In a story straight from Hollywood, multi-millionaire Hans Kristian Rausing, heir to the Tetra-Pak fortune, has received a 10 month suspended sentence after pretending his wife was still alive for more than two months after her passing. Sydney Morning Herald reports:
For more than two months, Hans Kristian Rausing went about his business while the corpse of his wife Eva decomposed in their luxury home in central London.
When friends or family asked about Eva, the billionaire’s son would give vague replies, never suggesting anything was awry.
But the macabre pretence was dropped on July 9 when London police stopped Rausing for driving erratically and, after finding drugs, searched his home.
They found Eva’s body in a fly-filled room under a pile of clothing and garbage bags that had been taped together. Her husband had used deodorising power to try to minimise the smell.
Excuse me swearing here for a minute but what the hell?! That’s some fucked up shit right there. We’re talking about a man who, upon the passing of his wife, his partner, decided not to report her death and just continue going about his business as if she were still alive.
This the kind of thing you expect to see in a horror movie, not read about in the morning news. At first I was completely shocked, shocked by the macabre nature of this crime. Shocked that he could go on living, denying that his wife had passed away, even if he was a drug addict. I caught myself thinking “this kind of thing happens in films! Not in real life” but that’s not entirely true – some of the most famous horror films of all time were all inspired by real life events. Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Silence of the Lambs, and countless others were all inspired by Ed Gein, a murderer and body snatcher with a penchant for decorating his home in human remains and some serious mummy issues.
Gein’s case was that of a clearly deranged human being, so it was the detachment from reality displayed by Rausing that worried me most. The way he was able to just pretend she hadn’t died, deny that she was decomposing in the next room. There’s no mention of mental illness in the reports, only that he was a drug addict. However studies have suggested a link between drug use and mental illness, proposing that those with mental illness are more likely to turn to drugs, and that those who take illicit drugs regularly and more likely to have this trigger underlying mental illness.
Those working on the case did not discount the link between the drug misuse and irrational actions of Rausing following Eva’s death, with Judge McGregor-Johnson stating the case illustrated the “utterly destructive effects of drug misuse” (source).
Statements heard within the courtroom were eerily familiar when comparing Rausling’s actions with those of Gein over 70 years ago. From BBC News:
“I do not know what caused her death. I did not feel able to confront the reality of her death.
“I do not feel, with the benefit of hindsight, that following her death I acted rationally.
“I tried to carry on as if her death had not happened and batted away any inquiries about her.”
In a separate statement read to the court, Rausing’s doctor said his patient had told him: “I know it sounds selfish but I just didn’t want her to leave.”
Overall I have to simply say I find this whole thing bizarre, macabre, troubling and just a little too close to fiction for my liking.
What do you think? Were drugs to blame for Rausling’s irrational actions? Was there some underlying mental illness? Doesn’t this all sound like a horror film??
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Tamsin Howse has written 179 posts.
Tamsin is a wife, stepmother and blogger with a passion for people and relationships, fashion and beauty, and an inability to successfully complete household tasks. Co-founder and Editor-in-chief of KiKi & Tea.
Follow on twitter: @TamsinHowse