Father of murdered children speaks about his grief and anger

The father of three young children who were shot dead by their mother at the end of November has spoken of his grief and anger.

Father of murdered children speaks about his grief and anger
The house where Martina R. murdered her family. Photo: ORF

In a case which shocked Austria, Martina R. shot and killed her mother, brother and her three young children in the family's home in Böheimkirchen in Lower Austria. Days later she lay down beside her dead mother and shot herself, the police investigation revealed.

Detectives say that she probably shot her children (ten-year-old Sebastian, nine-year-old Fabian and seven-year-old Michelle) whilst they slept. Her mother (59) had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which police believe may have driven Martina to despair.

Now the children’s father, 37-year-old Andreas, has spoken to the Kurier newspaper about his ex-wife’s attempts to control the children and cut him out of their lives.

Andreas met Martina in Vienna in 2005, when she was working at a care centre for children, but still living with her mother and brother in a house in Lower Austria. She quickly became pregnant, and he said that in the beginning “everything was very harmonious”. However, he said that after their eldest son was born Martina became very controlling and made him break off all contact with his parents – saying that they took up too much of his time. “For her, only her family counted and anyone not in that circle was unimportant,” he said.

Martina refused to live in her husband’s flat in Vienna, and insisted in moving in with her mother and brother in their home in Kirchstetten. Andreas would visit her at the weekends. He said Martina wouldn’t allow their children to play with other children at the local playground, and that as soon as anyone else came to the park she took the children back home. “If anyone rang the doorbell she would ignore it and refuse to open the door,” he told the Kurier.

Neighbours also told police that the family kept to themselves and were very quiet, and that even the children didn’t socialise with friends at home.

Martina and Andreas were already living apart before the birth of their daughter and she would only allow him to visit the children once a month, and would hardly speak to him. He said that when Michelle was born Martina would only allow him to visit when the boys weren’t there, and after that she no longer allowed him to see the children at all. She later told a judge that Andreas was violent, citing an incident when one of the boys had injured his hand when he was playing at home with his dad.

In 2010 the couple agreed to divorce. Andreas said he was very depressed by the situation and had to receive psychiatric treatment in hospital. Martina prepared the divorce papers and he signed them without consulting a lawyer, realising later that he had given up all visitation rights to his children.

A year later, with the help of his parents he went back to court to fight for visitation rights and in 2013 was granted to right to see his children under supervision. However, between 2014 and 2016 he only saw his children four times as Martina kept cancelling the planned sessions.

In a report, a court psychologist said that Martina influenced her children to have negative feelings about their father and would tell them not to play with him when he visited. However, when a psychologist observed the children with their father she recorded that all the children were happy to see him and said they wanted to see him again.

Andreas told the Kurier that he still can’t understand why Martina killed her entire family – and that contrary to some newspaper reports he doesn’t believe she had money problems. “I gave her €1,500 a month in alimony payments. Her mother received a pension and her brother had a good job – maybe she just couldn’t cope when she found out about her mother’s cancer.”

He said that he feels desperately sad and is full of anger for Martina. “The children were defenceless. I just hope they did not feel anything. Hopefully, they were sound asleep.”

Andreas decided to speak to the Kurier after reports that Martina and he were involved in a bitter custody dispute – which may have contributed to her mental state before the killings. However, for the sake of the children he had written a letter to the court and Martina saying he would not insist on further meetings until the situation had calmed down. By the time his letter arrived the children were already dead.

A report in the Krone tabloid newspaper says that Martina may have invited a lover over to her house after she had killed her family – and hidden their bodies in one room of the large house. However, police say that if a man was in the house he had nothing to do with the murders and had no idea what Martina had done.



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