The Devil Made Us Do It

High-school dropout Manuela told a court that she did her vampire "apprenticeship" at a Gothic club in London and enjoyed visiting cemeteries and studying magic

She hates sunlight, prefers to sleep in a coffin and has an upside-down crucifix tattooed on her shaved scalp. He drinks blood and found her through a magazine ad that read: "Vampire seeks Princess of Darkness who hates everybody and everything." Together, Manuela and Daniel Ruda are accused of killing a close friend with a hammer and dozens of stab wounds. Said prosecutor Dieter Justinsky: "I have never, ever seen such a picture of cruelty and depravity."

The couple are on trial in the western German city of Bochum for the grisly murder of Frank Hackerts, 33, who worked in an auto-parts store with Daniel. They admit stabbing their friend but have pleaded not guilty and insist they were only following orders - from the devil. "We are not murderers," Manuela, 23, said in a written statement to the court. "It was the execution of an order. Satan ordered it. We had to obey." Defense lawyers hope the two will be given a light sentence because of diminished mental capacity.

Manuela claims she learned about Satanism during a trip to Scotland and England in 1996. She met people interested in vampires in a club in London, where she said she learned to drink blood from voluntary donors. "You must not touch the artery though, because nobody must die," she insisted. Manuela said she slept on graves and even had herself buried "to test the feeling." When she returned to Germany, she had two teeth pulled and animal fangs implanted in their place so that she looked more like a movie vampire.

The bizarre murder case began last year when Daniel, 26, said he received a vision of the numbers 6667. He decided that the vision meant the couple should be married on June 6, or 6/6, and that they should kill themselves on July 6, or 6/7, after carrying out a killing. "I got the order to sacrifice a human for Satan," Daniel said.

They decided that Hackerts would be their victim because he was "always so funny" and would be a perfect "court jester" for Satan. They invited him to their apartment for a party on July 6. Manuela said Satan took possession of them as they sat on their sofa. Daniel stood up and hit Hackerts over the head with a hammer. Manuela said a light suddenly revealed a knife on the window sill and a voice ordered her to "stab him in the heart." Hackerts was stabbed 66 times with a variety of sharp objects, including a small knife, a carpet cutter and a machete. After killing Hackerts, they carved a pentagram, a symbol of Satan, on his chest with a scalpel.

Daniel and Manuela planned to kill themselves by cutting their wrists or by staging a car wreck with a truck. Instead they ended up crisscrossing Germany by car until they were arrested July 12 in the eastern city of Jena. Police had been summoned to the Rudas' apartment after Manuela's parents received a farewell note from their daughter. Police found Hackerts' body with the scalpel still protruding from his stomach. After their arrest the couple insisted they had done nothing wrong because they were acting on Satan's instructions. "If I kill a person with a car and half his bleeding head is hanging on the radiator grille, the car is not put on trial," Daniel said. "The driver is the bad one. I have no reason to regret anything because I have not done anything."

At the beginning of the trial, defense lawyers asked the court to have the windows blacked out, saying Manuela preferred to live at night and the sunlight hurt her eyes. The judge threw out the request but allowed her to wear sunglasses during the trial. She came to court dressed in black and made Satanic hand signs at spectators in the courtroom. "I signed my soul to Satan two-and-a-half years ago," she said. She held hands with her husband and they kissed as they entered the court.

Hackerts' mother Doris attended the trial but said she needed to take sedatives to face the gruesome testimony. "I wanted to look in the eyes of my son's murderers and show them I am not afraid," she said. "I had hoped for a human emotion, perhaps a sign that they were sorry, but the opposite happened. They are ill. I felt a stab in my heart."

Court-appointed psychiatrists testified that Daniel and Manuela have severe personality disorders. "These are sick people," said defense lawyer Katja Witstamm. "The court should understand what's going on in their heads." No matter what the court decides was going on in their heads - a verdict is expected this week - any prison sentence will be served by the Rudas, not Satan.