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"WYR" 2006 Obituary


WYRSCH o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-09-14 published
Love triangle suspected in double-slaying, suicide
Police theorize Swiss man may have found his girlfriend with German
By Timothy APPLEBY with reports from Omar EL AKKAD and Naomi BUCK, Page A13
Three European tourists found stabbed to death early Monday at an expensive downtown Toronto hotel were slain in a double murder-suicide, police confirmed yesterday, and likely perished in a deadly love triangle.
Killed were Swiss nationals Nadja WYRSCH, 24, and Andre ASCHWANDEN, 35, along with German-born Thomas KAUFMANN, 35, who also lived in Switzerland.
Police believe Mr. ASCHWANDEN killed Ms. WYRSCH, his girlfriend, and Mr. KAUFMANN and then turned his knife on himself.
Ms. WYRSCH was a biologist specializing in cytology, the study of cells, while Mr. ASCHWANDEN is believed to have been a salesman for a fuel-injection company. Both were residents of Lucerne, in central Switzerland, where German is the predominant language.
Ms. WYRSCH would have turned 25 yesterday.
Their friend, Mr. KAUFMANN, lived near Bern, the Swiss capital, where he worked at the University of Bern's veterinary clinic.
Together, the three flew to Toronto from Zurich on Sunday afternoon and were part of a tour group of about 24 people -- mostly Germans but also including some Swiss and French -- that was to tour Canada for three weeks, visiting several large cities.
Ms. WYRSCH and Mr. ASCHWANDEN knew Mr. KAUFMANN, police believe, which would explain why they agreed to share a room on the 19th floor of the Delta Chelsea on downtown Gerrard Street, Canada's largest hotel.
"We believe they all knew each other reasonably well," said Detective Dan NIELSEN of the Toronto homicide squad.
As well, each of them appeared to have a hearing disability.
"The information we have is that at least two of them were hearing impaired, and possibly all three," Det. NIELSEN said. "We're trying to verify that."
Ms. WYRSCH, who was on the board of LKH Switzerland, an association for the deaf, was killed by stab wounds to the chest and a slash to the neck, inflicted by a multibladed, Swiss army-type knife that was found in the blood-soaked hotel room.
The same weapon was used to kill Mr. KAUFMANN and Mr. ASCHWANDEN, both of whom died from stab wounds to the chest.
With no signs of forced entry to the room and no evidence of robbery, the working theory of investigators is that the violence stemmed from anger or jealousy.
Police believe Mr. ASCHWANDEN may have unexpectedly discovered his girlfriend and Mr. KAUFMANN in the room together and that he flew into a murderous rage.
Other guests on the 19th floor reported hearing loud arguing and the sound of running.
A hotel security guard making his rounds shortly before 4: 30 a.m. discovered Mr. KAUFMANN on the floor of the corridor near one of the elevators, reportedly clad only in a pair of boxer shorts, after apparently fleeing the murder scene. He was taken to nearby Saint Michael's Hospital, where he died shortly afterward.
A trail of blood led down the hallway to room 1908, where Ms. WYRSCH's body was found on the floor. That of Mr. ASCHWANDEN was lying on one of the beds. Police described the scene as horrific.
No other suspects are being sought and Det. NIELSEN said he expects the investigation to wrap up soon.
"We're still processing the [crime] scene and a few more witnesses, but we're getting pretty close."
The three visitors were on a tour organized through the company Jonview Canada, owned and operated by Transat A.T. Inc. of Montreal.
The double murder pushed Toronto's homicide total so far this year to 46.
A Swiss relative of Ms. WYRSCH, a farmer who said he had known her since childhood and described her as "a good person," said she knew several members of the tour group.
"She worked hard, she deserved the holiday. She didn't go on holiday often…. It was a normal group tour."

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WYRSCH o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2006-09-14 published
Tourist deaths a double murder-suicide
Woman, friend stabbed by boyfriend, who then took own life: Autopsies
'It is my opinion they were all stabbed in the room and the one man fled'
By Tracy HUFFMAN, Crime Reporter with files from John DUNCANSON
Nadja WYRSCH had planned to celebrate her 25th birthday in Canada, travelling from Toronto to the West Coast with her boyfriend and a male friend.
But within hours of arriving Sunday on an Air Canada flight from Zurich, Switzerland, WYRSCH was bleeding to death on the floor of her downtown hotel room with stab wounds to her chest and neck.
Down the hall on the 19th floor of the Delta Chelsea Hotel, her friend, Thomas KAUFMANN, 35, had collapsed outside the elevator, also suffering stab wounds to the chest.
And not far from WYRSCH was her boyfriend, 35-year-old Andre ASCHWANDEN, on the bed with self-inflicted stab wounds to the chest.
After autopsies, WYRSCH and KAUFMANN's deaths were declared homicides and ASCHWANDEN's death a suicide.
A hotel security worker found KAUFMANN, a mechanical engineer, at about 4: 30 a.m. Monday. The walls and carpet of the hallway were soaked with blood -- a trail leading to Room 1908, where police discovered the other two bodies.
"It is my opinion they were all stabbed in the room and the one man fled. We are still continuing with the crime scene," said Det. Sgt. Steve RYAN, the lead homicide investigator on the case. "We want to be sure there's no other weapon in the room."
Investigators are not looking for suspects. Police believe a knife found in the hotel room was used in all three slayings.
A police source said the murder weapon was a Swiss Army multi-tool with a 13-cm blade.
"This is a true tragedy. It is a bizarre case," RYAN said, adding that without an eyewitness, he had relied on several experts and language interpreters to draw conclusions about what happened.
RYAN said he now knows that WYRSCH and KAUFMANN knew each other and had some kind of a relationship. The officer said he is expecting to get more information about their relationship.
The evidence suggests the slayings were related to a love triangle.
WYRSCH and ASCHWANDEN had booked the three-week cross-Canada adventure with Jonview Canada, a tour company. At about $6,500 per person, the couple planned to take in such sites as Niagara Falls and the Rockies.
KAUFMANN -- who carried a German passport but lived near Bern, Switzerland -- was on the same flight from Zurich. He shared a room with the couple that first night and had planned to join the tour group.
All three had hearing impairments but none was deaf or used sign language.
In her native Switzerland, WYRSCH worked in a cytology lab, specializing in the study of cancer cells, and was on the executive committee of LKH Switzerland, which provides support to people with hearing impairments.
Little is known about WYRSCH's boyfriend, who, like her, lived near Lucerne; the couple did not live together.

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WYRSCH o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2006-09-15 published
Tourist's father also committed suicide
Man killed 2 people, himself in hotel
Police say he was enraged about affair
By Tracy HUFFMAN, Crime Reporter
The father of a Swiss resident who killed his girlfriend and a male friend before taking his own life in a downtown Toronto hotel this week also died of an apparent suicide.
A reporter with Radio 24 in Switzerland said he spoke with the man's neighbour last night, and the neighbour said the father died a few months ago.
Andre ASCHWANDEN, 35, came to Canada Sunday night with his girlfriend, Nadja WYRSCH, and Thomas KAUFMANN to travel across the country on a three-week vacation.
But according to police sources, ASCHWANDEN learned of an affair between his 24-year-old girlfriend and KAUFMANN, 35, and went into a rage.
KAUFMANN, a mechanical engineer, was stabbed in Room 1908 at the Delta Chelsea on Gerrard St. W., then stumbled down the hall, bleeding and bumping into the walls before collapsing outside the elevator.
WYRSCH, a scientist who studied diseases in cells, was found dead with stab wounds to her neck and chest on the floor inside the room that the trio was sharing. Her boyfriend died of self-inflicted stab wounds to the chest.
Police have seized the murder weapon, a Swiss Army multi-tool with a 13-centimetre blade.
According to his boss of 10 years, ASCHWANDEN was a "peace-loving" man.
ASCHWANDEN worked as a carpenter in Schattdorf, Switzerland, for Bissig, a kitchen and bath company, the Swiss media reported.
"This is unbelievable," his boss, Stefan Bissig, told Radio 24 in Zurich. "He was a good worker."
A hotel security worker found KAUFMANN bleeding to death outside the elevator at about 4: 30 a.m., just hours after the threesome had arrived from Zurich. WYRSCH and ASCHWANDEN had booked the trip through a tour company and KAUFMANN had planned to join in the adventure.
All three lived in Switzerland; the extent of their relationship with one another is not known.
Although Toronto police continue to examine forensic evidence in the case, Det. Sgt. Steve RYAN of the homicide squad said he is not looking for any suspects.

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