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CRIME

American au pair ‘died from suffocation’

Austrian police are still hunting for clues in the mysterious death of an American au pair whose body was discovered in her apartment in Vienna.

American au pair 'died from suffocation'
Photo: Facebook/Private

The body of 25-year-old Lauren M. from Colorado was found on Tuesday night, lying face down on a mattress with splatters of blood on the floor.

Her half-undressed body had been surrounded by a sea of burning candles, according to the APA news agency.

Investigators said the victim was believed to have died from suffocation, but added it was too early to determine whether she had been murdered.

“Further post-mortem examinations need to be carried out,” a police spokesman told AFP on Friday.

Toxicology testing has been ordered, although it could be a couple of weeks before the final results are available.

Police have been speaking to the dead woman's neighbours and friends.

Her employers, who described her as “very reliable”, had filed a missing person report on Tuesday after she failed to pick up their child from kindergarten.

Firemen then went to the American's one-bedroom flat and broke down the entrance door, leading to the gruesome discovery.

Lauren M. had been living in Austria for several years and was a German language student.

Local media reported that a Gambian man who had lost his right to stay in Austria had been living with her in the apartment but has since disappeared. However, police have said that so far it is too early to speak of any suspects in the case.

CRIME

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

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