A man has been arrested by police for questioning over a Sydney murder that happened 13 years ago.
Police zeroed in on the man after using modern DNA technology, which wasn’t available at the time of the death, and by acquiring a sample of the man’s DNA using “innovative” techniques, an investigator said.
“This morning he is still helping out with inquiries, but we will allege there is a link between the person arrested this morning directly to the crime scene (and) certain parts of the crime scene from 2008,” Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said.
Bernd Lehmann, 66, was found dead inside a home on Alt Street in the inner west suburb of Ashfield on Valentine’s Day 2008.
After investigators discovered he died from severe head wounds, a strike force was formed to investigate the suspected murder.
But the case went cold and no one was charged.
Detectives with NSW Police’s unsolved homicide unit took over the case after a coronial inquest in 2012 and went through all the evidence again.
Three years ago, DNA samples from the scene were re-examined and found to belong to someone other than Mr Lehmann.
A month ago, the state government offered a $1m reward for information that would lead to an arrest and conviction of those responsible for his death.
On Wednesday around 7.30am detectives arrested the man, a 66-year-old, outside a home in Arncliffe.
Superintendent Doherty said police would allege the man was a “casual contact” of Mr Lehmann.
He said information from the public had been important, but it was too early to say whether anyone would be paid the $1 million reward.
Mr Lehrmann, who was described as a “fairly vulnerable and peaceful man”, was born in Germany and had been working as a disability carer prior to his death.
He had prepared to go back to Germany to visit an ill relative in the days before he was found dead, NSW Police Minister David Elliott previously said.
“Sadly, he never made it home,” Mr Elliott said.
Family members back home in Germany were informed of the arrest, and friends and family in Sydney were also made aware, Superintendent Doherty said.
“It’s mixed emotions for them. I suppose there is some satisfaction to getting some answers after all these years … Friends and family that are living in Sydney are very grateful we haven’t given up on this matter,” he said.
Mr Lehrmann’s body was found on February 14 in the kitchen by a concerned friend who stopped by, but it was believed he died two days before that.
A detective who worked on the case said he had been “brutally bashed, probably with a blunt object”.