Germany has given us plenty of bizarre true crime scenarios—classified ad cannibal Armin Meiwes we’re looking at you, though we’re not responding to your posts. Rarely, however, has Deutschland given us something as strange and unsettling as YOGTZE-Fall, or the YOGTZE case.
It sounds like a word yelled out during a demonic parlor game; it is, in fact, the cryptic first clue to a puzzling death that remains unsolved to this day.
The year is 1984, and Günther Stoll is an unemployed food engineer. His financial situation is precarious enough, but a far larger shadow looms over his life: a troubling case of clinical paranoia, and a creeping belief that he’s being targeted by a sinister presence.
Every now and then, Stoll mentions his fears of ‘them’ to his concerned wife. There’s no greater description of the shadowy figures. Whoever ‘they’ are, Stoll is certain they intend him harm.
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On the evening of October 25, Stoll is at home, in his bedroom, cozy in a chair. Then, without warning, he jumps up and shouts, “Jetzt geht mir ein Licht auf!” (“Now I get it!”). Stoll grabs a pen and paper and scribbles down the phrase, ‘YOGTZE’ or ‘YO6TZE’—investigators are split over whether the ‘G’ is in fact a number ‘6.’ Seconds later, Stoll crosses out his mysterious message and abruptly leaves.
It’s late, but Stoll needs a drink. He climbs into his Volkswagen Golf and heads to the town of Wilnsdorf, where he orders a beer at his favorite pub. Before he can drink it, however, Stoll collapses to the floor, injuring his face. Witnesses are surprised by the tumble, as Stoll doesn’t appear drunk or tipsy; he may not have even touched his drink.
This episode occurs around 11pm, but the night is far from over. After regaining consciousness, Stoll leaves the bar, and for the next two hours his whereabouts are a mystery. At 1am he drives to his childhood hometown of Haigerseelbach, about 10km (six miles) down the road from Wilnsdorf. There, Stoll seeks out a woman from his youth. She’s put off by the late-night visit and doesn’t let Stoll inside, but endures a monologue where he warns of a coming “horrible incident.”
The woman hears her childhood companion out, and tells him to go home to his wife.
Stoll fails to follow her advice. Instead, he vanishes for another two hours. Then, at three in the morning, two truck drivers spot a wrecked VW Golf off the Autobahn A 45. Inside is Stoll, naked and bloodied, slumped in the passenger seat and barely conscious.
As one trucker calls for help, Stoll explains that he had travelling been with four strangers who “beat him loose” and abandoned him in his car. An ambulance arrives, and rushes the bloodied Stoll to the hospital—but he succumbs to his injuries en route. In separate lines of questioning, the truck drivers tell police they saw an injured man in a white jacket fleeing the wreck when they pulled up.
It’s a detail that complicates an already baffling discovery made by the police: Stoll wasn’t killed in the car wreck at which he was found. Instead, he had been run down at a different location, and then moved into his vehicle to die.
Mystery, paranoia, or cover-up?
Much has been made of Stoll’s death, his seeming premonitions, the mystery of YOGTZE, and the odd chain of events that led to a man being found, naked in his car, dying from injuries sustained in a separate car accident. A popular theory is that Stoll was run over by a car bearing the license plate YOGTZE or YO6TZE, and his earlier behavior can be ascribed to some sort of psychic premonition.
But if you remove the murder, everything that happened to Stoll in 1984 could be explained by paranoia spun out of control. Writing down a random string of letters, collapsing in public, seeking out an old acquaintance and rambling to her in the middle of the night—all are acts that could be attributed to a loss of sanity.
As for the scene of Stoll’s death, it’s not uncommon for those in a state of ill mental health to strip off their clothes. Perhaps a vehicle struck Stoll as he wandered the streets naked at night. The occupants could have placed him in his own vehicle and driven him to another location, though why they would abandon him off the busy A45 is hard to explain.
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This is all speculation, with a slight dose of skepticism. The fact remains that Stoll’s death was officially ruled a crime by German police, and is currently unsolved.
Individuals from around the world continue to speculate on the truth of YOGTZE—an intriguing cold case from Germany’s true crime archives.