In the Rhine metropolis of Cologne, millions of people are celebrating the "fifth season" these days. In February 1988, 24-year-old Petra Nohl also celebrated in the old town of Cologne between dancing Funkenmariechen and magnificent floats, until she was strangled on the night of Carnival Sunday. According to the Cologne police, the young woman could have met her killer in the former Cologne disco "Charivari".
A photo taken shortly after the crime shows the forensics securing the crime scene and carrying the 24-year-old mother out from under a "fritter cake stand". Just a few meters away, the "Schull- und Veedelszöch" is in full swing.
Exactly to the day, after 35 years, the Cologne police have now been able to arrest a 56-year-old suspect. Investigators had executed an arrest warrant against the man from Cologne-Bilderstöckchen on Tuesday morning, as previously reported by various media. He is accused of having killed the young woman at the time.
The unsolved murder case involving Petra Nohl is considered one of the biggest in Cologne's criminal history. The murder case was reopened after more than 34 years in cooperation with the "Special Organizational Structure" (BAO) Cold Cases of the State Criminal Police Office of North Rhine-Westphalia. Ultimately, a tip from a witness that the investigators received during the well-known wanted program "Aktenzeichen XY" in December 2022 led to the suspect.
According to an employee of the investigative group, the witness is said to be a former friend of the suspect. He reported that they had celebrated together in the "Charivari" on the night of the crime. Then they waited for a taxi and then met Petra Nohl. Because the taxi was too long in coming, the men are said to have separated and his friend is said to have followed the 24-year-old in the direction of Neumarkt, according to investigator Markus Weber at a press conference on Tuesday.
The two men found out about Nohl's death on Carnival Sunday. The witness then asked his friend to accompany him to the police and report on the contact during the night. But he vehemently refused. After that they would have let the matter rest. It was only noticeable that the suspect changed his appearance significantly shortly after the carnival days.
Only when the program "Aktenzeichen XY" was broadcast did the witness have doubts about his friend's behavior at the time. At first he did not want to give the name of the 56-year-old, but then gave it up after a police summons, the Cologne police said.
As a result, the corpse's DNA was matched to that of the suspect. In addition, further public search measures were suggested. Ultimately, the 56-year-old from Cologne was tracked down.
The then 21-year-old alleged murderer probably acted out of greed because he stole 100 Deutschmarks, which Nohl had previously borrowed from a friend. Her purse, keys and wallet were also missing. "We can definitely rule out a sexual offense," said Weber.