Tourist admits raping, killing Illinois woman near famous German castle

A 31-year-old American man accused of murder stands in the dock behind his lawyers in a courtroom at the district court. (Photo by Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/picture alliance via Getty Images)

An American man on Monday admitted to charges of murder and rape after he allegedly pushed two Chicago-area women down a ravine, fatally injuring one of them near Germany's Neuschwanstein castle last year.

The 31-year-old defendant admitted to the charges during the start of his trial, the German news agency dpa reported. Defendants in the German legal system do not formally enter pleas to charges.

"The defendant has committed an unfathomable crime," defense lawyer Philip Mueller said in a statement. The defendant confirmed that his lawyer’s statement was correct but did not answer any questions.

The suspect's name hasn’t been released in line with German privacy rules, but FOX 2 Detroit reported that he is from the Lincoln Park area of Detroit.

RELATED: Detroit man arrested for pushing woman from German castle to her death

The man is charged with murder, rape with fatal consequences, attempted murder and possession of child pornography. Murder charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison in Germany. 

A verdict is expected to be announced in mid-March at the earliest.

Tourists attacked near castle


American arrested for pushing tourists into ravine near famous German castle, killing 1

Authorities say an American man has been arrested over the death of one U.S. tourist and an assault on another near Neuschwanstein castle in southern Germany after he allegedly pushed the two women down a steep slope.

The attack happened on June 14 last year near the Marienbruecke, a bridge over a gorge close to the castle that offers a view of Neuschwanstein, one of Germany’s most famous tourist attractions.

The then-30-year-old man met the two tourists, 21-year-old Eva Y. Liu and 22-year-old Kelsey Chang, on a hiking path and lured them onto a trail that leads to a viewpoint, police said in a statement, and tried to undress one of them.

"The younger of the two women was attacked by the suspect," said police spokesman Holger Stabik. "The older one tried to rush to her aid, was then choked by the suspect and subsequently pushed down a slope."

When Chang tried to help her, a scuffle ensued and the suspect allegedly pushed her down a steep slope. She fell about 165 feet and sustained a head injury, bruises and grazes but survived.

The suspect then allegedly strangled Liu until she was unconscious and raped her, prosecutors said, before pushing her down the slope as well. She died.

Prosecutors said they secured a laptop and cellphones from the suspect containing child sexual abuse material.

Authorities say the women didn’t know the man before they met near Neuschwanstein. The suspect was arrested shortly after the attack.

Who were the victims?

According to FOX 32 Chicago, Eva Liu was from Naperville, Illinois. Both women attended high school in Aurora before studying at the University of Illinois.

"It’s horrible," Liu family neighbor Jeff Kraull told FOX 32 last year. "I have a daughter, I can’t imagine just getting out of school and starting to spread her wings and something like that happens. I’m sure the parents were very nervous to begin with and to have something like that, it’s terrible."

"Our University of Illinois family is mourning the senseless death of Ms. Liu and the attack on Ms. Chang," U of I Associate Chancellor Robin Kaler said in a statement. "Both had just graduated in May and should have been able to celebrate such an important accomplishment without the fear of such a tragic outcome. Our thoughts are with Ms. Chang as she recovers and with both of their families as they grieve."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.