A German-Iraqi woman is suspected of murder after allegedly killing a lookalike to fake her own death.
Police in Germany said a 23-year-old identified as Shahraban K. scoured social media for a doppelganger and found one called Khadidja O., an Algerian beauty blogger.
She allegedly arranged a meeting under false pretences, where the victim was lured into the woods and stabbed to death.
The body was left lying in a parked car near Shahraban’s home in Ingolstadt, southern Germany, and police were initially fooled into believing that she was dead.
But investigators soon raised "massive doubts" about her identity, and DNA tests showed the corpse was actually that of the Algerian victim — who police said looked “strikingly similar” to Shahraban.
Shahraban and an alleged accomplice, a 23-year-old Kosovan man, were arrested on suspicion of the killing last August.
On Monday, Bavarian police said the bizarre case had been raised to the level of a murder inquiry — a term which covers particularly grievous killings under German law — and new arrest warrants issued.
Police believe Shahraban hatched the plan to fake her own death because she wanted to “go underground” due to family problems.
She tried her luck with several young women on social media, using various accounts to try to coax them into a meeting, it is claimed.
One tactic reported by German was to claim that the lookalikes could appear in a music video by a rapper called Lune.
Once Khadija O. agreed to meet, she was picked up in a black Mercedes by the two suspects on August 16 last year, police said.
“During the journey back, the victim, as planned, was lured out of the car under a pretext and killed with multiple stab wounds in a wooded area,” a police statement said.
At the time, German news outlets said the victim had been stabbed 55 times but her face was left unharmed.
Lune, the rapper, said her sympathies were with the family and urged people to beware strangers on social media.
The two suspects remain in custody while investigations continue. Their full names have not been published under German privacy laws.
Police spokesman Andreas Aichele told newspaper Bild: "It was an extraordinary case that required all the investigators' skills. We don't have a case like this every day ― especially with such a spectacular twist. On the day we found the body, we did not expect it to develop like this."