Austrian man kills family 'to spare them shame'
May 15, 2008 - 10:27AM
An Austrian man gave himself up to police and calmly explained he had killed five members of his family to spare them the shame of his financial ruin.
Investigators yesterday found the bodies of the man's wife and seven-year-old daughter at the family's home in an affluent part of Vienna. Both had been bludgeoned by an axe, police said. The bodies of his parents and father-in-law were found later at their homes in Upper Austria province.
The 39-year-old man, a self-employed public relations consultant identified only as Reinhard S, told police he wanted to spare his family the shame of financial ruin caused through speculative financial dealings, criminal investigator Thomas Stecher said at a news conference.
Police said he started by killing his 42-year-old wife Barbara, who worked at the Finance Ministry, and daughter Natalie early Tuesday morning. His daughter's body was found in a walk-in closet and his wife in a bathroom, both draped with cloth, authorities said.
He then said he drove to Ansfelden in Upper Austria province, where he beat his parents - ages 72 and 69 - to death, police said. He told officers he went to Linz to kill his 80-year-old father-in-law in the evening. Police believe he used an ax in all cases.
"He is completely matter of fact ... almost without emotion," Stecher said.
The suspect, now undergoing further questioning in Vienna, indicated he had "massive money problems", Stecher said, saying he had borrowed money from family members. The total in question was a six-figure euro amount, he said.
Police were awaiting autopsy results to determine exactly how the victims died. Letters were found beside the bodies in Upper Austria, police said, declining to provide more details about their content.
He could face life in prison if charged and convicted for the killings, said Gerhard Jarosch, spokesman for the prosecutor's office.