The chilling murder of Fred Oesterreich, a husband who was gunned down in his home by his wife’s lover, will debut on A Crime to Remember on Investigation Discovery. The spine-tingling documentary continues to intrigue ID viewers with its compelling episodes dealing with vintage murder stories.
This week on A Crime to Remember, a murder shocked a town when it was revealed that German-American housewife Walburga “Dolly” Oesterreich and the lover she kept in her attic, Otto Sanhuber, killed Dolly’s husband in his own home. The episode will be chronicled by crime historians, law enforcement, and book authors, and it will include archival photos of the real people.
On Tuesday night’s A Crime to Remember episode “Guess Who?” police arrive at a California home, where a housewife is locked in a closet while her husband is found dead on the floor. What looks like a common burglary gone wrong eventually leads to the discovery of a sex secret that only the walls of the attic held.
According to Atlas Obscura, in 1922, police were summoned to a home where they found the bullet-ridden body of a deceased white male. Nearby, his wife was locked in a closet, but she was alive. The woman, who was identified as Walburga “Dolly” Oesterreich, the wife of Fred Oesterreich, told police that a burglar had gained entry into the home and shot and killed her husband during a robbery. She cited several items that had been taken from the home.
Her story was strange, but she claimed that it was true. However, the real truth was more salacious. It was revealed that Dolly Oesterreich was a lonely housewife who wanted more than her husband could provide — good sex, and lots of it. It started when she met a 17-year-old boy named Otto Sanhuber back in Milwaukee. She was immediately taken with him, and the two embarked on a sizzling sexual affair. At first, she met with him in hotels, then she sneaked him into her home, but then, neighbors became aware of the seedy love affair and began talking. Fred became suspicious and hired private detectives to follow her, according to the book Crimes of the 20th Century.
With her businessman husband growing suspicious, a better idea was to move Otto Sanhuber into her home, allowing him to live in a secret room. For years, he was her sex slave by day and by night he lived like a bat in the attic, which was said to be right over the couple’s bedroom.
Being in the attic was perfect for Otto since it gave him time to perfect his writing until it was time to please Mrs. Oesterreich.
Even when the couple moved from their home to Los Angeles, California, Otto Sanhuber followed and was allowed to live in the new attic. Although suspicious, Fred Oesterreich never put two and two together. He had no idea that his wife’s lover was living right under his roof, listening to their every move and eavesdropping on their conversations and arguments.
In fact, that was Fred’s undoing — arguing with his wife one night after returning home. The arguing became so fiery that Otto Sanhuber came out from the attic and confronted Fred. They had a violent confrontation, and Fred Oesterreich was shot and killed right in his home.
By the time police made it to the scene, Otto and Dolly had already staged the scene to make it look like a burglary before Otto ran back to his hiding place in the attic.
After the murder, Dolly Oesterreich couldn’t keep quiet. She ended up telling people what really happened that night, and eventually investigators received a tip about Otto Sanhuber’s involvement.
In the end, all of the secrets came tumbling out of the attic and Dolly and Otto were arrested. However, the case didn’t end in a way that would provide real justice for the victim, Fred Oesterreich. The Los Angeles Times tells what happened next.
“The jury found Sanhuber guilty of manslaughter, in spite of his defense that he had been enslaved by her. But the statute of limitations had run out and Sanhuber, now 43, walked free. At Oesterreich’s conspiracy trial, famed attorney Jerry Giesler won a hung jury, and Oesterreich was free. In 1961, she died at age 75, less than two weeks after marrying her second husband and 30-year companion, Ray Bert Hedrick.”
But as for Dolly’s attic lover Otto, no one knows what happened to him after he was released from jail. Based on his past behaviors, Otto Sanhuber most likely moved to another area, changed his name, and died under that new name, making him vanish and severing his connection to this murder story forever.
Stay tuned to see if the producers for A Crime to Remember were able to dig up some information on his whereabouts for their story. It airs this Tuesday, January 10 at 9/8 p.m. Central on ID. Last week, the intriguing case of Catherine Pappas was aired.
[Featured Image by AP Images]