The Strange Case of Tristan Bruebach and Manfred Seel

I first learned about Tristan Bruebach on Reddit’s Unresolved Mysteries about two years ago.  The case of the thirteen year old boy brutally murdered in a water tunnel that ran under a roadway was so outrageous and upsetting that it surprised me that it had not filtered out to English-speaking true crime buffs.  Tristan’s murder had elements that initially reminded me of The Family murders in Australia, but I’d never seen all the elements of Tristan Bruebach’s murder anywhere else.  It was a crime that to me was very much sui generis, and later analysis from German investigators echoed my opinion.  Nowhere on Earth have we seen another murder like Tristan’s.

I don’t have a lot of time for Reddit these days but I go back from time to time and I somehow managed to visit Unresolved Mysteries on the same day last year when someone posted that the police had a suspect in the murder of Tristan Bruebach.  Eager to learn the motives behind the murder, I read up on the suspect – Manfred Seel – and was initially very skeptical.  The investigation into Manfred Seel itself seemed odd to me.  Seel is accused of murdering two female coworkers in the 1970s, two female prostitutes in the 1990s, another female prostitute in the 2000s, and school boy Tristan in 1998.  It was hard to see how this one man could be linked to murders of two women he worked with, then have 20 years of inactivity followed by two murders of prostitutes, with a gap of several years until he killed Tristan.  The time frame is problematic, and the killings involved vastly different victim pools.

As mentioned already, Tristan’s murder was very unusual.  More on that later but it can be said that it’s not unexpected that a killer who preys on female coworkers is a different killer than a man who selects prostitutes as victims, and both killers would be different than a person who kills pre-pubescent boys.  As I began reading about Manfred Seel I found myself surprised because the more I read, the more I could understand how it is that the German police reached the conclusions they did.  I am unsure if I wholly buy that Seel murdered Tristan, but the authorities make a compelling case and I hope eventually more information comes to light.

Originally I thought I was going to be writing about how stupid I found the accusations pinning Seel as Tristan’s killer but after spending a couple of months scouring the Internet, whether or not I think Seel is responsible for Tristan’s murder is irrelevant.  Even if Seel is not Tristan’s killer, the fact is that now both names are linked together – it’s hard to discuss Tristan without discussing Seel.  It’s even harder for me to discuss Seel without discussing Tristan.  Tristan’s case is bizarre and what happened to him, and later his family, is tragic.  His case was marred with misinformation about his life, salacious rumors that were, irritatingly, repeated by the German press without a lick of proof, and even brought up in the Reddit thread about Tristan.  Seel’s story is similarly strange, with unexpected behaviors, foul deeds and even fouler implications.

Obtaining all this information was difficult because so much of it is in the German language.  In the end, I was pretty impressed at how much Google Translate has improved over the years, but it’s daunting for English-speakers who are just casually interested in the case to tackle all those news articles and to sort the good from the bad, to find articles that have fresh news and aren’t just a retelling of older information, updated with a bit of new information tacked on at the end.  Since I spent so long sorting and reading, I decided to write about Tristan Bruebach and Manfred Seel, source cite as much as I could, and share the links I found to news stories that were helpful and brought understanding to both stories.  Maybe this can serve as a small clearinghouse of information about the case for English-speaking readers.  In this article I’ve included citation numbers correlating to the source that I got specific information from, and when you scroll down to these sources, I’ve included the English Google Translation for each article originally in German.

Under the cut I will discuss Tristan, Seel, Seel’s other victims and interesting information German profilers and investigators used to track down victims who were killed over 40 years ago.  Please know that much of the information under the cut is disturbing.  Extreme sexual deviancy, child murder, dismemberment, rape, potential cannibalism and possible necrophilia show up in telling Tristan’s and Seel’s stories.  If any of this bothers you, don’t read any further.

Sharing the Love

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

I’ve had some serious insomnia lately, which means I’ve been up during the middle of the night, reading lunatic shit, mostly on Reddit. I’ve come across a couple of strange topics I wanted to share with you guys.

The first involves another lost German child. Not long ago I talked about the case of Tristan Bruebach, a German teenager killed brutally in a tunnel in Frankfurt in 1998. I had never heard of that particular MO before and the crime itself was utterly shocking. This time the child in question was literally lost. Dirk Schiller disappeared on a vacation with his family in the former East Germany in 1979. As in the family was walking to their car in a snow covered lot and the little boy disappeared without a trace.

His mother never gave up looking for him and there is a level of conspiracy attached to this case that gives even a skeptic like me pause. This site does a great job covering the case, explaining the Stasi connection, and a possible link to medical experimentation. This is a seriously twitchy case, and it’s made all the more twitchy given the release of the family’s Stasi files. I lost hours reading about this case.

The other strange tidbit I want to share is also from Reddit, and is amusing, bordering on hilarious, once you read enough to realize that your initial conclusion was incorrect and that the person in question is not into waterfowl bestiality. Readers, I give you /u/fuckswithducks. His comment history is a gold mine and I lost even more hours reading his deep love of rubber duckies, his encyclopedic knowledge of them as well as how he uses them in his sex life.

I shit you not, I read comment after comment to Mr Oddbooks until he pleaded with me to shut up. Here are some examples, all links as they were in the original comments.

Duck size is important:

Let’s talk about duck size. I’m really not interested in small ducks. On the other hand, big ducks are nice, but they’re just impractical. What the hell am I supposed to do with them?! My ideal duck size is 3-6 inches tall. Also, I don’t really like fat ducks. I’m just looking for nice, standard, medium-sized ducks like these.

It is possible to have a favorite rubber duck, and to know so much about that duck that people may think you are making shit up until they Google and realize you, in fact, know your shit, duck-wise:

I’m still searching for the manufacturer of my favorite rubber duck. Every few years the ducks show up in stores again (the last time I saw one was around 2008), but I’ve never been able to learn their origin. Here’s a bit of a back story about this duck (some info I’ve posted before, some is new):

In 1977, a toy company called Knickerbocker created a new toy called Ernie’s Rubber Duckie. Designed by famous toy inventor Henry Orenstein (patent USD260915), this toy would lay the foundation for one of the most iconic rubber ducks in history. In 1983, Knickerbocker was sold to Hasbro; which produced more of the ducks around 1985 through Playskool. Around that time, a Taiwanese factory got a hold of this toy and started creating generic knockoffs of it. By 1992, Playskool discontinued production of their rubber duck, but the Taiwanese factory continued on. Every few years, this anonymous factory produced replicas which would appear in toy stores across the United States.

Remember this stock photo? It appeared in everything from Photoshop tutorials to the default Windows user account profile picture. Some were even used in an experiment to test the pollution caused by different kinds of jet ski engines. Those particular ducks are now mounted on the desk of politician Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif. The last time I ever saw them was in a World Market around 2008 (video evidence from 2005).

If you have one of these, feel free to check the bottom and I guarantee you’ll find the “Made in Taiwan”. They seem to all come from one source, yet I have never been able to track them down. My dream is to some day discover where they’re made and start my own store for them.

Edit: I want to thank all the people who have tried looking for me! Unfortunately, the search goes on. Several people have found very similar ducks, the closest probably being the Bath and Body Works ducks or this knockoff of the knockoff which is from China and is significantly lower quality.

Duck porn is a thing not limited to /u/fuckswithducks:

Thanks for doing an AMA! I have a more general question about Brazzers. In Wet Dreams! with Dani Jensen (2012), I noticed that you included a rubber duck in the shoot. In Splash Time with Jenna Ross (2013), you used 3 of the same duck. Does Brazzers have its own permanent prop collection? If so, can we get a tour and see some of the interesting things you’ve collected to use in videos over the years? I’m curious because you reuse the same rubber duck and I have seen other studios reuse other rubber ducks as well (for example, Bangbros reused this one 12)

But just because some porn companies recognize the erotic use of rubber ducks does not mean they make it easy for the average duck perv:

The generic video titles (e.g. “[Pornstar] rides huge dick”, “young bedroom solo”) and descriptions which are clearly copy/paste jobs. They make it really difficult to find porn when you’re searching for specific things. Really the only way to find porn with rubber ducks is to search for “bath” and then scroll through all the thumbnails for one. Plenty of porn videos set entirely in the bathroom won’t even mention it in the title/description, though. It’s simple SEO, people!

A fetish collection of rubber duckies can have a practical use as well, like for when your girlfriend takes up too much space in bed:

Came here to say this. There are plenty of passive-aggressive ways to win your space back. Personally, I like to stack rubber ducks on my girlfriend until she moves.

And sexual appreciation doesn’t always have to be about the ducks:

Sexual preferences aside, I think everyone can appreciate a nice set of boobs.

Part of me thinks this is a dedicated dada-esque account.  But most of me hopes this is real.  I really love /u/fuckswithducks and need him to abide on Reddit as long as he can.  I should probably send him some gold to show my appreciation.

You read anything recently that is weird or strange or unsettling?  Tell me about it!

Stuff is happening, as well as things

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

So sorry for the silence on my end.  I’ve been writing quite a bit, so much in fact that I have written myself into a corner.  Every Cradle Is a Grave came into my life as I was experiencing death and the rage and depression death brings with it.  I have written over 20,000 words about the book and, though I am well-known for my wordiness, that is a wholly inappropriate number of words to use to discuss a book.  I am self-indulgent but luckily I still have a bit of self-awareness and now I am spending time editing so that I can present my frame of mind regarding the book without substituting my frame of mind for the book.  I will have the discussion up early next week.

I will also have another “middle of the road” discussion up either tomorrow or Thursday.

I’ve been immersed in some interesting media and topics this week, one of which turned into a rabbit-hole.  I follow the “Unresolved Mysteries” subreddit and a German user posted about a murder I had never heard of and as a result I have been scouring the Internet, reading crappy translations of old German news articles, finding every detail I can about it.  In 1998, thirteen year old Tristan Bruebach was murdered in such a sexually specific and audacious manner that I cannot believe I had not heard of this murder before and I also cannot believe this was the sole time the murderer performed such a killing. But against all logic, it seems like that is the case.  Seriously, three decades of reading and studying and I have never heard of a murder like this, and there are so many strange details about Tristan, his activities before his murder, and the way he was killed that even seasoned professional criminologists are baffled by the case.

I’ve also been listening to the Michigan band His Name Is Alive almost non-stop.  I don’t know how to describe this sort of music and the band has continually evolved since the late 80s so it’s hard to pigeon-hole the effort.  The only constant member of the band is Warren Defever, with different musicians and singers coming and going.

A friend of mine in college gave me a mixed tape with “Baby Fish Mouth” on it but it was the early 90s, no iTunes and precious little Internet outside of university labs, and tracking down small, indie bands was harder then. I finally got a copy of the album, Mouth by Mouth, and every song was worthwhile, which seldom ever seems to happen. The singer on this track, Karin Oliver, performed with HNIA for several years but evidently is now an account manager at a marketing firm.


“How Ghosts Affect Relationships” is from the album Livonia, released in 1990. It wasn’t until this album got uploaded to YouTube that I could access it. I don’t know if it’s rare or if it’s just that I wasn’t thorough. This is the best song on the album, I think, and it’s a little musical knife in my heart.


“How Dark Is Your Dark Side” is not the best song on Xmmer, a 2007 album, but I listen to it over and over because I love the singer, Andrea Morici. There is something sweetly hypnotic about her voice on this track. I think she may be the best vocalist to work with Defever.

So that’s where I am. Buried in hyperemotional reactions to a book about antinatalism, searching for information about a savagely murdered child, and listening to experimental rock. See you soon with a short entry about two short story collections that disappointed me sincerely.