Jet fighters equipped with infrared cameras led police Saturday to a body believed to be that of a kidnapped businessman hidden beneath leaves and brush in mountains northwest of Frankfurt.
The kidnapping was the second abduction of a wealthy German this year. But unlike the case of Jan Philipp Reemsta - a Hamburg billionaire who was released this spring after payment of $20 million - Frankfurt businessman Jakub Fiszman remained missing after his family delivered $2.6 million to the kidnappers.Fiszman, 40, had last been heard from on Oct. 2 - the day after he was abducted outside his office - when he called relatives to arrange a ransom payment. He said he was being held in a cellar vault.
Fiszman's whereabouts remained a mystery even after police recovered the ransom buried in a garden on Wednesday and charged a father and son with the crime a day later.
Rainer Koerppen, accused of being the mastermind, refused to cooperate with investigators. But his 26-year-old son, Sven, told police that they brought the businessman to a wooded area northwest of Frankfurt on Oct. 4 because his father wanted to put Fiszman some place "where he could not get away easily."
The younger Koerppen was unable to give investigators a more precise location because his father dropped him off before driving deeper into the wooded area. He came back 45 minutes later without Fiszman.
Two jet fighters similar to those used to identify suspected mass grave sites in Bosnia pinpointed the spot where the body was found Saturday afternoon.
Investigator Klaus Timm said the body was "almost certainly" Fiszman's, but positive identification would not be made until further examination. The cause of death also was unclear, but Fiszman apparently was injured during a struggle with his kidnappers outside his office. Police found his broken wristwatch and blood at the scene.
Rainer Koerppen's wife, who was arrested in connection with the case then released, worked for Fiszman's electronics and export businesses for 10 years. Appearing on national television late Friday, Renate Koerppen apologized to the Fiszman family and insisted she knew nothing of her husband's plot.
But Hesse state prosecutor Rainer Schilling said that she and another couple who were arrested then released for lack of evidence remained suspects. Police were seeking another person who phoned Fiszman's relatives to arrange the ransom drop.