Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Profiling, Interactive

Under the Lights

On October 22, 1991, officers of the Criminal Investigation Bureau in Vienna questioned Unterweger about the Austrian murders. The lead interviewer already knew his suspect, because as a journalist Unterweger had questioned him about the series of murders for an article. The investigators hoped that their interest in him might be sufficient to pressure him to confess, but while he admitted seeing hookers, he denied knowing any of the victims. He was familiar with them only because he was a reporter.  Unterweger had no alibis, but investigators had no evidence. They had to give up.

Yet now they realized that Unterweger knew he was a suspect, as did his friends in the media. He might be more dangerous and more careful. But he also might lie low as a killer for the time being. He wrote more articles about the mishandling of the investigation, as if to punish the police for drawing him into it. Many of his colleagues supported him. McCrary believes they had a vested interest in their original opinion that Unterweger was "cured," so they would be more likely to believe him than the police. They took up the cause that he was being persecuted.

Around that time, the missing Regina Prem's husband and son, who had unlisted numbers, received telephone calls from a man who claimed to be her killer. He accurately described what she was wearing the night she disappeared. He was her executioner, he said, and God had ordered him to do it. She had been left in "a place of sacrifice" with her face "turned toward hell." He also said, I gave eleven of them the punishment they deserved. Three months later, in January 1992, Prems husband found five empty cigarette packs of the brand that she preferred rolled up in his mail box. Among those packs was a passport photo of her son that Regina had carried with her in her purse.

Geiger became more aggressive. He questioned Austrian prostitutes, who described Unterwegers desire that they wear handcuffs during sex. That was consistent enough with the killer, so the police kept up their surveillance. With some effort, Geiger tracked down the BMW that Unterweger had purchased upon his release from prison. He'd sold it, buying a VW Passat, but the new owner allowed the police to go through it. They found a hair fragment, which they sent for analysis.

Manfred Hochmeister, at the Institut fur Rechtsmedizin in Berne, Switzerland, found sufficient skin on the root to perform a DNA analysis with the PCR technique. They compared it to the DNA of each of the victims and found that it matched the first victim, Blanka Bockova from Prague. That placed the strangled woman with Jack Unterweger, since he had driven the car at the time.

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