Fritz Honka

Crime Files

Fritz Honka was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1935. His mother struggled to cope with nine children and young Fritz was sent to an orphanage. His father - a firefighter and a communist - was an alcoholic, who often beat Fritz during his rare visits to the family home. His father died in a concentration camp during World War II, but had left a lasting mark on the psyche of the young boy. Fritz followed in the footsteps of his father later in life, losing himself to alcohol.

There is not much known about the early years of Fritz’s life.

Due to a speech impediment as well as his appearance, he was bullied and often received scathing comments from other children.Fritz had difficulty in adjusting to the school routine.In 1950 he tried to earn some extra money with as an apprentice bricklayer, but discovered that he had a severe allergy to cement.In 1951 Fritz left Leipzig and moved to the west, where he found work as a farm labourer. In 1956, at age 21 he settled in Hamburg, where he got a well paid job in a shipyard.

A year later, he met Inga Bossleman and they were almost immediately married.Inga, like Fritz, was an alcoholic.Together they spent a lot of time in the bars and pubs of Hamburg, which often ended up in arguments, and sometimes even brawls.Inspite of this turbulent relationship the couple had a son.When the violence and trouble caused by the alcohol abuse got out of control they lost their home and started spending nights in the city shelters.Finally Fritz lost his job and after Inga learned that he had an affair she left him for good.

After Inga’s departure Fritz returned to work in the shipyard as a night watchman, so that he could afford to live in a small one-room flat near the red-light district.He immersed himself further into alcoholism, in smoke-filled pubs where he found the company of smokers and drinkers.He wallpapered his room with pornographic photographs and to achieve sexual fulfillment he used a rubber doll.The only contact he had with women was with cheap prostitutes whom he met in seedy bars. Because of his alcoholism, Fritz was losing more and more of his friends and so sought solace in the arms of these prostitutes. Fritz felt as if they were his soulmates.

At this time Fritz would often succumb to the alcohol, remaining intoxicated for several days. He managed to persuade prostitutes to spend the night who would accept intercourse for a few glasses and a roof over their head, even with such an unattractive man as Honka, who had a few missing teeth and a flattened nose.

The Aftermath

After completing his sentence in 1993, Honka was released from hospital and placed in a nursing home in Scharbeutz under the name Peter Jensen. No one knew his past. He remained rather withdrawn and did not form new relationships. By the end he was convinced that the room in which he lived, had the stench of decomposing bodies.

On 19 October 1998, at the age of 63, finally succumbing to a life ravaged by alcohol abuse, Fritz Honka died in a hospital in Hamburg.

In 1975, musician Karl-Heinz Blumenberg, under the pseudonym Harry Horror, released an album dedicated to Fritz Honka. The title became a major club hit at the time. RCA didn’t promote the album.

In 1989, German director Andreas Schnaas shot the low-budget horror film “Violent S**t” which was loosely based on the “exploits” of Fritz Honka. This film became a minor cult.

Timeline

Born 1935

The Victims 1969: Gertrude Bräuer, 40 1974: Anne Beuschel, 52 December 1974: Frieda Roblick, 57 January 1975: Ruth Schult, 50

Arrest 17 July 1975

Convicted 20 December 1976

Sentenced 15 years in a psychiatric hospital

Released 1993 to live under an assumed name at a care home

Died 19 October 1998

The Trial

During his trial at the District Court in Hamburg, Fritz Honka was represented by star of Munich’s legal scene, Rolf Bossi. Referring to the psychiatric evaluation, Bossi had Honka classified as having a “severe mental illness with a value of deviation.” Honka’s lawyer’s defense was based around the premise that only the killing of Anna Beuschel could be classified as murder. Because of the alleged vision of Jack the Ripper, the court granted the lawyer’s application that Honka should not be found guilty of the three other deaths. The final, shocking verdict of the court was, instead of a life sentence, Honka should be imprisoned for 15 years in a psychiatric hospital.

The Crimes

In 1969, Fritz met 40-year-old Gertrude Bräuer in a bar. She was a pretty woman with a friendly manner, trying to make ends meet working as a prostitute and a hairdresser. Fritz persuaded her to go with him to his apartment for the night, but in the morning the mood of the previous night had vanished and Gertrude was not so willing to carry out Fritz’s sexual whims. When Gertrude refused sex, Honka went berserk and strangled her. When the rage subsided Honka realized that he was in the apartment with the body of a woman who no one would search for. He had to get rid of the body. Due to his meager physical abilities he could not carry the body, so he decided to dismember the body. He wrapped body parts and then buried in the ground by a nearby rubbish disposal unit. However, he did not manage to carry all the body parts. To avoid the risk of being seen he hid the remaining parts of the body in the attic of his apartment building.

Over the next few days Honka expected his arrest, because he realized that someone could have seen him with Gertrude in the bar. But nothing happened. Not only did no one notice the disappearance of Gertrude Bräuer, but her body remained undiscovered. Her buried remains were discovered accidentally by a construction worker over a year after the murder, but with the absence of some body parts, the investigators had trouble identifying the corpse. Finally they identified the body as Gertrude Bräuer, but no one connected her disappearance with Honka.

It seems that Honka learned a very useful lesson from this murder. He realised that people he spent time with were of no interest to those around them. Cheap prostitutes, without family and friends proved to be an easy target that no one would miss. In addition, Honka realized that choking his victim in his apartment meant that he didn’t need a murder weapon, and the victim wouldn’t make enough noise to draw attention.

After his first murder, Honka began to fulfill his sexual fantasies. Prostitutes who decided to go with him to the apartment experienced aggressive and violent perversion. Once Honka nearly strangled one of the prostitutes - Ruth Dufner. It would have been a murder case if she hadn’t slipped her hand under the material that Honka wrapped around hers and his own neck. The woman managed to escape and soon Honka was accused of rape and found guilty, sentenced to a fine of 4,000 marks. Now, he was a convicted criminal and this may have had an impact on the development of Honka’s development into a serial killer.

In 1974, Fritz again began to hunt for victims. To make sure no one would notice and no loss would be reported, he followed his victims first and to check if they had friends or family. Women who did not became potential targets. In August 1974, Honka invited 50-yr-old Anne Beuschel to his apartment. She probably did not want anything to do with the perverse sexual and aggressive desires of Fritz. He then flew into a rage as he’d done before, strangled the prostitute and again faced the problem of getting rid of the body. This time he concealed entire thing in the attic. However, he wasn’t clever enough to foresee what happens to a body when it begins to decompose. Soon neighbours began to complain of a nasty smell in the building and after some time they called the police. Honka’s explanataion was that foreigners had lived on the top floor and sometimes the odour of their cooking would affect the rest of the building. The police accepted this. Afterwards, Honka started using deodorant to neutralize the stench of decaying corpses in the building.

In December 1974, a similar fate to that of Anna Beuschel befell 57-yr-old Frieda Roblick. This time Honka killed his victim because she tried to rob him, or she could just have been tryinmg top collect her payment, and wouldn’t fulfil his perverted requests. Her body was also hidden in the attic.

Another attack took place only a month later. In January of 1975, Honka brought 52-yr-old Ruth Schult . While they were sipping gin, the woman began to laugh at Honka. This time the attack was even more aggressive:  Honka took a bottle of gin from the table and hit her over the head. Then he strangled her. Ruth was larger and heavier than the other prostitutes, so Fritz unable to carry her body to the attic, and hid the it behind paneling in the apartment. With four undiscovered bodies, Honka could still enjoy his freedom and continue to commit  murder, as long as there were no problems in the house.

The Arrest

On 17 July 1975, Honka was on a shift at the ship yard, when a fire started by candles in a neighbour’s apartment engulfed the his entire house. Firefighters tried to control the flames from the top of the building but when they reached the attic they were met by the penetrating stench of rotten bodies. When Honka returned home the next morning, the police were waiting for him. At this point, investigators had no evidence of his guilt - all of the neighbours also had access to the attic – they needed a confession. Given Honka’s low intelligence and his speech impediment, the questioning was not easy. However, Honka was was aware that sooner or later he would be found out and during interrogation he confessed to committing four murders. He never revealed his motive to the police, apart from to say that he was contacted by Jack the Ripper who told him to kill the women.