The harrowing disappearance of Inga Gehricke took place in 2015. At the time of her mysterious disappearance, she was just 5 years of age.
Her disappearance rocked her home nation of Germany, and has led to significant speculation and many theories. Her disappearance has also seemed eerily similar to that of Madeleine McCann.
This article reviews this disappearance. There is a reader’s poll at the end of the article, which we invite you to vote on. This will allow us to see what the most accepted theory is among our readers.
Inga hailed from Germany, and was one of four children. She had a loving family, with the Gehricke family well-known and liked in the local area.
On May 2nd 2015, the Gehricke family – consisting of parents Jens-Uwe and Victoria, and siblings Maxim, Julius, Freya and Inga – were visiting friends in Wilhelmshof for a day out.
Inga was happily playing with other children throughout the day. The adults decided to have a barbecue in the evening.
Some of the children then went into the forest to collect some firewood to help. But when the children came back from the forest one-by-one, there was no sign of Inga.
Two of the children had said that they saw her heading back towards where the adults were, and assumed that she would be able to finish walking back. But obviously, she never made it back to the adults.
Initially, Inga’s parents thought she must have taken a wrong turn and would be easily found. But as the hours went by, things became more desperate.
Hundreds of local volunteers helped to search for Inga over the following days. The forest spanned 20 square miles, making it difficult to search. But despite the best efforts of the volunteers, there was no sign of Inga anywhere.
As the days and then weeks went by, it became clear that Inga was not going to be found. Tragically, Inga has not been seen since that day.
The Police found it very difficult to find any sign of Inga. The area to search was so large, making it difficult to get a thorough idea of the area.
The case made headlines across Germany, and led to concern about the safety of children. Strong interest arose around Germany, leading to a lot of speculation on what might have happened.
The Police used helicopters with special thermal cameras – which are capable of picking up heat sources – like that of a human. But despite hovering over all of the forest, there was no sign of Inga.
Given the dense, yet sparsely populated, nature of the forest, there was little in the way of sightings. One man came forward to say that on the day, he had heard a child screaming. This led investigators to believe that she had been kidnapped.
A kidnapping did seem to make the most sense. There was no sign of Inga in the forest, and sniffer dogs were unable to find any scent matching her. The focus was mainly on the kidnapping hypothesis.
But unfortunately for the investigators and the Gehricke family, this hypothesis failed to yield any significant evidence. It seemed that Inga had simply vanished.
After few leads and no updates, the German Police made the difficult decision to close the case in 2017. This led to disappointment from the Gehricke family and friends.
The Police continued to accept any evidence from the public. The Gehricke family have continuously stated that they believe Inga is still alive, and have fought to keep her case in the public eye.
Many people pointed to the similarities in Inga’s case and that of Madeleine McCann. Both girls disappeared in early May, both were of a similar age, and both had blonde hair.
Moreover, it was this link that resulted in an update on this case. In 2020, German prosecutors made the surprise announcement that they had found a potential suspect in the McCann disappearance.
They stated that a 43-year old man named Christian Brueckner – who had been convicted of many crimes in his life – was responsible for abducting Maddie.
But interestingly, the German police also had reason to believe that Brueckner may have been involved in Inga’s disappearance.
In 2016, a tip-off led the German Police to raid a farm owned by Brueckner. This farm was located around 55 miles from where Inga was supposedly abducted. Land around the farm was dug, but nothing was found.
In the same raid, Brueckner was arrested after a USB drive with child abuse on it was found. After initially evading capture whilst on bail, he was finally imprisoned in 2018 after raping a 72-year-old woman.
Further investigations into Brueckner are ongoing. He remains imprisoned. But both German and English investigators continue to look into him.
German prosecutors, and the Gehricke family, believe he could be linked to Inga’s disappearance. They will continue to explore this theory – although proving his involvement will be very difficult.
Unfortunately, there has not been any other meaningful updates in Inga’s case. She has not been seen since 2015, with her current whereabouts unknown.
There are a few different theories that have been put forward to explain the disappearance of Inga.
We take a look at the evidence for the theories below:
Theory One: Inga was abducted and later killed by Christian Brueckner
Some of the evidence does seem to suggest that Brueckner was involved in Inga’s disappearance. There are certainly parallels between this case and the McCann disappearance – of which Brueckner has been heavily implicated by many.
He was known to live near where Inga vanished from. Judging by the USB stick’s contents, he is also known to have a perverse interest in children. He certainly would fit the profile of the “typical” person to abduct a child.
However, the chances of him being in the “right place at the right time” may be seen as being low. Could a criminal like Brueckner just so happen to be in the area? It would be a big coincidence.
But if the account of someone else in the forest is believed – which reported the child’s scream – then an abduction does sound very likely.
Unfortunately, as the case presumably is with Maddie – Brueckner would have most likely killed Inga, and got rid of her body somewhere.
Theory Two: Inga was abducted and later killed by someone else
Similar to the above theory, there is a high chance that it wasn’t Brueckner. Instead, it may have been someone else who tragically abducted Inga. Perhaps they were in the area, and opportunistically abducted the girl.
Sadly, there are some depraved individuals out there. The chances of them being in the area are small, but if someone with a perverse interest in children found Inga, they may have taken their opportunity.
As discussed above, the scream heard by the witness, if accurate, may point to an abduction taking place.
If it wasn’t Brueckner as per the above theory, it could have been someone else. The chances are that they would have sadly killed her, before disposing of her body.
Theory Three: Inga died from the elements, or through a fall
The forest that Inga vanished in was very big. It is possible that she simply got lost, and sadly died from the elements – whether this was hunger or dehydration.
The Police did use thermal imaging to try and find a human – but it is possible that Inga’s body may have evaded this. Or she may have managed to walk out of the forest to somewhere that wasn’t searched.
Then there is also the question on how likely it would be for Inga to come across a predator in the forest. The chances of coming across someone like that would be very, very unlikely. That is, unless she did get terribly unlucky.
Also, thermal imaging is an excellent tool, and so it is unlikely that she was in the forest. If she did vanish without third-party involvement, it was unlikely to have happened in the forest. Still, there is always a chance.
With the above theories having now been explored, we invite you to vote on the theory that you think is most accurate in the poll below. Once you have voted, you will see the breakdown in votes.
Whatever happened to Inga, her disappearance is a tragedy. The fact that a young girl with her whole life ahead of her suddenly vanished is incredibly sad. For her parents, the pain is enormous.
Whether or not any answers will follow remains to be seen. Hope will continue. Hopefully, one day there will be answers.