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Jack Unterweger was an Austrian serial killer who murdered several women before committing suicide in 1994.
Jack Unterweger - Full Biography (45:35)
A profile of the Austrian serial killer who, while serving prison time for his first murder, wrote poetry, a novel and an autobiography. He received quite a bit of success from his writing and was eventually given parole in 1990.
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Born on August 16, 1950, in Styria, Austria, Jack Unterweger, abused and abandoned as a child, went on to murder an 18-year-old sex worker. While in prison, he became a writer and was championed by some Austrian intellectuals. He was released only to kill nine more sex workers in Europe and Los Angeles. He was convicted of the murders and found dead on June 29, 1994, having committed suicide.
Serial killer Jack Unterweger was born Johann Unterweger on August 16, 1950, in Austria. Abandoned by his prostitute mother, Jack lived for seven years with an alcoholic grandfather. He turned to crime in his early teens and was first arrested at 16 for assaulting a prostitute.
In 1976, Unterweger was convicted of the murder of Margaret Schaefer and sentenced to life in prison. While in prison, he learned to read and write, eventually earning literary respect both inside and outside the prison. In 1984, his prison autobiography Fegefeur (Purgatory) became a best-seller. Convinced that he was a reformed man, the state released him on parole in 1990.
After his release, Unterweger became a literary celebrity, appearing on talk shows and booking speaking engagements. Fegefeur was made into a feature film, and the former murderer became a journalist.
Not everyone was convinced of his transformation, however. After a string of prostitute murders matched the details of the Schaefer crime, police put Unterweger under surveillance. After several months of detective work, they had gathered enough evidence to arrest him.
In 1992, Unterweger was detained, but even then, he continued to give interviews freely, proclaiming his innocence and calling upon his colleagues for support. Despite his chatty demeanor, the evidence against him was overwhelming, and he was found guilty of nine counts of murder in 1994. Soon after sentencing, Unterweger used the string from his prison jumpsuit to hang himself.
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Many of the most horrifying acts of violence are committed by serial killers. Always looking for next victim, these murderers kill again and again, never fully satisfied by their bloody deeds. Their twisted motivations—and even more twisted techniques—land the people in this group among the most frightening criminals in history.
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