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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - To inherit
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: October 31, 2002
Date of arrest: November 9, 2002
Date of birth: November 3, 1983
Victims profile: Manfred von Richthofen, and his wife, Marisia von Richthofen (her parents)
Method of murder: Hit them with iron sticks before strangling them with towels
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Status: Sentenced to 40 years in prison on July 22, 2006
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Suzane Louise Freiin von Richthofen (born November 3, 1983), is a Brazilian who murdered her own parents on October 31, 2002 with help from her boyfriend and his brother. She was put on trial in São Paulo in July 2006 and was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment.

Background and early life

Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Suzane is the daughter of the German engineer Manfred Albert Freiherr von Richthofen, and his wife, Marisia von Richthofen (née Marísia Abdalla), a Brazilian of Lebanese descent.

Her father was working as a director of the State Company for Highway Development in São Paulo, her mother was a psychiatrist. Suzane has a younger brother, Andreas Freiherr von Richthofen, born in 1987. Her father claimed to be a grandnephew of Manfred von Richthofen, German war pilot of World War I, but this is still disputed; the German von Richthofen family denies any link to them.

After graduating from a German High School, Suzane studied law at Pontifícia Universidade Católica. She was described as happy, but a little shy. Suzane was known to have a good relation with her parents and her brother. In the summer of 1999, she started practising Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and that's where she got to know Daniel Cravinhos de Paula e Silva, who became her boyfriend and accomplice of the murder.


In the late hours of October 31, 2002, Suzane von Richthofen, who had planned the murder of her parents for months, checked if they were already asleep, then disconnected the alarm system of the estate and opened the door to her 21-year-old-boyfriend, Daniel Cravinhos and his brother, 26-year-old Christian Cravinhos who had waited outside.

The Cravinhos brothers went upstairs to the parents´ bedroom and hit them with iron sticks before strangling them with towels. Suzane was waiting in the living room downstairs. After the murder was accomplished, the three youngsters simulated a break-in by pocketing money they found, spreading papers in the library and creating a mess in the house.

Then they left, Suzane and Daniel went for a motel, Christian went to a fast-food restaurant. Early in the Morning, Suzane and Daniel picked up her little brother, Andreas, then aged 15, at an internet cafe and went home, where they "discovered" the crime, called the police at once and told them their story.

The investigating officers, however, doubted a burglary crime and thought of someone familiar to the victims, soon began to question the children and the employees of the Richthofen family. What made them suspicious was not only the crime scene, with the alarm system switched off and the papers spread very regularly, as if by design, but also the extraordinary coolness of Suzane, who was seen in the house's swimming pool with Daniel the day after the murder, and who celebrated her 19th birthday with friends just hours after the parents´ burial.

The investigators focused their attention on Suzane and her boyfriend and began shadowing them. The clue for the arrest came with Christian Cravinhos, who had bought a motorcycle a few days later and paid cash in 100-dollar bills. A few days later, on November 9, 2002 he was arrested, as well as his brother and Suzane, who soon confessed the murder. Suzane was released from prison in May 2005, when the Supreme Court of Justice granted her habeas corpus. She then awaited her trial in house arrest.


Suzane's parents, who at first allowed her relationship to Daniel Cravinhos, changed their opinion when they discovered that he used marijuana almost daily. Also, his lower-class background and his unwillingness to work or to attend school caused their disagreement.

In July, 2002, her parents were on vacation, so Daniel moved in with the children for a month, much to Suzane's delight. When the parents came back home, Suzane suggested they buy her a flat in which she could live with Daniel, but her father refused, saying that she could do whatever she liked to only if she earned money herself. She continued meeting Daniel secretly. Suzane claimed that she did all for love, for fear that Daniel would leave her if the parents were not killed. Her lawyer, Denivaldo Barni, said that Suzane had no motive at all, but was forced to the crime by Daniel, whom she adored like a god.

Another part of the motive may have been the parents wealth, estimated to about seventeen million dollars, which Suzane would inherit in case of the parents´ death. As Prosecutor Roberto Tardelli put it, Suzane wanted to "get her hands on the money and assets her parents had worked so hard to obtain", she "wanted her freedom and independence without having to work for it". On trial, Daniel Cravinhos claimed that Suzane was physically violated by her father, which she and her brother Andreas von Richthofen deny. It was also claimed that the Richthofen parents were alcoholics, but in the autopsy no alcohol was detected in their bodies.


On June 5, 2006, Suzane Freiin von Richthofen, along with the Cravinhos, was put on trial in São Paulo, for homicídio qualificado, the equivalent of First Degree Murder in Brazilian law. The Trial was delayed and finally started on July 17. On trial, Suzane blamed Daniel Cravinhos for everything, while the Cravinhos brothers claimed that they acted upon her desire. Prosecutor Roberto Tardelli, however, called Suzane the "mastermind" of the crime. Roberto Tardelli called for 50 years of imprisonment for each of the three defendants. She was described as "personification of the evil blonde".

On July 22, 2006 Suzane was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the crime. Daniel Cravinhos got the same sentence and his brother Christian was sentenced to 38 years for conspiracy.

As of April 2007, she is in custody in a women's prison outside São Paulo.

Brazilian public attention

The case generated significant media attention in Brazil due to the stark contrast between the brutal crime and the personality of the daughter. While the Cravinhos brothers fitted in the scheme of the uneducated, unemployed, drug-addicted killers, this was not true for Suzane: She was a pretty, blond girl from an upper-middle-class family of German and Lebanese descent, well-behaved, always doing well at school, speaking three foreign languages and doing ballet. The contrast between her affluent upbringing and the cruelty of the crime shocked the country.

Also, as discussion emerged in the Brazilian public about the worth of family values and the effects of education, the question as to whether Suzane was the evil mind behind the crime or just Daniel's tool was also heavily discussed. Many people who initially were emotionally on Suzane's side, changed their opinion when a TV interview with her was shown. Before the interview, when the cameras were already on, she was instructed for the interview by her lawyer. He told her to cry out loud during the broadcast, to create public sympathy. In the outcome, however, the interview was a major blast for her credibility. In court, Suzane still was very cool, while the Cravinhos brothers were crying most of the time. At one occasion, she even started to laugh. One correspondent tried to explain Suzane through Hannah Arendt's theory of the "Banality of evil".


Red Baron heiress killed parents

July 23, 2006

A relative of the German World War I flying ace known as the Red Baron has been sentenced to 39 years in jail for killing her wealthy parents in Brazil.

Suzane von Richthofen, 22, whose father was a great nephew of fighter pilot Baron von Richthofen, was found guilty of the murders by a Sao Paulo court.

Her ex-boyfriend and his brother were also jailed for some 40 years each for the killings that took place in 2002.

The case has attracted a storm of publicity in Brazil.

Chief Prosecutor Roberto Tardelli described Suzane von Richthofen as the "mastermind" of the crime.

He said she was motivated by a desire to "get her hands on the money and assets her parents had worked so hard to obtain", the Associated Press news agency reports.

He said she "wanted her freedom and independence without having to work for it".

Packed courtroom

Suzane von Richthofen's former boyfriend, Daniel Cravinhos, and his brother, Christian, have already confessed they beat her parents to death in their Sao Paulo home.

A lawyer for the brothers said the young woman had urged the brothers to commit the crime by claiming her parents had mistreated her.

However, a lawyer for Richthofen said Daniel Cravinhos was the driving force behind the attack.

"This crime was committed only because Daniel wanted to," he said. "He was the only one with a motive - money."

Suzane von Richthofen's parents are believed to have opposed their daughter's relationship with Daniel Cravinhos, who came from a poorer family.

Lawyers for the three are expected to appeal the verdict.

Some 200 people filled the courtroom to hear the verdict being delivered on Saturday, the Associated Press news agency says.

Baron von Richthofen was shot dead during a dogfight over the River Somme in 1918, ending the career of one of Germany's most skilful - and most feared - fighter pilots.


Murder in Brazil #5 – The von Richthofen Case

Manfred von Richthofen.

When they hear that name, most folks think of this guy, the famous WWI fighter pilot shot down over the Western Front in April of 1918.

But in São Paulo, in the spring of 2002, everyone would have thought you were talking about someone else: a distant relative of the Red Baron who shared his name - and whose life also came to a sudden and violent end.

Here’s the happy family before the tragedy. The Brazilian Manfred was an engineer. His wife, Marísia, was a psychiatrist. Andreas, their son, was fifteen. Suzane Louise, their daughter, was just short of her nineteenth birthday.

They all lived in a comfortable house, beyond this wall, in the Campo Belo neighborhood of the city.

At the time of the murders, and for the previous three years, Suzane been carrying-on a torrid love affair with a young man her parents deeply disapproved of. Twenty-one year-old Daniel Cravinhos de Paula e Silva didn’t study, didn’t work and had introduced their daughter to drugs.

They pressured her to break-off the relationship. She refused.

And when they threatened to cut-off her allowance, she decided to murder them.

On the night of the 31st of October, 2002, (Yes, I did say it was springtime; this is the Southern Hemisphere, remember?) she took her brother to a cyber-café to meet friends and play video games. Then Suzane, her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s brother, twenty-six year old Cristian, went to her home.

Earlier that evening, she’d disengaged the burglar alarm and turned-off the video security cameras. Upon arrival, she actuated the electric gate. They drove into the garage. The men put on hoods and entered the house.

She preceded them up the stairs to her parents’ bedroom, turned on the light in the hall, and verified that Manfred and Marisía were asleep.

Then she went downstairs and sat on the couch, in the living room, while her accomplices set to work with bludgeons they’d previously prepared.

The killers thought to make quick work of it, but they were in for a surprise:

In cases of severe brain trauma, when the individual doesn’t die immediately, the tongue often loses support at the base and drops back into the throat.

Causing a loud and most disturbing snore.

Daniel ran to the bathroom and came back with two wet towels. They put them over their victim’s faces in an attempt to drown-out the sounds. It didn’t work. So he ran down the kitchen, returned with a pitcher of water and set to drowning them with it.

That did it for Manfred, but not for Marisia. So they tied her head into a plastic bag until she finally expired.

Once it was over, Suzane came up for a look – and then she went downstairs and started ransacking the house.

The brothers did the same on the upper floor, all designed to make the house look as if it had been burglarized. But they didn’t do a good job of it. They left valuables, they left cell phones, they left a firearm, all things burglars would be unlikely ever to do. They did, however, take the von Richthofen’s stash of cash, a considerable amount of it in both US Dollars and Euros.

Then they left – and Daniel and Suzane checked-into a motel to establish an alibi.

Just before three in the morning they checked-out. Suzane dropped her boyfriend off, picked up her brother and they went home to “discover” their parents dead.

As the investigation progressed, it was ultimately discovered that, only ten hours after the crime, Cristian had bought himself a motorcycle, paying with thirty-six bills of one-hundred-dollars each. And he couldn’t prove where he got the money.

They grilled him. He broke down. And then the others did too.

The investigation was over within a week.

But Brazilian law is such that, if an individual isn’t apprehended in the commission of a crime, it’s likely they’ll await their trial in liberty – and that’s what happened.

Suzane was free for a year, even launched a lawsuit to take over complete control of her parents’ estate (to the tune of more than five million US Dollars) and she might have won it, too, if investigators hadn’t feared for the life of her brother – and found a revolver hidden in a teddy bear in her room.

In July of 2006, almost four years after the murders, the trio finally went to trial. (There’s a considerable backlog of cases in the Brazilian justice system.)

The lovers were sentenced to thirty-nine years and six months each. Cristian got a year less.

In 2009, Suzane tried to get her sentence changed to house arrest. Her appeal was denied.

She tried again, two years later, with the same result.

But she’ll keep trying, and people who know about these things have told me it isn’t likely she’ll do all of her sentence as hard time.

In 2011, Andreas sued his sister for her half of the inheritance, including the money paid-out on her parents’ life insurance.

He won.



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