American man indicted on murder charges over deadly attack on 2 U.S. women near German

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An American man has been charged with murder and other offenses for attacking two women from the U.S. near Neuschwanstein castle in Germany in June and pushing them into a ravine, fatally injuring one of them, prosecutors said Thursday.

The indictment against the 31-year-old suspect, whose name hasn’t been released in line with German privacy rules, was filed at the state court in Kempten, which will have to decide whether and when to send the case to trial.

He faces charges of murder, rape with fatal consequences, attempted murder and possession of child pornography. Murder charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison in Germany.

The attack took place on June 14 near the Marienbruecke, a bridge over a gorge close to the castle that offers a famous view of Neuschwanstein, one of Germany’s most famous tourist attractions.

Prosecutors say the suspect met the two female tourists, ages 21 and 22, by chance on a hiking path and lured them off the trail by saying he could show them a secret viewpoint, CBS News previously reported. Prosecutors said in a statement that he apparently first forced the younger woman to the ground and tried to undress her.

Tourist dies after attack at Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein castle.

Frank Rumpenhorst/picture alliance via Getty Images

When the elder woman tried to help her, a scuffle ensued and the suspect allegedly pushed her down a steep slope. She fell about 165 feet and sustained a head injury, bruises and grazes, but survived. 

The suspect then allegedly strangled the younger woman until she was unconscious and raped her, prosecutors said, before pushing her down the slope as well. She died.

Prosecutors said they secured a laptop and cellphones from the suspect containing child sexual abuse material.

Authorities say the women didn’t know the man before they met near Neuschwanstein. The suspect was arrested shortly after the attack. At the time, police told the press that a “witness tip in the immediate vicinity of the crime” led to his arrest. Police reportedly recieved dozens of photos and videos on a website meant to help them collate tips. 

Eric Abneri, a man who was visiting the castle on a trip from New York, captured video of the suspect’s arrest. He said the man had some injuries at the time of his arrest. 

“His face was covered in deep red scratch marks and his neck as well,” Abneri told CBS News. “There was clearly a struggle there, and he just had a frown on his face. He didn’t say anything. He had a sort of disturbed look.”

Neuschwanstein, located close to the Austrian border, is the most famous of the castles built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the 19th century and is a magnet for tourists from around the world. It was the inspiration for the design of the castle in Disney’s “Cinderella.”  

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