A German couple who killed two women and tortured several others after luring them to their home with personal ads in newspapers were sentenced last Friday, PEOPLE confirms.
Angelika Wagener, 49, was sentenced to 13 years in prison and her ex-husband Wilfried Wagener, 48, received 11 years in a psychiatric ward, according to a release by the Ministry of Justice in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. (The release did not give the pair’s last names in accordance with German privacy laws, but their names have been reported by multiple outlets including the BBC.)
The pair were convicted of murder by omission of the two women and attempted murder of omission, prosecutor Ralf Meyer tells PEOPLE. The Ministry of Justice release states that the death of one woman was caused by the defendants’ failure to get medical attention.
Working together, the Wageners lured victims through personal ads to their home in Höxter, which was dubbed in media reports as the “House of Horrors.” Once the victims were inside, the couple tore out clumps of victims’ hair and chained them to radiators for multiple days, Deutsche Welle reported. The victims were also beaten, strangled, burned, scalded, subjected to electric shocks and doused with pepper spray, the BBC reported.
Meyer said in German that the fatal victims were “massively abused” by such means including choking, kicking, beatings and bondage. One was tied to a radiator at night, he says.
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An anonymous survivor told police she was left handcuffed in a manure-filled pigsty, wearing only her underwear, reports Deutsche Welle. The woman had answered an innocent-sounding ad saying, in part, “Farmer is looking for a wife. I am kind, nice, gentle….”
The Wageners’ acts of brutality came to an end in May 2016, after the couple attempted to take a severely-beaten 41-year-old woman to the neighboring state of Lower Saxony, reports the BBC. When the couple’s car broke down and the woman’s health began to deteriorate, the couple called an ambulance.
Deutsche Welle reports that paramedics discovered “wounds to her entire body, including bruising, signs of being bound, toenails that had been pulled out and rotting flesh.” Doctors were unable to save the woman’s life and immediately alerted the police.
During the subsequent police investigation, it emerged that the Wageners had previously killed a 33-year-old woman in August 2014. During the trial, Angelika Wagener testified that “she and her ex-husband had frozen the body of the woman, sawed it, burned it and then scattered the ashes in the winter on the roadsides of the village,” the Ministry of Justice release states.
According to the release, the judge was unable to give Angelika Wagener a life sentence because she cooperated with the prosecution. According to Meyer, “She always spoke of their cruel deeds in a very sober tone.” He adds that a psychiatric expert said she “finds it very difficult to feel compassion.”
Wilfried Wagener said in court, “I did not know what was right or wrong. That’s why therapy would not be so bad,” according to the release. Meyer says Wilfried Wagener has below-average intelligence, but that despite this, he “is able to discern right and wrong,” and that “he knew that what he did must be wrong.”
The trial lasted nearly two years, according to the release, which states, “The process was torturously long for the victims and their survivors — but now there is the verdict.”