Man in German crossbow deaths reportedly led ‘Medieval cult’

The man killed in Germany's crossbow murder-suicide pact is thought to have led a cultish group devoted to medieval folklore and treated the women around him like slaves, witnesses said in media reports Wednesday.

Man in German crossbow deaths reportedly led 'Medieval cult'
The hotel in Passau where two women were killed by crossbows on Saturday. Photo: DPA

Germany has been baffled by the bizarre case since the man and two women killed with crossbows were found Saturday in a hotel in Passau, followed by Monday's discovery of two more dead women in the town of Wittingen.

The figure at the core of the group, Torsten W., 53, appeared to have controlled the four women like a harsh sect leader who used physical force and psychological manipulation, Bild daily and RTL television reported.

SEE ALSO: Germans in Bavarian crossbow deaths shared passion for Middle Ages

“Investigators suspect they were all members of a kind of sex circle with a focus on the Middle Ages. Torsten W. may have been the guru of the group,” reported RTL after interviewing several people who knew them.

Bild said W. was apparently “in relationships with several women whom he ruled over like a master”.

W. owned a shop that sold medieval-style weapons and flags, offered sword-fighting classes and featured a bizarre female mannequin wearing suspenders, tied with ropes and chains, and smeared with blood-like red paint.

RTL spoke with a couple who feared the 19-year-old woman found dead in Wittingen was their daughter Carina U., who they said had fallen under the spell of W. years ago and broken off contact with them.

The once joyful girl had come into contact with him through martial arts classes and quickly become withdrawn and depressive, the parents said, recalling how she had died her hair black and soon moved out.

The mother recalled how initially Carina “was raving about Torsten, Torsten, Torsten”, while the father said that “until today I don't understand how someone manages in four to six weeks to manipulate someone like that”.

'Requested killing and suicide'

Bild daily meanwhile interviewed a former landlord who recalled that W. had harshly shouted commands at the lesbian couple living with him, as the women kept their heads bowed and behaved like slaves.

W. had kept a dog that had previously bitten to death other dogs, said the landlord Alexander Krüger, adding that he had kicked W. out after the man had punched him.

Investigations meanwhile continued at the Passau, Bavaria state crime scene where the prosecutor's office said the motive was still unclear and a final report was not expected for another two or three weeks.

According to the autopsy, W. and his partner Kerstin E., 33, were found lying in the double bed, hand-in-hand, with crossbow bolts in their heads and hearts and their last wills nearby.

The other woman, 30-year-old Farina C., lay on the floor, a single crossbow arrow in her neck.

Police were treating the case as a “requested killing and suicide”, suggesting Farina C. first shot the couple and then herself.

On Monday, police searching Farina C.'s apartment — some 650 kilometres miles away, in Wittingen, Lower Saxony — found two more dead women.

One of them, 35-year-old primary school teacher Gertrud C., was the partner of Farina C., the other was a 19-year-old woman, said police, without naming her.

The cause of death was still unclear, police said, adding that the bodies had been dead for several days, that no crossbows or arrows were found, and there were no signs of a struggle.

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Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.