On 5 May 1980, Anna Bachmeier,aged: 7 years and 5 months, did not go to school to spite her mother. When trying to visit a friend her own age, Anna was abducted by Klaus Grabowski, a 35-year-old butcher. He is said to have held Anna for several hours at home and then strangled her with a pair of tights. According to the Prosecutor he had tied the girl tight, packed her into a box, which he then buried on the canal bank in a shallow grave.
Klaus Grabowski was a convicted sex offender and had previously been sentenced for the sexual abuse of two girls. During his detention, he was castrated in 1976 and, two years later, underwent hormone treatment. Once arrested, Grabowski stated that he did not intend to sexually abuse Anna. He said the girl had wanted to tell her mother that he had touched her inappropriately, with the aim of extorting money from him.
On 6 March 1981, the third day of the trial, Marianne Bachmeier smuggled a Beretta M1934 into the courtroom of Lübeck District Court and shot the alleged killer of her daughter Anna, Klaus Grabowski, in the back. She aimed the gun at Grabowski’s back and pulled the trigger eight times.
Seven of the shots hit, and the 35-year-old defendant was killed instantly.
This is probably the most well-known case of vigilante justice in Germany. It sparked extensive media coverage, television crews from all over the world travelled to Lübeck to report on this case.
A large part of the population showed understanding for her actions. She sold her life story for about 250,000 Deutschmarks in an exclusive to the news magazine Stern.
On 2 November 1982, Marianne Bachmeier was initially charged in court with murder. Later the prosecution dropped the murder charge. After 28 days of negotiations, the Board agreed on the verdict. Four months after the opening of proceedings she was convicted on 2 March 1983 by the Circuit Court Chamber of the District Court Lübeck for manslaughter and sentenced for unlawful possession of a firearm to six years in prison, but was later released after serving three years.
Marianne Bachmeier married in 1985 and moved in 1988 to Lagos, Nigeria with her husband, a teacher. There they lived in a German camp where her husband taught at a German school. They divorced in 1990 and she moved to Sicily. She was diagnosed with cancer there, whereupon she returned to Germany.
In 1994, 13 years after her act, she gave an interview on Germany radio: “I think there is a very big difference if I kill a little girl, because I’m afraid that I then have to go to prison for my life. And then also the ‘how’, so that I stand behind the girl and, strangle her which is taken literally from his statement: ‘I heard something come out of her nose, I was fixated, then I could not stand the sight of her body any longer ‘. ”
On 21 September 1995, she appeared on the talk show Fliege on the Das Erste TV channel. She admitted that she had shot the alleged killer of her daughter after careful consideration, to enforce the law on him, and to prevent him from further spreading lies about Anna.
On 17 September 1996, she died at the age of 46 years from pancreatic cancer in a hospital in Lübeck. It had actually been her desire to die in her adopted home of Palermo. Before her death, she asked the NDR reporter Lukas Maria Böhmer, to accompany her with movie camera in the last stages of her life.
She is buried in the same grave as her daughter Anna in a graveyard in Lübeck.