To call Daniel and Manuela Ruda a “match made in Hell” would be to pay the German devil worshippers, Goth-culture enthusiasts, and self-anointed “vampires” the highest of unholy compliments.
In 2000, the pair met after Daniel, age 26, posted a personal ad in an extreme heavy metal music magazine that declared: “Pitch-black vampire seeks princess of darkness who hates everything and everyone and has bidden farewell to life.” Manuela Bartel, then 23, responded immediately.
The couple quickly moved in together, joyfully practicing Satanism, avoiding sunlight, and sleeping inside a coffin surrounded by black candles and human skulls. They married on June 6, 2001 (“6/6” being two thirds of “the number of the beast”).
Exactly one month later, the Rudas — under direct command, they said, of the devil himself — savagely murdered their friend Frank “Hacki” Hackert, 33, in a human-sacrifice ritual. They later said they selected Hackert because “he was so funny he would be a perfect court jester for Satan!”
The killing occurred after Hackert showed up at the Ruda’s for a party. No other guests were invited. Manuela bludgeoned his head repeatedly with a hammer. Daniel, claiming he could see a knife start to glow, stabbed Hackert exactly 66 times.
Afterward, the couple slit Hackert’s veins and drained his blood into bowls from which they drank. They then carved a pentagram into Hacki’s chest and left his body with a scalpel sticking straight up out of his torso.
Daniel and Manuela hit the road in a hurry. They stopped to purchase a chainsaw, planning to mount a surprise massacre before killing one another to be together in eternal torment.
Alas, police caught the pair at a gas station before they could enact their Leatherface-like demonstration for Lucifer. Authorities also found a “kill list” of potential future victims.
Bedecked in full Goth regalia, the couple went to trial in 2002. Daniel sharpened his teeth for the event, while Manuela, years earlier, had her own canine teeth replaced with long, animal-like fangs.
Frau Ruda also shaved upside-down crosses in the side of her head and carved her fingernails into talons. Although Manuela’s request to black out the courtroom windows was denied, she was allowed to wear sunglasses, given her “vampiric” sensitivity to light.
Both Rudas admitted matter-of-factly to killing Hackert, but they pleaded not guilty to murder. They maintained they merely acted as mere physical tools in Satan’s hands. Daniel even reasoned, “If I kill a person with my car and half his bloody head is left on my bumpers, it is not the car who goes to jail.”
Throughout the trial, the Rudas snarled, hissed, laughed, chewed gum, rolled their eyes, mocked Hackert’s mother, and repeatedly threw “devil horn” hand signs and made obscene finger gestures.
In particular, Manuela drew attention worldwide, as she appeared perversely glamorous in a Goth sense that was only heightened by how frightening she could be.
Details of the defendants’ past lives came to light. Prior to meeting Manuela, Daniel played in punk and metal bands. One was called Bloodsucking Freaks. He also took an active interest in Nazi-oriented black metal music and culture.
Later, Manuela gathered admirers online who would donate their fluids for her to drink during “blood parties,” sometimes held in graveyards.
Ultimately, the court found both Daniel and Manuela not guilty by reason of insanity, sentencing them to psychiatric facilities rather than prison. Daniel got 15 years, Manuela got 13 (which probably pleased her — the judge apparently did not pick up on the occult implications of the latter number).
Manuela Ruda was released to live on her own in 2010. She is said to have changed her name and is under court order to have no contact with her one-time husband (it’s unknown if they remain married).
Daniel Ruda remains in custody. His last words spoken to the public, after sentencing, were: “May Satan remain with us always! This is all just too stupid.”
Main photo: Manuela and Daniel Ruda [Facebook]