An American man has been arrested after allegedly assaulting two U.S. tourists near Neuschwanstein castle in southern Germany and then pushing them down a steep slope, an attack that left one of the women dead, authorities said Thursday.
The incident near the popular tourist attraction happened on Wednesday afternoon. It took place near the Marienbruecke, a bridge over a gorge close to the castle that offers a famous view of Neuschwanstein.
The 30-year-old man met the two female tourists, ages 21 and 22, on a hiking path and lured them onto a trail that leads to a viewpoint, police said in a statement.
The man then “physically attacked” the younger woman, police said. When her companion tried to intervene, he choked her and pushed her down a steep slope.
The assailant then appears to have attempted to sexually assault the 21-year-old before pushing her down the slope as well. She fell nearly 165 feet, ending up close to her friend.
The mountain rescue service rescued both women. The 22-year-old was “responsive” and taken to a hospital, police said; the 21-year-old was flown by helicopter to a hospital with serious injuries and died there overnight.
The suspect left the scene but was arrested nearby shortly afterward. A witness video posted online showed a man in a T-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap being led away in handcuffs by police.
Police said the man was American and described him as also a tourist; prosecutors said the women were fellow U.S. citizens. The 22-year-old remained hospitalized Thursday, according to prosecutors.
Authorities didn’t identify either the suspect or the victims or give any further details.
Under German law, suspects must be brought before a judge at a closed-doors hearing by the end of the calendar day after their arrest if investigators intend to keep them in custody.
Police said a judge in nearby Kempten on Thursday ordered the suspect held pending a potential indictment — a process that can take months — and he was taken to jail. He is under investigation on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and a sexual offense.
Police said they and prosecutors were focusing on trying to reconstruct exactly what happened and called for any witnesses to come forward.
Neuschwanstein, in southern Bavaria and close to the Austrian border, is one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions.
It is the most famous of the castles built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the 19th century. Construction started in 1869 but was never completed. Ludwig died in 1886.