Thomas Rath


Thomas Rath

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Alias: "Moormörder" - "The Devil's Moor Murderer"

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Serial rapist - Torture - Hitchhiking
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: 1981 - 1983
Date of arrest: March 8, 1984
Date of birth: 1959
Victims profile: Britta Schilling, 18 / Heike Schnier, 20 / Angele Marks, 18 / Martina Volkmann, 20
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Bremen, Germany
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment on April 26, 1985

On October 30, 1981, 18-year-old Britta Schilling vanished while hitchhiking home from a disco near Bremen, in West Germany. Her naked, ravaged body bearing 27 stab wounds and the marks of torture prior to death - was found November 6, discarded on the Devil's Moor, a hundred-square-mile area of marshland north of Bremen.

Three days after Schilling's body was recovered, a 17-year-old girl was thumbing her way home from school when a young, handsome man picked her up. Instead of dropping her at home, he drove her to the moors, where she was raped and turned out naked in the marsh, her clothing scattered on the road to delay a report of the crime.

Police saw a pattern forming on December 3, when a 20-year-old woman was raped in similar fashion, and they began reexamining the Schilling case, for possible connections. Heike Schnier, age 20, was reported missing when she failed to show for work in Bremen, on February 9, 1982, and her body - stabbed 36 times - was recovered from the Devil's Moor on March 24.

On May 22, 18-year-old Angele Marks disappeared while thumbing rides in Bremen; seven months would pass before her skeletal remains were found, together with her clothes and handbag, on the moors. The killer switched back to simple rape in July, assaulting two more teenaged girls before he dropped out of sight for nearly a year.

On June 6, 1983, he abducted a 17-year-old at knifepoint, forcing her to perform oral sex before she was released. Twenty-year-old Martina Volkmann was hitchhiking from Vahr, a Bremen suburb, to Hamburg when she met her killer on December 26, 1983. Her body was found the same day, stabbed more than 100 times, with traces of semen found in her mouth.

On January 4, 1984, the stalker abducted another teenage victim, forcing her to fellate him, and he repeated the process with a 20-year-old a month later. The victim selected on March 8, an 18-year-old, proved more clever. Requesting a smoke before sex, she mashed the lit cigarette in her attacker's face and leaped from the car, memorizing his license number as the rapist drove away. Police traced the plates to 24-year-old Thomas Rath, a noncommissioned officer in the West German army, and he confessed after brief interrogation.

Rath was sentenced to life imprisonment on April 26, 1985, with a provision for psychiatric therapy in jail.


MO: Rapist and "ripper" of females age 17-20

DISPOSITION: Life sentence for sexual assault, 1985.