MAINZ, Germany — A family feud, a missing woman and a body that had been stabbed to death found in the woman’s car by her parents: these things, authorities in Germany now say, are not what they seemed before.

Far from being the victim, the woman who had been missing found a resemblance on Instagram and killed her with a friend to stage her own death and «start a new life,» Bavarian prosecutors and police now say. The case has been dubbed the «doppelganger murder» by local media.

Arrest warrants have now been issued on suspicion of murder for the woman and her friend, police officers in the southern city of Ingolstadt, some 50 miles north of the regional capital Munich. announced on monday. The couple have been in custody since days after the body was discovered.

«I can confirm that the 23-year-old accused woman was obviously planning to start a new life due to family issues,» police spokesman Andreas Aichele told NBC News. She had created several social media accounts «to find anyone who was as close to her as possible,» Aichele said.

«Investigations revealed contact with several young women over a period of a few weeks. Investigators assume that under a pretext he managed to arrange a meeting with the latest victim. Together with the 23-year-old man, he traveled to the Heilbronn region to pick her up and get up and carry out the planned assassination,» Aichele added.

Under German privacy laws, the full names of victims or suspects are not made public.

The mystery began on August 16, when the parents of the 23-year-old German-Iraqi woman found the body of a woman who had been stabbed to death in her parked vehicle in Ingolstadt, according to a police statement in northern Upper Bavaria.

But a subsequent autopsy «raised serious questions about the woman’s identity,» they said in a statement two days later.

Police looking for clues after murder case in Ingolstadt
Tributes stand next to a tree near which a female body was discovered in a passenger car on August 17, 2022 in Ingolstadt, Germany. Peter Kneffel/Picture Alliance via Getty Images Archive

It brought relief to the 23-year-old’s father, but not in the circumstances he expected. “The police came up to us … and said, ‘Good news, his daughter is alive.’ We were so happy. We thought she was dead,” the woman’s father told the German newspaper Bild.

Instead, two days later, police said they had arrested the woman and another 23-year-old man of Kosovar descent on suspicion of manslaughter. The two suspects have been in custody ever since, and warrants for their arrest on suspicion of murder were issued late last week.

It turns out that the dead woman was another 23-year-old woman who, according to police, «looked strikingly similar» to the suspect.

«The suspects came up with the plan to search online for a female resembling the German-Iraqi, kill her, and place her in such a way that the corpse would be mistaken for the suspect,» police said in a statement Monday.

“He offered them several benefits to achieve a meeting. However, she did not come to a meeting with those women. prosecutor Dr. Veronika Grieser saying.

According to the Bavarian police, the main suspect contacted the victim via social media in early August and arranged a meeting for August 16. He traveled with her friend in her car to the Heilbronn metropolitan area, about 150 miles west of Ingolstadt, to pick her up. the victim at her home, police said.

The victim was taken from the vehicle and stabbed to death in a wooded area «insidiously and for nefarious motives,» the statement added.

Andy Eckardt reported from Mainz, Germany, and Aina J. Khan from London.