An Austrian woman who stuffed two of her babies
in a freezer and entombed two others in concrete has been sentenced to
Gertraud Arzberger, from the city of Graz, was
convicted on three counts of murder, after experts said one of the
babies may have been still-born.
Her boyfriend, Johannes Genser, 39, was jailed for
15 years as an accessory.
Arzberger, 33, said she had financial problems and
feared her partner might leave if she had a baby.
Arzberger, a bookkeeper, told investigators that
she gave birth to the children in a bath, but could not remember what
Genser denied knowing about her pregnancies, but
acknowledged telling her that she would have to leave him if she got
Neighbours told the court that her pregnancies had
Two of the babies' bodies were found wrapped in
plastic and hidden in a freezer in a block of flats in Graz last June.
They were discovered by a neighbour who had
reportedly gone to the basement freezer to fetch some ice cream for
The third and fourth were in plastic buckets filled
with concrete in a garden shed at the residence, about 200km (120
miles) south of Vienna. They were found by police sniffer dogs.
Neighbours told the court that she had been
pregnant a fifth time, but a fifth body has not been found.
Arzberger pleaded guilty to four murders in court.
As he left court in handcuffs Genser sought to
propose marriage to Arzberger. "Can I still offer her my hand?" he
asked the judge, who replied firmly "No".
Austrian Who Killed Four Infants Gets Life
March 31, 2006
A woman who stuffed two of her infants into a
freezer and entombed two more in concrete-filled buckets was convicted
of murder and sentenced to life in prison Friday, closing out a
macabre case that stunned this usually tranquil alpine nation.
A court in the southern city of Graz, where the
four tiny bodies were discovered in rapid succession last summer,
convicted Gertraud Arzberger, 33, of three counts of murder. Her
long-term partner was sentenced to 15 years as an accessory.
Arzberger had been tried on five counts but had
pleaded guilty to killing only four of her babies, and experts said
they could not rule out that one might have been stillborn.
"I'm sorry. I can't make everything all right
again," Arzberger said before the verdicts were read out.
Her live-in companion, Johannes Genser, 39, had
proclaimed his innocence and insisted he never noticed Arzberger was
pregnant. Neighbors, however, had testified that her swollen belly was
obvious, and prosecutors said it was implausible to believe he did not
know she was carrying the children.
The two were charged in June after police found the
bodies of two newborns in a basement freezer shared by residents of an
apartment complex in Graz, about 120 miles south of Vienna, and the
remains of two more entombed in paint buckets filled with concrete.
Autopsies indicated the two infants found in the
freezer were still alive when put inside, wrapped in plastic bags.
Tests could not be performed on the two newborns whose remains were
sealed in concrete because they had deteriorated too much.
Prosecutors had charged the woman with killing five
infants, based on testimony from neighbors who said they saw five
pregnancies. But a fifth body was never found, and Arzberger denied
ever having a fifth child.
Before the jury returned the verdicts, state
attorney Johannes Winklhofer urged the court to deliver a stiff
"She is a murderer. She killed four babies in a
brutal and gruesome fashion," Winklhofer said.
Her partner, he said, "knew everything ... she
could not hide her condition from the neighbors, and certainly not
from her friend."
Austria has no death penalty, and the minimum
sentence for homicide is 10 years.
Multiple homicides are rare in Austria, where the
case held many spellbound for months.
The story broke when a neighbor living in the
apartment block went down to the basement to get some ice cream for
his children and found two of the tiny bodies beneath frozen meat and
vegetables while he was rummaging through the freezer.
Police sniffer dogs found the others in the
concrete-filled pails, which were hidden beneath debris piled up
inside a garden shed on the property.
Neighbors had described Arzberger, a bookkeeper, as
a hard worker who kept a tidy house and a beautiful yard in front of
Prosecutors said Arzberger told investigators she
killed the infants out of despair over her inability to pay the bills,
and out of fear that having children might drive away Genser, a
carpenter and her partner of eight years.
Genser's lawyer, Kurt Klein, insisted in closing
arguments Friday that the charges were "pure fiction." Prosecutors
said DNA tests showed that Genser had fathered at least three of the
Austrian frozen babies examined
June 6, 2005
Forensic experts in Austria are carrying out
post-mortem examinations on two babies found at an apartment block in
the southern city of Graz.
The two bodies were found wrapped in plastic and
hidden in a freezer.
Two other babies, whose bodies were found entombed
in buckets of concrete, were too badly decayed for the authorities to
find out how they died.
Police have arrested a woman aged 32 - thought to
be the mother - and her 38-year-old partner.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Werner Jud told the
Austrian media that the possibility of more bodies being found at the
site could not be ruled out.
"We are trying to determine the woman's past," he
told Graz's Kleine Zeitung newspaper.
"Where did she live? Who were her acquaintances?
Did anybody know about the pregnancies? These are the questions we're
trying to answer."
The first body was found last week - reportedly
when a tenant went to get an ice cream for his daughter. Later another
body was found in the freezer.
The third and fourth were in plastic buckets filled
with concrete in a garden shed at the residence, about 200 km (120
miles) south of Vienna.
The woman, a bookkeeper, is reported to have
admitted killing the babies in despair after giving birth.
Police have been questioning her in an effort to
find out what happened. She has told investigators that she gave birth
to the children in a bath, but could not remember what happened next.
The suspicious deaths are believed to have taken
place over a period of three years.
The woman's partner is said to have denied knowing
about her pregnancies. DNA tests are being carried out to find out if
he is the father.
Mom confesses to killing babies
June 3, 2005
Vienna - Police in southern
Austria said on Friday they made a gruesome discovery - the bodies of
four slain newborns stuffed into a freezer and entombed with cement in
a paint bucket in an apartment building.
Investigators said the infants' 32-year-old mother
confessed to killing them out of despair over her inability to pay the
bills and fear that having a child might drive away her longtime male
partner. Police found three bodies earlier this week and a fourth on
Friday afternoon during a search of the premises.
Police said both were placed under formal
investigation for murder.
The grisly killings, which authorities said may
have begun as long as three years ago, stunned the tranquil alpine
Police said at least two of the bodies were found
in the freezer in Graz. Authorities arrested the suspect and her
38-year-old partner on Thursday, police said.
Austrian state broadcaster ORF said two bodies were
wrapped in plastic bags and stuffed in the freezer, and a third - a
newborn girl - was placed in a paint bucket that was filled with
cement to conceal the remains.
Specially trained police sniffer dogs led
investigators to the body in the bucket, ORF reported. Police were
searching the house and an adjacent garden shed for clues to the
killings on Friday when they came across the fourth body, officials
Graz's Kleine Zeitung newspaper reported on Friday
that the first of the bodies was discovered on Monday by a resident of
the multifamily apartment block when the man - who went down to the
basement to get ice cream for his children - opened a chest freezer
shared by the building's occupants.
Stunned, the tenant called police.
Evidence at the scene quickly pointed to the
newborns' slayings before their bodies were stuffed in the freezer,
police said in a statement.
The suspect, a bookkeeper whose name was not
released in line with Austrian privacy laws, lived in the building
with her partner for the past eight years, authorities said.
Neighbours described the woman as "a real mensch" who worked hard to
keep a tidy house and a beautiful yard.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Werner Jud told reporters
on Friday the suspect was not entirely coherent during questioning,
but told investigators she gave birth to all the babies in her
APA cited investigators as saying the woman
confessed during questioning, saying she was in despair over her
ability to survive and worried that she would lose her companion if
she had a child.
Her partner allegedly told police he was unaware of
her pregnancies and insisted he played no role in either the slayings
or the hiding of the bodies.
Jud said DNA tests would be carried out on the
woman's companion to determine if he was the babies' father.
Did she kill more than 4 babies?
June 3, 2005
A shocking case of infinticide was discovered
recently in Graz, a regional capital of Austria. When a neighbor of 32
year old Gertraud A. searched for some ice in a freezer in the
basement of a two-family home in Graz, he found the frozen corpse of a
new-born. When police sent the freezer for further examination to the
Graz pathology institute, a second baby was found under the frozen
What at first glance appeared as a routine case of
a desperate mother, turned out to be one of the most shocking cases of
infanticide ever reported. When examining the house and surrounding,
police found baby #3 and 4, one stuffed in a bucket filled with
concrement, the other hidden behind a pile of rubbish in a dump near
the house.Neighbors describe the 32-year old bookkeeper als "always
friendly and helpful", nobody can imagine this grisly tragedy.
Gertraud A. and her partner Hannes G. are being
questionned since being arrested last Thursday. She immediately
admitted to having given birth to the babies, but denies any intention
to kill them. She asserts, she never noticed to be pregnant and was
surprised finding a "bloody lump" in her bathing tube, when she took a
bath. She was so shocked, that she panicked and does not remember
anything until she got rid of the "thing".
Her partner pretends, that he didnīt know about any
pregnancy of Gertraud. The carpenter is married to another woman,
fathering three children and lives with Gertraud since eight years.A
special task-force is researching now for the former homes of the
couple for more possible dead babies. The two live in the
"horror-house" since three years only, having moved several times