Gmunden Austra bizarre murder suicide
A German man killed his wife then used her head to drown himself near Gmunden, Austria (pictured) "Gmunden 153" by Marion & Christoph Aistleitner/Wikipedia

A man in Austria murdered his wife, dismembered her body and used her head encased in concrete to weigh himself down and drown himself, local police have said. Details of what is believed to be a bizarre murder-suicide came to light when a walker spotted a suitcase floating near a restaurant at the town of Gmunden on picturesque Lake Traunsee on Sunday (3 January).

The walker told the local prosecutor that when he pulled in the suitcase, he saw hands and feet inside. Another suitcase, also containing remains, was found nearby by a police dog. The man's body was found 5 km out in the lake by divers also on Monday (4 January) with his hands secured to a suitcase. On inspection, the block was revealed to contain the head of the man's wife along with a number of personal items and "commercially available granite stones" to weigh it down.

The identities of the couple have not yet been confirmed but the man was said to be 72 and his wife 71.

It is not clear whether they were holidaying in the area, a popular summer destination 50 miles (80 km) east of Salzburg, but police believe they died between Christmas and New Year and came from near the western German city Frankfurt. No abandoned car has been found and police are unsure how the body of the woman was transported to the lake.

A forensics examination has shown that the woman appeared to have been strangled then cut up with a saw and the man had drowned without a struggle. "This makes us primarily think of an 'extended suicide'," said Birgit Ahamer, a prosecutor for nearby Wels.

Upper Austrian police chief Gottfried Mitterlehner told a press conference in Linz that detectives also believe the man strangled his wife then killed himself and that no one else was involved.