Free and defiant: Vampire assailant released from prison

The man who donned a vampire mask one Halloween night and attacked his estranged wife as she slept has been set free after more than six years behind bars. In an exclusive interview with the Hook, Kurt Kroboth acknowledges "shameful and humiliating" behavior, but remains defiant about what he calls an "overreaching prosecution" that led to his 2006 conviction for attempted murder.

"It was criminal behavior," says Kroboth, reached in Green Valley, Arizona, where he relocated after his February 1 release.

However, the now-55-year-old former financier says the idea that he intended to kill his wife, Jane, is wrong.

"There was an assault," says Kroboth. "If you think about it, there was no weapon. I came upon a sleeping person. Had I intended to kill someone, it would have been easy to do."

Kroboth's release came as something of a surprise– as did the interview. The Hook's last story on Kroboth, in May 2006, reported he wouldn't be eligible for release until 2014. But according to prosecutor Jon Zug in the Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney's office, three weeks after that story ran, his sentence was amended when Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge William Shelton realized the sentence was longer than allowed by statute, which permits a maximum of 10 years. Judge Shelton issued a 10-year sentence and suspended three years, paving the way for Kroboth's recent release.

According to Larry Traylor of the Virginia Department of Corrections, Kroboth received permission to move to Arizona, where he's living in a home owned by his Wisconsin-based parents, Harvey and Alice Kroboth, and performing community service. An online phone listing, however, suggests the house is occupied by Kroboth's victim, his ex-wife Jane. When a reporter called asking for her, Kroboth answered the phone, then granted a wide-ranging interview that covered his time in prison, what the future may hold, and, of course, the case that put his name in headlines.

As detailed in the Hook's February 16, 2006 cover story "Horror in the Hallway," the crime for which Kroboth was convicted seems more like the plot to a B movie than real life.

Before the marriage ended, Kroboth entertained a litany of girlfriends found online, according to divorce records that read like an issue of Penthouse magazine.

Then on Halloween night in 2004, having severed the power and phone lines at the nearly million-dollar home he once shared with his wife, Kroboth crept into the near west-side residence wearing the monster mask, latex gloves, and carrying a bottle of chloroform, an anesthetic whose vapors can depress the central nervous system to the point of death.

A witness would later testify that Kroboth planned to incapacitate his ex-wife, drag her to a bathtub, and "make it look like a suicide." When police found Kroboth on foot 1.3 miles away, they confiscated the chloroform and a latex glove. The mask and another portion of a latex glove were found in a nearby trashcan.

Prosecutors said there was plenty of evidence of premeditation. In addition to the Walmart receipt for the mask, purchased four days before the attack, they found evidence Kroboth had made online searches for chloroform and for the deadly rosary pea. At the time of his arrest, his wife's will was found next to his home computer.

In court, prosecutors also presented a witness who said that Kroboth had offered to pay to have Jane killed. And they suggested a powerful motive too: money.

As part of the divorce, Kroboth, a corporate mergers and acquisitions expert, had been ordered to pay $6,000 a month in spousal and child support– an amount he said was more than the total take-home pay. With the divorce set to become final just a week after the attack, prosecutors argued that Kroboth believed he could rid himself of the support payments and ensure that he'd lay claim to all $1.6 million in marital assets.

The pre-attack alimony still riles the post-prison Kroboth.

"I was sentenced essentially to indentured servitude," says Kroboth. "My ex could travel the world, do whatever she wanted, while I was sentenced to work 80-hour weeks and see none of the proceeds."

Without offering specific details, Kroboth says the $6,000 monthly figure "came about through a considerable amount of fraud on the part of my ex wife, and obtuseness and indifference on part of the judge." 

If the attack was intended to improve his financial picture, it didn't go as planned for the man who holds two graduate degrees, including an MBA from Columbia University.

Jane Kroboth– who now uses her maiden name, Levin– awoke and fought back. She bit her assailant on the finger and successfully thwarted his attempts to throw her over a second floor landing to the first floor, some 15 feet below. She testified that her assailant suddenly fled when she begged him to spare her for the sake of her children.

Having spent more than six years behind bars, Kroboth says now that the attack was "something irrational," and that while "it may sound hard to believe, I didn't intend to inflict any harm, and I don't think I would have been capable of what I was accused of doing."

But if he finds some fault with his own behavior, he reserves his harsher criticisms for others– including judge, prosecutors, and even his own attorneys.

"The entire charge was a matter of prosecutorial overreach," says Kroboth. "There was an assault case that was clearly there, and instead they made it into an attempted murder case."

He says the attorneys he chose– first Rhonda Quagliana and Fran Lawrence and later David Heilberg (whom the Hook often quotes as a legal analyst)– didn't represent him well.

"You think because people graduate from UVA and stay in town, you'll get your choice of good attorneys," says Kroboth. "It's ridiculous. As a group, they're terrible."

"The reason for that," continues the unrepentant convict, "is because they understand the judges are arbitrary, evidence doesn't matter. The way the judicial system is set up, every judge is a little lord of his fiefdom. It's the old patrician system where the judges are great and the god of our state."

While Quagliana and Lawrence did not respond to the Hook's call requesting comment, Kroboth's analysis doesn't resonate with Heilberg.

"Mr. Kroboth has always been right about everything in his life," says Heilberg. "So why should he start being wrong now?"

There's at least one element of the legal system that Kroboth doesn't criticize: prison.

"It's not so bad, really," says Kroboth, adding that he was more bothered by the other inmates than by confinement.

"I felt utterly safe at all times," he says. "From the regional jail there to the Department of Corrections, I never felt in the slightest risk of physical harm. I think they've done that right at least."

Kroboth says he's now in the process of planning his future. He is prohibited from having contact with Jane, who remains in Charlottesville and did not return a reporter's call, but he says there's "no legal impediment" to resuming a relationship with his children, now ages 20 and 21.

And citing a settlement in exchange for discharge of his financial obligations to his ex-wife, he says he's free from the ongoing financial burdens that sparked the incident. But thanks to the internet, he says he'll never be really free.

"Anybody that goes on Google finds it," he says. "It's been six years now, and I can't get free of that. I move to another state, it doesn't matter; it's going to follow me."

And he's no fan of the news media either.

"You people," says Kroboth, "don't take into account what effect you have on people's lives."

Read more on: Kurt Krobothvampire mask


"Those people wouldn't have any effect on your life" if you didn't try to kill your wife. For a highly educated person, he isn't very smart. Being remorseful is understandable but to never actually take responsibility for your actions and to continue to blame others is just pathetic.

Kroboth received permission to move to Arizona, where he's living in a home owned by his Wisconsin-based parents, Harvey and Alice Kroboth, and performing community service. An online phone listing, however, suggests the house is occupied by Kroboth's victim, his ex-wife Jane.

He is prohibited from having contact with Jane, who remains in Charlottesville and did not return a reporter's call,

That doesn't add up. Is he living with the ex-wife in Arizona? Despite the restraining order and her presence in Cville?

Heilberg and Lawrence are both good competent attorneys. Perhaps Kroboth should take another look at what little defense he had at the time. His actions didn't give his attorneys much to work with.

You know what would be a novel concept in this world? Somebody gets busted committing a serious crime like assault, attempted murder, rape, etc.......and they *don't* get a lawyer and try to find ways to weasel out of it. Instead, they admit what they did and go to jail and just face the consequences head on. End of story. But instead we have this system where even the most obnoxiously obvious guilty people get lawyered up and then proceed to find all those cracks they can try to slip through, weird sneaky ways to have the case dismissed, or to have their sentence reduced. Then when it doesn't work they whine and complain about how sucky their lawyers were for not finding more cracks to slip through and better ways to weasel out of things.

So cute! Somebody's got a crush on those vampire dudes....

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It was probably a more sane thing to do to ditch his job and not be liable for the $6000 payments than to try to kill his wife.

That's a good point, AJ. What happens if a person refuses to do the $6000 a month payments, or quits their job or works in a low income sort of job, preventing them from being able to pay? Then what can anybody do, right? His soon to be ex wife would just have to accept that. And even if he still got sentenced to jail for not paying, at least it's not jail for attempted murder. Jail for not being able to pay out what amounts to indentured servent wages is way more honorable then an attempted murder rap that will follow him around for the rest of his days. Just my thoughts.

I don't know for certain but I do think you can get arrested for refusing to pay and if you intentionally try to get out of paying by taking a lower wage job or not working I have heard you can still be on the hook for it if they can prove you had bad intentions. Either way, you are right though. Attempting to kill your wife and then claiming otherwise the rest of your life doesn't seem like a better idea.

This sounds like one of those Lifetime Movie scripts gone bad! This guy needs to learn how to take responsibility for your actions and keep your mouth shut. Do the crime and do the time. We don't need to hear your rant about it.

Slimeball though this guy obviously is, he is right on about Quagliana and Lawrence and way the legal system operates in Charlottesville.

Hello everyone, my name is Mike Kroboth, and I am Kurt's son. After years of keeping silent, I feel it is time to offer my own insight on the whole situation.
I read this article quite thoroughly, and I have to say I am not at all surprised by my father's reaction to doing time: blaming everyone but himself. This was always habitual behavior of his, and it has made me grow to hate people who think they're better than everyone else and can't show a little goddamn humility.
Regarding what Kurt erroneously describes as "indentured servitude" do a little math and consider this: If the guy can afford, as the article states, a million-dollar house, chances are he probably lived on a six-figure income. On a six-figure income, you can probably give away $6000 a month and still have a little extra to throw around.
However, in getting arrested, Kurt got exactly what he wanted in the first place: to get out of having to pay child support and alimony. This makes me agree with him on one account: the legal system here is terrible. This whole fiasco has made me completely lose faith in the American judicial system. And if law enforcement here had the slightest bit of competence, Kurt's attack would have been averted before it had even started.
I would often ask my mother (the victim) why my father was essentially getting off scot-free in this regard. She would tell me that his biggest punishment would be losing contact with all his friends and family. She likened it to a Japanese form of reprimand in which everyone was instructed to ignore the offender at all costs.
And in a way, my mother is right. My father never got the opportunity to raise his son during the years in which he needed a father the most. He never got to see his son play varsity football, or hold a job, or have his first girlfriend, or graduate from high school and go to college. This was all thanks to having a mother who would bend over backwards to give her sons a better life than she did. I can guarantee that I could never become that good of a parent if I tried my very hardest.
And on that note, I would like to say that I have had zero contact with my father in about seven years, and I intend to keep it that way.

Also, given the magnitude of his offense, I'd say Quagliana, Lawrence, and Heilberg did very well as lawyers. I'm not saying I agree with their decision to take the case, but considering Kurt got a far shorter sentence than the crime would have suggested, these lawyers did an excellent job, however unethical it may be.

Is he a Real vampire?????

Thanks for your insight, Mike. My heart goes out to you.

"This makes me agree with him on one account: the legal system here is terrible. This whole fiasco has made me completely lose faith in the American judicial system. And if law enforcement here had the slightest bit of competence, Kurt's attack would have been averted before it had even started."

What would you have had the judicial system do differently (besides knowing their own statutes)? Longer punishment? Harsher punishment?

Anyway, I hope all is well with you and your family.

Thank you for having the courage to comment Mike. Our judicial system is whack but so are all the other systems also. Sad that your dad can't see reality but many people cannot and do not realize the effect that has on others.