‘Crime Scene Berlin: Nightlife Killer’ Recap & Ending: How Did Dirk P Die?

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Crime Scene Berlin: Nightlife Killer is a new short documentary series streaming on Netflix, consisting of three episodes around the forty-minute mark that present a harrowing case from 2012. As the full name of the show suggests, the attacks and murders were linked to nightlife and discotheques, as a serial killer was on the loose in Berlin’s Friedrichshain district, which is a popular partying hotspot. Overall, the general unfolding of the case in Crime Scene Berlin: Nightlife Killer is quite well presented, and while the case itself did not turn out to be a very in-depth one, the Netflix docuseries makes for a fairly decent watch.


What crime took place at the Grosse Freihit 114 bar?

Located in Berlin’s happening Friedrichshain district are numerous nightclubs, pubs, and bars, many of which are catered towards specific groups of people, with sexual orientation being a common distinguishing feature. The Grosse Freihit 144 establishment is a popular gay bar in the area that still operates today but was shaken to the core on May 5, 2012, when something extremely out-of-place was discovered. In the early morning hours, when the bar was closing after a busy Friday night of revelry and partying, one of the staff saw a man lying on the floor in one of the backroom stalls. This, in itself, was not a very common occurrence, as no member or guest would keep lying unconscious at such late hours. Although the extreme limits, or lack thereof, in the case of partying and celebrations in Berlin’s nightlife do often create a chance of people getting very sick from the drinks or the drugs, this particular incident seemed a bit odd to the staff member. He tried to wake the man up, even leaving a glass of water beside him and informing him that the place would be closed in ten minutes.

When the unconscious man did not budge even after these warnings, he was checked a bit closer, and it was then that the staff members realized that they actually had a dead body lying in their backroom stall. An ambulance was immediately called, and the authorities quickly got involved, going through the exact situation at the stall and starting an examination of the body. The very first answers to be found were who the dead man was and how he had suddenly lost his life in a gay club backroom. Both of these questions troubled the authorities for some time, as there were no answers to them. There was nothing on the dead man’s body, such as a wallet or a phone, that could be used to identify him. The only evident piece of information that was readily available was that he was homosexual and that he had come to the club looking for unattached physical intimacy. After all, the backrooms, referred to as darkrooms, at gay bars are strictly spaces where people come to have such raw and passionate moments without having to know their temporary partner well enough, all facilitated by the dimly lit environment created in the rooms.

As the medical team conducted a preliminary examination of the body, it was determined that the death had seemingly occurred because of strangulation. But this information could not be linked with the crime scene, for there was simply no evidence of any possibility of someone choking to death or being forcefully strangled and murdered. Since the darkrooms were used by multiple people throughout the night, no correct idea about the victim or the possible perpetrator could be made. It was finally one of the staff at the bar who partly knew the victim, and they guided the police towards the nearest Metro store. After showing the photograph of the man, the police ultimately got to know that the victim was Nicky Hilgert, a 32-year-old man who, indeed, worked at the store. From the reports and statements by his co-workers, friends, and family, Nicky was a gentle and much-loved man who did not really have any enemies or even the mindset to make enemies. Therefore, why he had been targeted and seemingly killed remained a mystery to the police, which they wanted to solve soon.


Where did Nicky’s credit card details lead the police?

Having found no other leads about the suspect at the crime scene, the police decided to track down the missing items from Nicky’s body. According to his sister, the man would always have his phone with him, and it was very strange that it was not found on his body. It was Nicky’s credit cards that provided the first major breakthrough in finding a suspect, as it was found that the cards had been attempted to be used at a kiosk to buy train tickets to Saarbrucken twice, both times after Nicky was dead. This immediately made it clear that the perpetrator had used the cards, and while both attempts were declined, probably because of Nicky’s card settings, a ticket for a similar route was bought from the very same kiosk. The police immediately tracked down the card details used for the transaction, and they turned out to belong to a man named Miroslaw Wawak. 

A search for Miroslaw was made, but surprisingly, the young man himself had reported that his money, credit cards, and mobile phone had been stolen after a bizarre incident that even got him hospitalized. On the night of May 5, Miroslaw had been in the Friedrichshain area, going around bars and drinking as part of the usual merriment. While returning home, though, he met a friendly man who offered to exchange his liqueur bottle with Miroslaw after seeing that the latter was not enjoying his own. As Miroslaw became friends with the man and kept drinking from his bottle, he slowly started to lose control over his body, feeling sick and dizzy. Eventually, he lost consciousness on the streets, fainted, and had to be rushed to the hospital where he was found. It was clear that someone had drugged Miroslaw and stolen his belongings in an almost similar fashion as Nicky, suggesting that they had been attacked by the same perpetrator, especially since both incidents took place in the same area.

When Miroslaw’s hospital records, which had information about his condition on the night and details about his treatment, were checked, the police found their next big breakthrough moment. It turns out that Miroslaw had been subjected to a chemical drug known as liquid ecstasy, or GHB, which is used as a depressant for recreational purposes. The effect of GHB is such that it makes the subject lose control and then their consciousness, which, in excessive amounts, easily leads to death as well. In fact, the doctors stated that Miroslaw had been given excessive amounts of the drug, and the man could survive only because he was rushed to the hospital in time. 

After his tremendously lucky escape from death, Miroslaw naturally started helping the police track down the perpetrator. He gave them exact details about the route that the two men had taken, and the security camera footage of the areas was checked. Surely enough, the two were spotted in multiple recordings, and finally, a physical description of the perpetrator, especially the details about his clothing, was found. However, finding the man would be quite a difficult task, as his appearance or clothing did not stand out from the average man in Berlin in any way.


How did information about Alexander help the police further?

By this time, the police investigation had already started taking shape, and Nicky’s stolen mobile phone was also tracked down to have been used with a different SIM card. The police immediately found this man, known as Dirk P., and picked him up for interrogation. But Dirk kept claiming that he had found Nicky’s phone outside the gay bar and that he had nothing to do with what happened to the man. Although Dirk was kept in police custody, the authorities could not find any solid evidence against him yet and so had to keep investigating the case. The lead detectives had already released information about the suspected serial killer to the public, and this is when another major breakthrough came, in the form of an elderly woman calling up the police to inform them how she suspected a link between the killings and the death of her own grandson.

A few days before the murder of Nicky, a man named Alexander had been found dead in his apartment while his personal belongings were missing, and the apartment door had been left unlocked. These two particular details made the family very suspicious, for Alexander was not someone to lose things or keep his apartment door unlocked. But with no other evidence found, the police mostly ignored the claims and believed Alexander to have died from his experiments with drugs. However, after details about Nicky’s death and the attack on Miroslaw were made public, Alexander’s grandmother suddenly remembered a specific detail. Only sometime before his death did the man tell her how a friend or acquaintance of his was from Saarbrucken, which was the same station for which tickets had been bought using Nicky and Miroslaw’s credit cards. Naturally, the woman called the police and informed them of her entire theory.

The medical study of Alexander’s body also confirmed that he, too, had been given liquid ecstasy, or GHB, and it was because of the drug that he lost his life. Only a few days prior, Alexander had made a new friend on an online dating website, and this friend happened to be Dirk P. On the day of his death, Dirk went over to Alexander’s house, drugged him to death, and then left the place, having stolen all the personal belongings of his victim, who was actually the first in his strange serial killings.


Who was Dirk P, and why did he commit the murders?

Meanwhile, Dirk still kept claiming innocence in police custody, and there was no definitive way to identify him as the same man seen in the security camera footage with Miroslaw. However, Alexander’s sister now reported that the jacket worn by the man in the video actually belonged to her dead brother, and this further strengthened the net around Dirk. Background research on him was done, and it was revealed that he hails from the city of Saarbrucken, where he was born and brought up. Dirk had either lost his parents at a young age or was abandoned by them, as he spent most of his life at the house of an aunt, growing up with a cousin around ten years older than him. But when his uncle, the only man in the house, died, the aunt apparently started committing some strange acts against the teenage boy. She supposedly replaced her husband with Dirk in every sense, and this meant that the boy was sexually molested and taken advantage of on a daily basis.

It was early in his adulthood that Dirk realized that he was gay, although he admitted that he did not want to be so. His accidental coming out led to a tremendous argument with his aunt, and Dirk left home forever, moving to Berlin to start a new life. In the tape recording of his confession in the case, Dirk stated that he wanted to suppress his homosexual urges, but this was obviously not possible. While the exact reason as to why he committed the murders is still not clear, so many years after the case has been closed, it seems most likely that Dirk had developed a twisted pleasure in drugging men and seeing them die, even connecting his physical desires with the whole experience. The man was an experienced nurse by profession, and so he had all the knowledge about how much dose of GHB would be required to kill an adult man. Dirk mentioned all of this in his confession to the police and also in the court trial, although many found it difficult to believe that he killed two men and attempted to kill a third man only for pleasure. The financial angle was not strong either since the items he stole were rather petty and cheap when compared to the lives of his victims. 


What ultimately happened to Dirk P?

As the police completely zoned in on Dirk, there were claims that he had possibly poisoned his aunt to death as well. An investigation was launched, and the woman’s body was exhumed to find some traces of unusual chemicals in it. However, as proving the man’s involvement would still take a lot more time, and as the rest of the case was already very strong against him, the prosecutors decided to drop the matter and go ahead with the court trial. In the trial, Dirk never apologized to the families of his victims, showed no remorse, and was given a life imprisonment sentence. Many wanted a further psychological evaluation of him to better understand his reasons behind the murders. However, nine months after the court verdict, Dirk P committed suicide while in prison, and the exact dark secrets remained unknown to the world. Dirk’s dark desires could have pushed him further towards killing more people and maybe even going to worse extremes, and Crime Scene Berlin: Nightlife Killer is a testament to how a serial killer was stopped in time.


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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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