Thomas Gotthard confessed to murdering his wife, Maria From Jakobsen, in a closed-door hearing on Tuesday. The 44-year-old Lutheran priest from Denmark was previously sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing his wife. Now Gotthard has admitted to the crime, claiming he and his 43-year-old wife had relationship tensions.
Gotthard reportedly dissolved his wife’s body in acid back in October. The Lutheran priests admitted that he had seen the crude tactic in an episode of AMC’s Breaking Bad, and believed he could get away with the crime.
By the end of the trial Tuesday, Thomas Gotthard confessed that “I killed Maria.” He said “I ended her life; she did not deserve that fate. I am guilty of having lied and deceived you all. I’ve been a total thug. I have sent my life out into the darkness where I want to stay. No one should feel sorry for me.”
The Danish man had also explained during the hearing that beyond marital strife, he had found another woman with whom he fell “wildly in love.” He said that simply divorcing Maria from Jakobson would have caused issues for their two children and his ex-wife. Thomas Gotthard instead hit the woman in the back of the head. In order to dispose of the body, he dumped it in a 54-gallon barrel.
According to a report, Thomas Gotthard kept the barrel in a locked shed for one night and then transported it to an abandoned country estate where he filled the barrel with hydrochloric acid and caustic soda. The Lutheran priest believed he could dissolve the corpse and escape unscathed.
Gotthard then split the dissolving corpse in half and buried each part separately. He then dug those parts back up and cut them into smaller pieces, burned them, and buried the bones. Thomas Gotthard went back to his normal lifestyle until Jakobsen’s sister noticed she had gone missing and reported it to the police.
The disgraced priest told authorities that his wife had left the house in a depressed state and that she left her phone and bank cards behind. Three weeks later, officers arrested Gotthard after finding hydrochloric acid and caustic soda in the couple’s home. Investigators also said they found Gotthard had searched for terms online such as “sea depth,” oil barrels,” “suicide,” “disappeared” and “cleaning.”
Police also recovered surveillance footage of Thomas Gotthard cleaning his car on October 26 – the day his wife disappeared. They also discovered a video that documented Gotthard’s disposal of a big blue plastic barrel on November 6. With the evidence against him, Gotthard was charged with murder on April 27 of this year. In June, Gotthard led the police to the place he had buried his wife’s dissolved corpse.
“This is not an unhappy love story about a man who could not get the love of his life,” prosecutor Anne-Mette Seerup said during the hearing. “Or the third love of his life. On the contrary, this is a man who saw his wife as a block and chain around his leg.”
The prosecution sought the maximum 15-year sentence for Gotthard while defenders have asked for 13 years. On Tuesday, Seerup said that “the only thing he regrets is that he was caught.” The prosecutor added that Thomas Gotthard only exposed where he had buried the body because investigators were getting close anyway. “The police were right on his heels. They had discovered the connection to Sundbylille.”
Thomas Gotthard reportedly worked as a parish priest at Skibby Kirke, a religious center in Skibby, Denmark. His Facebook page says he studied theology at the University of Copenhagen and lived in Frederikssund with his family before the gruesome murder.