed a man with a ponytail and scar on his upper lip (harelip) at varying places and times. The police have provided a facial composite and are using it to conduct a search on television, for instance in the TV show “Aktenzeichen XY ungelöst” about unsolved crime cases and Spiegel TV, a news magazine. Numerous other witnesses have come forward who claim to have seen the man. Men who resemble the identikit picture are being investigated – so far without result.

Frequently, the investigators were hindered by data protection restrictions. For example, patients registered in clinics due to a harelip could not be checked by the police because of their personal rights.
Over the years, numerous speculations have arisen. For example, there was talk – in connection with Tristan’s murder – of drug dealing around Höchst station and of child prostitution in station toilets. However, there is no evidence that any such links exist.

To date, the police have processed over 23,000 leads. The case now contains some 400 files. If new material is brought to light, the police will follow it up. The case will not be closed: Murder has no statute of limitations.
Das Phantombild des Tatverdächtigen
Facial composite of the suspected perpetrator.
(© PP Frankfurt)
Note on the text on this page:
In the Tristan Brübach murder case, the criminal investigation department has been investigating since 1998. The investigative activities listed here are a small selection of specific examples that have been made known to the press and public. Of course, numerous other extensive investigations have also taken place. The examples given in this text therefore make no claim to completeness.
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