Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Waltraud Gruseck: The False Soprano



Waltraud Gruseck
Waltraud Gruseck
Waltraud Gruseck had wanted to be a famous singer all her life, but the best gig she could ever find was performing for patrons of a massage parlor in her native Germany. Waltraud nonetheless found herself playing a part in an act that was worth more money than she could make by herself in her lifetime. But instead of being on stage, Waltraud was an active participant in a scam unfolding in a lawyer's office.

A man in his sixties who introduced himself as Waltraud's husband accompanied her to the meeting with the lawyer. The man said he wanted to transfer control of his life savings, commercial fishing business and real estate holdings to his beloved wife.

A few days later, after the papers were signed but before the attorney had completed the paperwork to give Waltraud power of attorney over her husband's estate, the attorney was shocked to learn that the husband, Hermann Hilss, had been missing for several months. Police officials later told him that the request had been a fraud, and that Waltraud was only pretending to be a loving wife: Mr. Hilss, the real husband, was dead.

Months later, police would discover bits and pieces of Mr. Hilss' body scattered in several places. Charred remains were found in the cellar and living room of his and Waltraud's house, and bits of bone and ashes inside plastic bags were found in a small river that ran in front of the house.

Authorities still do not know how Mr. Hilss died. What they do know is that Waltraud wanted to conceal his death by mutilating, burning, and then hiding the remains of her late husband's body so she could steal his money.


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