A to Z Challenge: U (serial killers)

Jack Unterweger

Fast Facts:

  • Born in 1950, died in 1994 in Austria
  • He killed prostitutes most likely as his prostitute mother abandoned him
  • His modus operandi didn’t change, so police placed him under surveillance
  • He was initially charged for 1 murder but later charged with 9 murders
  • He was convicted of the 1st murder charge and given a life sentence, although he was eventually released. He was found guilty of the following 9 murders but killed himself after sentencing

Unterweger was born to a prostitute mother who abandoned him. He lived with his alcoholic grandfather for 7 years before turning to crime in his early teens, with his first arrest at 16 years old for attacking a prostitute.

He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. While incarcerated he learnt to read and write. While serving time he wrote his autobiography which became a best-seller. Convinced he was reformed, he was released on parole. He went on to become a journalist and literary celebrity.

A series of prostitute murders were found to match Unterweger’s original crime so police put him under surveillance, eventually finding enough evidence to arrest him. Even after his arrest, Unterweger continued to give interviews and declare his innocence, however the evidence against him was overwhelming. He was found guilty of 9 counts of murder, however after his sentencing Unterweger hung himself.


17 comments on “A to Z Challenge: U (serial killers)

  1. He became a literary celebrity? Wow! I guess he managed to fool everyone (and perhaps himself) that he was okay. A most unusual case.

    • I think he must have been very charismatic? I can’t imagine any other way he could have had so many people fooled.

  2. If I wrote my own autobiography it would be a snooze-fest. However, I’m not adverse to becoming a literary celebrity LOL, I’ll skip the “being a serial killer” part tho.


  3. I never thought I’d put serial killers on a scale, but that’s what has ended up happening during your series, AJ. And Unterwerger, to me, is on the far right of that scale as the scariest so far. Not because he killed the most people, or in the most heinous ways, but because he was so charismatic and intelligent and delusional. If he believed his own press, that’s scary. If he was manipulating everyone, that’s worse.

    A fascinating guy, one I’d like to learn more about especially now that he is gone and I don’t have to imagine him being released or escaping from prison.

    • He seems to have been able to convince a whole country he was reformed, so he must have been incredibly good at manipulating people. Nasty piece of work!

  4. I never know how to feel about the prisoners who kill themselves. In one sense, great that they’re no longer a danger to anyone, but in another way, I wish they’d never been allowed to take the ‘easy way out’.

    Undiscovered by James Morrison

    • It’s a tough one to ponder, Lauren. I wonder what the families of his victims think? Maybe they are relieved they didn’t have to wait through the court system and got closure easily, or maybe they wanted to have the chance to have their say and to have him receive the penalty owed?

  5. I always refuse to blame parents (or lack of them) for these types of monsters but this kid didn’t have a chance. Still, people all the time rise above their upbringing.

    I’m rambling… Sigh.

    • Jacqui, I think in his case he was given the best chance of anyone to reform and be an upstanding member of the community. Yet he still threw it away and continued on his murder spree.

  6. He wrote a bestselling autobiography and became a journalist?!?! Life is so strange.

  7. Whoa, interesting. He learnt to write in jail. Was he ever evaluated by a shrink? From the sounds of it he led some kind of a double life, one being the respected reporter and the other the killing beast, and he probably (successfully) denied the evil persona. Or something like that. You know what I mean.

    • Yup, sure do, Tamara. I think he had to be a psycopath, or am I just trying to give a label to someone so I can try and understand how they could be so evil?

  8. Not reformed at all it seems – just better at hiding it.
    https://tashasthinkings.blogspot.com/ – Tasha’s Thinkings – Movie Monsters

    • It’s scary to think he could hide it so well. The recent arrest of the Golden State serial killer, who started his spree in 1974, makes me wonder how many more serial killers have been so good at covering their tracks.

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