Europe

Peggy Knobloch case: Remains in German wood 'probably' of missing girl

a photograph of a little blonde haired-blue-eyed girl on a grave headstone reading Peggy Knobloch 1992-2001 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Peggy Knobloch's image is on a headstone in Bavaria that stands above an empty grave

Remains found by a mushroom forager in a German forest are "most probably" those of a nine-year-old girl who went missing 15 years ago, the Bavarian state prosecutor has said.

A huge search was mounted when Peggy Knobloch failed to come home from school in 2001, but she was never found.

One man served jail time for her murder but was later released.

The bones were found close to Peggy's home in Bavaria.

A member of the public who was looking for mushrooms in the woods in Thueringen on Saturday found body parts and reported the find to the police.

The chief state prosecutor in Bavaria, Herbert Potzel, said they were "most probably" Peggy's remains but it was "still not 100% certain".

Investigators will perform DNA tests before making a conclusive announcement.

Peggy Knobloch disappeared when walking home from primary school on 5 May 2001.

For weeks, police and army officers searched her village and the surrounding area for her, including with military aeroplanes. Their search led them to the Czech Republic and to Turkey in the belief that she might have been kidnapped.

But she was not found and was presumed murdered.

In 2002, a local man with a learning disability was accused of killing her to cover up that he had sexually abused her. He withdrew his confession but was jailed for life in 2004. He spent his imprisonment in a psychiatric hospital.

Ten years later, his conviction was overturned and he was later freed.

Since then, nobody has been charged with Peggy's murder.

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