VIENNA, Austria – Five bodies were discovered in three Austrian cities Wednesday after a man's confession that he brutally murdered family members to spare them the shame of his financial ruin, authorities said.
Police officers found the bodies of the man's wife and 7-year-old daughter in his home in an affluent part of the Austrian capital and determined both had been killed with an ax, police said. The daughter's body was found in a walk-in closet, they said.
Authorities also discovered the bodies of his parents and father-in-law in Upper Austria province, in the cities of Ansfelden and Linz.
The man, who was identified only as a 39-year-old public relations consultant, walked into a police station in Vienna early Wednesday morning, covered in blood and in a "confused state" and confessed to the murders, the Times of London reported. He said: "My dead wife and my dead child are in my flat."
He said he wanted to spare his family the shame of financial ruin he caused through speculative financial dealings, criminal investigator Thomas Stecher said. His wife worked in the Finance Ministry.
Police said the man told them he began by killing his 42-year-old wife and daughter early Tuesday morning, before driving to Ansfelden where he beat his parents — ages 72 and 69 — to death. He said he then drove to Linz, where he murdered his 80-year-old father-in-law in the early evening. Police believe he used an ax in all cases.
"He is completely matter of fact ... almost without emotion," Stecher said.
The suspect, now undergoing further questioning in Vienna, indicated he had "massive money problems," Stecher said, saying he had borrowed money from family members. The total in question was a six-figure euro amount, he said.
Police were awaiting autopsy results to determine exactly how the victims died, adding that the ax the man used is currently being examined. Letters were found beside the bodies in Upper Austria, police said, declining to provide more details about their content.
The man could face a life sentence if convicted, said Gerhard Jarosch, spokesman for the Vienna public prosecutor's office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.