A 64-year-old former US soldier has been extradited to Germany after DNA examinations tied him with a brutal rape 37 years ago.
The suspect – whose identity has not been revealed by German authorities due to strict privacy laws – had been posted at Cooke Baracks in Goeppingen, a town in the south-western German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
In October 1985, a 29-year-old woman was threatened with a knife, raped and severely beaten as she was walking home one night from a sewing course.
Her attacker had deliberately covered her in a shallow grave of twigs and leaves beside a nearby forest.
According to news coverage at that time, the young woman had almost died due to her serious head injuries.
Prosecutors accuse the assailant of trying to cover up his crime by dragging the unconscious woman away from the town centre.
They refused to disclose her name and whether she was still alive today.
The victim described the rapist as a black US soldier but failed to clearly identify him when officers showed her portrait photographs of several suspects – with the man who was now extradited among them.
Local police abandoned their investigations shortly afterwards.
Now state prosecutors in Ulm announced that a retired US American soldier was in custody.
The suspect was arrested in February this year in the US State of Mississippi and recently extradited after his DNA matched with samples from the cold case in Goeppingen.
Prosecutors said that the man – who refused to make any statement in the first round of interrogations – could have decided not to appeal his extradition to evade being convicted in the United States over other felonies.
They confirmed reports by German news website SWR that he has been sentenced for several violent offences in his home country.
German investigators are now reopening another cold case sex attack to determine whether the same suspect had committed this crime as well.
The naked and shackled body of a 31-year-old female kitchen hand was found in a wood outside the remote town of Deggingen, around 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Goeppingen, just a few months before the Goeppingen sex attack.
Goeppingen has a population of around 58,000. It is situated around 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of the city of Stuttgart.
US Army units were stationed at the town’s Cooke Barracks from the late 1950s until 1991. The barracks was named after Charles H. Cooke, a US Army soldier from Worcester County, Massachusetts, who died during World War Two on the 11th of July 1943.
The Cooke Barracks had been expanded throughout the decades before being returned to the federal German defence ministry in 1992.
Local authorities used the estate to set up homes for refugees for some time before developing an industrial area, the Stauferpark, there.