THE trial of a German couple accused of the ritual murder of a man on an oak coffin in front of an altar of skulls in their living room is expected to draw to a close on Wednesday.
Manuela and Daniel Ruda, who suffer from personality disorders, according to several witnesses, are expected to be sentenced by a court in the industrial town of Bochum to life detention in secure psychiatric hospitals. Dieter Justinsky, the public prosecutor, said: "I have never, ever seen such a picture of cruelty and depravity."
The couple have denied responsibility for killing Mr Haagen, although both have admitted committing the crime. Manuela Ruda told the court: "It was not murder. It was the execution of an order." Her husband compared himself and his wife to a vehicle involved in a fatal accident. "The car would not be charged," he said. "The driver is the bad guy."
The trial, which began last Wednesday, has heard that their victim, Frank Haagen, a friend, died of 66 stab wounds. The murder was the culmination of years of satanist obsession by the couple. Yesterday, for instance, on her third day of testimony, Manuela Ruda, 23, her head partly shaved to reveal an upside down crucifix and a target tattooed on her skull, said: "Men were always trotting after me. I made them pay for their affections with their blood. That’s all I wanted from them - to drink their blood. They were my blood donors."
In her evidence, she said she had had "Satan in her soul" for several years. She said she ran away from school when she was 16, worked in a hotel in the Highlands and then lived in a cave on Skye with Tom Woolridge, an eccentric whose entire body is tattooed with leopard-skin markings. She met her husband through a newspaper advertisement in Germany three years ago. "We were the same - we had super fun wandering through cemeteries."
Earlier in the week, she described a visit to Britain with Daniel Ruda, 26, who was then her boyfriend, following internet contacts with similarly disturbed people: "I was in England and Scotland, met people and vampires in London. We went out at night, to cemeteries, in ruins and in the woods," she said. "We drank blood together, from willing donors. You can’t drink from the arteries, no-one is allowed." She said she had pegs put in her teeth to which she attached animal fangs.
"I also slept on graves and even allowed myself to be buried to test the feeling."
They couple went to Britain twice, spending five months in Scotland in 1996 and visiting London in February 1997.
Giving details of how Mr Haagen died, she said: "Daniel had a vision about the number 66 and 67. We married on the sixth of June last year and chose the sixth of July the following month to make our sacrifice to Satan. We had to kill, we could not go to hell unless we did. We intended to commit suicide after sacrificing Frank."
She said they had picked up Mr Haagen, 33, and had taken him to their flat where "we were not alone - there was a presence there, a powerful force". She went on: "We were sitting on the couch the whole time, then my husband stood up ... He had terrible, glowing eyes and hit out with the hammer.
"Frank stood up and said something, or wanted to say something. The knife was glowing and a voice told me: ‘Stab him in the heart.’ He then sank down. I saw a light flickering around him. That was the sign that his soul was going down.
"We were then exhausted, and alone, wanted to die. But the visitation was too short. We could no longer kill ourselves."
After the murder, they cut an occult star on Mr Haagen’s stomach, drank his blood from a bowl and had sex in an oak coffin in which Mrs Ruda usually slept. They wrote a list of 15 names on the wall of their flat in Mr Haagen’ s blood - friends, former colleagues and neighbours. The message beneath read: "You are the next!"
The couple were arrested in their flat, the walls of which were covered in satanic slogans and hung with an array of knives, axes and machetes. Mr Haagen’s body was found next to the coffin in the living room.
Manuela Ruda, who has been wearing sunglasses throughout the hearing because she claims she is a vampire affected by daylight, has been warned to prepare to remove them when the court, which begins every day with a prayer, convenes to pronounce judgment.