Daniel and Manuela Ruda, pictured during their 2001 trial. Daniel could soon be released from prison. Photo by ddp’s Kirsten Neumann.
A mentally disturbed man could soon be released from German prison after serving 15 years for the bloody slaying of a friend.
The London Evening Standard reported that Daniel Ruda, 35, will go before a parole board in Germany next week. There, he will find out whether he will be released early for good behavior.
Ruda and his wife, Manuela, were sentenced to prison in early 2002 for the murder of Frank Hackert. The newlyweds allegedly stabbed Hackert a number of times before drinking his blood. Reporters, then and now, latched onto the fact that the Rudas claimed they were vampires. Some, including the Evening Standard’s Allan Hall, have continued to call the couple “Satanic.”
Well, according to the Telegraph, “they said the devil told them to” kill their friend.
Daniel Ruda, a car parts salesman, and Manuela, had admitted the killing, but said they were not responsible because they were acting on the devil’s orders. “Kill, sacrifice, bring souls,” was how they described the command.
The couple said they had chosen “Hacki”, as they called him, for sacrifice because he was “so funny and would be the perfect court jester for Satan”.
Throughout the trial, the Rudas showed off, appearing in outlandish costumes, flashing their devil-horn signals and threatening witnesses.
In general, people who believe the Devil is telling them to kill someone qualify as psychotic — not Satanic. Fortunately, the judge in this case recognized that, and assigned Daniel and Manuela to different psychiatric units. Since then, Daniel has apparently become the librarian of a prison near Dortmund, Germany. That’s not enough information to tell whether his condition has stabilized. Manuela remains in prison for her participation in the crime.
Unfortunately, the Ruda’s flamboyant behavior during the trial made them poster children for the anti-Satanists, who like to hold up photos (particularly this one of Manuela) of them as proof that Satanism leads to violence and homicide.
Satanism, like just about every other faith, does not endorse, condone, or encourage harming others — let alone killing them. You can argue that if the Rudas didn’t want to be held up as such an example, they shouldn’t have behaved the way they did — either during their crime or during their trial. But how much impulse control and personal responsibility can we expect from two people who are so clearly mentally unbalanced? And what of the press’ responsibility to report in a fair and accurate manner?
Furthering the “Satanic” rallying cry, as the Evening Standard did, does nothing to clarify whether Daniel Ruda is back to good health and safe for release. It also confuses a potentially frightened public into believing that Satanism is to blame for what happened — and that young people who find a home in this particular faith are vulnerable to (or likely to) carry out the same kinds of crimes. This is unfair to Satanists, to the public, and to the parents of teens exploring such faiths.
Do you think Daniel Ruda should be released from jail? What kinds of treatment do you think he should have received during his imprisonment, if any?