Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Robert Hogan, Hilda Heinz, Albert Burkhalter, Wilhelm Klink, Hans Schultz, Marcus Kringle, Johann Schingelheimer
Fandom: Hogan’s Heroes
Genres: Angst, Drama, Mystery
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
Warnings: Major character deaths; Descriptions of strangulations
Summary: Hogan and his men encounter the Hammelburg Strangler.
Chapter Summary: The detectives assigned to the case of the Hammelburg Strangler sort through evidence.
Date Of Completion: January 5, 2015
Date Of Posting: January 22, 2016
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Paramount does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1571
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: This one took me awhile as I hit a major logjam so it lay untouched in my notebook for 11 months until the Muses cooperated. Please heed the warnings!
All chapters can be found here.
Of the past
Hogan entered the outer office and the pretty blond secretary looked up from her paperwork.
It still jarred him to see Hilda at that desk now. A pall had hung over camp for days after learning that Helga’s body had been discovered in the woods only yards from her house. The Hammelburg Strangler had claimed another victim, one of their own.
Helga had been popular in camp, and not just because she was a pretty woman. She was sweet and treated everyone the same, whether soldier or prisoner. Whenever a man had gotten fresh with her, either soldier or prisoner would help, even if it was a fellow comrade. She had also helped out Hogan and his men when she could, though of course that part was not common knowledge.
This replacement was Helga’s cousin, pretty and blond and amenable to Hogan’s attentions. Whether or not she would do them favors remained to be seen.
Hogan swallowed. “Hi, Hilda. The big man in?”
“Ja. He is talking with General Burkhalter.”
He knew that, of course. “Thanks.” He headed for the inner office.
Opening the door, he heard Burkhalter chewing Klink out. He had no idea why. Sometimes he thought that the corpulent general just liked to make Klink’s life miserable.
“Sorry to disturb you, Kommandant.”
“Hogan, get out.”
The sergeant hurried inside from the compound. “Yes, Herr Kommandant?”
“Take the colonel back to his barracks.”
Schultz saluted. “Jawhol, Herr Kommandant.” He quickly hustled Hogan out.
“Where’s the fire, Schultz?”
“Right in there. Colonel Hogan, you know better.”
“Sorry, Schultz.” Hogan smiled at Hilda, though his heart was not in it.
Once outside, Schultz sighed. “Hilda is a nice girl, but I miss Helga.”
“So do I.” Hogan stared out at the barbed wire into the woods. “Any word in town about the investigation?”
Schultz shook his head. “Just that the Burgermeister is putting pressure on Chief Langensheidt.”
“Is he related to our corporal of the same name?”
“Ja, his uncle.” Schultz sighed again. “Bad business, very bad business.”
Hogan agreed with that assessment.
Detective K. Marcus Kringle stared down at his desk in frustration. The witness statements were meager: mostly that of the people who had stumbled upon the victims of the Hammelburg Strangler. No one had actually seen the murders committed or even a glimpse of the killer, except for one grocery delivery boy from Max Keller’s store. The boy had seen a shadowy figure leaving Anna Merkel’s apartment building early one morning. He had found Fraulein Merkel’s body soon after in her apartment.
Marcus was a rumpled, middle-aged man with pomade-slicked brown hair, hazel eyes, and a strong jaw. He was starting to get a little paunchy, probably due to too many strudels and not enough time to exercise. Crazy hours did not help, either. With so many of the force in the Wehrmacht or Luftwaffe, he and the few remaining policemen were working a lot of overtime.
Good for the wallet, not so much for the diet.
He looked wryly at the strudel he had grabbed for breakfast and read through the boy’s description: a man in a dark raincoat and homburg, maybe six feet tall, perhaps a few inches more, and good shoes. Unfortunately, that was all the boy could tell them.
Well, that’s more than anyone else.
He looked down at his notes. The killer always struck at night, though the Merkel killing had some close to daytime. If it had been the killer. It could have been a man hurrying away from an assignation. The coroner said that Anna Merkel had been dead for at least two hours by seven o’clock.
Unlikely he would have hung around.
He still kept the description in mind. Killers with multiple kills usually kept to a routine, but sometimes circumstances forced them to change it.
All the victims since last November had been women, and all were young and blond. All were found with a small red ribbon pinned to their blouses. None had been sexually assaulted.
Unlike twenty-nine years ago when two men were killed along with four women.
He needed to go over those old cases again. Something was nagging at him.
“Hey, Marcus, what is your plan for today?” asked Johann Schingelheimer as he walked into the squadroom, a fellow detective and his partner. He was shorter than Marcus but dressed sharper and was in better shape. Marcus still liked him, anyway. Johann was a blond, blue-eyed Aryan who nevertheless had never joined the Party. For that alone Marcus liked him.
“I think I will spend some time in the archives.”
“Dusty old place.”
Marcus smiled as Johann flicked an imaginary speck of dust off his suit jacket sleeve. Fastidious as always! He stood out in this dark, old nineteenth-century building with its worn floors and old wooden desks.
“Do you need some help down there?” Johann asked, pouring himself a mug of coffee.
“All right. I will join you in a minute.”
Marcus headed down to the basement, switching on a bare bulb by its chain. He turned on a few more lights and found the section he wanted. He started poring through the files.
The trouble with old files was the acidic paper. It faded the ink and mold was a problem, too. He coughed as he searched through the papers, careful not to tear them.
He became absorbed in Hammerlburg’s past when Johann appeared. “Where do you want me to look?”
“This stack.” Marcus handed a stack of papers over to his colleague. Johann sneezed. “Check the summer of 1914.”
“Right.” Johann found a small table and began his search.
The two men quietly studied the files until Johann said, “Found the first one.”
“Read it aloud.”
“’June 5, 1914. the body of Elsa Schmidt was found in the alley behind Mueller’s Bakery at 5:25 A.M. by the trash man, Rudolf Heinz, who reported it immediately. Fraulein Schmidt was the victim of strangulation.’”
“Did they mention the red ribbon?”
“No, they…wait, it was added as a note at the bottom.”
“Yes, they realized that the ribbon was significant after other bodies turned up with it.”
“What significance does it have?”
“Might be just a reverse trophy.”
“I suppose so.” Johann frowned. “The detective who wrote the report did mention a patch of hair missing.”
“Just like our victims.”
Johann nodded. “No other similarities, aside from female, blond, and blue-eyed.”
“Remember the two men who were strangled.”
“They came later, I think.”
“Let me know their details.”
“Wait, did you say the first body was found behind Mueller’s Bakery?”
“Just like one of our victims.”
“Could be coincidence.”
Johann bit his lip. “Marcus…”
“The boyfriend of our latest victim, Helga Heidel, is the son of the couple who owns that bakery.”
“Hmm.” Marcus rubbed his chin.
“Do you think there might be a connection?”
“You never know. Sometimes it means something. Other times it is just coincidence.”
The two detectives kept looking. Finally Johann summarized, “Six murders from June 6th to July 31st, 1914. The first four were women and the last two were men. No other murders fitting the modus operandi were committed in Hammelburg, or anywhere else, for that matter, until last November.”
“Do we have a killer who took a 29-year hiatus, or a copycat?”
“I would go with copycat. Why would a killer wait so long between sprees?”
“Something could have triggered him.”
Johann pushed the papers around. “Wait, here is something interesting.”
“What?” Marcus stretched. The back of his neck and shoulders were killing him.
“One of the victims was Gertrude Axel. She was a niece of Oskar and Frieda Marx, whose nephew Martin Burger was visiting that summer.”
“Martin Burger? Why is he in that report?”
“They interviewed him along with his aunt and uncle.”
Marcus ran a hand through his hair. “Now Martin Burger is the Fuehrer’s right-hand munitions man.”
“He is also in town.”
“Ja.” Marcus drummed his fingers on a shelf. “The paper said he is sticking around awhile. Some high-priority mission from the Fuehrer.”
Johann shuffled the reports. “What kind of mission?”
Johann sighed. “Of course.”
“We had better re-interview the Muellers and their son Peter.”
“Do you think Peter Mueller killed Helga?” Johann put the files away.
“It is always a possibility. Jealousy is the usual motive, but the red ribbon counters that. That detail is not common knowledge.”
“Are you sure?”
Marcus swore. “Our illustrious police chief blabbed it to Burger, of all people!”
Marcus remembered Karl Mueller (no relation to Peter and his family) telling him that Hogan and his men overheard Burger telling Klink about the ribbon. Johann had been recruited by Marcus into their Underground unit. The other man was in his early thirties, prime age for service, but deafness in his right ear had classified him 4-F, but both knew as the war ground on, that classification would change. For now, Johann continued serving as a detective.
“So maybe Peter Mueller knew it and added the ribbon.”
“It is a possibility. You re-interview the Muellers. I will see to Herr Burger.”
They replaced the files and left the archives as a light snow began to fall outside.