When 62-year-0ld luthier and museum owner Bernard Raymond von Bredow asked his neighbor in Paraguay to keep an eye on his valuable Stradivarius violins while he went on a trip, he likely never thought the decision would be fatal.
But fellow German Volker Grannass, 58, along with two other Germans are now in custody over the torture and murder of von Bredow and his 14-year-old daughter Lorena Lydia in their home. Four of von Bredow’s Stradivarius violins were found in Grannass’ home.
Police Commissioner Hugo Grance told local reporters that the two victims had been tortured. The older von Bredow was found flung on a table, dead from a gunshot wound to the head with signs of torture on his body. His daughter was found in a bathtub with a gunshot wound to her belly. Grance says the two were likely killed somewhere else on the property and dragged to their final resting place.
The officer said evidence at the scene indicates “that two or more individuals sought something” inside the house.
Grance said that he believes that upon researching the value of von Bredow’s collection—violins made by Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari are worth millions, with one selling in 2011 for $13.1 million. Stradivari used a treated wood and secret methods to make 960 violins, of which just 650 remain, making them incredibly valuable. They have long been the choice of maestros due to the precision of the sound, likely due to the wood.
Grannass likely understood the value and officials say he would have tried to get the authentication certificates from von Bredow to sell them. Grance said he believes Grannass employed fellow Germans Yves Asriel Spartacus Steinmetz, 60, and Stephen Jorg Messing Darchinger, 51, to torture von Bredow and his daughter to coax them into giving them the papers.
“Our principal hypothesis is that the motive for the double crime was to find the international certification of authenticity of the violins so they could be sold,” Grance told local reporters.
None of the three men have been officially charged with homicide yet, but prosecutor Lorena Ledesma says those charges could be coming soon. “To commit the crime and such a brutal murder, it must be because they knew the victims,” Ledesma said. “We’ve found a lot of evidence.”
It is unclear where the violins or the certificates of authenticity are now.
Von Bredow was previously famous for the discovery of a mammoth skeleton in Bavaria when he was a teenager. He went on study geology and archeology before becoming a luthier, or stringed instrument maker.