‘Woodsman’ gets life in jail

A 49-year-old man who lived in a forest for years has been sentenced to life in jail for attempted murder.

Friedrich Osterbauer nearly killed a prostitute at a brothel during an outing from a prison in Graz where he served a term for various criminal offences. The offender was allowed to spend every other weekend outside prison for behaving well behind bars. Furthermore, experts decided that he was no threat to the public anymore – although he kidnapped and raped his former girlfriend in 1998. The woman managed to flee when he tried to drown her in a lake. Osterbauer was sentenced to six years in prison over the attacks. He was given the nickname “The Woodsman” as he lived in the forests of the Bucklige Welt region in south-eastern Austria for some weeks while hiding from police after several break-ins in the 1980s.

He hid in woodlands after the attack on the prostitute in November 2010 but was tracked down and arrested only a few days later. The Bulgarian woman, 30, nearly died after Osterbauer slashed her throat. The defendant said his meetings with Magdalena D. were nothing special and “business” to him. However, the jury at a court in Graz, Styria, heard yesterday (Tues) that he used to call her “darling” and reacted jealously when she met with other customers.

“I never insulted him or treated him badly,” the prostitute said in court after being asked for the reason for the man’s brutal attack. The Bulgarian – who had to be put into an artificial coma for several days after the incident – said Osterbauer strangled her before he injured her with a knife he got from his workplace at jail. “I hit her after we had sex. I don’t know why,” the accused told judges. He added: “She started to scream. I wanted her to be silent. (…) It was a stupid thing to do. I have to laugh when I think of it today.” Osterbauer – who was described as an “instable and very dangerous man” by the prosecutor – also said in court: “I considered it a game. What am I supposed to tell now? Shall I be sad or what?”

Osterbauer was also alleged of having killed a 71-year-old farmer after fleeing following the attack on the Bulgarian. The body of Maria Piribauer, was found in a pool of blood in Kirchberg am Wechsel a few kilometres from where Osterbauer was arrested the following day. He denied having anything to do with the death of the elderly woman. DNA checks and crime site investigations eventually cleared him from the suspicion. The verdict of life in prison for trying to kill the prostitute is not legally binding yet since Osterbauer decided to appeal. He remains in custody and would be kept in a prison for felons with mental disorders if the ruling was confirmed in the next instance.