Austrian police used Facebook to help catch a suspected killer after a cold case review revealed that the man they wanted had left the country and was now living in Australia.
Student Daniela Kammerer was killed by a knife in a telephone kiosk in an Innsbruck park on 23rd of June 2005. At the time police questioned dozens of colleagues from the local university including the current suspect, but he was let off the hook after he was able to hand in an ironclad alibi. The case rumbled on for a few years before it was finally closed with no one arrested and despite several cold case reviews the was no further progress.
Earlier this year the case was moved to Vienna were a further review by detectives in the capital included questioning of 25 people connected with the young woman who was just 21 when she was murdered. According to information in Austrian media one of those people gave police information that destroyed the alibi of the now 29-year-old Austrian suspect. He has been named only as Thomas B. for legal reasons but police used Facebook research to find out that he was now living in Australia and was in regular contact with his father.
Without the possibility of extraditing him from Australia where he had emigrated and was now officially living, they resorted to a simple trick. Officers visited the father and asked them to use Facebook to contact their son saying that they had a few questions as part of the cold case review. They pointed out that if they really wanted to speak to him they could have him extradited, and in the end the father passed on the message to the son who flew back this year where instead of a family Christmas and New Year detectives were waiting for him – and he was arrested.
He has so far been in investigative custody and police say that after interviewing him they are confident that their suspicions are correct and he is now being extradited from Vienna down to Innsbruck where prosecutors will continue the case.
Austrian newspaper website oe24 is also reporting that detectives have also matched DNA material found on the young woman’s body with that of the suspect recently arrested.