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Anna Schützenhöfer
Born ca. 1872
Died

December 6, 1915(1915-12-06) (aged 43)
Dörfl, Austria-Hungary

Cause of death Suicide
Spouse(s) Heinrich Schützenhöfer
Attack information
Date November 30, 1915
5 a.m.
Location(s) Dörfl, Austria-Hungary
Target(s) Family
Killed 7
Weapon(s) Table knife

Anna Schützenhöfer was an Austrian who killed seven of her children in Dörfl, a village near Perg, Austria-Hungary on November 30, 1915, before committing suicide.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

LifeEdit

Anna Schützenhöfer was married to Heinrich Schützenhöfer, a labourer who worked at a weapons factory in Steyr at the time of the murders and came home only every two weeks to see his family. The couple had ten children and lived under poor conditions in house No. 4 in Dörfl, though despite their poverty the children were said to have been well fed.[8][9][10]

Anna Schützenhöfer suffered from an unspecified mental illness, lived reclusively, and talked to no one, which caused her neighbours to avoid her home. She kept the door locked and even didn't let her husband enter, who often had to hand her money, clothes, and other articles through the window. Furthermore she didn't let her children leave the house a lot, and was said to have often awakened them during the night to pray with her until the next morning.[8][9][10]

Schützenhöfer's psychiatric condition deteriorated when she became pregnant again, and she repeatedly threatened to commit suicide, whereupon her husband Heinrich asked to get her committed to the psychiatric hospital Niedernhart in Linz. His request was approved by the physicians on September 22, 1915, and he tried to convince her to seek treatment voluntarily, but she declined, stating that she would not leave the children as long as her eyes were still open. When the local priest, who talked to her on behalf of her husband, was also unable to change her mind, Mr. Schützenhöfer wanted his wife to be hospitalised compulsorily, but as she was in advanced pregnancy at the time and birth imminent, her commitment was delayed.[8][10][11]

Schützenhöfer gave birth to her son Johann on October 7. Her contition improved significantly afterwards and she showed no more signs of mental illness, so she was not committed to the institution. In the time leading up to the murders she stated that she heard noises and was afraid to be in the house alone. She also acquired a revolver, but it was not known how and when it came into her possession.[8][10][11]

On November 28 Heinrich Schützenhöfer left his family for work, and the children were last seen at school on November 29.[8][9][11]

MurdersEdit

On the morning of November 30, at around 5 a.m., Schützenhöfer took a dull table knife and severed the throats of the seven children, who were still living with her at home at the time. Some of them were cut down to the spine, and scratches on Schützenhöfer's arm indicated that she had struggled with her daughter Josefa. After the attack on her children the 43-year-old shot herself twice in the right temple with her revolver, but did not die immediately. When the crime was discovered several days later only Schützenhöfer and her son Karl were still alive.[8][9][10]

On December 3 the daughter of a neighbouring farmer brought a routing slip from the tax office to the small house, which she handed to Karl through the door. She later stated that she didn't find anything unusual at the time. The following day the postman brought a newspaper, and when nobody opened tucked it into the door, from where Karl later retrieved it.[8][10]

On December 5, at around 3 p.m., Schützenhöfer's 13-year-old daughter Marie, who was fostered and worked at the presbytery in nearby Pergkirchen, came home to visit her family, but when she arrived she found the door locked and the house eerily quiet and dark. As nobody opened the door, or answered to her calls, she returned to Pergkirchen, where she informed cook Anna Leitner about the situation. Leitner accompanied the girl back to her home in Dörfl, and after a while Karl responded to the knocking and calls, opened the door, and signed that something had happened.[8][10][9]

Seeing the miserable boy, who was naked and covered in blood, as well as several bodies lying near the door, Anna Leitner rushed to an inn in Pergkirchen, where the mayor and several members of the municipal council had a meeting. She informed them about the murders, and together they returned to the crime scene.[8][9]

There they found Anna Schützenhöfer in the living room near the door, lying on her back with a serious head wound and one eye protruding from the socket, but yet alive. She was still holding the revolver in her hand, and the table knife, as well as a bottle of rum were beside her. Nearby lay her daughter Josefa, the body of her son Franz was found on a bank, and her daughters Leopoldine and Anna lay in one bed, while Barbara and Johann were in another, all of them already dead. The windows were covered with the children's clothes, and the entire room was spattered with blood. Karl eventually crawled out of one of the beds and handed the mayor the newspaper and the routing slip he had received the previous days.[8][9][10]

Schützenhöfer and her son were brought in precarious condition to neighbours for care, and it was swiftly sent for the doctor in Perg. Karl was at the time of clear mind and answered the doctor's questions with gestures and writings, explaining thus what had happened. Asked why had not left the house to seek help he wrote that he had been scared of his mother. Anna Schützenhöfer died on December 6 at 3 a.m., while Karl succumbed to his injury an hour or two later. The family was buried at the cemetery in Pergkirchen on December 9.[8][9][10][11]

VictimsEdit

  • Josefa Schützenhöfer, 14, her daughter
  • Karl Schützenhöfer, 11, her son
  • Anna Schützenhöfer, 10, her daughter
  • Franz Schützenhöfer, 8, her son
  • Leopoldine Schützenhöfer, 7, her daughter
  • Barbara Schützenhöfer, 4, her daughter
  • Johann Schützenhöfer, 2 months, her son

ReferencesEdit

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