Arthur Gatter / The Hammer Killer / German Serial Killer

Arthur Gatter | German Serial Killer

Arthur Gatter
Arthur Gatter

Arthur Gatter

Born: 01-01-1940

The Hammer Killer of Frankfurt

A German Serial Killer

Crime Spree: February to May 1990

Death: 12-12-1990

Arthur Gatter, “The Hammer-Killer of Frankfurt”, was a German serial killer who murdered six homeless people and two homosexuals by wielding a hammer.

The murders occurred, in the city parks in the outskirts of Frankfurt, from February to May in 1990. 

The Murders Of Arthur Gatter

On February 2nd, a security guard came across the murdered corpse of a 43 year old homeless man, Hans-Peter “Peterchen, 

Another victim, 22-year-old Kurt Helmut was found with fatal head injuries on February 7th. He was not a homeless person, therefore initially no connection to the first victim was established.

On April 2nd, at the bus stop at Rechneigrabenstraße, a tramp named Helmut R. was found dead with severe head injuries which lead to his violent death.

On April 3rd two more victims were killed near the Eschenheimer plant. The police used life sized dolls, displaying them as potential victims on park benches in an attempt to lure the offender or offenders in.  But that didn’t happen.

April 9th, Helmut R. was found murdered in Ostzeil.

On April 11th a homeless man reported seeing a man approach a sleeping tramp with a blunt object. After a facial composite was made, a suspect was arrested in Gallus. Due to lack of evidence, the man was released. 

Another Corpse

May 4th, 46-year-old Hans-Peter M.’s bloody corpse was found.

On May 5th, 60-year-old Engelbert G. and 42-year-old Nicola Z. died about 50 meters apart. A crime scene photo with a bloodstained park bench revealed the brutality of the act. This meant that three homeless people had been murdered within 24 hours. But, try a s they may, the police just couldn’t catch the offender. 

On May 20th, Anderson S. followed a man into a bush, supposedly to have sex with him. However, he was instead stabbed but managed to fight off his attacker and free himself. The badly-injured man fled and eventually collapsed on a park bench, where he was then subsequently killed by the Hammer Killer.

May 22nd Heinrich O. became the Hammer-Killer’s last victim. A local resident had witnessed the incident and alerted the police. Within 12 minutes, a suspect was finally arrested.

Modus operandi of Arthur Gatter

On May 22, 1990, Arthur Gatter was arrested in connection to the ‘hammer murders’. As the alleged murder weapon, a metalwork hammer, was secured, which he carried hidden in a plastic bag in his armpit. Through this instrument, the typical impression fractures or perforated structures in the skull came about, as determined in forensic medicine. He searched out victims on park benches and surprised them in their sleep. He watched them for a while, until he was sure he could do his job safely. He wore low-noise rubber gloves and he hit his victims with such force that the blood splashed over a meter-wide.

The Hammer – Killer

Arthur Gatter was a professional electrician by profession who lived in Australia for a while. After returning to Germany, he worked on assembly and traveled to countries in the Orient. Since the 1980’s, he was no longer able to work and trashed his apartment in Wilhelm-Leuschner-Straße. It is believed that his schizophrenia was already greatly advanced at this time. Even in his next residence he behaved suspiciously.

Arthur Gatter

Arthur Gatter grew up as a loner and already suffered in the early stages of anxiety and mental health problems, which expanded into a paranoid schizophrenia. By the late 1990’s, a bizarre world of madness took over his thinking and acting. He told the police that a dark force had taken his victims to the park to be killed by him. Since 1987, he is said to have heard voices that dominated his life from then on. During the crime scene, Arthur Gatter made gurgling noises and mannerisms that are typical of certain mental illnesses. He was said to have felt no remorse for his crimes or his victims. A psychologist suggested an insanity plea would be appropriate for Arthur.

However, before he could be taken to court, on December 12, 1990, the Hammer-Killer, Arthur Gatter, hanged himself with a gauze bandage.


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