Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Bizarre Death of Monika Telling

There are always two sides to a story, so the saying goes, and this bizarre case from the 80`s exemplifies it.  It concerns a rich boy, or putting it bluntly, a spoiled man from a very wealthy family, who never worked a day in his life but lived a jet-set lifestyle, thanks to his family connections.  Michael Telling was related to the Vestey family, but grew up with mental problems from a young age.  Some observers put it down to never having to face up to responsibilities, and that money solved all.  Well, his troubles began, he said, when he met American Monika Zumsteg, fell in love with her and married her.

    Some months later, she had vanished and Telling had told people that she had gone back to the USA.  He hired private detectives to find her.  Her credit cards were being used proving that she was alive.  But that was only a smokescreen.  Monika Telling was dead, and had been for a number of months.  Telling had stored her body in a partly built sauna, which would seem strange to many, then five months after he killed her, he hired a van and took the body to Devon.  There, at Haldon Hill, just outside Exeter, he chopped off her head with an axe, leaving the torso, but taking the head home with him!  The remains were discovered within days by plumber Colin Marshall, who immediately summoned Police.  They soon beat a path to the High Wycombe home of Michael Telling, and discovered the head there.  When arrested for murder, he claimed he had "101 reasons to kill her".

    He went on trial at Exeter Crown Court, and claimed that his wife was an alcoholic, taking heroin and cocaine, was bisexual, and constantly taunted him about her affairs with men and women.  A string of witnesses gave evidence in court, that Monika constantly belittled and humiliated her husband, had said she was only interested in his money, had lesbians over to the home for sex and drug sessions and eventually, he snapped.  He denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.  He was found guilty of manslaughter and served ten years in jail.  Upon release, he emigrated to Australia, and easily mingled with the society crowds there.  They had no idea about his past.

    On the other side of the coin, there are people who posted on a blog about the case, that she was never the monster she was portrayed as.  They believe that their relative and friend was subjected to character assassination, and that the problems with Telling stemmed from his background.  However, there are those who remember her as being good, back in the States, but witnesses gave evidence in court to the contrary.  Did she turn into the booze and drug addled satyr that was portrayed in court, or was there more to this than was said? People have differing opinions but at the end of the day, I can only report what was in the public record. 


  1. i was in Exeter prison with telling 1983 while he was on remand and he would sit and cry when he was questioned about her but he cried like a kid who was in trouble and wanted his mum... he certainly wasn't right mentally. i used to collect his lunch from the gate and he received a 5 star menu from an outside caterer... much of which he would give away to people (me included) as a way of keeping friends. oysters, wine every meal as it was allowed on remand at that time...

  2. Can you contact me please