Norbert Poehlke


Norbert Poehlke

Norbert Poehlke
Born Germany
Died October 1985
Brindisi, Puglia, Italy
Charge(s) bank robbery, murder
Occupation police officer
Spouse Ingeborg Poehlke
Children 2, Adrian and Gabriel

Norbert Poehlke, Der Hammermörder (‘The Hammer-Killer’), was a German police officer who was found, after his suicide in 1985, to have committed several bank robberies and murders. He was tagged ‘Hammer-Killer’ for his modus operandi of killing car owners and using a sledgehammer in subsequent bank robberies in which he would use his victims’ cars as getaway vehicles.

The crimes

On May 3, 1984, 47-year-old Siegfried Pfitzer was found dead, shot in the head, at a highway rest stop in Marbach, West Germany. His car, found a quarter-mile from his body, was linked to a bank robbery the same day in Erbstetten. The assailant had smashed the teller window with a sledgehammer, and taken the money on the other side.

On December 21, 37-year-old Eugene Wethey was found shot dead in a rest stop near Grossbottwar. A week later, Wethey’s car was used in a bank robbery in Cleebronn by a man wielding a sledgehammer.

On July 22, 1985, 26-year-old Wilfried Scheider was found shot dead in a parking lot in Beilstein-Schmidhausen. He was shot with a Walther P5 pistol, a common police issue pistol. The victims car was found at the scene of a bank robbery in Spiegelberg.

End Of The Line

On September 29, 1985 while searching a Ludwigsburg railway station for bombs, anti-terrorist officers happened upon a police uniform in one of the lockers. The uniform was traced to Chief Inspector Norbert Poehlke, a veteran officer of 14 years in Stuttgart. Poehlke said it had been left there after a quick change for a family member’s funeral. Police became suspicious when they discovered no recent family deaths, but that his daughter had died of cancer in 1984.

The investigation was picking up when, on October 14, Poehlke requested, and got, some sick leave. Several days later police went to his home to ask him some questions regarding the murders and robberies. With no one answering, and fearing Poelhke had fled, the police entered the house. What they found was Poelhke’s wife shot twice in the head in the bathroom and in one of the bedrooms was his son Adrian, also shot dead.

Three days later, October 23, Poehlke and his other son, Gabriel, were found shot dead, a clear murder-suicide, in his car near Brindisi, Italy. Poehlke’s pistol was confirmed as the murder weapon in the murders, and the case was closed.

References

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