By Ann Marie Ackerman
From the depths of German and American files comes a narrative one soldier by no means sought after instructed. the 1st volunteer killed protecting Robert E. Lee’s place in conflict used to be particularly a German murderer. After fleeing to the us to flee prosecution for homicide, the murderer enlisted in a German corporation of the Pennsylvania Volunteers within the Mexican-American conflict and died protecting Lee’s battery on the Siege of Veracruz in 1847. Lee wrote a letter domestic, praising this unnamed fallen volunteer defender. army files determine him, yet not one of the american citizens knew approximately his prior lifetime of crime.
Before struggling with with the americans, Lee’s defender had assassinated Johann Heinrich Rieber, mayor of Bönnigheim, Germany, in 1835. Rieber’s assassination grew to become 19th-century Germany’s coldest case ever solved by means of a non–law enforcement expert and the single 19th-century German homicide ever solved within the usa. Thirty-seven years later, one other suspect within the assassination who had additionally fled to the USA came across proof in Washington, D.C., that will transparent his personal identify, and he forwarded it to Germany. The German prosecutor Ernst von Hochstetter corroborated the tale and closed the case dossier in 1872, naming Lee’s defender as Rieber’s murderer.
Relying totally on German assets, demise of an murderer tracks the never-before-told tale of this German corporation of Pennsylvania volunteers. It follows either Lee’s and the assassin’s lives until eventually their dramatic come across in Veracruz and choices up back with the magnificent case answer many years later.
This case additionally unearths that forensic ballistics—firearm id via comparability of the striations on a projectile with the rifling within the barrel—is a lot older than formerly inspiration. heritage credit Alexandre Laccasagne for inventing forensic ballistics in 1888. yet greater than 50 years past, Eduard Hammer, the Justice of the Peace who investigated the Rieber assassination in 1835, used an analogous strategy to get rid of a forester’s rifle because the homicide weapon. A firearms technician with kingdom police of Baden-Württemberg confirmed Hammer’s process in 2015 and proven its efficacy, cementing the argument that Hammer, now not Laccasagne, could be thought of the daddy of forensic ballistics.
The roles the volunteer soldier/assassin and Robert E. Lee performed on the Siege of Veracruz are a part of American background, and the record-breaking, 19th-century chilly case is a part of German historical past. For the 1st time, Death of an Assassin brings the 2 tales together.
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