Spiridon K., who was a friend of the husband of Garifalia Z., is said to have fallen in love with her and hassled her to leave her husband and her two eight and nine-year-old daughters for him. Garifalia Z. resisted his advances and agreed to only one last clarifying talk.

On 6 April 1989 the 25-year-old drove with a girlfriend into a parking lot near a wood in Plettenberg-Dingeringhausen, a small German town of about 25,000 45 km from Dortmund. The girlfriend took a few steps away to give the two privacy.

Then suddenly: shots were fired. With eight bullets, the lover spurned cut the young mother and wife down. Killer and victim are Greeks.

Police say her assailant shot her with a pistol through a window, twice in the head, as she was about to start her car to drive off. Then he shot her six more times in the upper body as her girlfriend tried to stop him.

The engine kept running with the dead victim’s foot still on the accelerator.

Immediately afterwards Spiridon K. fled in a red Mercedes through Austria and Italy to Greece, settling in the small seaside town of Amphilochia in western Greece.

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Five years before the murder, Spiridon K. had stabbed his brother-in-law out of jealousy, 24 times with a scissors, and served time for that.

When the then 37-year-old fugitive settled in Amphilochia, it had a declining population of about 14,000. He told people he’d spent many years in Australia. Neighbours said he lived quite inconspicuously and described him as a “polite, older man”.

Now Greek media Proto Thema, Athensmagazine and sinidisi.gr are quoted by the German online news source come-on.de as reporting that Spiridon K. died in an Athens hospital a few days ago. Greek TV also reported the arrest after Spiridon K. was admitted.

Neither Greek nor German judiciaries would confirm nor deny the death reports, however Greek sources say more information could follow. The responsible public prosecutor in Hagen, Dr. Gerhard Pauli, knew nothing about the death reports until telephoned by a journalist. If they were correct, he said, it could still be a while before he was officially notified.

The German arrest warrant stayed valid for decades and,  quite by coincidence, the Plettenberg murder has most likely been solved after 31 years.

Greek police had failed to find the suspect. When they were called on 29 April 2020 after Spiridon K., then aged 69, had an epileptic seizure, a check of his personal data revealed the warrant and he was jailed in Korydallos, the main prison of Greece. His treatment continued in an Athens hospital.

Until his death Spiridon K. lay in a coma, according to the Greek media, suffering from a head injury, serious lung problems and needing a mechanical ventilator. He’s reported to have already been buried in his home village near the north-western coastal town of Preveza.

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The former Greek ‘guest worker’ was to have been extradited to Germany. In Greece, murder can still be tried 25 years after it happened, Germany has no such statute of limitation on murder, genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

Greek authorities rejected Spiridon K.’s appeal against the extradition order. Greece’s supreme court, the Areopagos in Athens, would ultimately have had to decide whether to extradite. Within the EU convicts can choose to serve their sentence in their home country. In most countries convicts have markedly fewer rights than in Germany.

A TV item on the Plettenberg murder was broadcast in a nationally targeted show called “Aktenzeichen XY ungelöst” (File number XV unsolved). It presents cold cases and asks the public to help with information they might have about them.

The family said they suffered for a long time as a result of what had happened. Grigorios Alexiou, brother of the victim, said “it’s incomprehensible to this day”.

Mr Pauli agrees this was no normal case. “How the man could move under the radar for more than 30 years beats me,” he said. Police spokesman Dietmar Boronowski agrees: “Sometimes ‘Inspector Coincidence’ has to help close such a heinous crime decades later.”

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Spiridon K. lived in Greece about 200 km from the small town Filiates, bordering southern Albania, where Garifalia Z. was buried in April 1989. After the murder, her widower and their two daughters initially lived in the victim’s Greek home town.

Now the widower and older daughter live in the Stuttgart area. The younger daughter has started a family in Greece.

The grisly killing badly shook Plettenberg and the whole lush-green farming, light industry and tourism region of Sauerland.

Written by a Neos Kosmos reader in Germany