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The monster under the bed

The double-murderer who hid from police in a divan bed at the crime scene
Image: Unsplash Images

On August 10th 2011, the police were called to an apartment in New Road, Harlington, near Heathrow Airport, London. Inside the flat, they were met with a gruesome scene. Two people were found brutally murdered. The hunt for their killer began, but they did not need to look far.

The victims were 20 years old; their names were Alice Adams and Tibor Vass. Alice and Tibor worked together as receptionists at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel near the airport. The flat had been shared by Tibor and another receptionist, Attila Ban. Attila was nowhere to be found. Police began searching for him, they knew he was alive because he had made a Facebook post saying: 'I’d like to wake up from this nightmare'.

Alice Adams had started working at the hotel three weeks earlier. She had made friends quite quickly because she was bubbly, friendly and outgoing. She had especially bonded with Tibor Vass. Tibor had begun working at the hotel a year earlier after moving over from Hungary. Alice was from Iver Heath, Berks. She was a talented musician and this is something Alice and Tibor had in common. On the night that they were killed there had been a party in the flat to celebrate Tibor getting a university place back in Hungary. When Tibor, Alice, and Attila all failed to show up to work the next day their colleagues alerted the police.

When the police gained entry to the flat, they found Alice lying on the living room floor, her face was covered with a pillow. She had been stabbed multiple times in the front and back of her body. In one of the bedrooms, Tibor was found naked on the bed. He had been stabbed twice but there was very little blood on his body. Police combed the scene for clues and for any trace of Attila, who was still missing.

The scene was extremely violent and police feared that Attila had been abducted or even killed elsewhere. The flat was cordoned off and a forensic investigation was carried out.

Alice had been stabbed 22 times; she was found fully clothed on the living room floor with a pillow was covering her face. Tibor had been stabbed in the heart twice. It seemed as though the killer then cut off Tibor’s clothes, cleaned him and posed him on the bed, lying on his back, with his knees bent, fully naked.

Numerous knives were found in the apartment. Male DNA was found on both Tibor and Alice’s bodies, indicating that they’d had sexual contact with each other and another man.

For two days, detectives and crime scene technicians were in the flat collecting evidence. The next day when they went back to the scene, a member of the investigation team noticed a bedroom door that had been open was now closed.

Police had to force their way in as a bed had been pushed to block the door. On the bed lay Attila Ban, naked, bloody and drunk. Attila had a knife sticking out of his arm and buttock.

When police asked him what happened, Attila acted as though he could not speak. He began communicating in sign language. Investigators had no idea where Attila had come from. They had searched the entire flat, including the loft. They never thought to check under the bed.

On the night Alice and Tibor were murdered they had been at an after-work party in Tibor and Attila’s shared staff apartment. Other employees had attended and there was plenty of alcohol and other substances consumed. Ban had taken poppers that night, a drug usually used for its euphoric and sexual enhancing effects

Apparently, when the party died down and there was only Attila, Alice and Tibor left, things got heated. The trio lay down on the bed together and took turns to perform sex acts on Miss Adams. At some point, Attila snapped. He stabbed Alice 22 times in the front and back, penetrating her heart, left lung, stomach, spleen and diaphragm. She was left on the floor with a pillow over her face, maybe Attila couldn’t bear to look his victim in the eye.

Tibor was stabbed twice in the heart. Attila then cut off his clothes and had a bath with Tibor’s lifeless body. Attila claimed he had tried to commit suicide by cutting his wrists in the bath and did not want to die alone.

When that attempt failed, he positioned Tibor on the bed. Attila attempted to kill himself again, this time by putting the hairdryer into the bath with him in an attempt to electrocute himself, but it continued to work under the water.

After this, Attila cut into the side of the Divan bed base, the bed Tibor's body lay upon. He gathered some supplies including some water and his phone and got inside the bed base, concealing his entryway with a sheet. From inside the bed, Attila updated his Facebook status. He posted 'I would like to wake up from this nightmare'. He cut little holes so he could see around the room from his hideout under the bed. He remained in there for 2 days as investigators and crime scene techs scoured the room for clues.

When detectives failed to locate Attila, they tried to trace his phone. It was pinging off towers near the hotel but they couldn’t have imagined he was hiding inside the bed.

At night, when the apartment was empty and the guard was outside, Attila would emerge from the bed and move around.

On the second night, he tried to kill himself again by cutting his throat and stabbing himself with craft knives; he was found the next morning after he had barricaded himself into another bedroom.

But, suddenly, the charismatic, chatty receptionist was struck dumb. He claimed he could not speak, or remember what had happened.

Attila was taken to hospital for treatment and arrested shortly after. It was at this stage that the investigators found his hideout. He had spent hours watching the investigation, even defecating in the cramped space, avoiding detection. He was lying under the mattress he had posed Tibor on.

The trial began on July 9th 2012.

The prosecutors presented evidence to support the premise that Atilla was obsessed with Tibor, and jealous of his relationship with anybody else – mainly his female colleagues. Attila Ban pursued Tibor Vass relentlessly, but Tibor wasn’t interested. Atilla was openly homosexual, and Tibor was not.

The court then heard that everything began when Alice, Tibor and Atilla decided to have drinks after work, on the night of August 9th. Atilla then told the court that when everyone else had left and he was alone with Alice and Tibor, the three of them had laid on the bed and Tibor and Ban had taken turns to perform sexual acts on Alice. This was also supported by DNA evidence that was found from both men on Miss Adam’s breasts. Although Atilla admitted that he could remember the threesome, he continued to insist that he had no recollection of killing either of them that night – insisting that he only realised what he had done when he woke up the next morning and found the pair dead. He stated 'I accept I killed them. I just can’t remember what happened'.

Attila told the court that he had tried to kill himself by cutting his own wrists. Explaining why he had got into the bath with Tibor’s body, he stated ‘I did not want to die alone’.

On the 18th of July, 2012, after just 5 hours of deliberation, the jury found Atilla Ban guilty of the murder of Alice Adams and Tibor Vass. On the 17th of August, Atilla was sentenced to a minimum of 26 years in prison.

The sentencing judge said 'You say you cannot, and still cannot remember. There is of course now no one else to assist. That in itself creates an even greater burden for the two grieving families, arising from the uncertainty of their loved ones’ last moments.'

Attila Ban maintained that he could not remember killing Alice Adams and Tibor Vass in August 2011. He had tried to kill himself numerous times unsuccessfully and hid in the divan base of a bed for two days. Attila knew what he was doing, he cleaned Tibor’s body and posed him on the bed. Perhaps he felt remorse, or he simply wanted to control him.

Attila will be eligible for parole in 2038, he will be almost 60. We may outgrow the fear of a monster beneath the bed but there will always be monsters hiding in plain sight.