A man dressed as Santa Claus has drugged a 15-year-old girl at a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany in what appears to be an attempted date rape.
The poisoner, who bribes women with alcohol by pretending to be a celebratory first-time father, has been dubbed the schnapps spiker by some media outlets and officials are scrambling to catch the poisoner before he strikes again.
15-Year-Old Poisoned by 'Santa Claus'
The most recent case, with what appears to be the youngest victim, occurred this weekend.
At around 10pm on Dec. 11, the suspect approached the young victim and her friend at Berlin's downtown Alexanderplatz Christmas market. The man, dressed in a Santa costume, offered each of them what he said was a shot of alcohol in a paper cup.
One girl refused, but the second drank both shots. Within minutes, the unfortunate girl started vomiting. Rushed to the hospital, she underwent a police-monitored drug test, which indicated she had been slipped some form of date rape drug.
Although Berlin officials are wary to give more details, citing an ongoing investigation, reports indicate the the 15-year-old girl's targeting is only the latest in at least nine similar incidents, almost all of them involving young women.
No Leads in 'Schnapps Spiker' Case
Eight other people at various Berlin Christmas markets have fallen prey to a similar culprit: an unidentified man handing out single-shot bottles of schnapps, asking people to celebrate the birth of his child.
All victims immediately experienced dizziness and nausea. Some women have lost consciousness, and many were briefly hospitalized.
This is the first time, however, that the man has been dressed in a Santa Claus costume. Before, witnesses reported the suspect was normal-looking and dressed in regular street clothes. One witness described the man as in his early 40s, roughly 5 feet 9 inches tall and blond, according to the Huffington Post.
Police Spokesman Ivo Habedank, speaking of the so-called schnapps spiker earlier this week, said it was not yet clear whether all the separate attacks were linked.
Intense investigations are ongoing, Habedank said, noting that the Santa poisoner could be a copycat criminal.
'Whoever catches him gets money from me immediately.'
Copycat or serial poisoner, however, there's one man who's had enough of the schnapps spiker: Charles Blume, chief of the central Alexanderplatz Christmas market.
Blume, 38, has put up $1,314 (1,000 euros) as an ealry holiday gift for whoever captures the poisoner. The man wearing a Santa costume poisoned a 15-year-old, Blume told Berlin newspaper Bild. Whoever catches him gets the money from me immediately.
In the issue, Bild also noted other problems that have hit various Christmas markets, a German staple selling seasonal fare for holiday shoppers, for the past few years. In the years before the Santa-dress schnapps spiker, problems have included Islamic terror threats and the discovery of a bomb from WWII in central Berlin.
As police search for the man poisoning women with a suspected date rape drug, officials urge shoppers not to partake of the traditional spiced wine or schnapps offered by many at German markets across the country during the holiday season. This Christmas, especially with a Santa spiker on the loose, it's far better to be safe than sorry.