By now, I’m sure you are all aware of the Fritzl incest case that is currently under investigation in Austria. It’s messed up for a number of reasons (rape, incest, and kidnapping just to name a few). The Fritzl case reminded me of the Natascha Kampusch case, where a 10-year-old was kidnapped and held captive for 8 years, finally managing to escape in August of ’06. Much like Elizabeth Fritzl and her children, Kampusch was held in a small cellar, though perhaps calling it that is being too generous as the space was no more than 54 square feet.
What struck me about these two tragic cases were how they seemed very Japanese to me. You see, Japan seems to have a history of just plain weird ( i.e. fucked up) occurrences (suicides, kidnappings, murders/deaths, etc). That is not to say that these two countries are the only ones with weirdos, but something about Japan just strikes me as country of the bizarre crimes. They appear to take that extra step to make it fucked up. Well, with these two Austrian kidnapping cases, I thought perhaps they were making a run to lay claim to Japan’s title.
Then earlier last week I read about the Austrian man whom brutally murdered his family, 5 people in all.
Reinhard S[teinbauer], first killed his wife, Barbara, 42, and his daughter, Natalie, 7 in their family home in a prosperous Vienna district. By his own admission, he repeatedly struck them on the head with an axe that he had bought at a DIY store.
He then drove 170 kilometres (105 miles) to his parents’ house in the city of Linz. He then killed them with repeated blows of the axe as they slept in front of the television in their living room. They were identified as Engelbert and Gabrielle S.
The next stop was Ansfeld, a town near Linz, and home of his father-in-law. The old man, identified as Heinrich R, was felled as he opened his front door. LINK
The part I find most disturbing about this case is that Steinbauer had to drive nearly two hour to complete his murders. Keep in mind, this is after he murdered his wife and daughter. I have always found premeditated murders (to which he did confess it was) like this quite unsettling. The idea that a man can rationalize killing his wife, daughter, parents, and father-in-law just to spare them the embarrassment of a failed business venture and then turn himself in immediately afterwards (the article notes that his clothing was stained with blood when he surrendered to police) shows there was at least a small part of him that realized his crime.
It’s been about a week now since the crime occurred and in the few articles I have read since then, it seems as if the case is fairly open and shut. Steinbauer confessed to the crimes and one article even states that he had been planning the murders for several weeks. I assume we won’t hear anything more about this until a year from now when the sentencing is finally handed down (which I’ve heard with Austria’s lenient sentencing, may not be more than 15-25 years).
Next time: It’s Japan’s turn.
Postscript: After writing this article, my brother mentioned of a case similar to that of Steinbauer’s, which occurred in Iowa City, Ia on March 28th of this year. Once again it was a case of the father, Steven Sueppel, feeling his family could not withstand the shame of his alleged greed (he was about to stand trail for embezzlement of over a half-million dollars from the Hills Bank and Trust Company of which he was Vice President), bludgeoned his wife and three kids (though not before attempting to kill his kids by carbon monoxide poisoning, finding that not to work, marched his kids back into the house where he proceeded with the murders). After calling 911 to report what he had done, he then drove his van into a concrete barrier, where he died. I have a sad feeling that this is simply going to turn into “Fucked Up People VS. The World” and the world is going to lose. goddammit.