- It is understood that the two women were on the Marienbrücke bridge
- The narrow footbridge crosses a gorge at a height of around 300 feet
- Did you witness the attack? Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
A US man hurled two female American tourists 165ft down a ravine near a world-famous German castle – killing one after he sexually assaulted her and her companion tried to fight him off, reports have claimed.
The horrific attack happened on Wednesday at Neuschwanstein castle, said to have been the inspiration for Disney’s ‘Cinderella’ castle. The man was later arrested and is being investigated for murder, attempted murder and one sexual offence.
Footage from the scene purportedly showed him being led away in handcuffs.
The two women, aged 21 and 22, met the man, 30, near the Marienbrücke bridge, a narrow footbridge that at its highest point crosses 300ft above the gorge and offers stunning views of the castle.
The man allegedly persuaded them to follow him down a secluded trail that led to a good lookout point, where he ‘physically attacked’ the 21-year-old.
When her friend tried to intervene, he allegedly choked her and pushed her down a steep slope. Police believe ‘an attempted sexual offence’ was then committed against the 21-year-old, before she was also pushed down the slope.
She fell next to her friend some 165ft below. The pair were airlifted away, but the 21-year-old woman died in a hospital overnight, while her 22-year-old companion is still being treated for her injuries, according to German media reports.
The suspect fled the scene, but was caught after a massive police operation involving 25 emergency vehicles on Wednesday afternoon and taken to a police station in nearby Fuessen, it added.
A witness video posted online showed a man in a T-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap being led away in handcuffs by police, while another clip showed one of the victims being airlifted out of the ravine by a mountain rescue helicopter.
The video – filmed from above the ravine – also showed officials from the German mountain rescue service down in the gorge, working to save the women.
According to local police, the pair encountered the 30-year-old American tourist on a trail on or near the Marienbrücke bridge, which is hugely popular as it offers a view of the 19th century Neuschwanstein castle – which sees around 1.4 million visitors per year, and around 6,000 per day in summer.
He then brought them to a hidden trail leading to a viewpoint, and attacked the 21-year-old, said police. When the 22-year-old intervened, the man choked her and pushed her down a steep slope.
‘According to the current state of knowledge, an attempted sexual offence to the detriment of the 21-year-old must be assumed,’ said police in a statement in English.
The 21-year-old was also pushed down the slope, where she came to rest after falling nearly 50 metres, they added.
Criminal police have taken over the investigation into attempted murder and murder, as well as a sexual offence, with the current focus on reconstructing exactly how the incident took place, police said.
Under German law, suspects must be brought before a judge at a closed-doors hearing by the end of the calendar day after their arrest if investigators intend to keep them in custody.
Police said a judge in nearby Kempten on Thursday ordered him held pending a potential indictment and he was taken to jail.
Chief Public Prosecutor Thomas Hörmann told Bild: ‘The crime happened on Wednesday around 2.40 pm. The two tourists met the man on a hiking tour east of the Marienbrücke. And joined him.’
He said the trio walked to a popular view point, where the man physically attacked the 21-year-old women. Her friend fought back, he said.
‘The 22-year-old wanted to help, so he choked her and pushed her down the slope.’
Mr Hörmann said the 21-year-old also fell down into the ravine, where they remained lying next to each other around ‘a depth of about 50 meters’ (165ft).
The 22-year-old was responsive, the prosecutor said. Her friend was airlifted to hospital where she was pronounced dead overnight.
The motive for the attack is still unclear, while all parties remain unnamed.
A man who witnessed the aftermath of the incident told MailOnline that he saw a man ‘with a bloodied face’ being led away from the attraction in handcuffs.
Eric Abneri, a 21-year-old tourist from New York, said he and his friends arrived at the castle on Wednesday afternoon when they heard the sound of a helicopter above.
Mr Abneri filmed the footage of the helicopter and the man being led away.
‘We saw two or three men repelling (into the ravine) and were confused, until I noticed the woman in blue who we thought fell.
‘They rescued the woman. I’m unsure of who lived and the helicopter flew away, then came back for the other rescuers. Shortly after we went back to see the bridge and it was closed with a police presence.’
Mr Abneri said there was a large police presence at the scene. ‘We waited and a man with a bloodied face came out in handcuffs,’ he said.
Police were seen interviewing witnesses to the attack ‘who looked shook up,’ he added, saying that the bridge was later reopened to the public.
The building of Neuschwanstein Castle was completed in 1886 after almost 20 years. It is located in the Swabia region of Bavaria, close to Alps and the Austrian border.
Its construction was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who wanted a holiday home to escape to from the Bavarian capital of Munich.
He paid for the castle out of his personal fortune and through extensive borrowing, but he never saw it completed. He died in 1886, shortly before it opened.
Since then, more than 61million people have visited it.