Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Profiling, Interactive

Fugitives

Unterwegers friends tipped him to the police interest and the fact that newspapers were announcing his imminent arrest, so he avoided Austria altogether. Instead, he and Mrak went to America, where Unterweger lied to customs about the fact that he had once been convicted of murder. Along the way, he made calls to Austrian papers to insist that he was being framed, and he asked his friends for support back home. The authorities learned that Mrak's mother was sending them money via wire transfers. They contacted her and she agreed that if she heard from the fugitive couple, she would contact the authorities.

But Unterweger offered a deal: He promised to return and answer questions if the arrest warrants were withdrawn. He believed he could prove his innocence. As he and Mrak settled in Miami, Unterweger wrote a letter in his defense to Austrian officials, to spell this out. He wanted it published in newspapers as well, so even if the police did not believe him, the public would read his claim and decide for themselves on his innocence.

"My flight was and is no confession, he insisted. It is a different type of despair." He went on to point out that there was no way to prove anything against him. "I was doing well," he wrote, "perhaps too good---and fate decided to punish me once more for my debt from the past. But in the moment, I still have something to say. If a fair, neutral official of justice is invited to determine that the warrant against me is unjust, I am ready to place myself at this person's disposal."

He made several calls to get this letter published. One magazine, Erfolg, offered him a fee for the exclusive story of his escape. He agreed to do it and gave them an address. According to a German news story, he also requested some medication for thyroid disease. One interviewer asked if he was forcing Mrak to go with him, so he let her speak for herself. She took the phone and said that she was traveling with Unterweger because she wanted to and they were having a wonderful time.

To everyone, Unterweger made the same claim. He had an alibi for every one of the murders that the police were attempting to pin on him. For example, he said that there were people who would swear he was at a reading on the night one woman had disappeared. With another, he was not even in the city, and with three others, he was home alone. What was being said about him, he insisted, was a "controlled history" that originated in Graz; in other words, the police were making things up. They had singled him out as a scapegoat for their investigation because they were upset over his parole and were intent on sending him back to prison. Until he could get a fair hearing, and not one that framed him, he would stay on the run. He was defiant on that point: he was not going back to prison.

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