the vagabond half brother sex slave in the attic

Walburga “Dolly” Oesterreich (1880-1961) was an American homemaker and wife of a wealthy textile manufacturer. She gained notoriety for her bizarre 10-year affair with Otto Sanhuber which culminated in the shooting death of her husband.

image found here

“Dolly Oesterreich first became friendly with 17-year-old Otto Sanhuber around 1913 and described him as her “vagabond half-brother.” The two quickly became lovers and met clandestinely at a nearby hotel. They also arranged trysts at Dolly’s home but, when neighbors began noting Otto’s increasingly frequent comings and goings and alerted her husband, Dolly suggested to Otto that he quit his job and secretly move into the Oesterreich’s upstairs attic to allay any further suspicions. He readily agreed to the arrangement. Not only would this put him in closer proximity to his lover but it would also give him time to pursue his dream of writing pulp fiction stories. Sanhuber would later describe himself as Dolly’s “sex slave”

image found here

Dolly’s husband, Fred, remained unaware of the new “boarder”, though on several occasions he came close to discovering the deception. When the Oesterreichs moved to Los Angeles in 1918, Dolly had already sent Sanhuber on ahead to await their arrival. Dolly deliberately chose a new house with an attic (somewhat of a rarity in Los Angeles) and once again Otto moved in to resume their affair.

Los Angeles attic found here

On August 22, 1922, after overhearing a loud argument between the Oesterreichs and believing Dolly to be in danger of physical harm, Sanhuber came rushing down from the attic, a pair of .25 caliber pistols in hand. In the ensuing struggle, Sanhuber shot Fred Oesterreich three times, killing him. The two lovers then hastily staged the scene to look like a botched burglary. Sanhuber pocketed Fred’s diamond watch while Dolly hid herself in a closet. Sanhuber had locked the closet door from the outside and tossed the key aside before returning to his attic refuge and this fact played a key role in frustrating police efforts to press murder charges against Dolly, despite their strong suspicions. But with no knowledge of Otto Sanhuber’s long-time presence in the house, they were hard-pressed to explain how Dolly could have killed her husband while locked in a closet.

image found here

Sanhuber remained at large for eight years, eventually moving to Canada, changing his name to Walter Klein and marrying another woman before returning to Los Angeles again. In 1930, after a falling out, Dolly’s personal attorney (and current lover), Herman Shapiro, revealed to police what he knew about Otto Sanhuber’s involvement in the murder. Sanhuber was arrested and convicted of manslaughter but later released because the statute of limitations had run out. Dolly was also arrested but her trial ended in a hung jury and in 1936 the indictment against her was finally dropped. Dolly Oesterreich remained in Los Angeles until her death in 1961. Otto Sanhuber disappeared back into obscurity after his release from jail and nothing more is known about him.

a different Dolly found here

Published in: on December 18, 2011 at 10:07 am  Comments (53)  
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53 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Living secretly in attics hasn’t historically been very successful has it?

    • I’m surprised how often it’s happened

  2. I’ve always liked the thing that Dolly Parton says about looking so cheap costs a lot of money.

    • I can do it for next to nothing ;-)

  3. Looks like the police overlooked the attic during the investigation… a man in the attic could be a very important suspect or witness.

    • the police overlooked a lot of things in that case

  4. The name “Walburga” is cool enough that i’d almost have my tubes untied in order to have another baby… i suppose i can wait for the grand children.

    • I’m still shaking my head at the name Ving Rhames chose for his child…. Reignbeau

      • Really? Oh well, I suppose he could be in the Gay Pride Parade! ;-)

      • One of my favourite things … deliberately misspelled names. You’ve just given me another for my list.

  5. He was living in the attic without anyone’s knowledge ? That’s creepy.

    • It certainly is. Though of course the wife knew he was there

  6. Dolly – a cougar before the term was coined…
    First image – is that really her bust? It’s enormous!

    (Hey, perhaps you could do a series on voracious, deadly cougars…the human female kind…)

  7. Sometimes the male cougars are entertaining too:

    The King

    • too funny…. and he reminds me vaguely of someone ;-)

  8. Ahhhh, love. When mixed with guns and less than optimal living arrangements, the ending is almost always going to be bad.

  9. Sex in the attic? Now that’s one that the misses and I haven’t tried during the 10 years we’ve been together. Now that’s kinky.

    • How many misses do you have?????

  10. I’d start wearing watches again if I had that one.

    • Hey RF, I left a comment on your blog a couple of days ago but it didn’t show up. Can you check your spam folder?

  11. that woman has several ferrets running around inside that frock!

    • …and an animal trying to eat its own leg around her neck.

  12. Man, that attic was larger than the trailer we lived in for a while. Lot more weatherproof by the looks of it, as well! :D
    Now, that watch gives a whole new meaning to the old phrase “just sitting here watching the clock”! ;)

    • Yeah that attic is way bigger than my room. It looks great to me; I love those floorboards,

      • I live in a kind of attic. Unfortunately it’s got carpet not floorboards.

  13. The Man in the Attic, yes. Were they both first generation immigrants? Interesting that Sanhuber/Klein (= small [!]) returns to L.A. – to her? Wonder whether he made contact with her in 1930 or even earlier. But I doubt. Hammett would have made a wonderful shortstory from this.

  14. Yoke I can’t believe that the cops would not have checked the attic. As for that watch.I think I would rather cut my hand off rather than wear one like that!

  15. that book is right…lust cannot hide.

    • Did anyone read the blurb? A translation, I think!

  16. Dolly is a tad disheveled looking… perhaps she was just recovering from her busy extracurricular activities. :)

    • I’d love to know how she gets her hair like that

  17. Wow. It happened in LA and they haven’t made a movie about it? Sounds like a great plot.

    • Perhaps we could pitch it to someone….?

  18. I’m going to add “check the attic for uninvited guests at least once a month” to my list of New Year’s resolutions.

    • Take a torch with you

      • I’m not sure I have enough of those. Maybe I’ll go buy some more.

  19. that attic is quite spacious!

    • Yes. It’s not the one the man was living in though

  20. One of the best titles ever.

    • Hey, thanks Kono. Are you blogging anywhere these days?

  21. I can’t believe he was able to hide in the attic for so long! The tiny squirrels on the roof of our apartment make enough noise that you’d think they were a heard of elephants!

    • Same with possums here. you really know it when there’s an animal in your roof

  22. I think Fred was a bit slow, or maybe he didn’t care? How could you let that go on for so long without noticing something. :|

    • Perhaps he was hard of hearing.

  23. I’ll be back in a mo … just going to check my attic …

    • did you get back safely? I’d better pop over and check your blog

  24. I was addicted to the series “Flowers in the Attic”(about a woman who hid her 4 kids in the attic) when I was in college. My roommate and I would buy them together and share. We’d talk about them over dinner. I’m sure people thought we were strange. Imagine that!

    • I thought it was a single book, didn’t know it was a series.

      • It went on forever. I’m not sure there was a man in the book that girl didn’t have sex withl

  25. Forget the attic. I would kill for a little downstairs action.

    • In the rumpus room?

  26. Lost for words…

  27. All the best puns have been taken by the swift and the witty but I just have to drop by and compliment you on another excellent post.


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