Franz Bratuscha

Date of Alleged Crime:  April 16, 1900

Franz Bratuscha was convicted of the murder of his 12-year-old daughter, Johanna. On April 16, 1900, she disappeared from her home in Majsperk, Slovenia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Bratuscha reported her disappearance to the police. About 9 weeks later he read in a newspaper that the body of a dead girl was found in Spielfeld, Austria, a town 26 miles to the north. Bratuscha went to Spielfeld and when police showed him the dead girl's clothes, he identified them as belonging to his daughter. He told police he had bought the fabric out of which the clothes were made and offered to bring the leftover portion of the fabric. Police were satisfied that the dead girl was his daughter and they gave him the clothes.

However, police were aware that another girl in the area was reported missing. Nine months later they obtained from the mother of this girl a confession that the found girl was hers and that she had abandoned her daughter because the same was ill. At trial, the mother confessed she had strangled her daughter. Due to this alternative identification, it would appear that Bratuscha had intentionally given a false identification. He was asked to return the found girl's clothes, which he did.

Bratuscha was also summoned to court, but before he appeared, he went to a Spielfeld policeman and asked him about the summons. After talking to Bratuscha, the policeman found cause to search his home. The policeman discovered clothes, allegedly from his missing daughter, and believed they contained traces of blood.

Under interrogation Bratuscha told him the following: Shortly after the disappearance of his daughter, he had a dream in which he found her in the forest, but in the dream his daughter had a black face, and when he asked her why it was black, the daughter replied, “That is the concern.” This dream he had told his wife and he added that, if he really would find his daughter, he would kill and burn her. With this, he said his wife would have agreed. Some time later he was again in the forest, where he strangled his daughter and hid her body. In the evening he took her home and with his wife's help, he used a knife to dismember her, then burned her corpse in the furnace. He had cut some pieces from her thighs, cooked them on an earthenware plate and ate them. He threw the bones in the garbage.

Bratuscha repeated this confession several times to other officials, although to some officials he did not repeat it. He later claimed that his confession was coerced. When asked why he repeated his confession, he said that he promised to repeat it and was merely keeping his word. Bratuscha's wife also confessed that she participated in the dismemberment and burning of her daughter. She later recanted, but then confessed again. Bratuscha was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment at hard labor. Following his conviction, Bratuscha stated for the record that everything he said about his and his wife's guilt was “the full and unadulterated truth.” His wife was convicted of abetting for helping to dispose of the body and was sentenced to 3 years of hard labor.

In Aug. 1903, in a town 55 miles south of Majsperk, the District Court of Krško received a thief in custody who initially gave a false name, but then said she was the missing Johanna Bratuscha. An investigation revealed beyond any doubt that the thief was who she said she was. The convictions of her parents were subsequently quashed and they were released from prison.  [5/10]


Reference:  The Case of the “Cannibal” Franz Bratuscha

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Cases in Other Countries, Murder Victims Found Alive, Son/Daughter Murder Cases