Lost love, money and crypt

Born wealthy, living royal and prestigous, died lonely and burried modest.
Born wealthy, living royal and prestigous, died lonely and burried modest.

Draga Mitricevic was a daughter of well-to-do entrepreneur and Privy Councilor. She was educated abroad and spoke several languages. The vast family fortune and reputation was further strengthened by close connection to the Royal Court through Draga’s marriage with the young officer who served as royal household administrator.

However, when she found out about her husband’s infidelity, she made a scandal confronting him in public and throwing out all of his personal possessions into the street. Heart broken and disillusioned, she moved to her own exclusive villa in downtown Belgrade, just a few blocks from the royal court.

Her changing behavior was further influenced by the sudden death of her former husband. She almost stopped talking to her friends and relatives, dismissed all household servants and slowly slipped into isolation.

Her only company were two dogs, few chickens and a goose. Once beautiful and sophisticated socialite started to wear long shabby black coats, crumpled hats and long black walking stick, she would become famous for.

Violent last moments

On January 31, 1933, the Belgraders were woken up by frantic voices of the news hawkers: “Wealthy Property Owner Mrs Draga Mitricevic Disappeared!”.

In the following days, the local press reported on the missing eccentric elderly lady who lived alone in the vast luxurious mansion. The shock was even greater when the old lady was found dead a few weeks later.

The body of Draga Mitricevic was discovered in the basement of her house, under some wooden crates and firewood. The crime was exceptionally brutal, and in line with the manner of reporting by the press at the time, all local daily newspapers were describing the disturbing crime scene in minute details.

The post-mortem revealed that the victim was dead at least 15 days before the body was discovered and had sustained numerous blows with a heavy, blunt object. However, nothing in the house was disturbed and the investigators could not determine how the perpetrator entered the villa. The police initially had several suspects and among them her own nephew, permanently broke university drop-out.

Gentlemen Robber & Censorship and Conspiracy Theory

In spite of the serious efforts, the case soon went cold, until some three years later. The Belgrade police made an unorthodox move and got in touch with Mr. Leo Rosenstein, self-proclaimed handwriting expert and clairvoyant.

Based on the examining a piece of paper with some writing on it, Mr. Rosenstein established that it was connected with death of rich elderly lady and that the person involved in this crime is already in police custody.

When presented with mugshots, he pointed to Koloman Reiter, nicknamed Gentlemen Robber, due to non-violent nature of his crimes. Reiter confirmed that he met the victim, but was never at her house.

Since the situation created by the press around this unorthodox approach to investigation went out of control, the Minister of Interior punished the investigators, while the censorship banned further reporting on the subject.

Royals meet for the missing 3 millions

It only become known some years later, that a few days before her disappearance, Draga Mitricevic met with the Director of her bank and King Alexander Karađorđević at the Royal Court. It was presumed that the meeting was related to her savings in the amount of 3 million dinars, which mysteriously disappeared from her bank account.

Draga Mitricevic murder mystery was never solved, while the post-mortem report and crime scene photographs are still preserved at the Belgrade Institute of Forensic Medicine.

Buried two times

Draga Mitricevic was initially buried at one of the largest and most luxurious crypts at the New Cemetery in Belgrade. However, when it was disclosed that the money was gone, and the crypt will not be paid for, she was exhumed and transferred to the modest family crypt.

There she is buried under her maiden name in the section 27 of the New Cemetery, while the monumental crypt was re-sold to another family.

Text and photo sources:

  • http://www.politika.rs/sr/clanak/385991/Hronika/Tajna-ubistva-stare-milionerke
    Slučaj drage Mitrićević – portal 011info.com
    Archives of “Politika” daily newspaper
    Digital National Library of Serbia
    Photo-archives – New Cemetery in Belgrade