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When German mother Birgit Meier vanished, police originally suspected suicide or that she had run away. But her disappearance was later linked to a suspected serial killer named Kurt-Werner Wichmann.
Both Meier and Wichmann’s lives are explored in “Dig Deeper: The Disappearance of Birgit Meier,” a four-part docuseries that begins streaming on Netflix last week.
Meier vanished mysteriously in 1989, just weeks after she'd met Wichmann, a Lüneberg cemetery gardener, at a party.
Wichmann was questioned in the immediate aftermath of her disappearance. He wore gloves during the whole interview, citing an allergic reaction. At the time of Meier’s disappearance, he appeared to be a loving husband but was actually a serial cheater, according to “Dig Deeper.”
Detectives obtained a search warrant against him in 1993 but they were unable to find any bodies, including Meier's — though they did find a buried car with blood on the seats on his property.
Just a few months after the warrant on his property was executed, Wichmann was arrested following a car crash during which investigators found machine guns in his possession at the crash site. Days later, he hung himself in his jail cell. In his suicide note, he asked his wife to keep his property within the family.
Ultimately, Meier’s remains were found on Wichmann's property in 2017, underneath the concrete floor of the house's garage, The Times of London reported at the time. A blue garbage bag had been wrapped around her head. Investigators believe she had been fatally shot in 1989, German outlet Der Spiegel reported in 2017.
Officials believe that Wichmann shot her — but note that he may have had an accomplice in his crimes.
Within a year of Meier’s disappearance, Wichmann had allegedly killed four other people — two couples — in the Lüneburg area. The 1989 double murders of Ursula and Peter Reinold followed by the killings of Ingrid Warmbier and Bernd-Michael Köpping in the Göhrde State Forest became known as the "Göhrde murders."
He has been connected to 24 other murders; many of his alleged victims were hitchhikers.
As “Dig Deeper” points out, Wichmann had been disturbed for much of his life. He was raised by a violent father and neglectful mother, and as a child he was known for his cruelty to animals. Former friends recalled that he stomped frogs to death and shot birds.
He was also known for hiding things in wooded areas — not unlike how the way the bodies of victims of the “Göhrde murders" were concealed in the woods.
At age 21, he raped and injured a 17-year-old hitchhiker. He was sentenced to five and a half years of prison as a result. After his release, he lived in Karlsruhe but was known for being transient — and for having multiple cars.
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