When 14-year-old Kalinka Bamberski was found dead, no one suspected her stepfather.
The seemingly healthy teenage girl had died while on vacation in Germany with her family in 1982.
Just hours earlier, her step-father, a doctor named Dieter Krombach, had given her a mysterious injection of cobalt-iron. Krombach later said it was meant to help Kalinka tan, but investigators believe it caused the girl's death by suffocation later that night.
At Kalinka's autopsy, signs that she had been sexually abused were also discovered, but no investigation was opened into her death and no case was opened against Krombach.
Kalinka's biological father, Andre Bamberski, was the first person to seriously suspect Krombach as her killer. “It is not possible that a young girl of less than 15, in excellent health, in great physical shape, and who, in addition, was splendid and very smart, should die, just like that, without anyone knowing about it — that we should forget her,” he said about her case.
His suspicions seemed to be confirmed two years later, when Krombach was convicted of drugging, kidnapping and raping another teenage girl.
But when Krombach was tried for Kalinka's murder in Germany, where the family was vacationing at the time of her death, the court ruled there wasn't enough evidence to tie him to the crime. Since this was before the EU was established, there was also no chance for Krombach to be extradited to Bamberski's home country of France.
While it seemed like his daughter's killer would go free, Bamberski took justice into his own hands.
A court case against Krombach was opened in France without him, and found him guilty in absentia, but that wasn't good enough for Bamberski.
In 2009, almost three decades after Kalinka's death, the statute of limitations to catch her killer was about to run out. Bamberski paid men he describes as professional Russian kidnappers to help him "arrest" Krombach himself.
For just over $24,000, the kidnappers beat up Krombach, bound and gagged him, put him in the trunk of a car, and drove him to France. Early the next morning, Krombach was discovered tied up outside a French courthouse with a serious head injury.
At a trial in Paris, Krombach was finally found guilty of "deliberate violence leading to involuntary death," and given 15 years in jail.
Bamberski was ecstatic to finally get the verdict he waited decades for.
"My first thought is for Kalinka," he told reporters. "What I promised her, what I wanted was a complete and fair trial. Now that goal has been reached. Justice has been done in her memory and now I will be able to mourn for her."
Although, he still wishes Krombach was facing a murder charge, not just a manslaughter charge.
As for Bamberski, he admitted to organizing a kidnapping, but was only given a one-year suspended jail sentence.
“My life would have been much easier," he told the New York Times, "if I had had what I call the cowardice to say, ‘Well, she’s dead,’ and then start over."
What an outrageous case!