The Autobahn Riddle
"Something pretty terrifying"
Günther Stoll, an unemployed German food engineer from Anzhausen began suffering from an acute case of paranoid throughout 1984, and often spoke to his wife about people who wanted to do him harm and was clearly fearing for his life. One day in October 1984, Stoll declared to his wife that he finally understood something, and wrote six letters on a piece of paper, which spelled out the phrase YOGTZE. Gunther then quickly crossed it out and without explaining further he left his home to visit a public house in Wilnsdorf. It would be the last time his wife saw him alive, and his subsequent and mysterious death has never been fully explained.
Not much is known of Günther Stoll until the events prior to his mysterious death. He was a 34-year-old from Germany who had previously worked as a food service engineer and lived in Anzhausen with his wife. For some time he had been suffering from the effects of acute paranoia, and often spoke to his wife about his fears, making reference to “them” and “those” on numerous occasions. Sadly he never clarified these suspicions, except for telling his wife, “they’re on my tail” and alluding that these people wanted to do something to him, possibly harmful.
These fears culminated on October 25, 1984 when Stoll was sitting in the armchair of the bedroom at his family home at shortly before 11:00pm when he suddenly rose to his feet and in the presence of his wife exclaimed in a loud voice, (Jetzt geht mir ein Licht auf!) “Now I’m getting a light!”, or “Now I’ve got it!”. He then wrote down six letters on a piece of paper spelling out the word YOGTZE, before crossing it out.
Shortly after this, Stoll left the house and went to his favourite pub in Wilnsdorf, where he ordered himself a beer and promptly fell off his chair to the ground, injuring his face. It’s believed he was not under the influence of alcohol, and several witnesses later testified how he lost consciousness. When he woke, he said to the Innkeeper and other patrons that he had “suddenly gone”. After this he abruptly left the pub and drove away in his light blue VW Golf I, but his whereabout during this time are unknown. His next known movements were around 1:00am when he appeared in Haigerseelbach where he grew up.
He visited an acquaintance, an old woman he knew from his childhood, who lived in the vicinity of his parents house and who was very religious. He confided in her that he foresaw a “terrible event” that night telling her “Something’s going to happen tonight, something pretty terrifying”. Because of the early hour of his visit and his confused demeanour, the old woman advised him to go to his parents house and speak with them, but Stoll refused saying they would not understand his concerns. Instead he said he would go home and speak with his wife, and then left.
Around 3:00am, Stoll’s car was discovered by two truck drivers near the Hagen-Süd exit, over 100 kilometres from Haigerseelbach. It had been crashed into a trench adjacent to the A45, and both truck drivers would later testify that they saw an injured person wearing a white jacket walking near the crashed vehicle. Whilst one truck driver went to contact law enforcement, the other checked on the wreckage and found Stoll inside, severely injured and without clothing. He was barely conscious but was able to explain that four other male individuals had been in the car with him, but had run away. When he was asked if they were his friends, he denied it. On the way to the hospital Stoll died from his injuries. During the subsequent investigation, detectives surmised this was no routine traffic accident.
Firstly it was unexplained why Stoll was found naked, and secondly his injuries were not consistent with the circumstances in which his car was found, meaning he was injured elsewhere before the accident and then placed in his car afterwards and driven to the location where he was finally discovered. Because of the lack of clothing it was determined he was naked during the time he was run over and then placed in the passenger seat of his own car. Other drivers reported seeing a hitchhiker near the Hagen-Süd exit, but neither this person or the man seen wearing the white jacket has never been formally identified. Other drivers reportedly saw a pick-up truck at a ramp at Hagen-South, heading in the direction of Frankfurt, however this vehicle was never located.
Investigators looked into Stoll’s history, but he had no criminal record and they discounted any contact with drug dealers as the purpose of his holidays trips to the Netherlands, or a factor in his death. The meaning of the note, and the letters YOGTZE left by Stoll at his home has remained an equally mysterious element to a confounding case, and the word has not been found in any language.
Stoll’s wife claimed she discarded the note on the night of his death, however a copy was made based on her memory. It has been proposed that the G was actually intended to be the number 6, and this actually stood for the callsign of a Romanian Radio Station, YO6TZE, but has never been linked to the events which occurred in the Siegerland that night. On April 12, 1985, the YOGTZE case was presented on the popular German television show, Case File XY and ever since has remained one of the most mysterious cases in German criminal history.
The lead investigator from Hagen has followed over 1,200 leads, but nothing has led to any meaningful conclusion, however every year the case is re-examined by the Attorney General’s office in the hopes of finally cracking the case. The case featured in the German magazine Stern in 2017 and has continued to captured the public’s imagination, and armchair sleuths have continued to debate about the meaning of Stoll’s YOGTZE note, believing what was written must have some meaning and could possibly explain his unsolved death.