BERLIN (AP) — A couple accused of luring women to their home in western Germany and abusing them so badly that two of them died went on trial Wednesday, charged with murder by omission and bodily harm.
Wilfried W., 46, and his 47-year-old ex-wife, Angelika W., were brought into the state court in Paderborn separately — the female suspect holding a file in front of her face, but her ex-husband looking at photographers and talking with his lawyers.
Prosecutor Ralf Meyer told the court that the couple sought women as slaves for Wilfried W., news agency dpa reported.
They aimed to break their victims' will with violence — kicking their legs, scalding their skin and making them sleep in a cold barn, among other things, he added.
"The defendants first led the women to believe in Wilfried W's great love, after they had been lured with newspaper ads" to the couple's house outside the town of Hoexter, Meyer said.
Authorities started investigating the couple in April when they called an ambulance after their car broke down and rescuers found a woman inside suffering from head injuries and other abuse. She died shortly afterward in a hospital and doctors alerted police to the signs of abuse.
Prosecutors say the woman had been held in the couple's house for nearly two months and had been made to sleep in an unheated room on a floor. An autopsy showed she suffered from blows to the head, among other injuries.
Police have said that Angelika W. then told authorities she'd been involved in another woman's death in 2014. After she was killed, that victim's body was cut up and stored in the freezer, and pieces were removed and burned in the couple's fireplace over time, police said earlier this year. The couple allegedly used the victim's phone to continue sending text messages to her mother.
Prosecutors believe that at least eight people were abused by the couple in total.
Wilfried W.'s lawyer, Detlef Binder, told n-tv television that his client "was controlled over all the years by his ex-wife."
The trial is to resume Nov. 16. It is expected to continue until at least the end of March.