Hans Reiser: Did He or Didn't He?
Hans Reiser was interviewed on 20/20 last night and it was quite disturbing. His shifty eyes, monotone voice, and shallow cheeks gave all appearances of guilt. His answers didn't help his case either.
Hans Reiser, the programmer behind the reiserfs used in many Linux systems, is being charged with the murder of his estranged wife, Nina Reiser. Held without bail, Reiser waits for trial scheduled to begin Monday.
During his interview with 20/20, Reiser tried to look sincere and calm, but his actions only made him appear more guilty. When asked if he killed his wife, his eyes shifted to and fro as he struggled to find an answer. Surely this question was no surprise, yet he still couldn't seem to appear truthful. When asked where was Nina, he stated he didn't know. He said he was concerned, but he couldn't talk about it before the trial.
Friends and family of Nina believe Hans' guilt without reservation, while family of Hans supported him. Few excuses for Hans erratic behavior after Nina's disappearance even made common sense. They did little to support his innocence. His father stated he had been the one who told Hans to avoid capture from the police as it may not actually be police. He believed whomever killed Nina would likely try to harm Hans and his children next. To me this sounds like make-believe. Not many assassins drive city police vehicles.
The father also stated that the reason for the murder manuals, that were purchased five days after the disappearance was reported, were for research purposes. Hans knew he was beginning to be suspected and needed to learn of the crime investigative process. To me, this almost sounded reasonable and likely, unless Nina's death was not premeditated and perhaps a crime in the moment or of passion. Then Hans might have needed to quickly get some tips on covering and disposing of evidence, but why wait five days? Perhaps it came as a surprise to Hans that he would actually be considered a suspect. For me, the books don't really carry too much weight due to the time lapse.
However the excuses the father postulated as to why the front seat of Hans' car had been removed and the carpeting was freshly shampooed is far-fetched. Mr. Reiser stated it was because Hans had moved out of his mother's home and had been living in the car. The reason for this shocking behavior from someone of means was because he was told he could not qualify to get custody of his children while living with a parent. So, he lives in his car? Come on. Someone who is believed to be a genius comes up with this plan? To me this whole scenario is ridiculous. I believe he removed and disposed of the seat because the blood content was too great to remove and the carpet had been shampooed to remove other blood splatters. Traces of her blood were still found in the passenger seat area. I feel these actions indicate an attempt to destroy evidence of a crime.
It is also reported that Hans, who had left the mundane parenting tasks to his wife, stopped by the children's schools right after Nina's disappearance and finally left an emergency contact number. Why then? Coincidence or did he know that she would be unavailable? To me this is very suspicious.
Hans and his father both speculated that Nina had disappeared of her own accord. They stated she got pregnant with Hans' son to trap him into marriage and to escape the post-cold-war Russia. Much of Russia had been in turmoil and many citizens were suffering during the early days of the transition, but Nina was a third generation physician and her family enjoyed prosperity and a comfortable lifestyle. I can't entirely discount the possibility of a green card marriage, but I can't fully believe it either. However, I can't believe someone who had been such a loving and attentive parent would abandoned her children. For me this is the element that discounts Hans' claim she has disappeared on her own.
Hans further interjected that Nina had been unfaithful with his best friend. Attempts to disparage Nina's character only really added another dimension to the chain of events that lead to what I believe to have been murder. In other words, that's just another reason he may have wanted to kill her. This is the second oldest reason for murder since time began.
It was stated that one of the, if not the key reason for the couple's separation and eminent divorce was theories and methods on child rearing and the entire family dynamics. Hans wanted to live an old-fashioned family model of husband working, wife staying home to have and care for the children. This isn't unacceptable in itself but it was stated that while Hans wanted more children, Nina wanted to resume her medical career. Most of the strife however came in the cruel demands of Hans on his children. One example given was Hans insistence that his children work on their computers for four to six hours daily and things of this nature caused many arguments between the couple. It was said that Hans had a terrible tempter and was given to daily verbal abuse and shouting at Nina and the children. Nina was going to divorce Hans and there was little question she would be given sole custody. This is a motive. Hans appeared clearly obsessive about his children during interview as he wept over their time apart and even read poems he had written to them.
I don't know Reiser personally and am not privy to any information not been exposed by the press. I respected his work and for several years swore by the reiserfs. Many respectable members of the Linux community are staying deafeningly silent on this whole topic, but I can not. It was a travesty of justice when O.J. was acquitted. Crimes of men against women are grossly under-prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced in comparison to crimes of women against men in America. For these reasons I can't help but to watch (and perhaps comment) from the sidelines with great interest.
Based on what the public is allowed to know, I believe he did it. I don't think it was premediated. While the evidence is all circumstantial, I'm not so sure he will walk. I feel he should be convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 30 years, eligible for parole in 15.