The Strange Death Of Herr Stoll
By Walton Golightly
In 1984 Günther Stoll, an unemployed food engineer from Anzhausen, Germany, was in financial difficulties. Worse, he had been diagnosed as suffering from paranoia. This is, of course, a condition involving persecutory beliefs. Unlike phobias, which also involve irrational fear, the sufferer believes someone is to blame for the fear, and is out to get them. As a result, making false accusations and a general distrust of others invariably accompany paranoia.
In Stoll’s case, he’d spoken to his wife of ‘them’, unknown people who intended to harm him. He was speaking of ‘them’ on the evening of October 25, 1984, when he suddenly shouted, “Jetzt geht mir ein Licht auf!” (Now I’ve got it!) He then scribbled six letters on sheet of paper before instantly crossing them out – ‘YOGTZE’ or ‘YO6TZE’ (some investigators believe the ‘G’ is in fact the number ‘6’). It was late, about 23h00, but Stoll decided he needed a drink after his ‘revelation’. He climbed into his Volkswagen Golf and headed to the nearby town of Wilnsdorf, where he ordered a beer at his favourite pub. Seconds later he collapsed, injuring his face as he hit the floor. Witnesses were taken aback as Stoll didn’t seem to be drunk, or even tipsy. Some would later say he hadn’t even touched his beer.
After regaining consciousness, Stoll shrugged off offers of assistance and left the bar. For the next two hours his whereabouts are a mystery. But just after 01h00 he drove to his childhood hometown of Haigerseelbach, about 10km down the road from Wilnsdorf. There, he knocked on the door of a woman he had known in his youth. Needless to say, she was annoyed by the early morning call and didn’t let Stoll into her flat. Instead, she listened to him babble about a ‘horrible incident’ that was going to happen, then suggested Stoll return home to his wife.
Stoll left and ‘vanished’ for another two hours. Then, at 03h00, two truck drivers spotted a wrecked VW Golf off Autobahn A 45. Stoll was inside, naked and bloodied. He was slumped in the passenger seat and barely conscious.
While one trucker called for help, Stoll told the other he had been travelling with four strangers who beat him and abandoned him in his car. An ambulance arrived and Stoll was rushed to hospital, but died en route. Questioned separately, both truck drivers told police they saw an injured man in a white jacket fleeing the wrecked car as they pulled up. It was a detail that complicated a baffling discovery made by the police, says crime writer Adam Karlin. You see, Stoll wasn’t injured at the site of the car wreck – he had been run down at a different location,
and then moved into his vehicle to die. As the saying goes, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you! Much has been made of Stoll’s death, his claims of a conspiracy of some sort, the mystery of YOGTZE (or YO6TZE), and the odd chain of events that led to a man being found naked in his car, dying from injuries sustained in a separate accident. Some have even claimed Stoll was run over by a car bearing the number plate YOGTZE, and his earlier behaviour can be ascribed to some sort of psychic premonition.
And we could leave things there, in true tabloid TV fashion, as one of the most mysterious unsolved cases in German criminal history (or anywhere). But, as Karlin notes, ‘everything that happened to Stoll in 1984 could be explained by paranoia spun out of control’. That is, writing down a random string of letters, collapsing in public, seeking out an old acquaintance and rambling to her in the middle of the night.
What of Stoll’s ‘murder’? “It’s not uncommon for those in a state of ill mental health to strip off their clothes,” says Karlin. Perhaps Stoll was knocked down as he wandered the streets naked that night. Wishing to avoid contact with the law, the perpetrators could have placed Stoll in his own vehicle and driven him to another location – “Though why they would abandon him off the busy A45 is hard to explain,” concedes Karlin. It’s all speculation, and the YOGTZE case continues to intrigue armchair detectives (and conspiracy buffs) around the world.