‘I’m no psycho!’: American man on trial in Poland for gruesomely murdering his elderly mother, chopping her into pieces then throwing her remains in a river insists he is ‘no threat to society’
- Gretchen Pfeffer, 71, was last seen at the end of March 2020 before her murder
- Karl Pfeffer was arrested in October last year after fleeing Warsaw, Poland
- The 28-year-old said: ‘I don’t want to be treated as a murderer and a psychopath’
An American man on trial for murdering his elderly mother, chopping her into pieces before throwing her remains into a river told a court in Poland he is ‘no threat to society.’
Karl Pfeffer, 28, was arrested in October last year after fleeing Warsaw, Poland, where he and his mother Gretchen had lived – he was seized by the FBI on an international arrest warrant.
Appearing before judges in the Polish capital, Pfeffer grinned at court photographers before saying: ‘I don’t want to look like a psycho in the media, I don’t want to be the next Jeffrey Dahmer.’
Described as an ‘oddball’, the 28-year-old is said to have lived off his 71-year-old mother, a wealthy widow whose body has yet to be found, and taken up drugs.
He continued to tell the court: ‘Allow me to admit that I buried the body in the river and explain why this person is dead.
Karl Pfeffer (pictured), 28, is on trial in Warsaw, Poland, for murdering his elderly mother and chopping her into pieces before throwing her remains into a river
Appearing before judges in the Polish court, Pfeffer grinned at photographers before saying: ‘I don’t want to look like a psycho in the media’
Gretchen Pfeffer (pictured), 71, was last seen at the end of March 2020 before police concluded that Karl Pfeffer had killed his mother
‘If I were to say what my mother did in the USA, she would be publicly executed. She would be crucified in Seattle.’
Pfeffer claimed that out of the ‘hundreds of good relationships [he holds] all over the world’ his relationship with his mother ‘was the one that turned sour.’
He added: ‘She went from being totally cultured and friendly to being absolutely vulgar.
‘I don’t want to be treated as a murderer and a psychopath.
‘Honestly, I want to go back to the beach. I am not a threat to society.’
His deceased mother, Gretchen Pfeffer, was described as being ‘social, intelligent, and communicative’.
Wanting to reconnect with her Polish roots, she had moved to Poland from Seattle in 2016 following the death of her husband and settled into the well-to-do suburb of Zoliborz.
She spent her time visiting friends and neighbours and also had daily contact with loved ones back in the United States.
Pfeffer (pictured right), 28, was arrested in October last year after fleeing Warsaw, Poland, where he and his mother Gretchen had lived
The 28-year-old is said to have lived off his 71-year-old mother, a wealthy widow whose body has yet to be found, and taken up drugs
According to those who knew her, her relationship with her son had allegedly become strained.
Witness statements revealed that he refused to work, relied upon her for financial support and abused drugs. He also started becoming violent towards her.
A chilling court document revealed that one of her friends ‘told investigators that Gretchen Pfeffer confided in her that Karl Pfeffer had beat her around the head with a frying pan during one of their arguments.’
Polish investigators also found that after moving out of their shared apartment he started to use her credit cards ‘until they were blocked by his family.’
At one point, he had asked his then girlfriend, identified only as I.B.K, to call the bank and use his mother’s documents to try to unlock the accounts.
Last seen at the end of March 2020, investigators said: ‘From that day on [31 March], all in-person contact with Gretchen’s friends stopped, and the occasional social media post or message sent from her phone was strikingly different from Gretchen’s typical style of speech and the way she wrote.’
After finding her things missing from her apartment, police concluded that ‘on March 31, 2020 or April 1, 2020, Karl Pfeffer killed his mother Gretchen in her Warsaw apartment.’
Further investigations revealed that on April 1, Pfeffer had bought a handsaw and duct tape.
After finding her things missing from her apartment, police concluded that ‘on March 31, 2020 or April 1, 2020, Karl Pfeffer killed his mother Gretchen in her Warsaw apartment’
According to those who knew her, Ms Pfeffer’s relationship with her son (pictured) had allegedly become strained
Analysis of his phone log-ins, and Uber and myTaxi data further revealed that two days later he had traveled to Warsaw’s main river the Vistula.
On April 4, a post appeared on Gretchen’s Facebook profile saying that she was in Seattle.
But analysis of flight records showed there was no record of her leaving Poland or arriving in the States.
Going into hiding, in September Pfeffer contacted a family member and confessed.
His arrest warrant made public by the US Attorney’s office revealed that: ‘On September 13, 2020, officers of the District Police Headquarters received information that Karl Pfeffer had contacted his half-sister, Michelle Pfeffer, and informed her that he had killed his mother, dismembered her corpse, and thrown her in pieces into the river.’
Flight records show that he eventually left Poland from the city of Gdansk, over 200 miles from Warsaw, on October 15, 2020.
From there he flew to Amsterdam before jumping on a connecting flight to the US.
Tracked down six months later, during questioning by FBI officers Pfeffer confessed to murder and detailed how he dismembered the corpse, packaged the remains in to six bags and then dumped them in the Vistula River.
However, police are yet to find any trace of the mother.
First appearing in court in December last year, Pfeffer told judges: ‘The packages that I threw into the Vistula River were very well sealed.
Going into hiding, in September Pfeffer (pictured) contacted a family member and confessed to his crimes
‘No smells. No leaks. I bought so many fragrances and air fresheners that my luggage smelled of mint like an ordinary tourist.’
Now, in a bizarre twist, Pfeffer lawyers are asking for his release because of ‘lack of evidence’ and because of his ‘ill health’.
Speaking for the defence, Grzegorz Roman said ‘The evidence does not provide grounds for any of the allegations against Karl to be justified.’
‘If the body really had been dismembered it would be easier to find at least parts of this body.
‘Dismemberment of a body always increases the probability of finding at least one of its parts, that’s an obvious conclusion.
‘But no part could be found.
He added that being in pre-trial custody ‘for about two years has had a negative impact on his mental state.
‘Unfortunately, this affects the state of health of the accused.
‘He does not tolerate such a long period of being in custody properly.
‘I am requesting the repeal of the preventive measure in place, which is now approaching two years.’
Judge Agnieszka Domańska dismissed the appeal saying that Pfeffer was a ‘flight risk because the charges against his are punishable by life imprisonment’
The trial resumes on February 10.
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