“Hans and I were like brothers. [What] I hate about all this is that I came to know my brother and my brother isn’t who I thought he was,” says Sean Sturgeon in an exclusive interview with 48 HOURS MYSTERY. Sturgeon is talking about his best friend, computer genius Hans Reiser, who was responsible for some of the most important software developments in the last 15 years and counted the U.S. Department of Defense among his clients. Reiser married Nina, a successful doctor, after her photo in a Russian bride magazine caught his eye. But as the marriage began to fall apart, Nina began an affair with Sturgeon, and the couple was soon embroiled in a bitter divorce. In 2006, Nina vanished after dropping off their children at Reiser’s house.
Nina’s disappearance launched an investigation full of bizarre twists and revelations, including Sturgeon’s penchant for cross-dressing and sadomasochism, and his claim of being a serial killer who murdered eight and a half people. “When I showed up, that person may or may not have been dead, but by the time I left, that person was most definitely dead,” he says about the questionable fraction of a person. He later admits that he did not really kill those people saying, “I picked a number.” But Sturgeon is clear when discussing Nina, calling her “the greatest love of my live,” and even reciting Shakespeare’s sonnet 116.
Sturgeon’s murderous claims aside and despite not having found Nina’s body, the evidence against Hans Reiser was mounting. After finding a smear of Nina’s blood in Reiser’s house and his car suspiciously abandoned with the front seats ripped out, authorities charged him with murder. During the trial, Reiser’s son Rory, who now lives in Russia with Nina’s family, delivered the most shocking testimony. The child drew a picture of his father carrying a large bag into the basement, which the district attorney said indicated that he’d seen his father getting rid of the body. But Reiser says that Rory’s testimony was the result of brainwashing by Russian psychologists. “To coach a child to say things on the stand that aren’t true and to pressure him into that is very abusive…Rory testified that he didn’t remember that until after he got to Russia, so that tells you something there.”
Hans Reiser was found guilty, but then in another stunning twist he agreed to lead police to Nina’s body in exchange for a lesser sentence. In exclusive footage obtained by 48 HOURS MYSTERY, Hans Reiser, handcuffed to his attorney, leads authorities through the dense woods of Redwood Regional Park just half a mile from his house, where Nina’s body was buried.
Reiser maintains that the murder was justified because he was convinced that Nina suffered from a psychological disorder and that she was harming his children. “I don’t think that people who hurt children should die, but I think that children should be safe,” Reiser says. But prosecutors deny Nina was suffering from any psychological condition that would cause her to harm her kids.
Maureen Maher reports on these strange new developments on 48 HOURS MYSTERY: “Betrayal,” Saturday, Jan 3 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. This broadcast is produced by Paul LaRosa, Gayane Keshishyan, and Allen Alter. Peter Schweitzer is the senior producer and Al Briganti is the executive editor. Susan Zirinsky is the executive producer.