Stefan Ramin disappeared Oct. 10 during a visit to the island, Le Parisien reported. Charred bones and flesh found in a fire pit are suspected of being his remains, but the identity had not been confirmed, a prosecutor said.
Heike Dorsch, Ramin's companion on an extended cruise around the world, said Ramin left with a guide, Henri Arihano Haiti, 31, for what was supposed to be a trip of a few hours. She said Haiti returned a few hours later, told her Ramin was injured and needed help and then, after leading her into the bush, tied her to a tree and raped her.
Police were searching for the guide.
While some foreign newspapers labeled the apparent homicide an act of cannibalism, local authorities, including the prosecutor, said that was untrue.
Nuku Hiva is one of the Marquesas Islands. Monika Arnez of the Asia-Africa Institute in Hamburg told the German magazine Der Spiegel that cannibalism was practiced in the Marquesas during at least one period of overpopulation and social conflict. But she said claims the islanders routinely engaged in cannibalism were used by colonial rulers to justify their treatment of the population.
"Any kind of premature conclusions should be avoided in this mysterious case," she said.