Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Team Killers, Part Three

Born of Hate

As 2002 opened, a couple who met through a heavy metal rock magazine ad were tried in Bochum, Germany for killing a friend in what appeared to be a Satanic ritual. Manuela Ruda, 23, and her husband Daniel, 26, stabbed Frank Haagen 66 times, beat him with hammers, drank his blood, and left his decomposing body next to the coffin in which Manuela liked to sleep. A scalpel protruded from his stomach and a pentagram was carved onto his chest. They then prepared to continue to act out in this manner against others, because they knew it was what Satan would require of them.

Manuela Ruda & Daniel Ruda & victim, Frank Haagen
Manuela Ruda & Daniel Ruda & victim, Frank

They drove around town, awaiting Satan's next order and armed themselves with a chainsaw, just to be "prepared." They were arrested at a gas station.

In court, Manuela claimed that she'd gotten a taste for vampirism when she encountered vampire cults in Britain and drank blood at "bite parties." She delivered her soul to Satan, who had ordered the "sacrifice" in what she described as an aura of light and energy. She and her husband did commit the crime, they both admitted, but they were not responsible. They were merely Satan's instruments and had to "make sure the victim suffered well."

Forensic psychiatrist Norbert Leygraf assessed them and said they were severely disturbed and could kill again. He recommended that they be kept in a secure institution.

* * * * *

Verona, Italy is the fictional setting for Shakespeare's romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. It also hosted a team of killers who played out what America's Leopold and Loeb might have done had they not been caught after their first murder.

Book cover: The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers
Book cover: The Encyclo-
pedia of Serial Killers

Brian Lane and Wilfred Gregg's The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, describes Wolfgang Abel and Mario Furlan as school chums, a year apart in age. Both came from privileged backgrounds and both were highly intelligent. They appear to have begun their criminal career in 1977 by burning a man to death in his car. Then they went to Padua, where they knifed a casino employee and a waiter to death. They escalated their brutality by using an axe on a prostitute and a hammer on two priests (one suffered 26 blows) before they returned to their initial MO by burning alive a hitchhiker who was sleeping in Verona's city center.

But these were all rather traditional compared to what they did next. A homosexual priest became a victim when they hammered a nail into his forehead. Then they attached a wooden cross to a chisel and pushed this into the man's skull as well.

At almost every scene, starting in 1980, they left notes that explained the reason for the murders. Laura Coricelli, who covered the case for an Italian newspaper, wrote that they sent these pamphlets to newspapers as well, claiming they had murdered three store clerks. Apparently these two viewed themselves as the last surviving Nazis, and their victims were among those who had "betrayed the true God"mostly homosexuals and prostitutes, society's "inferior people." The notes were all attributed to "Ludwig."

Killing individuals apparently failed to satisfy their appetites, so "the Ludwig band" burned down a building in Milan that housed a cinema that showed pornographic films, and six people died inside. Next they set a fire in a discotheque, killing a woman and injuring forty more people. When they tried to commit arson at a more crowded dance hall, the discotheque Melamara di Castiglione of the Stivere, they were caught. Had they not been discovered, they might have killed as many as 400 revelers.

Arrested in March, 1984, they went to trial at the end of 1986. Abel was 27 and Furlan was 26. Furlan's handwriting was matched to one of the Ludwig notes, although he and Abel both denied having anything to do with the "Ludwig" killings or the hate pamphlets. In Abel's apartment, they found a book with the name "Ludwig Friar" highlighted in the text. Witnesses had also placed them at the cinema fire and near one of the murdered victims. Twenty-seven charges of murder were leveled against them, but they were found guilty of only 10. Because they were deemed partially insane, primarily because of suicide attempts in prison, both got a sentence of 30 years. However, after serving only three, they were allowed to live in "open custody," which meant they were moved into a village and required only to report to the police on a regular basis. Essentially they're free to do mostly what they please and they continue to maintain their innocence.

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