Olga Hepnarová, the last woman to ever be executed by the Czechoslovakian government, was put to death for killing 8 people with a truck on July 10th, 1973.

Born in 1951, Olga Hepnarová had a banker father and a dentist mother. From what’s known, Olga had a completely normal and pleasant upbringing, but developed a mental illness in her adolescence and attempted suicide when she was only 13, forcing her to spend some of her teenage years in and out of psychiatric hospitals. She managed to become a librarian and later ditched the library to become a driver.

Olga also had a shaky relationship with her family. Despite her mother supporting her financially, Olga felt she was always cold and distant towards her.

“Everybody in my family treated me like I was just a baby they found somewhere. Even my older sister was always negative towards me and never friendly. They were the ones who began the destruction of my soul,” Hepnarová said.

As Olga became more distant from her family, she grew into a solitary woman with a vendetta against them and society in general. One day, she secretly set her father’s farm on fire. Olga’s sister and people who lived on the farm managed to put out the fire before it did any significant damage, and no one knew that she did it until she admitted it years later in her trial.

These things were the pretext to Olga’s mass murder spree, which was planned and calculated for some time beforehand. The 22-year-old mulled over various scenarios in her head, including using a gun and derailing a train but eventually settled on using a truck to hit people.

On July 10th, 1973, Olga rented a Praga truck and packed it with her clothes, belongings, and cigarettes, fully prepared to leave home for prison.

“Killing X number of people is not enough”

Strossmayer Square by Dezidor via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

She then went to the tram stop near Strossmayer Square in Prague 7, a spot she had scouted out beforehand. When the time was right, she drove over a crowd of people waiting for their tram, killing 3 instantly, causing 5 to die later in hospital and injuring 12 more. 

When police arrived, Olga was just sitting behind the wheel waiting to go to jail with her luggage. Earlier in the day, she had mailed a letter explaining what she had done.

“I am a destroyed human. A human destroyed by people. I had to choose: kill myself or kill others. I am choosing this, to give payback to my haters. If I left as an unknown suicide victim then it wouldn’t matter enough for you. I, Olga Hepnarová, the victim of your savagery, sentence you to death by running you over and I am stating that for my life, killing X number of people is not enough. Acta non verba (Actions, not words).

During her trial, Olga confirmed she committed the murder completely on purpose, and stated that it wasn’t because of her mental illness, it was because society left her with no voice. Her lawyer kept trying to say that she was schizophrenic but she kept denying it and the argument went nowhere. The courts decided she had a personality disorder but was of sound enough mind to be responsible for her actions. 

On April 6th, Olga Hepnarová was convicted of her crimes, and on the 12th of March, 1975, she was hanged in Pankrac Prison.

Já, Olga Hepnarová

In 2016, Petr Kazda and Tomás Weinreb directed a black and white movie titled Já, Olga Hepnarová, following the life of a woman who would become a murderer. One of the directors, Weinreb, commented on her character:

“She wasn´t a werewolf or a fantastic monster. She was a human. In her life, we saw the story of an outcast, of a person that just did not fit into society. Loneliness and hate finally led to the horrifying act of violence – and that was the story we wanted to tell.”

Featured image is an illustration of Hepnarová by Janykula via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Alex Richardson

Alex Richardson

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Alex is a writer and trader living in Prague. He likes economics, anthropology, and cactuses.
Alex Richardson