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Ex-Hagerstown man extradited to U.S. in rape case

March 28, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE and DAVE McMILLION | julieg@herald-mail.com and davem@herald-mail.com
  • Klaus Werner Vonmahr
Klaus Werner Vonmahr

A former Hagerstown man was extradited to the United States last week, five months after he was arrested in the Czech Republic, and charged with two counts of rape that allegedly were committed 10 years ago in Washington County.

The incident involved a woman who was pinned down and struck numerous times in the head during an assault that lasted several hours, according to Washington County District Court records.

Klaus Werner Vonmahr, 51, a German national who previously lived in Hagerstown, was booked at the Washington County Detention Center around midnight Friday, Assistant State’s Attorney Joe Michael said Monday.

Vonmahr faces life in prison on a count of first-degree rape, Michael said. He was being held without bond, according to the detention center’s booking office.

Vonmahr also is charged with second-degree rape, third-degree sex offense, first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault and two counts of false imprisonment, court records show.

The victim told a Maryland State Police officer on Nov. 30, 2000, that Vonmahr began arguing with her over prior relationships, records show.

The woman said Vonmahr became very angry, climbed on top of her and sat on her chest, pinning her arms down with his legs, according to court records.

Vonmahr started hitting the woman in the head with his fists and choked her, records show.

Vonmahr shoved numerous pills of a prescribed medication into the woman’s mouth, telling her that he was going to “waste” her, court records show.

Vonmahr demanded sex from the woman, who said she did not resist sexual assault because of the pain from her injuries and because she feared for her life, according to records.

After Vonmahr left the house where the alleged assault occurred, the woman said she fled the residence and stopped a police officer who had passed by the house, records show.

The woman was treated at Washington County Hospital for her injuries, according to court records.

A preliminary hearing for Vonmahr is scheduled for April 19 in Washington County District Court.

The German government had refused to extradite Vonmahr, but offered to try him in Germany for the alleged crimes committed in the United States, Michael said.

After consulting with the victim, Michael said the state’s attorney’s office thought it “more appropriate justice (be) served in Washington County than somewhere in Germany by strangers.”

Vonmahr was arrested in the Czech Republic on Oct. 22, 2010, after he applied for a driver’s license.

The FBI brought Vonmahr back to the U.S., with Vonmahr arriving in Maryland on Friday, Michael said. Maryland State Police transported Vonmahr from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to Washington County.

“Due to the involvement of the FBI, the expenses that would have fallen to the county budget have been greatly assisted by the federal government,” Michael said.

The FBI covered the costs of bringing Vonmahr back, including airfare for Vonmahr, travel and accommodations for law enforcement, and the translation of documents.

“This is a very, very speedy extradition process,” Michael said.

By comparison, Joshua Edwards has been in custody in the United Kingdom for four years, fighting extradition to Maryland, Michael said.

Authorities in Washington County have accused Edwards of fatally shooting Jackson Agustin Rodriguez in a Washington Gardens apartment in Hagerstown in 2006. He has been in custody in the United Kingdom since January 2007.

Michael said several agencies were involved in bringing Vonmahr back to Washington County.

In addition to the FBI and Maryland State Police, they include the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of State, Interpol and other foreign agencies, he said.

“There are a lot of moving parts in an operation like this,” Michael said.

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