After the crime
The first calls about the accident were received by the local rescue station within a few minutes after it occured. One could say, though, that the better way to notify the medics would be to literally run there, as the nearest rescue station was stationed just around the corner, in the Dukelských Hrdinů 21 street. Once the calls reached the station, its staff immediately informed the MO VB office in Prague 7, located in the nearby Františka Křížka street. The calls reached the office at around 13:55, roughly at the same time when the first eye witnesses got there on foot. Ten minutes later, the Office for Traffic Accidents was informed about the accident as well, and thus sent one of its people to the scene.
When they took the arrestee from the street to the MO VB office, she once again reiterated what she had already said to one of its members on the scene of the accident: “I did it on purpose”, so from then on, things went rather quickly. They immediately notified the City Council of KSČ in Prague, the traffic prosecutor, and OVŠ Prague. One by one, the scene of the accident was visited by: more investigators from the Office for Traffic Accidents, the investigators from the Investigation Section in Prague, the district prosecutor from the Traffic Prosecution in Prague JUDr. D., the chief of the 3rd DS Department lieutenant colonel R., the chief deputy of ODN colonel M., major J. from HV VB in Prague, the chief of OŘD captain P., and finally the deputy secretary of the interior general P..
It was decided that the investigation will be taken over and further conducted by the criminalists from the City VB Headquarters, with the initial questioning of the arrestee (conducted by a member of the MO VB office in the Františka Křížka street) being recorded at least in a form of written official record. Accordingly with the investigation, all available investigators and other operatives were informed about the accident and called in the MO VB office in Prague 7. An immediate restraint for the media to provide any kind of information regarding this case was issued.
Meanwhile, the whole scene of the accident was being secured, the medics were taking care of the injured and transporting them to the local hospital facilities, and a bypass for the nearby passing cars and trams was created. An expert witness from the traffic field arrived at the scene and conducted his first, preliminary inspection of the vehicle. Once he was done, the vehicle was then transported to Klíčany for a thourough examination. The whole scene of the accident was photographed (both in colour and black-and-white) by a technician from the criminalistic department of MS VB, and appointed members of the VB began to inform the victims’ families on the death or injuries of their relatives. The authorities also notified all the existing state or municipal corporations, which were somehow affected by the accident – i.e. the Traffic Company, the Grocery Store (damaged shop windows) and the Prague Communications (destroyed road sign), with the last of these three corporations being responsible for the cleanup of the road and the nearby pavement once the inspection of the crime scene had been completed.
Around 14:30, they took the arrestee to the Faculty hospital in Prague 2, where the local staff took two blood samples of her at 15:10 and 15:40. Now I have to digress a bit – a couple of months ago, I mentioned here that the initial assessment by the psychiatrists MUDr. Č and doc. S. didn’t take place, and that the arrestee firstly met with doctors – psychiatrists no sooner than during the evening interrogation. Recently, however, one of the colleagues of JUDr. T. gave me an info (I’ll tell you more about that somewhere else on this site) that there were actually two initial “expert opinions” about Olga Hepnarová made by the psychiatrists – the first one being somewhat favorable for the arrestee, whilst the second one from the evening interrogation being clearly against her. Therefore, I tried to dig out some more info and eventually found out that the initial assessment indeed did take place and was recorded in written form as well (even though somewhat unusually – on an application form, and written very briefly). During the aforementioned afternoon assessment, the psychiatrists roughly came to this conclusion: “paranoia in interpretation of relationships between people, even unknowns, subconsciously forming a rationale for revenge, a thorough psychiatric assessment required.”
After leaving the hospital, they didn’t take the arrestee back to the MO VB office in Prague 7, but instead took her to the Investigation Section of MS VB in Prague – City, which coincidentally resided in the street where she had spent the vast majority of her life – i.e. in Konviktská 14 street. After a brief pause, the first official interrogation of Olga Hepnarová began. By that time, it was already decided that the whole investigation will be overseen by the most renowned investigator in Prague major Z., and that this first interrogation will be also attended by (at that time very popular and publicly known) psychiatrist MUDr. P., who appeared in the room some 30 minutes after the interrogation began and stayed there for another 20 minutes. It’s worth of mentioning that during this first official interrogation, it was already for the third time (or fourth, if we count the initial meeting with the member of VB who firstly arrived at the scene of the accident) when Olga Hepnarová had to answer to the same questions over and over again, and this in a very short period of time (roughly within 5 hours). As for MUDr. P., his findings from this first interrogation could be summed up in one sentence. That is: he categorically denies any psychotic disorder, viewing Olga Hepnarová merely as a person with psychopathic traits.
During this first interrogation, the district prosecutor from the Traffic Prosecution JUDr. D. appeared in the room as well, and continued with the interrogation till its conclusion at 22:20. Ten minutes later, the indictee, accompanied with the investigator from OVŠ Prague lieutenant H., was then escorted to the Praha – Ruzyně prison. Prior to that, however, three last procedures for that day were made: they advised the arrestee to have an attorney, but since she didn’t exploit her option to choose one by herself, she agreed to have an ex offo attorney (personally, she didn’t know any and refused to accept an offer to choose one via phonebook), the prosecutor issued an “Arrest warrant” (valid from 14:00 of the same day) and the investigator major Z. issued an “Resolution”, in which he instituted a criminal prosecution against Olga Hepnarová pursuant to §179 subsection 1 and 3 letter a) of criminal code, which meant for public endangerment. The arrestee had thus become an indictee.
Meanwhile, countless other actions were being made as the afternoon progressed. The case gradually employed a large number of operatives. Interrogations of the family members and witnesses took place, search warrants were issued, and the investigation continued with the involvement of State Security. There were still doubts about the motive of the crime (let’s not forget that the August 1968 events were still quite fresh), and despite the restraint from authorities to provide public any information about the case, the accident was obviously witnessed by large number of people, so it’s easy to imagine that the news about it would spread outside the city the very day it happened. Therefore, the political agencies were in permanent contact with their investigative counterparts.
The following day, the investigators sent requests to all Hepnarová’s previous and current employer(s) to provide them with reviews on her, these requests for “reputation reports” were also sent to the places where she had her permanent and temporary address. Apart from that, the investigators also sent a request to Legal Aid Bureau 7 for appointing Hepnarová an attorney.
The very next day, an important event occured – the editorial staff of Svobodné slovo newspaper reported the receiving of Olga Hepnarová’s letter. The operatives who were working on the case immediately visited the other editorial staffs, among others also those of Mladý svět, Svobodné slovo, Rudé Právo, Zemědělské noviny, Večerní Praha, Mladá Fronta and Lidová demokracie. In the end, however, they found out that there was just one additional letter – sent to the staff of Mladý svět. Other newspapers confirmed only the receiving of numerous questions, which their readers sent to their staff regarding the accident.
In the following days, more and more witnesses were being verified. The investigators notified all the medical facilities, which were treating Olga Hepnarová in the past, and plenty of new data was processed. The contact between the investigators and the political functionaries and its oversight had been assigned to A.K., at that time the main secretary of MV KSČ and member of the ÚV KSČ presidium. The attorney for Olga Hepnarová (JUDr. Otakar T. from Legal Aid Bureau 9) had been appointed, and expert witnesses from psychiatry, psychology and sexology were chosen and assigned with their tasks as well.
Apart from short, repeated message about a “traffic accident” published in the daily newspaper, no other official news would be issued in the media about the event.
DS – Dopravní služba; Traffic Service
HV VB – Hlavní velitelství Veřejné bezpečnosti; Main Public Security Service Headquarters
KSČ – Komunistická strana Československa; The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
MS VB – Městská správa Veřejné bezpečnosti; City Public Security Service Headquarters
MV KSČ – Městský výbor Komunistické strany Československa; City Council of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
ODN – Odbor dopravních nehod; Office for Traffic Accidents
MO VB – Místní oddělení Veřejné bezpečnosti; Local Public Security Service Headquarters
OŘD – Oddělení řízení dopravy; Office for Traffic Control
OVŠ – Odbor vyšetřování; Investigation Section
ÚV KSČ – Ústřední výbor Komunistické strany Československa; The Party Congress of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
VB – Veřejná bezpečnost; Public Security Service