Chilling story of the real life woman behind The Orphan

Aisha Nozari

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Chilling story of the real life woman behind The Orphan

Featured Image Credit: OTTO BALLON MIERNY/AFP via Getty Images/Paramount Pictures

The Orphan was undoubtedly one of the noughties' most bone-chilling releases, and this week, a prequel film called Orphan: First Kill hit cinemas, more than a decade later.

Released in 2009, The Orphan followed Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), a nine-year-old orphan adopted by a loving couple played by Vera Farmiga and Peter Saarsgard. Long story short (and spoiler warning for those who may not have seen it): Esther actually turns out to be a 33-year-old murderer with a rare hormonal disorder that stunted her physical growth, and ends up trying to kill her new parents.

Most haunting of all, though, is the fact that Esther’s character is actually based on the real-life story of Barbora Skrlová, also 33, who posed as a 13-year-old boy in Norway in an attempt to evade child abuse charges. 

The Orphan was based on the real-life story of Barbora Skrlová. Credit: Norská policie
The Orphan was based on the real-life story of Barbora Skrlová. Credit: Norská policie

Skrlová’s story starts in 2007, when a man moved into a new home in the Czech Republic and set up a baby monitor so he could keep an eye on his son while he slept.

One day, the man’s baby monitor malfunctioned and the device picked up images from a camera in a different home, and he was disturbed to see three women torturing two young boys.

The man phoned the police, who eventually knocked on the door of sisters Klara and Katerina Maureova. Despite allowing police into their home, they became uncomfortable when officers attempted to enter the attic.

Eventually, police got access to the room, and inside discovered two young boys inside an iron cage with horrific wounds. One was unconscious, the other in shock, and the attic reeked of blood and urine. 

Inside the attic officers also found a 12-year-old girl named Anika, who said she was Klara’s adopted daughter. However, after letting Anika out of the house, police soon noticed she’d disappeared entirely.

Released back in 2009, The Orphan followed a 33-year-old woman posing as a young orphan. Credit:  Warner Bros
Released back in 2009, The Orphan followed a 33-year-old woman posing as a young orphan. Credit: Warner Bros

As it turned out, Anika was actually 33-year-old Barbora Skrlová, who had met Klara and Katerina at university and convinced the sisters to let her move into their house.

It’s worth noting that both Klara and Katerina suffered with mental health problems and had strong religious ties, something Barbora is said to have taken advantage of. 

Barbora managed to convince Klara and Katerina to join a cult called the Grail Movement, which was founded by self-proclaimed Messiah Oskar Ernst Bernhardt and had violent tendencies. 

Shockingly, under the influence of Barbora and the Grail Movement, Klara and Katerina ended up torturing Klara’s young sons – eight-year-old Ondrej and 10-year-old Jakub – subjecting them to whippings, attempted drownings and sexual abuse.

At Klara and Katerina’s trial in 2008, the court also heard that the women had partially skinned Ondrej and eaten his flesh.

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Posing as Anita to fool police into letting her out of the house, Barbora fled to Norway in an attempt to evade child abuse charges, and once there she posed as a 13-year-old boy named Adam.

A Norwegian couple ended up adopting Barbora, believing she was a homeless child, and for almost a year she fooled police, childcare workers and teachers in Norway, even attending an Oslo school. 

School authorities soon started to notice Adam’s strange behaviour, however, and tips eventually led police to the Arctic city of Tromsoe, where Barbora was apprehended. 

She was sentenced to five years behind bars, while Klara was handed a 10-year sentence. 

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected] 

Topics: Film & TV, Crime, Film and TV, Horror

Aisha Nozari
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