German mystery-murderess just a phantom, says police
The suspected phantom serial killer was believed to have committed homicide and burglary at 40 different locations across southern Germany and Austria since 1993.Berlin -- German police admitted on Thursday that they have been on the trail of a phantom serial killer after a mix-up over DNA tests.
The suspected "Phantom of Heilbronn" -- described by media as "Germany's most dangerous woman" -- was believed to have committed homicide and burglary at 40 different locations across southern Germany and Austria since 1993.
Her victims were thought to include an old lady near the Franco-German bordered, a strangled pensioner in Freiburg, and a 22-year old female police officer who was shot on duty.
But on Thursday it emerged that cotton buds used by investigators to obtain DNA traces at the scenes may already have been contaminated with someone else's DNA before they were distributed.
"Since April 2008 we have been investigating the possibility of misleading evidence in all the connecting cases," Ulrich Heffner from the Stuttgart office of criminal investigation told AFP.
Police are currently conducting "extensive investigations" but have not been able to draw any conclusions yet, he added.
Workers at the company where the cotton buds were packed have now been asked to give saliva samples so that their DNA profiles can be compared to that of the "phantom", the online edition of Stern magazine reported.
Police had previously announced a reward of up to 300,000 euros (407,000 dollars) for any information on the identity of the criminal.