Fifty shades of outrage? As a British heiress’ violent lover goes on trial amid claims her death was caused by ‘rough sex’ gone wrong, PAUL BRACCHI examines the tragic case
- Anna Reed died from strangulation on the evening of April 9, 2019, in the Alps
- Boyfriend Marc Schatzle, 30, claims she died in a sex game that went wrong
- Investigators later found Anna’s credit card concealed in a lift at the hotel
Anna Reed had expensive tastes. She could afford them. She was from a very privileged background, after all; her family owned a renowned racehorse stud farm in Yorkshire.
‘Still need a Louis Vuitton suitcase, a Mulberry handbag, a Burberry trench coat, a pair of Louboutins, a Chopard watch and much, much more,’ she once tweeted from a shopping expedition to Munich.
It was typical Anna.
On her last trip, travelling around the globe — a 21st birthday gift from her millionaire father before the world went into lockdown — she continued in the style to which she was accustomed.
How many people of her age, on what was effectively a gap year, would have been able to stay at the Hotel la Palma au Lac at the foot of the Alps, overlooking Lake Maggiore?
Just hours after that romantic champagne meal on the evening of April 9, 2019, hauntingly captured in a photograph on Facebook, Anna (right) was found dead in Room 501 back at the Hotel la Palma au Lac
Anna checked into Room 501 on the top floor (more than £350-a-night even off-season) with the boyfriend she had met on her globe-trotting adventure.
Shortly after arriving at the glamorous destination, they had shared a £100 bottle of Brut champagne over dinner at the lakefront Osteria Nostrana restaurant.
Anna’s family and friends at home, who described her as ‘bright, beautiful and bubbly’, would have been shocked at the appearance of her male companion.
Mark Schatzle was shaven-headed and covered in tattoos. The word ‘warrior’ was emblazoned on his forehead, there was an inverted cross on his cheek, and his knuckles bore the initials FTW (F*** The World).
It would be hard to envisage a more incongruous or unlikely couple: the privately educated British heiress and a former nightclub bouncer from Germany, eight years her senior, who had two children from a previous relationship.
Appearances can sometimes be deceptive; but not, it would seem, in the case of Marc Schatzle (aka Marc Dirtywhite).
Just hours after that romantic champagne meal on the evening of April 9, 2019, hauntingly captured in a photograph on Facebook, Anna was found dead in Room 501 back at the Hotel la Palma au Lac.
Anna’s family and friends at home, who described her as ‘bright, beautiful and bubbly’, would have been shocked at the appearance of her male companion
Staff recall her ‘agitated’ boyfriend — they had been dating for a few months — turning up in the lobby to raise the alarm.
A post-mortem examination concluded that Anna had died from strangulation. She had also suffered small cuts and fractures.
The investigation into her death has now been concluded and has culminated in 30-year-old Schatzle being sent for trial, charged with her murder and a string of other alleged offences including fraud, theft and drug misdemeanours.
His account of the dark events which unfolded in Room 501 has added to Anna’s family’s grief. He claims that she died in a sex game that went wrong; in other words, it was an accident.
The ‘rough sex’ or ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ plea is becoming increasingly common both in this country and abroad.
At least 18 women in the UK have been killed during so-called ‘consensual’ sexual violence in the past five years alone, which has led to an amendment being incorporated into the Domestic Abuse Bill, ruling out ‘consent for sexual gratification’ as a defence for causing serious harm following an outcry over a series of acquittals on such grounds.
The investigation into her death has now been concluded and has culminated in 30-year-old Schatzle (pictured) being sent for trial, charged with her murder and a string of other alleged offences including fraud, theft and drug misdemeanours
Swiss prosecutors, however, were not convinced by Schatzle’s story and believe Anna was killed for ‘financial gain’. Investigators found her credit card concealed in a lift at the Hotel la Palma au Lac in Locarno, an Italian-speaking resort in southern Switzerland. They suspect Schatzle stole it, either before or after Anna’s death, and then hid it, hoping to return for it to use it later.
Either way, he was thoroughly unsuitable boyfriend material. And one can only wonder how much the troubled young woman knew about him in the short time they were together.
For, as we can reveal today, Schatzle has a long criminal record, including convictions for violence, and had served time in prison.
He also had a problem with ‘alcohol and cocaine,’ according to one former girlfriend who has spoken to German media, and was heavily in debt, too.
On social media he used the handle ‘Marc Dirtywhite’; in one rather menacing picture he can be seen facing the camera wearing a leather biker jacket with winged insignia.
Dirty White is the street slang for raw cocaine, but the Dirty White Boys are also a white supremacist group, which draws support from biker gangs, many of whose members were jailed in Texas recently.
When we asked Schatzle’s lawyer about his client’s past convictions and possible links to the Far Right, he said ‘they were not related to the case’.
Perhaps it is stating the obvious, but Anna Reed could not have come from a more different world.
She and her elder sister, Millie, were raised in Harrogate, the affluent North Yorkshire spa town.
Staff recall her ‘agitated’ boyfriend (second from left) — they had been dating for a few months — turning up in the lobby to raise the alarm
The Reed family is well known in the area. They run the 300-acre Copgrove Hall Stud, founded by Anna’s great uncle, Guy Reed, a prominent owner and breeder of racehorses whose pink, black and gold checked silks have been worn by the likes of Lester Piggott down the years.
Anna’s father, Clive Reed, 64, — who was separated from her late mother — is a trustee of Copgrove Hall. The family also owns property in Monaco. It would be easy, therefore, to form the wrong impression of Anna, who was educated at £15,000-a-year Ashville College in Harrogate, as a somewhat pampered and indulged young woman; that is not the picture, however.
Those who knew Anna while she was growing up have spoken of a ‘lovely girl’ who was happy to babysit for neighbours’ children, and who inherited her family’s racing genes.
Jennifer Birtwistle, who owns an equestrian centre in Harrogate, taught the young Anna to ride, and she remembers her fondly.
‘She never had a boyfriend in the ten years I knew her,’ she said. ‘Horses and riding were her life. She told other girls she would much rather have a horse than a boyfriend.
‘She was an extremely good rider. She competed in local and county shows, and we were hoping she’d make a career in showjumping.’ But it was not to be.
In 2014, when Anna was 17, her mother, Mary, a maths teacher at a college, died suddenly, aged 49, after falling down a flight of stairs having suffered an aneurysm.
Fellow guests are said to have complained of the sounds of arguing coming from Room 501 shortly before Anna was found dead. Schatzle was arrested just hours later
Ahead of her mother’s funeral, a grief-stricken Anna tweeted: ‘Tomorrow is a day I never expected or want to come.’
The tragedy had a devastating effect on the sixth-former. She gave up her A-level studies, fell in with the wrong crowd, and simply ‘went off the rails’, to quote one friend. She ended up in hospital on one occasion after crashing a motorbike while drunk.
‘She was very talented but overnight she gave it all up,’ her mentor Mrs Birtwistle recalled. ‘It was such a shame.’
Anna would eventually move to Berlin, one of Europe’s great party cities, where she worked as a model and was a familiar face at Soho House, the fashionable private members’ franchise.
‘Anna was the most lovely girl,’ said photographer Gili Shani. ‘Everyone loved Anna.’
Some time in 2018, around a year before she arrived at Hotel la Palma au Lac with Schatzle, she had left Berlin to embark on her round-the-world trip.
Ramada La Palma au Lac in Locarno, Switzerland, where Anna Florence Reed was found dead in April 2019. Five months later, a credit card belonging to the former private schoolgirl was discovered hidden in a panel of the hotel elevator. Investigators suspected it was stolen by Mr Schatzle, who claimed he hid it there as a joke
Anna chronicled her travels across Asia and Europe on social media. She is believed to have met Schatzle in Thailand. In one picture posted online, he and Anna posed in front of a rooftop swimming pool with palm trees in the background. Another showed them on sand dunes in the desert.
But how much did Anna actually know about him?
Michele Bochsler is the mother of his two children and was his partner for eight years.
Through the intercom of her modern apartment block in Zurich, she said he ‘never has been violent’ and insisted he did not murder Anna. ‘That is the 100 per cent truth,’ she told us this week.
But it wasn’t.
Schatzle was already serving an eight-month suspended sentence for assault in his home town of Jestetten, close to the Swiss border in south-west Germany, when he entered Anna’s life.
The district court heard how he was on his way home with two friends in October 2018, when a 17-year-old boy accidentally bumped into him. The boy apologised, but Schatzle became aggressive and had to be held back by his pals. He shook them off and chased after the teenager.
Locarno and Maggiore Lake in Ticino, Switzerland. The hotel where Miss Reed was found sits on the picturesque lake
When he caught up with him, he spat in the boy’s face and attacked him. The youngster thought he had been punched in the side, causing him to bleed.
When a doctor examined the youngster in hospital, however, he said he could have been stabbed.
Three years earlier, Schatzle, who also has a conviction for burglary, knocked out a man’s tooth in another violent confrontation, for which he was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to attend rehabilitation for alcohol and drug abuse.
At around the same time, he was also reportedly involved in a ‘road rage’ incident after parking his red Alfa Romeo across several parking spaces. When a fellow driver complained, Schatzle is said to have smashed up his car.
Schatzle worked as a bouncer in various pubs and nightclubs on the Swiss-German border.
In 2017, he set up a staffing and recruitment company which closed a little over a year later with outstanding debts of nearly £5,000, according to official financial records. The amount would have been much higher had money owed to a string of creditors not been written off in the legal process. The company was later declared bankrupt.
Schatzle is alleged to have gone travelling on the proceeds of an insurance scam.
So Anna could not have been in worse company. Until they met, could Schatzle have imagined staying in luxury hotels and drinking £100 bottles of champagne on the banks of Lake Maggiore?
Fellow guests are said to have complained of the sounds of arguing coming from Room 501 shortly before Anna was found dead. Schatzle was arrested just hours later.
Anna’s father and sister flew to Switzerland after receiving the tragic news of Anna’s death.
But, like the family of backpacker Grace Millane, who was also aged just 22 and was found strangled in a hotel room in Auckland in New Zealand in 2018, their grief was compounded by a further ordeal.
Schatzle, they learned, would be employing the same defence as the man who would be convicted of murdering Grace.
‘Marc’s defence is that they were playing a sexual game,’ his lawyer Yasar Ravi said when contacted by the Mail yesterday.
‘It was an accident. It was sexual play. He ran out and got the hotel to get a doctor and emergency services. It happened in the room so there were no witnesses.’
The ‘rough sex’ defence used by defendants in such cases has been widely condemned for ‘victim shaming’ and ‘re-traumatising’ families, which is why Parliament voted to outlaw it.
Anna’s family have never spoken about what happened. But a simple message on her Facebook page reads: ‘We hope that people who love Anna will find comfort in visiting her profile to remember and celebrate her life.
Additional reporting: Rob Hyde in Germany and Alexandra Williams in Switzerland.
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