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Hoerig describes marriage, shooting

WARREN — The Newton Falls woman accused of shooting her husband and then fleeing to Brazil 11 years ago told police after her arrest a story of a quick marriage, verbal and mental abuse and a man who encouraged her to have multiple abortions.

Claudia Hoerig, 53, also told Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office detective Mike Yannucci and deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Boldin during a recorded interview on Jan. 17 she never intended to kill her husband, Karl Hoerig, on March 12, 2007, but herself instead.

Wearing a white pants suit with a blue blanket draped around her shoulders, Hoerig calmly told police about her life with her husband and details about the day of the shooting.

At points of the interview, she seemed hesitant to describe details of her marriage, not wanting to hurt Karl Hoerig’s family. At other times, she spoke easily and casually with the officers.

She also told investigators she no longer cares what happens to her.

“My life was over that day,” she said. “I’ve been dead since March 12, 2007.”

Hoerig was returned in January from her native Brazil after an exhaustive extradition effort to stand trial on a murder charge in connection to the shooting death of Karl Hoerig, a major in the U.S. Air Force who was found dead inside the couple’s home in Newton Falls.

The video of the conversation with law enforcement was released recently by Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Andrew D. Logan, who is hearing the case.

Karl Hoerig’s brother, Paul Hoerig, said the family doesn’t believe Claudia Hoerig’s story.

“We don’t believe what she has to say,” Paul Hoerig said. “There were things that we know are not true and the things we know she just made up, we just do not believe.”

Hoerig said she was willing to talk because whatever she told them would not change her fate.

“I’m sure I’m going to be convicted,” she said in the more than two hour recording.

Hoerig described meeting Karl Hoerig through an online dating site in 2005, and they kept in close touch for about two months before they finally met in person. He was in Ohio and she was in New York.

She said she was impressed when he flew to New York the day after she agreed to meet him. A short time later, she flew to Ohio. By their third date in Put-n-Bay, Hoerig said he used the occasion to announce their engagement.

“He never gave me a ring,” she said.

Feeling flattered and pressured, Hoerig said she worried if she did not accept his proposal, he would not marry her. The two married June 30, 2005, she said.

Also, she said when she threatened to leave him, he went through phases of verbal and emotional abuse to being apologetic.

Hoerig said in the video when she told Karl Hoerig she was pregnant, he insisted she have an abortion. When she refused, she said, he continued to pressure her, not allowing her to sleep for days. She said she believes she lost the child because of the pressure.

Later, after learning she was pregnant again, Hoerig said she decided she would take her own life before getting an abortion. She told police she also lost this child.

In the days before the shooting, Hoerig said she bought a gun and learned how to fire it at a local gun range. On the day of the shooting, Hoerig told police she told Karl Hoerig she was pregnant again, but insisted on having the child.

She said he responded she was not going to have the child and he then went to take a shower, at which time she got the gun and waited for him to finish. When he came out of the bathroom, she pointed the gun at herself.

Hoerig told police he grabbed the gun away from her, knocked her to bed and told her if she was going to kill herself to go the basement so blood would not get on his paintings.

She became angry.

“If he hadn’t said that I would be dead and he would be alive.” she said. “I thought if we were going to die, then he was going to die with us.”

Claudia described grabbing the gun and firing.

“It happened so fast,” she said. “I thought I fired three times, so I would have two bullets left to kill myself.”

However, she said, when she turned the weapon on herself, it did not fire. “I thought the bullets were bad,” she said.

The police investigation showed three shots hit Karl Hoerig in the back of the neck and the back of his head. There were two other bullets found in the house.

Hoerig claimed she went to the basement to get more bullets. By the time she walked back upstairs, she decided to call her father and sister in Brazil to tell them what happened and say goodbye.

During the phone conversations, they convinced her to fly to Brazil. They worried that Ohio had the death penalty and she could be put to death, she said.

She agreed to fly home, still intending to take her own life. Once in Brazil, she describe at least four failed attempts to take her own life.

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