Hillerød- Denmark 03-08-21: A Protestant Parish priest Thomas Gotthard today in a court in Hillerød recounts how he killed his wife and kept the body in a 208 liter feed barrel in a locked shed before later burning her bones in October 2020 :
The 45-year-old parish priest Thomas Gotthard planned the murder of his wife, Maria From Jakobsen, with whom he has two children.
It appears from a request for a court hearing, which will be read out on Tuesday afternoon at the Court in Hillerød.
Prior to that, Thomas Gotthard on Tuesday confessed to the murder in a so-called internal court hearing behind closed doors.
This means that the case can now begin as a confession case. Here, the motion for a hearing serves as an indictment. Thus, there may be a verdict today, Tuesday.
According to the petition, Thomas Gotthard planned to kill Maria From Jakobsen and killed her by hitting her hard in the back of the head with a stone, causing her to lose consciousness. It happened in the couple’s garden.
Afterwards, he held her with his hands to his nose and mouth for several minutes until she died.
Thomas Gotthard acknowledges all aspects of the court application, says defense attorney Jesper Storm Thygesen.
Indecent handling of corpses:
This also applies to indecent treatment of corpses.
After the murder, Thomas Gotthard kept the body in a 208 liter feed barrel in a locked shed.
On the night between 26 and 27 October last year, he moved the barrel to an abandoned country estate in Ølstykke. Here he drenched the feed barrel with no less than 45 liters of hydrochloric acid and 6-7 kilos of caustic soda for the purpose of dissolving the corpse.
On November 2, he buried the body in Sundbylille. But on November 4, he dug up the body and dismembered it into smaller pieces, which he tried to burn.
On November 7, he buried burnt bones from Maria From Jakobsen in Sundbylille.
Problems in marriage
Prosecutor Anne-Mette Seerup reads out in court from the explanation given by Thomas Gotthard behind closed doors.
It appears that he and Maria From Jakobsen had problems in the marriage, and that he had had an affair with another woman, whom he was “wildly in love with”.
Thomas Gotthard had previously been married and did not have good experiences with getting divorced.
It is a defeat not to stand by the fact that you have said yes to each other, the prosecutor reads out. It would also be difficult for the kids and it would be awkward with two ex-wives.
Thomas Gotthard began to plan how he could get rid of his wife.
He fought an inner battle with his own moral compass to kill his wife, but he had made it all clear and it had to be carried out, he explained.
- Maria was going to die because he wanted peace for her. He was under pressure and wanted peace, the prosecutor reads out.
When the prosecutor has finished reading aloud, Judge Thomas Gotthard asks if he can stand that explanation.
The parish priest, who is over two meters tall, leans forward to the microphone on his table and says:
- Yes it’s true.
Decided to confess
43-year-old Maria From Jakobsen disappeared on the morning of October 26 last year and was reported missing by her sister the next day.
Initially, her husband explained that she had left the couple’s home in Frederikssund in a depressed state. But about three weeks later, he was arrested and charged with killing his wife.
On April 27 this year, Thomas Gotthard was charged with murder and for disposing of the body that had not yet been found.
Earthly remains of Maria From Jakobsen were not found until 3 June, after Thomas Gotthard had led the police to the site in Sundbylille near Frederikssund, where the couple lived. Thus, after DNA analyzes, the police could finally conclude that Maria From Jakobsen was dead.
For seven months, Thomas Gotthard had pleaded not guilty. But while he was in custody, he met with his family, and it was decisive that he decided to confess, he explained in court on Tuesday.
He thought of Maria From Jakobsen’s family and knew how much it means for the bereaved to bury their loved ones.
Therefore, he went around his defender and told it all to the police, it appears from the court request.
Requires 15 years in prison
Prosecutor Anne-Mette Seerup believes that Thomas Gotthard should not be sentenced to less than 15 years in prison.
She justifies this with the fact that he decided to kill Maria From Jakobsen a week before the murder. That he carefully planned and prepared for the killing. And that he took seriously his plans “the fateful Monday morning”.
According to the prosecutor, Thomas Gotthard had been not only skilled, but so skilled that he could have escaped with murder. There is also no doubt that he took advantage of his trusted position as a priest, she believes.
- There was no one who initially imagined that a priest had killed his wife, says Anne-Mette Seerup.
Original story in danish by Emil Færch (then google translation)