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YOGTZE – The Unexplained Death of Gunther Stoll

Gunther Stoll was an unemployed German food engineer who suffered bouts of paranoia. He would sometimes tell his wife that “they” were out to get him. Who “they” were was never explained, nor was the existence of a shadowy gang following him ever substantiated. Stoll was simply convinced that “they” had malicious intent.

On October 25, 1984, Stoll was having a quiet evening at home with his wife. Suddenly, he jumped up and yelled “Jetzt geht mir ein Licht auf!” – “Now I get it!” He scribbled down six characters on a piece of paper: YOGTZE (though some people suggest the G actually was 6). He crossed out the letters and abruptly left the house.

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Stoll drove to his favorite pub and ordered a beer. It is was 11:00pm. Suddenly he collapsed to the floor, losing consciousness and smashing his face. Witnesses said that he hadn’t touched his beer, nor did he appear intoxicated when he entered the pub. When Stoll regained consciousness, he left the pub.

Around 1:00am, he appeared on the doorstep of a childhood friend in Haigerseelbach, where Stoll grew up. Haigerseelbach is only about six miles from the pub. What happened in the preceding two hours is a mystery. The friend, a woman, was uncomfortable with Stoll showing up at her house in the middle of the night, so she didn’t let him in. She did allow him to ramble for a bit on the patio. He warned of an upcoming “horrible incident.” Eventually, the friend got him to leave, suggesting he go home to his wife or spend the night at his parents’ house nearby. Stoll left, and another two hours go by with no record of his activities.

Around 3:00am, two truck drivers pulled off the road when they saw a car wreck and went to help. The car was Stoll’s Volkswagen Golf, and Stoll was inside – in the passenger seat. He was naked, bloodied, and barely conscious. One trucker went to call for help while the other sat with Stoll. Stoll claimed he had been traveling with “four strangers” who “beat him loose.” He died in the ambulance en route to the hospital.

In the ensuing investigation, a few strange details came to life. The good Samaritans both reported an injured man in a white jacket fleeing the scene as they pulled up. This man was never found. The police concluded that Stoll was not injured in his own car. It seemed that at some point, he stripped naked, was hit by another vehicle, then placed in his own car. It is unclear if he was put in his Volkswagen before or after it crashed.

Officially, the death of Gunther Stoll was deemed a murder by German police, and the case has never been solved. There are lots of theories about what may have happened. It is possible that the majority of what happened to Stoll had to do with his mental illness: jotting down seemingly random letters; falling off a stool; even stripping naked. He could have stripped down and gotten hit by a car purely by accident. The driver could have put his body back into his car, and even staged it to look like Stoll was in an accident. 

But the internet is always a haven for strange and interesting theories. For starters, there has been some speculation that Stoll at some point may have been trying to set up a drug buy. A drug deal gone bad is an easy answer to Stoll’s death. Then there is YOGTZE. Some investigators suggest that the G may actually be a 6. One popular internet theory is that Stoll had a psychic premonition about his own death, and YOGTZE or YO6TZE was the license plate of the car that hit him. Another theory points out that TZE is a yogurt flavoring – perhaps he was trying to solve a food engineering issue involving yogurt. YO6TZE is the call signal of a Romanian radio station – could that have something to do with it?

Gunther Stoll’s case remains open and unsolved in Germany. After over thirty years since Stoll’s strange, final evening, it doesn’t seem likely that any answers will be forthcoming.

Written by Alyse Wax

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