Ramona Fahrngruber is sitting on an upholstered armchair in her 50-square-meter apartment in Steyr. In front of her, on the coffee table, are medications. Pills that work against depression and anxiety. “I swallow a lot of them every day; I couldn’t exist without them,” the Upper Austrian woman sobs. “Because how else,” she asks, “would I be able to cope with my suffering?
With this tragedy that happened just a few meters away from her, behind a door painted red. In the room that once belonged to her daughter Michelle; where the 16-year-old was murdered. In the night of December 9, 2018. By her boyfriend – Saber A. “Whom I never liked, because he was not good for my child,” says the 53-year-old, “but ‘Mimi’ – she was unfortunately crazy about him.”
In 2016, at the age of 14, the girl had met the young Afghan. And quickly fell in love with him. After all, he did a lot to impress Michelle about himself. He listened to her when she talked about her childhood problems; about growing up without a father, in complicated circumstances, with three older siblings; he cheered her up, he complimented her.
At the same time, he provoked pity in the girl when he told her about his flight from his home country; about his sad existence now, in a “reception camp”; about his loneliness. And the more often the two teenagers talked to each other about their worries and dreams, the more the lad began to manipulate “Mimi”.
“Eventually, he even got her to drop out of school and start an apprenticeship. To earn money for him – he himself was jobless,” says Ramona Fahrngruber. And she also says that she herself had no chance “to counteract him. Because he had just quickly taken complete power over my daughter.”
In mid-2018, Michelle learned of a fling of the fellow, “since then, it was crisis in the relationship of the two. ‘Mimi’ began to distance herself from him because of this – at least in phases.” And also because of the horrors he told her and her family about himself, “such as that he had already committed murder in Afghanistan.” The woman alerted the authorities because of his suspected dangerousness, “again and again, again and again,” the 53-year-old claims: “But no one responded to my cries for help.”
And the daughter? “I know she was afraid of Saber. Because when she broke up with him – again – he’d pick her up after hours, and he’d threaten to kill her.” Why did Michelle never press charges against him? “Because she loved him – despite everything.” And so it happened that the 17-year-old guy was allowed to lodge whenever “Mimi” wanted him to; in the apartment in Steyr. Like on December 8, 2018.
“Saber has been with us since the afternoon”, in the evening the mother, Michelle and he would have watched TV together in the living room; at about 11 p.m. Saber and “Mimi” decided to retreat to the girl’s room. No, affirms Ramona Fahrngruber, she heard afterwards no argument, no screams from the room.
The day after there then the gruesome discovery: Michelle lay stabbed to death on the floor. Saber A. – he has always called his crime an “accident” – was sentenced in October 2019 to 13.5 years in prison, for murder. “I sat in the courtroom during the trial,” the victim’s mother sobs, “being confronted with my daughter’s killer was terrifying.”
Almost as terrible are the reproaches that the Upper Austrian woman has been making to herself since the tragedy; every day, every night. “I should never have let that fellow into my house; I should have protected my child from him more, I should have been stronger.” I would have, I would have …
Her present life: a life of dreariness. Trapped in the apartment where Michelle was killed, “a move is impossible for me for financial reasons.” The longing for the death, “for the release from my torment”, is constantly in her.
Mrs. Fahrngruber – think of her other three children. How should they cope with your suicide? “It’s true, I can’t do suicide to them. That’s why I will hold out until I die a natural death. But I know: the time until then will be a perpetual torment for me.”
Ramona Fahrngruber needs money to move out of the crime scene apartment – which she doesn’t have. Since her daughter’s murder, she is considered unable to work. She is asking for donations. Oberbank; account number: 5358 1037 3729 0022.