When a suspect confessed to murdering Petra Pazsitka in 1985, after the woman had gone missing in 1984, there was just one problem. Petra Pazsitka wasn't dead. Pazsitka was a 24-year-old student in Braunschweig, Germany, when she was reported missing after failing to turn up for her brother's birthday party on July 24. She had last been seen leaving student housing to go to the dentist. The police suspected foul play, and an episode of the German crime show Aktenzeichen XY said they were working on the presumption of murder. Petra was declared legally deceased in 1989 and the case was closed.
Then two weeks ago, police in Düsseldorf, Germany were called on suspicion of a robbery. The woman who had reported the robbery gave her name as "Mrs. Schneider" but when the police asked for identification, she confessed. She was really Petra Pazsitka.
How had she avoided the authorities for all those years? Petra Pazsitka told the police that she lived without a social security card, a drivers' licence, a passport or a bank account. She paid for everything in cash. Pazsitka also admitted she had planned her disappearance and had set aside 4,000 Deutschmarks for her plan before moving into an apartment she had been secretly renting. Her only explanation for this was that she had family problems.
Petra Pazsitka said to police she did not want contact with either the media or her family. Her father died a few years ago, but her brother and mother are still alive. They asked the police to pass on a letter to her in hopes that Petra would reunite with them.
The man who confessed to her murder was never charged for a lack of evidence. It is unknown why he gave the confession.
Since Petra Pazsitka was of legal age when she disappeared, she is not being charged with any crimes. The only thing that will be done legally is the declaration of her as legally dead must be reversed. This might be harder than anyone thinks, since there was a case in Ohio where a man, Donald E. Miller, Jr, was declared legally dead and the declaration wasn't reversed even when he turned up alive. Ohio law says that a ruling of legal death cannot be reversed after three years.
Petra Pazsitka isn't the first person to have a false murder confession attached to her, either. In another case, Natasha Ryan showed up at her own murder trial. When she was found alive, the trial was adjourned. Thankfully.
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