The actual investigation of Olga Hepnarová’s crime wasn’t overly difficult – at least from the criminalistic point of view. One would say: a common traffic accident, just like countless others which happen during the day...
“I did it on purpose” – it was this simple sentence, however, which gave this case a whole new dimension. A dimension which changed the whole investigation to something much bigger. Something, which prompted even the most prominent authorities from the security agencies to be involved. And not only them...
The first questioning of the arrestee by the VB took place within a couple of minutes after the accident in the MO VB office in Prague 7 in the Františka Křížka street. It was conducted by a regular VB member who was sent to the scene by one of his superiors, and who then took the arrestee to the office and began to question her. Considering how brief this first questioning was (the existing documents which detailedly describe the timetable of all the procedures made on that day suggest that it took no longer than 25 minutes, identification of the arrestee included), it’s pretty remarkable how much data had been collected during it. Olga Hepnarová not only described all the events which occured on the day of the accident, but also mentioned everything that happened on the previous day as well (i.e. the destroying of the Trabant vehicle near the Slapy dam, her drive home together with the VB members, reasoning of her crime, and so on). It all seemed as if she was reading some well memorized and prearranged script. Meanwhile, countless calls between the office, superior organs and political agencies were made. It was decided that the arrestee will undergo various medical examinations (psychiatric assessment, alcohol and drug tests) and that the investigation and all the following actions will be taken over and further made by the “city”. Once this first questioning of the arrestee concluded, its course had been recorded on a written “Official record”, and couple of hours later, the first proper interrogation at the Investigation Section of MS VB in Prague – City (which, as we already know, resided in the street in which Olga Hepnarová spent the vast majority of her life – i.e. in Konviktská street) began.
The vast amount of existing documents suggest that the whole investigation occured in three “waves” – with each of them having to confirm or refute certain assumption. The first, at that time undoubtedly the most essential question, was: did Olga Hepnarová’s crime have a political background, and therefore, was Olga Hepnarová a member of some political group or movement? To find that out, the investigative team of major Z. had been reinforced with the assistance of State Security. In essence, it was the State Security which did the most investigative work during these first days, even though with a proper cooperation with the investigative team of major Z., of course. A large amount of data had been verified (for example, the rumors according to which there had been some forbidden activities going on during the meetings of various young people in Hepnarová’s cottage in Oleško), and both Hepnarová and other persons who were in close contact with her underwent a thorough process of lustration.
Once it was clear that the crime which Olga Hepnarová committed didn’t have a political motive, the investigators began to focus on the second question: did Olga Hepnarová commit her act (now being purely regarded as a criminal one) by herself and after her own reflection, or did someone help her with it or even persuade her to it? Finding the answer to this question was purely the task for the investigative team of major Z., however, the investigation still continued with the involvement of other security elements like the State Security or Correctional Education Corps.
Since the investigators couldn’t find any significant evidence which would back up this claim, they began to collect all available evidence related to the perpetrator in order to find out the motive of her crime and also to determine her legal responsibility for it. One of the ways of how to collect this evidence was, of course, the interrogation of Olga Hepnarová.
In total, there were three official interrogations of Olga Hepnarová conducted by the investigators and they all took place in a certain stage of the investigation – the first one took place immediately after the crime, the second one after the editorial staffs of Svobodné slovo and Mladý svět newspapers received the Hepnarová’s letters, and the third and final interrogation took place once the investigators were notified of the events in Zábrodí.
The first interrogation took place on 10.7.1973 between 17:45 and 22:20. After the initial verification of the arrestee’s identification by the investigators, the arrestee had been advised of the ongoing criminal prosecution against her and also of the reasons that led the investigators to institute it. In the first part of the interrogation, she basically talked about herself, mentioning her parents and also all the schools which she attended and the employers which she worked for. She also mentioned her stay at the Children’s psychiatric hospital in Opařany, and also the lawsuit which she had with one of her previous employers and in which she’d been found guilty of illegal driving. On top of that, she also didn’t forget to mention that, physically and psychically, she felt absolutely OK.
Regarding the actual accident, she firstly (briefly) mentioned the events which preceded it in a longer period of time (i.e. the selling of her cottage, the holiday with Miroslav D.), and then (more detailedly) the events which occured on the day before the accident (i.e. the throwing of her Trabant vehicle off a cliff near the Slapy dam, her ride with the VB members who were returning from a party, and then her return home to the boarding house in Malešice). After that, she quite detailedly described what happened on the very day of the accident (that is, at 9:00 her departure for the car rental, the subsequent handover of the vehicle, the trial ride, her nap in the parking lot till cca 13:00, and finally the actual accident), and, in a couple of sentences, also explained her motives which led her to commit her act. It’s worth of noting that the whole interrogation up until this point was somewhat chaotic, with the investigators jumping from one topic to another. After a few hours of questioning, the interrogation had been interrupted for a while, and then resumed with the arrival of the district prosecutor. In this second part, Olga Hepnarová talked almost exclusively about her reasons and views on her crime. She would go on to say how, in her own words, she’d been often unreasonably and repeatedly attacked by the society in the past (both verbally and physically), and this to such extent that it made her feel as if she had been some alien person. Therefore, it’s because of these attacks that she’d been contemplating a revenge against the society for some 10 years. Before the conclusion of the interrogation, the investigators exhibited a charge against Olga Hepnarová and the district prosecutor issued an arrest warrant to take her into custody as a precautionary measure against her eventual avoidance of the criminal prosecution issued against her and also her possible committing of further crimes. Olga Hepnarová then agreed with everything that was written in the interrogation’s recording – except for the phrase “American racism”, which the investigator mistakenly wrote as “American nacism”.
The second interrogation took place on 13.7.1973, i.e. the day after the editorial staffs of Mladý svět and Svobodné slovo newspapers received the Hepnarová’s letters. It lasted virtually throughout the whole day and it was conducted by a different group of investigators, and generally, it was more detailed and comprehensive than the first one. The indictee quite detailedly described her personal life from her childhood, her relationships with her parents, sister, grandmother, classmates, her form teacher and friends. She mentioned her frequent and heavy physical beatings by her father, and described the whole atmosphere in her family as unusual. Nevertheless, despite the fact that her classmates would give her nicknames like “Dragoness” or “Sleeping virgin” (“my walk was somewhat weird, as if I had been sleeping during it”), up until the 6th grade, she’d been rather satisfied with her school attendance – except maybe for her experience with the teacher L.F., who, according to her, “wasn’t a teacher suitable for small children”, as she’d been very irritable and unfriendly, especially towards her. However, as the time went by, the behavior of the others (classmates, teachers, or casual people on the street) would gradually increase in negativity, so her grades in school would drop and she would attend the school purely by a strength of will. As an example, she described a common day in her life at that particular time: “In the morning, I would already wake up afraid of what was going to happen in the school, and what will the others come up with against me next. I couldn’t even eat the breakfast properly as I was very nervous. Then I went to school, with total disgust and afraid. There, the whole class with the teacher would laugh at me, for example if I had done something, and this laughter would be often provoked by the teacher himself. After this torture at school, I had private hours of German or piano, which I attended with the same disgust as I would often meet people on the street or in a tram who were of the same ill nature as those at the school. For example, once when I was returning from the piano hours, I met a boy on a walkway who, all of a sudden, kicked me between my legs. Or once when I was driving in a tram, I somewhat neglectfully showed the conductor my season-ticket, after which he screamed at me, calling me a princess and pleading me to show him my season-ticket properly. Apart from that, I also wasn’t dressed good enough to appear among the people. I was maybe tidy, but my clothes simply weren’t suitable for the surroundings which I was in. This is just an example how the society had treated me, everyday. I would always happily rest in a place where there weren’t any people, or when I was alone at home. I’ve never searched for any company and always preferred to stay alone.”
The indictee then mentioned that it was precisely because of the aforementioned reasons that she had attempted a suicide in the 7th grade. She mentioned her stay at the psychiatric clinic Pod Petřínem, where she’d been moved after her unsuccessful suicide attempt, and her subsequent stay at the Children’s psychiatric hospital in Opařany. After she finished the elementary school, she began to study for a bookbinder, and upon finishing the studies she went to work to Cheb. There, she quickly shifted between several jobs, but after few unsuccessful tries, she eventually decided to return back to Prague (according to her words, she felt totally hapless and didn’t know what to do, so her father would pick her up and drive her back home).
Then she mentioned how she obtained a driving licence in 1970 and how she bought a small cottage worth of Kčs 6.000,- in a gardening area Pod Berankou in 1971 and let it dismantle and then rebuild in Oleško. The cottage was in her possession till February 1973, when she sold it for Kčs 33.000,-. Among her hobbies, she mentioned driving and literature (her favourite authors: Freud, Nezval, Rilke, Sartre, etc; however, her most favourite literature would be the scientific literature from psychiatry and psychology). In the end, she “summed up” that, in view of the aforementioned reasons, she decided to take revenge upon the society (i.e. the people), for it had behaved “bestially” against her and ruined her life. To realize this vengeance, she contemplated of three different alternatives: 1) killing a large number of people by manually undermining a railway, so that the train running on it will derail 2) putting an explosive into a room or a hall full of people 3) illegally obtaining a firearm and then killing a large number of people on the street.
In the end though, she decided to fulfill her plans by using a truck. Therefore, she began to plan all the details – where to borrow the truck, where to execute her plan, etc.
During the last part of this second interrogation, the indictee and the investigators were discussing the actual accident, but (compared to the first interrogation) more detailedly. According to the indictee, she firstly arrived at the tram stop around 13:30, but because there was a tram standing in it, cars before her, and only few people around, she just passed by and returned there a couple of minutes later.
In conclusion, the indictee mentioned that she didn’t commit her act out of desperation but by her common sense, and that she doesn’t regret it at all. In her own words, she came to a conclusion that there isn’t any new way of life for her – simply because there isn’t any such life as it wasn’t to be for her to live like the others. When asked if she would’ve committed her crime again if she had the chance to do so, she answered no, but if she had had to live for another 22 years and the people would treat her the same, she would’ve done it again. As the interrogation came to its conclusion, she asked the investigators to mention in the protocol the names of people who, according to her, did her the most harm from the entire society – i.e. her father, mother, and sister. The interrogation then concluded at 15:30.
The following is a text of one of the letters which Olga Hepnarová sent to the editorial staffs, namely the one from the Mladý svět newspaper. Apart from that, she also sent a letter to the staff at Svobodné slovo. The both letters weren’t identical, with one passage being left out and the others being slightly modified in the letter for the Mladý svět newspaper. In my view, the letter for the staff at Mladý svět was intended to be as a certain safety measure, so that at least one letter would safely reach the journalists.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I plead you to consider this letter as a document. It was written in defense against a potential mockery and contempt for what I’m about to do, and also as a proof that I’m still a human acting within the limits of mental sanity.
My name is OLGA HEPNAROVÁ. I was born on 30.6.1951 in Prague in a family of working intelligence. My father is a retired bank clerk, my mother a dentist. I have one sister named Eva, born in 1949 in Prague. She’s a librarian. I did all 9 grades of the elementary school, then served out as a bookbinder. Since 1970 I’m employed as a professional driver. I have a class III. qualification with two and a half years of practice – out of it 10 months on trucks. Currently, I’m employed at Prague Communications, Prague 7, Bubenská 8 street, branch no. 02. I work here without one single accident. Finally my address: Prague 10, Plaňanská 524 street, boarding house OPBH, room no. 502/II.
Now that I’ve introduced myself, let’s get straight to the point.
Today, on 8th of July, I’ll steal a bus and drive it into a crowd of people at full speed. It will happen somewhere in Prague 7 in PKOJF.
Correction: the vehicle used will be a service 706 R tank truck, and the location and time random.
I will cause the death of x people, and will be judged and punished.
And here’s my confession (if I don’t believe in priests or doctors, I still do believe in at least one single honest journalist).
Till 13 years of age, I’m being raised under the claws of the so-called good family. I’m battered and bullied – a toy in the eyes of the adults and a victim of the children at school (and forever an outsider among my peers). They call me: DRAGONESS, MUMMY, TARZAN, BROKEN ANGEL, STONE FLOWER, DREAMING VIRGIN, OUR DARLING, etc. My torturers are relentless. I’m a freaky element of the pack, a black sheep of the family. As far as my memory serves, I’m a loner. I haven’t any friends, and never will have. I fall in despair, and in consequence escape. Escape from school, escape from my home, escape from my life (1x). Then at 13 years of age I’m once again being put back into a life full of vilification, mockery and injustice. In the children hospital in Opařany, I finally realize the unawareness and uselessness of psychiatry (for me). Upon finishing the elementary school I then go to study for a bookbinder. At school, the racism somehow eases up, but as a female professional driver I once again have to fight (prejudices, etc.). In the autumn of 1971, I leave home to live in a cottage which was built almost entirely by myself and out of my own money. This cottage is a symbol of my lonely fight. One and a half year later, however, I have to leave it and, on the brink of collapse, I find myself living in a boarding house, which proves to be one monstruous of a Babylon (where one can live, though).
Here are some of my random notes from the past.
I’m wretched like a last drug addict. But where are my drugs? Where? What is it that keeps me from falling
All my feelings on the brink of exhaustion and my hopes already vanished. Yet, the broken angel is still in one piece.
Why am I doing this. To let them know where are the limits of one’s helplessness against the society.
My position is worse than that of an American black. Why? Because I’m alone.
Thousand times I’ve been lynched. Here are some examples:
- by my father Antonín Hepnar
- lured into the showers and then beaten to a bloody pulp (Opařany 1965)
- repeatedly insulted and kicked between the legs by a group of known and unknown boys (at 11 years of age, in the hallway of my house)
- beaten on a public street by a girl of the same age (at 10 or 11 years of age, Bethlehem square)
- in a bookbinding workshop physically assaulted by the workmaster Ch. (Cheb, 1969) and verbally
- countless times I’ve been crudely reminded that I’m a loser who has nothing to do in a company full of orderly people (I hereby maintain that I was always healthy, both psychically and physically!!)
- numerous times, the people on the street would pass by me and then spit – either on the ground or at me (on a public street, ČSSR)
- in all of my previous jobs I’ve been openly denigrated and traduced, ridiculed, vilified, except maybe for PK, where they were treating me with a certain official politeness
Personal summary. I’m a sexual cripple. Unable to find a proper relationship. I’m a destroyed human. A human destroyed by people. Therefore, I have a choice: to kill myself or to kill the others. And I decide as follows.
I WILL RETURN MY HATERS THEIR FAVOR. If I had gone as an unknown suicide, it would’ve been too easy for you.
And because the society is too consummate to judge itself, it is judged privately. Sometimes, it is indeed punished, sometimes it is only shocked. Here’s my verdict:
I, Olga Hepnarová, the victim of your bestiality, sentence you to death by rolling over you and hereby proclaim that my life is worth of countless others. – Acta, non verba –
And in the end, I have one absurd wish. Dear journalists, please tell this story to the public. Maybe it would interest the writer Branald as well, as he’s going to write his next book about today’s criminals.
Prague .7.73 Olga Hepnarová
The third and last interrogation took place on 6.11.1973. It was divided into two parts, with the first one taking nearly an hour, from 9:45 to 10:50. In this first part, the investigators briefly recapped everything that had already been told during the previous interrogations and asked the indictee whether she had anything to say to it. In the second part, the questioner then asked Olga Hepnarová about the other crime which she’d been charged with – the fire at the family estate in Zábrodí. Here, the indictee described how she attempted to set the estate on fire using the gasoline and newspaper with the intent to destroy it. The fire, however, was quickly noticed and extinguished by the local residents, with the total damage being only some Kčš 100,-. As a motive for committing this crime, she mentioned her revenge upon her parents, especially her father (allegedly, there were numerous disputes going on between her parents over this estate). The second part of the interrogation took less than an hour and concluded at 11:50.
This last interrogation was conducted personally by the chief of the investigative team major Z., who maybe conducted the previous interrogations as well, but via his assistants. His presence also suggested that the criminalists will soon bring the case to its close. Regarding major Z., btw, one note: for some, it may come as a surprise that such easy case (from the investigators’ point of view) had been assigned to the most renowned investigator in the state. In my personal opinion, it was because initially, there were some doubts whether Olga Hepnarová wasn’t a member of some organization or group, and once this had been ruled out, the authorities came to a conclusion that it’d be still better to keep major Z. in charge of this case as he had tremendous influence and authority among the criminalists. Also, only a criminalist of his calibre could make such important decisions like the resolution on dismissing the appeal of Hepnarová’s attorney JUDr. T. (who himself was a very educated person, a graduate psychologist and expert witness), in which he requested an additional expert opinion from the expert witnesses in psychiatry and psychology, deeming the process of making of the original one as not compliant with the requirements which were necessary for making an expert opinion.
In an effort to gain more information, the investigators also tried to employ informants from the cellmates who shared the cell with Olga Hepnarová, but as these reports suggest, they simply weren’t able to create a certain bond with Hepnarová which would assure them the desired information. Intelectually, Hepnarová was simply on a different wavelength than most of the investigators. In the end though, this failure of the investigators didn’t really matter, as in order to solve this case, any deeper relationship between them and Hepnarová wasn’t even needed.
The whole investigation took exactly five months and concluded on 10.12.1973. One week later, the investigator major Z. sent a report about its conclusion to the Ruzyně prison. In the report he also informed the prison that he sent the City prosecution in Prague a proposal for taking further measures.
ČSSR – Československá socialistická republika; The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic
OV VB – Odbor vyšetřování Veřejné bezpečnosti; Office for Investigation Public Security Service Headquarters
MO VB – Místní oddělení Veřejné bezpečnosti; Local Public Security Service Headquarters
OPBH – Okresní podnik bytového hospodářství; District Branch of Housing Economy
PK – Pražské komunikace; Prague Communications
PKOJF – Park kultury a oddechu Julia Fučíka; Julius Fučík’s Park of Culture and Relax
VB – Veřejná bezpečnost; Public Security Service