‘Career criminal’ arrested for elderly couple murder

A suspect has been arrested nearly three weeks after the brutal murder of an elderly couple in Donaustadt, Vienna.

'Career criminal' arrested for elderly couple murder
Dariusz K. Photo: Police

A 29-year-old Polish man, Dariusz K., was arrested in Düsseldorf in Germany on Monday. He will be extradited to Austria within the next few days. 

Police detectives from several European countries had been on his trail for days, according to a report in the Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

Dariusz K. had called friends using different mobile phones and had also been communicating with them via Facebook.

He was already a wanted man after having committed several violent crimes throughout Europe. It’s thought he is guilty of at least one other murder, in Holland.

Elderly Viennese couple Gerhard and Erna K. were murdered on May 21st. They were found stabbed and bludgeoned to death. The woman’s body was naked and the Latin phrase ‘tantum ergo’ (‘Why this?’) had been written on her body in paint. Her 75-year-old husband, a former mechanic and SPÖ district councillor (75), had been stabbed in the head, neck and upper body.

The couple’s car was found three days after the murder, just nine km away in Raasdorf, Upper Austria. A stolen bank card had been used to withdraw money from a local bank, where Dariusz K. was filmed by a surveillance camera. Using DNA evidence from the crime scene and the car, police were able to identify him from a criminal register.

Police said that he is a repeat offender who wanders around Europe in search of his next victims.

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EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

Following the suicide of an Austrian doctor who received threats from Covid-19 anti-vaccination activists, the government has now launched a new campaign to help victims of online abuse.

EXPLAINED: What to do if you experience online abuse in Austria

The Austrian medical community was left in shock in July when Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, a local doctor in Seewalchen am Attersee in Upper Austria, took her own life following months of online abuse.

Kellermayr, 36, had been targeted by anti-vaccination activists and Covid-19 conspiracy theorists for her out-spoken support of vaccines, and the abuse even included death threats. 

Her death prompted candlelight vigils and demonstrations in Vienna and the tragic story was picked up by news outlets around the world.

READ MORE: How Austria’s attempt to make vaccines mandatory changed the country

This led to calls for tighter laws against online bullying and the ability for perpetrators to be prosecuted in other EU countries – particularly as at least two of the people who are believed to have targeted Kellermayr are based in Germany, according to the Guardian.

The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has even called for the creation of a special public prosecutor’s office to deal with “hate-on-the-net”, but this has been rejected by prosecutors and other political parties, as reported by ORF.

Instead, the Federal Justice Department has launched a new information campaign, website and hotline to help people dealing with online abuse.

FOR MEMBERS: What happens if you get arrested in Austria?

What is in the new campaign?

Austria’s Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) said they have launched the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and to inform victims about the support available.

Zadic said: “It is important to me that those affected know that they are not alone in this situation and that the judiciary supports them with free psychological and legal process support.”

“You don’t have to cope alone with the extraordinary burdens that criminal proceedings can entail, for example through confrontation with the perpetrators.”

READ ALSO: Austria in shock over doctor’s suicide following anti-vax abuse

Part of the support package is the new website Hilfe bei Gewalt (Help with Violence), which details how to access help from the authorities, as well as secure free legal advice and representation from a lawyer.

The website states the service is for victims of bullying and/or hate online, defamation, stalking, terrorism, incitement, sexual violence and robbery.

The service is designed to be anonymous with options to contact the Justice Department by phone or via a chat box. The website also lists contact details for regional support services in all provinces across Austria. 

The free (kostenlos) hotline for Hilfe bei Gewalt is 0800 112 112.

Useful links

Hilfe bei Gewalt

Austrian Federal Justice Department