‘Close to Home: Murder in the Coalfield’ or ‘Lauchhammer – Tod in der Lausitz’ is a German crime-thriller series streaming on Netflix. Set in Lauchhammer, a town located in the Oberspreewald-Lausitz district, in southern Brandenburg, Germany, the plot revolves around detectives Maik Briegand (Misel Maticevic) and Annalena Gottknecht (Odine Johne) as they investigate the murder of a teenager named Ramona Schinschke (Jule Hermann). This is Maik and Annalena’s first case together, and Annalena is from out of town, while Maik grew up in this part of Germany and personally knows many of those people they come across during the investigation. Maik soon learns that to stop future deaths, he must look back into his past. Here is everything you might want to know about the ending of ‘Close to Home: Murder in the Coalfield.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.
Close to Home: Murder in the Coalfield Recap
The episode begins as Annalena arrives at the crime scene after her car breaks down. Maik is already there and examining Ramona’s body. Someone has put two stones over Ramona’s eyes; the police initially think that the murderer themselves did it. Local police officer André Pötschke (Marc Hosemann) arrives and is horrified to see the girl dead. Realizing that Pötschke likely has something to tell him, Maik speaks to the man. It turns out that Ramona is the daughter of Jennifer Schinschke, a woman Pötschke has a complex relationship with.
In ‘Close to Home: Murder in the Coalfield,’ Lauchhammer was once a thriving coal-mining town. But Germany’s gradual shift toward renewable energy has been disastrous for towns like this. Now, the developers have come in to turn Lauchhammer into a resort town. One of the developers is Florian Langendorff (Arnd Klawitter), who is currently in a relationship with Maik’s estranged wife, Daniela “Dani” Briegand (Julischka Eichel). Maik and Dani’s daughter, Jackie Briegand (Ella Lee), is a teenager of Ramona’s age and a passionate conservation activist. Dani’s father is a former miner, so his and his wife’s views on these matters are opposite of Jackie’s, but they love her and try to do their best for her.
As for Maik’s family, his father, Karl, is a retired chief of the local police. His brother Ronny was also in the force until he quit and became a successful property owner. But success doesn’t often go along with adherence to morality, at least not in this case. He owns a property on Peace Street Droha Mera in Lauchhammer that he has leased to drug dealers that uses a legitimate company as a front.
As the investigation begins, Maik finds a saxophone belonging to an old friend of his near the crime scene and races against time to gather evidence of his innocence before Annalena finds out about him. This friend, Oliver Bartko, has severe claustrophobia. He reveals to Maik that he saw Ramona’s body in the river and brought her to the shore, but she was already dead by then. He was the one who put those stones over her eyes as a sign of respect. After Oliver is cleared of suspicion, Maik sends him to a mental health facility, where he undergoes therapy through VR technology and plays a crucial role in solving the case.
Along with Oliver, major suspects that emerge throughout the investigation are Florian, Pötschke, and Ramona’s boyfriend, Juri Schavadenov. In the season finale, Ronny’s karma catches up with him as the DA begins an investigation. The police find a fifth suspect. Jennifer, who is an addict, promises to clean herself up for her remaining child — Dustin, a son she shares with Pötschke.
Close to Home: Murder in the Coalfield Ending: Who Killed Ramona?
Among the suspects, Oliver was cleared by Maik, and even though Annalena criticizes his rash actions, she agrees that Oliver is innocent. Ramona was in Florian’s car, which he thoroughly cleaned after learning about Ramona’s murder. But it turns out that Ramona sold drugs to make enough money so she could leave Lauchhammer with her brother. She was in Florian’s car to sell drugs to him, but that was on a different day from when she was murdered, which effectively makes Florian, not the killer. After these revelations, Florian leaves town for good, and his relationship with Dani comes to an end.
Pötschke is a complex individual. He is a dishonest police officer, who has become wealthy by selling drugs he confiscated, but he takes care of people around him, and this included Ramona, until her death. She got the drugs she sold to her customers from Pötschke, who was the only thing close to a father figure she had in her life. So, he didn’t kill her either. After her death, child services try to take Dustin away, but Pötschke reveals that he is the boy’s father and pays them back the child support they gave Jennifer.
When the series begins, we see Maik’s hand is wrapped in bandages. It is later revealed that he beat up Juri for selling drugs to Jackie. For all his shortcomings, Juri loved Ramona and was planning to leave the town with her and Dustin before her death. He is also not the killer.
When it becomes apparent that Ramona’s murder is quite similar to two past unsolved cases, a pattern starts to emerge. Like Ramona, these unfortunate women were independent-minded and free-spirited. In all cases, there were signs of rape, but the quick tests for sperm came back negative. This means that the perpetrator used protection during the act or was completely sterilized.
The investigators realize that they are dealing with a serial killer. It dawns on Maik that the killer’s first victim was his former girlfriend, Katti. During a summer when they were teenagers, Maik and Katti fell in love. For long, he has believed her death was an accident. In reality, she was killed by one of their classmates, Martin Jaschke (Kai Ivo Baulitz), after Katti refused to sleep with him. This was a time before the unification, and Lauchhammer was part of East Germany. Monsters such as Martin Jaschke didn’t exist in a communist country. Martin’s father was a powerful man in the government, and he arranged for his son to be sent to a mental health hospital and not jail, and a vasectomy was performed on the latter. Karl tried investigating the matter but was forced to stop by the Stasi. Following the reunification, Martin was released.
The investigators deduce that Martin is an incel, and his next target is Jackie. Maik and Annalena race against time to save the former’s daughter, who is at a protest at the time. She is nearly killed by Martin after mistaking him for a fellow protester. But she manages to run away, finds her father, and points him and his colleagues toward the direction Martin has fled. The police corner Martin on a cliff overlooking the mines. He chooses to fall to his death over surrendering to the authorities.
Why Does Oliver Have Severe Claustrophobia?
After killing Katti, Martin dumped her body in a well. Oliver’s father forced him to go down into it because he was a lean youth. Katti was already dead, and the experience was so traumatic for Oliver that he developed severe claustrophobia.
Even though over three decades have passed, Oliver still can’t be in a closed space. As he is one of the first people police suspects of murdering Ramona, he is arrested and placed inside a dark room, which triggers his condition. But he and Maik had been closed since they were children, so the latter gets through to him and learns Oliver brought Ramona’s body out of the water.
During his VR therapy, Oliver recalls seeing a boy their age with a binocular and riding a moped. This was Martin. Meanwhile, a police officer finds the moped on Martin’s property. Annalena interrogates a corrupt cop from the communist days and learns the identity of the father of the killer, which helps her and Maik track down Martin’s home. By the time they get there, Martin has already left, but they find his secret room, incel materials on computers, and the trophies he has kept from his murders — there are way more than four.