On the run killer outsmarts police

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The Independent Online
THE FBI is already involved, and now Germany is considering further help from overseas in the hunt for a killer who has outsmarted national police, leaving a trail of death across the country.

Five people have been killed after Dieter Zurwehme, a convicted murderer walked out of his open prison last December. The 57-year-old, who was serving life for a 1972 murder is thought to have killed four of them.

The fifth was shot dead by the police in a case of mistaken identity.

Answering a tip-off from a hotelier in Thuringia, two armed plain- clothed policemen went to the scene. The middle-aged man inside, a tourist from Cologne who looked nothing like Zurwehme, slammed his door in the officers' face and was felled by two bullets. Also a pavement painter was dragged from Dresden's streets last month, and a jazz musician was handcuffed and taken to jail in Dortmund last week. Both were later acknowledged as further cases of mistaken identity.

Two elderly couples were killed in March and there was an attempted rape on a 15-year-old girl. Police say that Zurwehme has been traced to these crimes by fingerprint and DNA analyses.

There have been 900 sightings of Zurwehme. But he may no longer be in Germany. He speaks good French and Dutch.

In desperation, the German police are contemplating offers from professional bounty-hunters from the United States.