Harok family murder
|Harok Family Murder|
|Location||Zatloukalova 404/49a, Brno-Ivanovice, Moravia, Czech Republic|
|Date||22 May 2013
~ 6:40 AM — ~ 1 PM
|Weapons||Multiple stabbing and slashing weapons|
The Harok family murder took place in the early morning of 22 May 2013 when four members of the Harok family, Veronika, her husband Martin, and her sons Filip and David were murdered in their home in Brno, Czech Republic′s second largest city.
On 23 May 2013, the Czech Police charged in absentia 20-year-old US national Kevin Dahlgren, Veronika Harok's cousin, with committing the quadruple murder. At the time he was charged, Dahlgren was on board a flight bound for Washington, D.C.. He is represented "in absentia" by a court appointed attorney, Richard Špíšek, in the Czech murder proceedings, and by Theodore Simon, formerly Amanda Knox′s attorney, in extradition proceedings taking place in Alexandria, Virginia. If convicted, Dahlgren, who denies responsibility for the murders, could be sentenced up to life imprisonment in the Czech Republic.
As of 9 May 2015, Dahlgren was held in custody in Alexandria, pending decision on extradition.
Veronika Haroková (aged 46) worked as a teacher of history and Czech language at a Brno grammar school where she also worked as a pupil counselor. She was described as being well liked by the students. Her husband Martin Harok (aged 55), an entrepreneur, and their son Filip (aged 25), a Masaryk University student, were both members of the Ukulele Orchestra jako Brno band. The youngest of the victims, David (aged 16), was a student, described as a promising soccer player in the Czech media.
Reconstruction of the murders
From the absence of defensive marks on their bodies, it is clear that the victims were attacked in succession, not expecting the assault.
—Assertion of the Czech police in the extradition request (see below)
According to Czech media reports, the authorities reconstructed the case as follows:
In the early morning of 22 May 2013, a girlfriend of one of the sons left the house. At 6:40 AM, Mrs. Haroková called the grammar school where she worked, saying that she had a bad headache and would take the day off. The police believe that she and two other victims were killed between this time and 8:00 AM, which was the moment at which Mrs Haroková's wristwatch stopped. A post woman arrived at the door shortly before nine. The doorbell was answered by Dahlgren, who accepted the mail. Two hours later, a cleaner came to the house, but was sent away by Dahlgren immediately after entering the hallway. Meanwhile, the fourth victim, David, who was at school, received text messages from Dahlgren's phone that they would go running after his return. David was probably murdered immediately after returning to the house around 12:30 PM.
Discovery of victims
Neighbors first noticed a faint smoke in the afternoon of 22 May 2013, however it wasn't until shortly before 10:00 PM that day that they registered that the smoke came from the Harok family's house garage. The neighbors entered the garage intending to extinguish what seemed to be a small scale smolder only to find three charred bodies inside, whereupon they immediately alerted the authorities.
The victims were stabbed and slashed to death, each of them having dozens of stab- and slash-wounds in the head and face. The bodies of three of them were wrapped in cloth and set on fire. Due to the state of the bodies the police were not immediately able to identify the victims.
The next day the Czech authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Dahlgren, who, as was later revealed, had already passed through the passport control at Vienna International Airport before his name appeared in the international database. Subsequently, at around 1 PM the Austrian authorities alerted the crew of Austrian Airlines flight OS93 of the arrest warrant. The flight, carrying Dahlgren, had left Vienna at 10:46 AM and was at time flying over the United Kingdom. After contemplating an emergency landing or a return to Vienna, the pilots decided it would be safer to continue the flight. The cabin crew were instructed to pretend not to know anything about the suspect on the flight. Immediately after landing at Washington Dulles International Airport, the plane was stormed by FBI agents who arrested Dahlgren.
The Czech police made it public that they consider Kevin Dahlgren to be the prime suspect only after he had been arrested in the USA, citing fears that he might have learned about his "wanted" status while on board of the airplane, and react by endangering other passengers.
Kevin Dahlgren, a 20 year-old native of Sacramento, California, where he graduated from Granite Bay High School, and Veronika Haroková's cousin, came to the Czech Republic three weeks prior to the killings in order to live with the Harok family. Dahlgren's acquaintance, identified only as Kyle K. by the Czech press reports, was cited saying that Dahlgren is trained in martial arts and had been expelled from a military school. Newspapers further alleged that Dahlgren was suffering with "psychological issues" and had been sent to the Czech Republic by his parents.
Kevin Dahlgren and Veronika Haroková had the same grandparents, who emigrated from Czechoslovakia following the 1948 communist coup d'état. During their flight, they left their 6-year-old daughter Ivana, Veronika's mother, behind. The initial plan to get her out of the country following their escape failed and it wasn't until 20 years later that they could meet again, when Ivana also first met her sister Sandy, Kevin Dahlgren's mother, who had been born in the USA. Veronika's and Sandy's families were in contact and started visiting each other after the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989.
Haroks learned about Dahlgren's plan to come to the Czech Republic only a couple of days in advance, when he contacted them, saying that he had already bought an airplane ticket and that he expected them to pick him up at the airport. Indeed, they picked him up in Vienna, accommodated him in their home and were generally taking care of Dahlgren, who doesn't speak any Czech.
According to the authorities, Dahlgren sent messages to other people on the day of the killing. At 8:33, he supposedly sent an SMS (text message) to a Harok family friend that he planned to return to the US. He canceled a class with a student whom he was tutoring in English two hours later, and at 15:14, he sent an SMS to another Harok family friend saying he had left for Vienna.
The authorities further claim that Dahlgren had been boasting about having managed to get a knife on board the airplane which brought him to Europe, and that he was seen walking in vicinity of the victims' house with a knife in his hand two days before the killings.
Dahlgren's former babysitter, Shauna Seymour, described him as a trouble-free person. According to Garry O'Dell, Dahlgrens' family friend, Kevin denied responsibility for the murders. Dahlgren claims that he went jogging and found the bodies after returning to the house. Scared for his own life, he wanted to get away as fast as possible.
Extradition proceedings in Virginia
Five people are in the home. Four get killed. One flees. That alone, we submit, is probable cause.
—Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Haynes during extradition hearing, 12 September 2013
The Czech Ministry of Justice issued a request for preliminary custody of Kevin Dahlgren during the afternoon of 23 May 2013 on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by a judge in the Municipal Court in Brno.
Dahlgren was arrested on the basis of the international arrest warrant immediately after landing in the USA on 23 May 2013. An application for Dahlgren to be placed in custody was brought by Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Haynes and approved by Magistrate Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan the next day. The Czech authorities have announced that they will seek Dahlgren's extradition. Under the Czech-US extradition treaty, they have 60 days to file a formal request (until 23 July 2013).
While there have been cases of extradition of persons from either country to the other, and involving third countries, there has till now never been a US citizen extradited by the USA to the Czech Republic. According to the Czech Ministry of Justice, Dahlgren may not be prosecuted in the USA for crimes committed abroad, and if not extradited, he would walk free in the USA.
Dahlgren's legal representation had filed complaints against the initial arrest, body search and against the handing over of Dahlgren's belongings to the Czech authorities. These complaints were all rejected.
The Czech Ministry of Justice filed the formal request for Dahlgren's extradition on 12 July 2013. Czech public television, which has obtained the 300 page long extradition request from the US authorities, claimed that the evidence presented by the Czech police included the victims' DNA samples found on Dahlgren's clothing. The US authorities had already handed Dahlgren's belongings over to the Czech authorities, following his arrest in Washington. The Czech police concluded that short trousers found in Dahlgren's suitcase had blood stains on them: the police alleged that "beyond any doubt, the blood was that of David Harok, and further with a very strong probability, also the blood of Martin Harok and Veronika Haroková. In the case of 25 stains examined, the blood could not have stained the short trousers merely from abrasion." The police have further secured a bloodied knife and a bar stool from the crime scene. However, according to the authorities, even more weapons were used in the killings.
The extradition hearing took place on 12 September 2013 at United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia with Magistrate Judge Ivan D. Davis presiding. Concluding that the state needed to prove only probable cause, Davis ruled that Dahlgren can be extradited to the Czech Republic. The ruling, if upheld, only allows the US Department of State to extradite him, while the Department of State would then make its own decision whether to do so. Dahlgren's attorney, Theodore Simon announced that he would appeal the verdict. A court hearing in the matter that was supposed to take place on 8 May 2015 was adjourned. Another court hearing scheduled on 22 May 2015 - two years after the murders - was adjourned until 12 June 2015.
Criminal proceedings in the Czech Republic
After learning that their prime suspect has left the country, on 23 May 2013 the Czech authorities charged Kevin Dahlgren "in absentia" with committing the quadruple murder. If convicted, he may be sentenced up to life imprisonment.
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