No-one could have predicted the horrific crime that followed a bike-ride in the woods...
Ursula Herrmann, 10, was cycling home through woods near her home in Eching, Germany, on 15 September 1981, when she was kidnapped. The man who snatched Ursula had a sinister plan.
In the forest, he’d buried a wooden crate, which measured just one-and-a-half metres deep and a metre wide. It was rigged up with a lightbulb, and contained comics, bottled water and biscuits. It was to be Ursula’s prison until her kidnapper received ransom money from her parents.
By the time they received the note, the Herrmanns were frantic. In the message, cobbled together using type cut from newspapers, the kidnapper was demanding 2million deutschmarks for Ursula’s safe return.
A phone call followed, warning the Herrmanns not to go to the police or they’d never see their daughter again. As it turned out, that was tragically true.
Just hours after she was snatched, Ursula suffocated when the air holes her kidnapper had made in the crate became blocked with leaves and soil. Such a terrible and lonely death for an innocent young girl.
It was 19 days before her body was found by a dog walker. And it was 26 long years before police had their first real lead…
During that time, Ursula’s parents grieved for their child and must’ve yearned for justice, wondering what sort of person could have killed their daughter. When an arrest came in 2007, they learned that person was someone frighteningly close to home.
Police took into custody Werner Mazurek, who had been the Herrmanns’ next-door neighbour at the time of the abduction. Back then, he’d had big debts, was a heavy drinker with a well-known temper.
Mazurek denied everything, but, with the help of evidence from an anonymous informant, he was convicted of kidnap and murder and sentenced to life in prison.