Marcus R. is the mastermind behind the Wermelskirchen abuse complex. FOCUS Online was able to see his chat logs, which reveal a repulsive parallel world.
Marcus R. is in his element. He often exchanges abuse files with his chat partner in Berlin. What the IT expert from Wermelskirchen likes best are films in which his accomplice sexually assaults little boys. The suffering of the children leaves him cold. Rather, he writes to his buddy Sönke G. that he doesn’t know of any video where “the boys don’t have fun”. The chat logs that FOCUS Online was able to see lead to a digital parallel world in which pedo-criminals like Marcus R. and Sönke G. live out their horrific fantasies and inflict unspeakable torment on dozens of small children and infants.
Marcus R., 44, from Wermelskirchen seems to set the tone. The computer professional gave his accomplice tips on how to protect the abuse files from unauthorized access with encryption software. After his arrest in early December 2021 in Bergisches Land, the Cologne investigators discovered a huge volume of data of a good 30 terabytes. He is said to have shared his self-made abuse files with at least 73 chat partners. The police have now been able to identify 33 victims, the youngest was a month old.
As was further learned, the cyber investigators are following digital tracks to other contacts of the main suspect, who mostly exchanged their perverse files under aliases. There is talk of a number in the four-digit range. This means that the special organizational structure set up by the Cologne police with its 40 officers is trying to track down thousands more pedophile criminals in the case.
Secured chat logs reveal an extremely perfidious game between the child molesters from Wermelskirchen and Berlin. Marcus R., who worked as an IT expert at the Bayer Group, seems to have been the idea generator. The criminals had met at a so-called “diaper party”. Men meet there to put on their fetish and celebrate.
In the chats, mostly conducted via the encrypted messenger service qTox, Marcus R. and his Berlin friend acted under alias abbreviations. The conversation began in autumn 2017: First, the Berliner sent his buddy abuse pictures. That wasn’t enough for Marcus R.: “Why don’t you make a video?” Answer: “I don’t dare…if the child says something?”. R. then replied: “What should it say? You like videos better than photos.” The Berliner wanted to think about it again, at the same time he asked which of the victims his partner from Wermelskirchen would like? It didn’t matter to the person addressed.
So Sönke G. suggested one of his care cases. The severely disabled six-year-old boy had to wear diapers and could not speak. At first, Berliners were still plagued by pangs of conscience: “Ok, that wouldn’t be.” Marcus R. brushed aside the concerns: “Morals don’t count… nobody knows.”
And then he continued: You have to form age groups, he advised his Berlin chat partner. “I think from 0-2, where they can’t speak, you just have to try it.” At the same time, R. revealed his fondness for used diapers that he had stolen from garbage cans. Human abysses that leave even experienced sex crime investigators stunned.
It is no coincidence that more and more cases of abuse and cross-connections are being uncovered in NRW. After the sexual assaults in Westphalian Lügde in 2018, the judiciary and the police have been upgraded. In the fight against pornographic depictions of children and young people on the Internet, for example, a task force was set up at the Cologne public prosecutor’s office. In just 15 months, the cyber prosecutors initiated more than 3,800 investigations against more than 4,100 suspects. In addition, Minister of Justice Peter Biesenbach increased the division’s staff.
Together with the State Criminal Police Office of North Rhine-Westphalia, an infrastructure was also set up that makes it possible to save and track the digital traces of the abuse information, which is often also transmitted by US authorities, in a short time. It is not uncommon for the digital investigators to have a week at most for this because the providers then delete the data.
Fraunholz straightens up and takes a serious look before summing up: “These guys are very disturbed.” Most of the time, they were only deformed into criminals “after they joined such a platform”. The pressure from the community is growing there so that the newcomers post more material. “Suggestions are made as to what else they could do. This creates the risk of radicalization. The last inhibitions fall away in order to carry out much, much worse acts of abuse.” This fact does not excuse the individual perpetrators, says Fraunholz, “but it is these “echo chambers”, the “filter bubbles”, against which action must also be taken.
NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul has pushed the fight against child abuse. During his tenure, the number of staff specializing in combating child abuse and child pornography in the country increased fivefold from around 100 to around 500. A separate department was created in the Ministry of the Interior, which focuses on this area of crime and continues to work on improvements.
In order to speed up the investigation, the 47 district police authorities and the LKA have networked in a “virtual open-plan office”. Similar to investigations into murder and manslaughter, abuse investigations were centralized in the 16 police headquarters. By the end of 2021, the state government had invested around 32.5 million euros in IT technology for this area – among other things to improve the backup, processing and evaluation of large amounts of data.
The busy minister was involved in the fight against child molesters nationwide again and again. In July 2019, for example, he pleaded at the conference of interior ministers to increase the range of penalties in connection with child pornography and submitted a corresponding proposal for a resolution. As a result, a political discussion developed that ultimately led to a federal bill to combat sexualized violence against children.
Since then, possession of child pornography has been a crime and carries no less than a year in prison. It is no longer possible to stop proceedings against a fine, as has often happened before.