The Star Malaysia

Crime solver’s descendant­s get reward 180 years later


WASHINGTON: The collective conscience of a south-western German town was cleared with the presentati­on of a reward to the US descendant­s of a man who helped solve the murder of the town’s mayor in 1835.

Kornelius Bamberger, the current mayor of Boennighei­m, pre

€ sented the 1,000 (RM4,700) reward to four descendant­s of Frederick Rupp, the crime-solver, who emigrated from the town a year after the murder and settled near Washington.

Rupp was credited with providing the evidence that identified the killer, but the reward was never paid, said Ann Marie Ackermann, author of Death of an Assassin, a book about the case.

Ackermann said Rupp not only was not paid the reward, he was forced to leave the town under a cloud of suspicion when some townspeopl­e thought he was the killer.

“The town wronged him twice,” Ackermann said. “It drove him out of the country and never paid the reward when it was due.”

The presentati­on of the reward took place at a book festival in Gaithersbu­rg, Maryland, near Washington.

Bamberger said the murder dev- astated his town at the time, though most of the town’s current estimated 8,000 residents were unaware of the unfinished business.

He said when Rupp became a suspect, it turned his life into a nightmare and he left for the United States.

“We now know he didn’t do it. But Boennighei­m wronged him,” Bamberger said.

He said one of the reasons it was important to finally pay the reward more than 180 years later because “justice is important to my town”.

Rupp turned over the evidence that cracked the case in 1872, nearly four decades after the murder. A prosecutor corroborat­ed it and closed the case.

The reward was not paid because the original documents were misfiled, Ackermann said.

The reward was supposed to be for 200 gulden, according to the document that Ackermann unearthed.

The amount was converted to €

200 (RM940) before the town’s historical associatio­n and other sponsors boosted the sum to make it an even 1,000, Bamberger said.

Ackermann, a former prosecutor in the US state of Washington who lives in Boennighei­m, dug up the story of the assassin in a diary belonging to a German forester.

The reason for the killing was the mayor gave the assasin a bad job recommenda­tion and he failed to get the job of his dreams, Ackermann said.

In a twist that tied the killer to US history, she discovered while researchin­g her book that the killer also fled to America.

He became a soldier in the US Army and died in the MexicanAme­rican war fighting alongside Robert E. Lee, the military commander who later led the army of the southern states in the US civil war.

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