Police lose all incriminating evidence against pedophile duo who allegedly raped dozens of children for years
According to German law enforcement, almost all the evidence gathered against two pedophiles who reportedly sexually assaulted at least 31 children, some as young as four, and raped them over 1,000 times has now been lost.
Andreas V., 56, and Mario S., 33, his campsite neighbor, allegedly sexually assaulted several children and raped them at a rundown caravan park in Luegde, North Rhine-Westphalia over a period of time, Daily Mail reports.
While the harrowing case made national headlines in Germany after the extreme nature of the accusations, law enforcement admitted they had forgotten to make backups of all the incriminating digital evidence against the duo, which is now lost.
The public, as well as prosecutors, wondered how the abuse could have lasted for so many years without any intervention from the police. Authorities later added to the shock of the public after announcing that the suitcase containing over 150 critical pieces of evidence had gone missing before they could even be reviewed.
The suitcase was recovered from Andreas V.'s trailer and went missing from the police station in the Lippe district. Only three CDs or DVDs from a collection of 150 plus items totaling 0.7 terabytes of data have been reviewed so far.
After officers forgot to make copies of all the data carriers, which is standard procedure on receiving such data, Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Herbert Reul said there were "serious technical errors" while following protocol. Reul has since launched a probe into the missing evidence, assigning a special unit of four officers to look into the same.
"All this leaves me stunned," he said. "It's a disaster. It's a failure of the police. Such mistakes must never happen. To the victims and their families, I can only say that I am so sorry. I again apologize for it."
While the discs were last seen on December 20, the disappearance of the data only emerged on January 30. Reul said that the room in which the evidence was stored wasn't as secure as it should have been. When asked if evidence might have been stolen on purpose or if it has simply been lost, Reul, who was informed about the missing data only last Monday, said the possibilities do "not exclude anything."
That said, while the number of young victims identified in the case now stands at 31 - 27 girls and four boys aged between four and 13 years old, the number of suspected rapes, which were allegedly filmed by the perpetrators and broadcast over the darknet, runs well over 1,000, according to police sources.
In some of the horrific videos created by Mario and Andreas, the former is seen brutally abusing the children, per the public prosecutor's office. Andreas V., who is suspected of raping his foster daughter, allegedly also used her to lure other children to his dilapidated holiday home.
Both Andreas and Mario were unemployed and living with their parents during the crimes, with the former's crimes going back as far as 2008. The duo allegedly sent footage to another man, aged 48, who was later arrested on suspicion of ordering the men to rape a young girl and post the videos on the dark web.
Aside from the missing evidence, prosecutors are also investigating whether the police should have known about the mass rapes before, considering the first warnings about the same were reported to authorities in 2016.
Andreas V. was reported to both the cops as well as the youth welfare office by father-of-two Jens Ruzsitska, who allegedly saw him grope children at a birthday party in Bad Pyrmont. However, no subsequent action was taken by the authorities. As the investigations continue, all three suspects are currently remanded in custody.