The 40 year-old Danish father accused of drugging his two daughters and then burning them to death in his car has confessed his guilt in a Potsdam, Germany court this week. The incident happened on a wooded road outside of Berlin in August 2011.
“I thought it would go faster,” the father said of his act of pouring benzene from a reserve can onto the car and setting it ablaze with his nine and ten-year-old daughters asleep inside. He said in court that his plan was to also take his own life, but that after he started the fire, his natural survival instincts caused him to flee the vehicle.
Hiding his face behind a piece of paper, the man who had originally told German authorities that the incident was an accident, said he was depressed over losing his farm and his job and that the girl’s mother was attempting to take them away from him. He said he gave both children a sleeping pill after one of them became carsick and decided that he would commit suicide and “take my girls with me” while they were drugged. He claimed that he had considered suicide before, but could not bring himself to leave his daughters behind.
The man said that he went back to the car while it was burning and tried to use a large tree branch to smash the window and rescue the children, but the heat drove him back.
“I considered running on to the highway and throwing myself in front of a truck,” he said, before adding that he ultimately decided that that would be unfair to do to an unsuspecting truck driver.
The man told the court that he has been under treatment for depression and that he had been under intense stress caused by losing his farm in Himmerland and an ugly divorce from his ex-wife. He claimed that his actions on the day of the fire were not planned.
The prosecution, however, says that the crime was premeditated.
The case is expected to be concluded no later than the end of May and will hear the testimony of up to 28 witnesses, including the man’s ex-wife. If he is found guilty, the father could be sentenced to life in prison.