His football career was unfolding beautifully before him, quite rare considering he was playing American football in Germany. Richard John Onyango, was no longer playing in the local league having graduated to join the Cologne Falcons in 2009 before moving to Essen’s GFL in 2010 and eventually signing Bergische Amboss in Remscheid; but his private life and personal devils wouldn’t allow his star to shine.
16th April 2012, Liesa Schulte, a 23-year-old German lady disappeared. Friends, family and well wishers came out to help look for the missing lady. Nobody was sure where she was. It was unlike her to go out for a party without contacting anyone. Why wasn’t she responding to the news alerts asking for her to contact the family. Her ex-boyfriend, the 24-year-old American football player, Richard John Onyango, from Essen was the first suspect. Richard’s brother was also arrested as he was suspected to be an accomplice, he was later let go.
Before her disappearance, Liesa had met up with him. A rental car Richard had gotten that same fateful night, had traces of Liesa’s hair in the boot. The police were confident Richard had something to do with the disappearance and had been arrested, but no information was forth coming. What happened after that meeting?
Days turned to weeks, weeks into months; still no trace of Liesa and no communication from her. The voluntary search by friends had been stopped, parents tried to offer a ransom to anyone who would tell them where to find their daughter, the federal police being called in.
Six months later at the end of October, children playing in the forest close to the youth hostel (Jugendherberger) in Essen, came across bones believed to belong to a human being and alerted the police. DNA tests run on the bones confirmed they belonged to Liesa. The tests further revealed that Liesa had been suffocated to death.
Although Richard refuse to comment on the case even through the whole court process that was followed closely by the public, the public prosecutor was sure, the evidence was enough to confirm Richard’s guilt.
What happened that fateful night is still unclear as Richard refuse to share his version of events. However, the evidence collected implies Richard convinced Liesa to meet up, to which Liesa agreed. On his way to the meeting, he rented a car. During the meeting, Richard strangled Liesa for close to five minutes but long and hard enough to kill her. He then put her body in the boot of the rented car, and drove to a forest in Essen where he buried the body.
Some reports however claim that Richard’s first testimony on what happened was full of contradictions leading to his arrest. He later completely refused to give his version of events, not even at the trial. His family also refused to act as witnesses.
Richard, born in Kenya moved to Germany with his family. He and Liesa dated for 14 months, before Liesa decided to break it off. According to news reports, Liesa was planning to move to the US, but Richard would have none of it. Liesa’s mother told the court, that Richard wanted Liesa all to himself and their relationship was full of drama. Before their relationship had ended, Richard had demand that Liesa delete her Facebook page and stop going out with her friends. Richard claimed that Liesa being on Facebook exposed her to other men, something he did not like.
The relationship between Richard and Liesa seemed to have lots of ups and downs, at one point having Richard and Liesa separately try to commit suicide. However, Liesa’s mother was to tell the court, “After Liesa broke up with Richard, she was like a blossoming flower. Easier to talk to and very relaxed.”
It seems Liesa was ready to move on, having made plans to move to the USA for a year. She had already organised a farewell party and invited her friends, but Richard could have none of it, and so he invited her to a farewell meet-up.
Liesa’s brother, Peter told the court that once during a fight in Düsseldorf; Richard threatened to kill Liesa.
Richard was sentenced in July 2013 to 12 years and 3 months; he will be released in October 2025.