Otto Sanhuber & Dolly Oesterreich carried on a bizarre love affair for 10 years.
Around 1913 Dolly, the wife of a wealthy textile manufacturer, met and became friendly with 17 year old Otto. It's said that Otto reminded Dolly of her late son who was of a similar age to Otto when he died.
Dolly enjoyed having the company of the young Otto - he comforted her during her bereavement and, despite the age difference, the two eventually fell in love and began a clandestine affair... meeting at local boarding houses and, when possible, at Dolly's home.
As Otto's visits to her home became more and more frequent, Dolly worried that neighbours might alert her husband to the comings and goings while he was at work. She suggested to Otto that if he were to move into the attic, living there secretly, they could see each other every day without raising suspicion. Otto's devotion to Dolly was so great that he agreed to this arrangement and so began one of the strangest love affairs of all time.
Otto would spend his time writing and tiptoeing around his attic room when Dolly's husband Fred was home. When Fred went to attend to matters at the factory, Dolly would release Otto so they could spend time together and to make love. Otto once described himself as Dolly's sex-slave. Often Dolly would have to accompany her husband to the factory during the day or to social functions in the evening. On these occasions Dolly would always ensure to release the lock on the attic trapdoor, allowing Otto to come down into the main house to eat and to carry out domestic chores. Otto would change bed linen, wash dishes, scrub floors, clean Fred's shoes etc. and generally keep the house spotlessly clean - all unbeknown to Fred.
There were a few occasions when Fred thought he heard something moving around above their bedroom, but Dolly always managed to convince Fred that it was just a rat or a pigeon scratching around in the loft. There was even an occasion when poor Fred unexpectedly returned home before Dolly, to find Otto in his kitchen eating their food. Assuming he was simply a hungry intruder he threw Otto out into the street and when Dolly returned told her what had happened - to Fred it explained why food seemed to keep 'disappearing'. Fred believed Otto had been entering their home, foraging for food, for a long time. Of course, Dolly was very quick to praise her husband for catching the 'intruder' red-handed.
In 1918 the Oesterrichs moved to Los Angeles but not before Dolly had found a house with a suitable attic for Otto ...and so their affair continued. The Oesterrich's marriage began to deteriorate over the next few years and there were many loud and volatile arguments.
On the 22nd August, 1922, the Oesterreichs returned home from a social evening in the midst of another row. Otto heard the loud shouting from his attic and when Dolly accidentally tripped over a rug and let out a scream, Otto mistakenly thought Fred was beating her. He charged down the stairs to defend her, carrying two pistols but Fred instantly recognised him as the man in the kitchen years earlier and became enraged. According to Otto and Dolly (they were the only witnesses) Fred attacked Otto, trying to strangle him. Shots were fired in 'self-defence' and Fred died of three gunshot wounds on the floor of his home.
The lovers staged a hasty 'botched burglary' scene. Otto removed Fred's diamond watch and locked Dolly in a cupboard tossing the key aside, before returning to his hideout in the attic. The fact that Dolly couldn't have locked herself in the cupboard was the obstacle the police couldn't overcome despite their belief that Dolly had murdered Fred, and charges couldn't be pressed.
Otto remained at large for eight years and eventually moved to Canada and married. In 1930, Dolly's long-time attorney and lover betrayed her to the police after a falling out. Both Otto and Dolly were arrested. Otto was charged and convicted of manslaughter but was later released because the statute of limitations had expired. After his release from prison Otto vanished into obscurity, perhaps changing his identity, and nothing was heard of him again.
Dolly's trial ended in a hung jury and in 1936 the case against her was finally dropped. She remained in Los Angeles until her death in 1961, two weeks after marrying her second husband