Murder Or Barberl

In 1978 35 year old Bärbel Gansau was sleeping when a killer entered into her ground floor apartment in Ludwigsburg, Germany. Bärbel had a unfortunate habit of leaving her window open for her cats to come in and out of. When the killer entered he raped and stabbed Gansau 37 times before she died. The gruesome scene was discovered by her neighbor, Hugo Rehberg. Her apartment was ransacked and torn apart with many items strewn about the floor. Detectives would find one fingerprint on her windowsill and 2 others were lifted from inside the apartment.

Friends of Gansau told investigators that she liked to spend time on the non-commissioned officers’ club on the nearby Army base. Investigators would find out that she dated several enlisted men and interviewed several. Despite Geman authorities suspecting it was a U.S. soldier that had committed the horrible crime, no leads turned up in the investigation and the trail went cold. However, In 2020, German authorities reopened the case into her murder hoping to draw up some new leads with forensic technology. On January 29, 2021 the FBI contacted German authorities with incredible news: the set of fingerprints taken from her windowsill had gotten a match when a 22 year old man was arrested for a DUI charge in the U.S. the year after her murder, in 1979.

James Patrick Dempsey served in the U.S. Army from November 1976 to December 1978. He was stationed in Ludwigsburg, Germany in the 34th battalion. Army records reported Dempsey had developed a drinking problem and became aggressive under the influence and was sent to alcohol rehabilitation in December of 1978. Gansau was killed sometime between June 8, 1978, and June 11, 1978. Dempsey would be discharged from the army later that year.

The FBI tracked Dempsey down in April 2021 to take DNA from his trash and found him living a quiet life in a mobile home in Vernon center, New York. He had no clear work history and the only thing on his record in recent years was a filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2005. The DNA taken from his garbage was given to German authorities and the following year was matched with skin and sperm samples found at the crime scene, officially linking Dempsey to her murder. In particular semen found between her legs matched one on one to Dempsey. Investigators found the likelihood of a match is 1 in 270 quadrillion.

In June of 2022 the Stuttgart lower court issued a warrant for Dempsey’s arrest on aggravated murder charges and submitted for his extradition. It’s also important to note in the case that there is no statue of limitations in Germany for murder. On February 9th, 2024 a U.S. federal magistrate issued an arrest warrant before federal marshals arrested, now aged 66, James Patrick Dempsey . Dempsey is still awaiting his extradition to Germany.

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