Olga Hepnarova was born to Czech parents on June 30th, 1951, in Prague. Her father was employed as a bank clerk, and her mother was a dentist. Hepnarova was described as an average child, but she developed psychiatric issues as she grew older, and this contributed to her inability to connect to people emotionally. Some people say those symptoms could have been those of Asperger’s Syndrome.
She attempted suicide in 1964 by overdosing on her medication, and spent a year in a psychiatric ward at a hospital in Oparany a a result. Hepnarova later worked various jobs, but she was usually fired shortly after being hired. She was trained as a bookbinder in Prague, then worked in Cheb for a year before returning to Prague. She then ended up working as a truck driver. Overtime, she lost contact with her family, specifically her older sister and father. As a teen, Hepnarova struggled with her sexuality. From the age of 17, she had had sexual relations with both men and women and described herself as a “sexual cripple”.
Hepnarova’s father had inherited a farm in the village of Zabrodi, which her family used for recreational purposes. On the morning of August 7th, 1970, Hepnarova set fire to the door in the living area of the building using a bottle of gasoline. She had hoped the fire would reach the hayloft via a dormer, and destroy the homestead. During that time, her sister and two tenants (a married couple over the age of 75) slept in the house. They woke up and managed to extinguish the fire in time. Olga was not suspected of the crime; as she had gotten to the farm on foot, after taking a taxi from Nachod. She confessed to this crime during a psychiatric exam in 1973, and stated that the motive was because the property had become the cause of money disputes between her parents.
Hepnarova began planning the attack 6 months in advance. She believed that all people were out to hurt her. She even claimed that she was beaten up on the street at random, and no one made a move to help her. Her original plans included the derailment of an express train or detonation of an explosive in a room full of people. These plans were technically demanding, and she had made up her mind to shoot instead. Hepnarova wanted to get an automatic weapon and open fire on the people in Wenceslas Square. She even enrolled in a shooting class at SVAZRMu, but she soon changed her mind about the shooting option. She was afraid of being killed immediately by the shooting, and finding the weapon was also difficult. Eventually, she decided to drive into people.
Hepnarova lived in room 502 in what would be today’s Penzion Malesice from January 11th to July 10th, which served as a hostel for the Prague Communications business. On July 9th, 1973, she left to take a last look at the cottage where she spent a lot of time, then dropped off her Trabant car, with which she had a strong relationship with. On July 10th, the next day, she successfully completed a test drive in which she was able to prove that she could control the specific type of truck she wanted to rent.
At 1:30 pm the same day, Hepnarova drove her rented Praga RN truck from the Defender of Peace (known as Milada Horakova today) to the Strossmayer Square in the Prague 7 district of Prague. This is where she drove her truck onto the sidewalk and into a group of approximately 25 persons who were waiting for a tram at the tram stop. After the vehicle stopped spontaneously, onlookers tried to help her because they assumed she had lost control of the vehicle due to technical difficulties. however, Hepnarova immediately confessed to intentionally ramming her vehicle into the crowd. Three people died instantly; three more died later the same day and another two died within a few days, and twelve more persons were injured. All of the deceased victims ranged from ages 60 to 79.
Before the attack, Olga had sent a letter to two newspapers, Svobodne slovo and Mlady svet, explaining her actions to be revenge for the hatred she felt was directed towards her from her family and the world. The letter was received two days after the murder, and Hepnarova had reportedly been planning her revenge against society within her mind for a long time.
Her letter read:“I am a loner. A destroyed woman. A woman destroyed by people…I have a choice – to kill myself or to kill others. I choose TO PAY BACK MY HATERS. It would be too easy to leave this world as an unknown suicide victim. Society is too indifferent, rightly so. My verdict is: I, Olga Hepnarova, the victim of your bestiality, sentence you to death.”
Arrest and Conviction
During the investigation, Hepnarova confirmed that her intention was to kill as many people as possible. Psychology experts said she was fully aware of her actions and she had no regrets. She planned her actions meticulously; since she had considered using a slope leading to the stop, which allowed her to gain enough speed for the maximum death toll. The attack was her second attempt because she felt there wasn’t enough people on her first run.
Hepnarova was sentenced to death on April 6th, 1974, by the City Court. The sentence was asserted by higher instance courts, and the Supreme Court re-qualified the sentence to public endangerment with the same punishment to take place. After several psychiatric examinations, Hepnarova was deemed criminally responsible for her actions, and Lubomir Strougal, Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia, refused to grant her a pardon.
Olga Hepnarova was executed using a short drop hanging on March 12th, 1975, at Pankrac Prison in Prague. She was the last woman to be executed in Czechoslovakia, and one of the last by the use of a short drop hanging.