A gavel rests inside the court room of the 100th Air Refueling Wing base legal office at RAF Mildenhall, England, in May 2019.

A gavel rests inside the court room of the 100th Air Refueling Wing base legal office at RAF Mildenhall, England, in May 2019. (Joseph Barron/U.S. Air Force)

VERNON CENTER, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — DNA evidence has led to the arrest of a 66-year-old man in the the rape and murder of a German woman over 45 years ago when he was stationed in West Germany in the Army.

Members of the U.S. Marshals Service arrested James Patrick Dempsey on Feb. 13.

DNA evidence suggests Dempsey, then 20, raped and murdered Bärbel Gansau, 35, in June 1978.

Dempsey is being held without bail prior to the extradition.

“In addition to being a flight risk, Dempsey poses a significant danger to the community,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen C. Green said in court documents.

German authorities say they will try Dempsey as a “young adult,” which, under their system, means between the ages of 18 and 21. If convicted by the German court Dempsey faces up to 10 years in prison.

According to papers filed with the U.S. District Court Northern District of New York, Gansau had locked her door but kept the window on her first-floor apartment open to allow her cats to enter and leave as they pleased. She lived in Ludwigsburg, about 10 miles north of Stuttgart. The attacker had allegedly shoved the window open and entered, stabbing Gansau 37 times in the arms, legs and face after the rape.

German investigators had found a fingerprint on the windowsill and DNA at the crime scene but were unable to place a single suspect from the American servicemen they interviewed in the crime.

U.S. Army records in the extradition records state Dempsey had developed an alcohol problem. This exhibited in aggressive behavior and Dempsey underwent alcohol treatment from June 1-6, 1978. Gansau was killed sometime between June 8, 1978, and June 11, 1978, the papers say. Dempsey was discharged later that year and returned to the United States, where he “continued to have problems with alcohol.”

Dempsey had served from November 1976 to December 1978 and was stationed in Ludwigsburg, as part of the 34th Signal Battalion, from late 1977 to late 1978. When he was back in the U.S. he was arrested for DUI and unauthorized use of a vehicle and was fingerprinted. This was in 1979 when Dempsey was 22.

On Jan. 29, 2021, some 43 years after Bärbel Gansau’s murder, the FBI contacted their German counterparts with a piece of extraordinary news. On April 14, 2021, the FBI gathered trash from Dempsey’s residence in the United States to assist the German investigation, according to the extradition package.

On June 24, 2022, the Stuttgart Lower Court issued a warrant for Dempsey’s arrest on aggravated murder charges, according to the extradition papers. The German government then submitted a formal request to U.S. authorities, through diplomatic channels, for Dempsey to be arrested and sent to Germany to stand trial.

The U.S., under its extradition treaty with Germany, filed the necessary paperwork and on Feb. 9, a federal magistrate judge issued an arrest warrant in the case.

(c)2024 The Oneida Daily Dispatch, N.Y.

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