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Quadruple murder case: 'Beast of Rupperswil' to go on trial

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Quadruple murder case: 'Beast of Rupperswil' to go on trial
Photo: Kapo Aargau.
12:02 CET+01:00
The trial of Thomas N., accused of the brutal murder of four people with a knife in the canton of Aargau in 2015, begins on Tuesday: the latest chapter in a story that has shocked Switzerland.

On September 21st 2015, Thomas N. allegedly murdered Carla Schauer (48), her two sons David (19) and Dion (13), and their 21-year-old friend Simona in the small town of Rupperswil.

Swiss media have dubbed the 34-year-old one-time soccer coach the ‘Beast of Rupperswil' and described the murders he allegedly committed as one of the "most gruesome cases in Swiss criminal history:"

The accused reportedly killed his victims with a kitchen knife before setting fire to their home.  

He has been charged with crimes including multiple murders, deprivation of liberty, the taking of multiple hostages and a spate of other offences by the public prosecutor in Lenzberg-Aarau.

Details of the criminal indictment released on Monday and reported on by Swiss public prosecutor SRF show that prosecutors also believe Thomas N. had sought out further sexual victims on the internet and was targeting two familes in the same neighourhood where the September 2015 crimes were carried out.

'No place for revenge'

But with the trial set go get underway on Tuesday in Aargau, public calls for Thomas N. to be locked away forever are highly unlikely to be heeded, legal expert and judge Marianne Heer told regional daily the Aargauer Zeitung.

While Heer recognised that the Rupperswil case was “among the worst” in Swiss criminal history and that she had seen nothing like it in her long career, the 62-year-old said the court had a responsibility to ignore public opinion and treat the case “objectively”.

“Revenge can play no role in the judgement of a crime,” she said.

The judge said that it was highly unlikely that Thomas N. would, as a first-time offender, be sentenced to life-long imprisonment – a measure introduced in Switzerland in 2004 after a popular vote on the issue and reserved for only the most dangerous of offenders – given that there was no other legal precedent for this.

Heer noted such life-long imprisonment was “an absolute last resort” once measures including therapy had been employed. It only played a role when everything else had been tried. This was not the case for Thomas N., the legal expert said.

She added that even if Thomas N. was found guilty and then eventually released, this would only be after a very long time and under strict conditions. It would be “no walk in the park”, she said.

On the run for five months

Thomas N. evaded the police for five months before an unprecedented 100,000-franc reward for information leading to his capture was offered. When the accused was finally caught, he confessed immediately, according to a report by the canton of Aargau. 

The reward was given to the more than 40 police investigators who worked on the case and helped catch the accused. Police apparently received 250 tips from the public during the course of the investigation. 

The perpetrator reportedly acted alone and used a kitchen knife to kill his victims. The murder weapon was never found. The accused said he wrapped the knife in gift wrapping and disposed of it in a trash bin in the city of Aarau, the capital of the Aargau canton. 

Extensive child pornography was also found on computers seized at the man's home.

Thoman N allegedly raped Dion, thirteen, before killing him, according to the newspaper Aargauer Zeitung.

The trial of Thomas N. is expected to last until Friday.

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