Police charge mother suspected of murdering four children

Photo: CTK

Police have charged the woman assumed to be responsible for the most brutal child murder in modern Czech history. The 36-year-old is believed to have murdered all four of her children with a knife on Friday before making an unsuccessful attempt at suicide.

The house in Široký Důl where the children were murdered,  photo: CTK
Until last week, the picturesque east Bohemian village of Široký Důl had hardly ever experienced anything more violent than a fist fight. That all changed early on Friday afternoon, when police, rescue helicopters and the national press corps descended suddenly on the village, and most of its residents learned for the first time that the most gruesome possible murder had just taken place next door. Four children, aged 10, 8, 7 and two months had been found in the house, lifeless, with knife wounds and strangulation marks. Their mother was in critical condition, having apparently tried to commit suicide by cutting and hanging herself.

The degree of shock on the local residents is hard to contemplate, all the more so because no one knew anything about the new family, which had moved in to the village only days before the massacre. Olga Marshová is one of their neighbours:

Photo: CTK
“I only met them once, when the mother was travelling on the bus with the children, and I only saw them briefly. So, they were just a normal-looking family - well-dressed kids and a tired looking mother. They bought the house in the spring, I think, and they occasionally came to the village for a Saturday or Sunday and stayed overnight, but they moved to the village about three or four days before the murder happened, so nobody had really gotten to know them properly yet.”

The police have yet to provide a motive for the murders, and speculation abounds both in the national media and in the farmsteads and cottages of Široký Důl, as people try to make sense of the senseless. According to some, the couple was seemingly loving and normal in every way, looking forward to starting anew in a new home. The husband was the father of the youngest victim, while the other children were from a previous marriage; their biological father is reportedly in prison. Many have assumed a severe case of postpartum depression, with the mother having struck many as being particularly overwhelmed by her situation. Contrary to news reports, the children had not attended school when it opened on Thursday.

Further compounding a case that is, as such, impossible to understand is the strange behaviour of the husband, who reported the situation not by telephone, but by walking five kilometres to the nearest police station. Locals more than anyone are left with myriad feelings of horror and incomprehension, some of which are described by Jana Melíková, who lives across the street from the scene of the crime.

Photo: CTK
“The silence of the first few days was strange, no one out mowing their lawns, just sadness. When we mothers meet with our children, we talk about the times the kids were driving us crazy, and how everyone at some point says, ‘I could just…’, and then something like this happens, and it makes you feel sick. The other thing is the realisation that there was someone so close by who needed help, and you didn’t know about it; at least to talk to them, try help somehow. But you can’t do anything, and it’s a terribly strange feeling.”

The suspect has recovered from her wounds and was taken into police custody on Monday. Reportedly she has shed no further light on her actions during questioning. She faces an extra-ordinary sentence of 20 years or more.