The ice cream parlour owner who killed her husband and then her lover and buried them under concrete in a cellar has been found guilty of double murder, and jailed for life in a secure psychiatric institute.
The jury at the court in Vienna took three hours to decide whether Estibaliz Carranza, 34, was really guilty of double murder after she admitted she had killed the pair – and then chopped up their bodies with a chainsaw.
As the defence lawyer Rudolf Mayer described it: “First the honeymoon – then boom boom.”
The court heard that her first victim, husband Holger Holz, 32, had been shot in the back of the head as he sat in front of his computer. He had been slumped there for several days before she got a chain saw and used it to cut up the body. She told judge Susanne Lehr how the blade had constantly caught on the metal frame of the chair – making sparks in the room.
The second victim, her cheating lover Manfred Hinterberger, 48, had died when he ignored her complaints about his fidelity and simply went to bed. She had pulled the gun out from under the mattress and put a bullet in his head, and this time executed the removal better, putting plastic sheets down so she did not make a mess and getting staff at a local DIY store to show her how to use the chainsaw.
She pleaded guilty at the start of her trial on Monday but under Austrian law, despite the guilty plea, it is the jury that ultimately decides and they also have to consider such matters as mitigating circumstances – and evidence of her psychological state – before deciding whether to accept the plea.
Prosecutor Petra Freh told the jury about the two faces of the woman whose full name is Goidsargi-Estibaliz Carranza-Zabala.
She said there was the face that she wore today, “the face of a friendly neighbour, the sort of face that one would never imagine could be possible of something so terrible,” and the second was the face of the “ice cold, deadly and scrupleloss killer”.
She added that Carranza was a “ticking time bomb” and anyone that got in the way was removed. She added the fact that it was “only” two men was perhaps just a chance.
Born in Mexico in 1978 the Spanish woman had already developed murderous feelings towards her tyrannical father. Her first fiancee in Spain regarded her as his property, the court heard, and she had responded with thoughts of murder about him.
When Carranza moved went to Germany she worked in an ice parlour in Berlin. She described her boss as a user who didn’t even allow her to go to the toilet. But resignation? That was not an option, the court heard. Instead she had researched how it might be possible to burn the property down. She admitted “that was a silly idea”. She realised then that to do something like that could end in jail. At that time though she had not even travelled on the train without a ticket, the prosecutor explained.
She spoke of her first marriage to victim Holz – who she originally met as an Au Pair in Germany. She told the court that soon after they married ‘he became a totally different person’. She said he would shout abuse at her the whole time and she could not explain why she nevertheless decided to move with him to Vienna – where they opened an ice cream parlour known as the “Schleckeria” in the city’s Meidling district.
But things did not improve, and as the marriage deteriorated she felt there was no other option then to kill him to get him out of her life. She said that despite seperating from him he wasn’t to be put off, he stayed in her flat and was hanging around the ice cream parlour.
By that time she had fallen in love with Alex and told the court “I was absolutely helpless, I thought I would never get my life back.”
A former friend of hers said that Holz had been like a teddy bear and the relationship had been good until he continually ignored her desire to have a baby because he was a workaholic. Once they separated he had wanted to keep the relationship going purely because he saw her as labour in the ice cream parlour.
About her decision to kill she admitted: “There was no shortage of weapons, he was mad about guns.”
She said: “He didn’t notice a thing.” She said she hadn’t believed that she could really do it and had started shaking afterwards, saying over and over again to herself: “oh my God, Oh no, He’s really dead.” Later in her testimony she added it was “a horror to see a person that you had once loved looking so.”
She then described how she cut him up with a chain saw and put parts of the body in the freezer. She admitted: “It was like something out of a horror movie. There was blood everywhere, I remember I could not get the smell of blood out of my memory – I could not get rid of the smell.”
Jurors shook their heads as she explained the circumstances, noting that through her testimony there was no sign that she regretted what she had done.
Over her lack of emotion she said: “I am really trying to hold myself together. I feel that if I should cry the whole time but it would simply mean ‘look at me’ – I am putting on a show.”
She did not want the show, she said, although with a packed courthouse at times it was like something from a movie scene.
Her next lover was a man named Alex who ended the relationship before she could end it. The court heard that even when she had been together with Holger Holz her next partner Manfred Hinterberger had already been involved in her life.
She moved in with him, but he was seeing other women and told her that he had lost interest in her. But at the same time he told he didn’t want to set her free. Again she felt trapped, saying: “It is like having a plastic sack suddenly over your head stopping you breathing, you have to get it off and to get out, in that moment when one feels so trapped you just have to get free.”
The court heard that Manfred, an ice cream machine repair man, had at one point tried to force her to have a breast enlargement operation, but he did not want to lose her, he wanted to keep her around for her money.
When she had tried to talk to him, it had quickly escalated into an argument before he went off to bed.
She said: “He simply turned around and walked off. That was the end of it for him. I was so angry. I had a pistol under the mattress. I took it out and shot him.”
This time round she planned the disposal of the body better, going to a local DIY store where she learned how to use a chainsaw, and put plastic sheeting on the ground in order not to make so much mess.
She said: “I know what I did was horrendous and wrong. I felt so miserable, like I couldn’t go on. I would have ended it all but I didn’t have the courage to kill myself.”
The bodies were found after the cellar under the ice cream salon had to be broken up for plumbing work.
Estíbaliz, who speaks fluent English, German and Italian was pregnant when she realised she had been discovered. She fled in a taxi to Italy where she was finally caught, and the baby boy she had was confiscated shortly after birth and handed to its father whom she had married in a prison service.
The taxi driver who took her to Italy on June 7th 2011 told the court that the woman had spoken about a problem, and he said he wanted to help her without knowing what it was.
He checked into a hotel in Italy under his name – he told the court she appeared calm and normal. He said she only became more nervous when he was asking more about her problems.
Her defence lawyer Rudolf Mayer, who also represented Josef Frtizl, painted a different picture of his client, saying the relationships she had with the murder victims were anything other than harmonious. He rejected that she was ice cold, pointing out that Hinterberger had been together with a policewoman before he was with Carranza and even she had admitted that she was terrified of him.
Court shrink Adelheid Kastner – who judged incest monster Josef Fritzl sane enough to be tried – spent more than 30 hours questioning Carranza at her prison in Linz. A 140-page report into her mental state ruled that she is fit to stand trial for the double murder.
Kastner said that Carranza saw herself as a “Princess” waiting to be rescued by a “Prince”. As a result she lived a deliberately chaotic lifestyle so that she could be rescued from her mess. But when the men did not respond appropriately and reacted instead with either ignorance or dominance, she felt herself once again trapped in the tower that she had created herself. The only way out of the tower was for a new prince to rescue her and that was a problem when the last one would not set her free.
Kastner said that in such situations Carranza lost control. She felt herself to be a passenger in a car driven by someone else. She felt like she was sitting terrorised as they drove wildly on the road heading to a crash. She began to have thoughts of murder that slowly crystallised into reality.
But Kastner also added that she believed Carranza was an extremely disturbed personality and highly dangerous. As a result as well as the murder charge prosecutors demanded an indefinite detention in a secure psychiatric unit where she can get therapy and where once any sentence is over, she can remain until it is certain that she is no longer a danger to the public.