Monday, October 13, 2008

What Happened to Aeryn Gillern?




Kathy Gillern's son Aeryn disappeared in Vienna on October 29, 2007. The Vienna police say they have done their best to find him, but have they?

A mother in Cortland, New York is still trying to find out what happened to her son, who disappeared nearly a year ago in Vienna, Austria, but she isn't getting much help from Viennese authorities.


At the time of his disappearance, Aeryn Gillern was 34 and employed as a research clerk by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), a UN specialized agency headquartered in Vienna, Austria. He had been living in Austria for the past six years. He was scholarly, well-liked by his coworkers, a deeply religious Catholic who had studied theology and earned a masters degree, and winner of the title "Mr. Gay Austria" in 2006. When Aeryn Gillern vanished on October 29, 2007, there were clothes left in the washer in his apartment and freshly baked Rice Krispies treats on the kitchen counter. When he didn't show up at work for two days, concerned a concerned neighbor and a coworker notified authorities. But the official investigation of Aeryn Gillern's disappearance has gone nowhere.

Areyn Gillern's last telephone contact was a cell-phone conversation with a female friend at about 7:30 pm on October 29, 2007. He is believed to have visited the Kaiserbruendl, a gay sauna in Vienna, later that evening. An employee at the spa told Mrs. Gillern that a group of tourists started a fight in the upscale sauna at around 10 pm on the night Aeryn disappeared. His clothes and personal belongings were left behind at the sauna, but Aeryn vanished, never to be seen again. A video camera belonging to the sauna has also disappeared. According to Mrs. Gillern, police reported to her a few days after Aeryn's disappearance that a bald-headed man had been seen floating in a canal. Later, the story changed. Police have also suggested that Aeryn was "despondent" after learning he was HIV-positive and committed "an act of spontaneous suicide." However, a lab report of the missing man's clothes showed that he was not HIV positive.

Kathy Gillern, a former Ithaca police officer, has urged the Vienna police to press the investigation in a more aggressive manner, but they have refused. Mrs. Gillern wonders whether this may be because the openly gay Gillern had a run-in with the Viennese police in January 2003 and may have made a complaint about it to Amnesty International. Austrian federal criminal investigations bureau spokeman Armin Halm says that the police have done all they can, and an American state department spokesman, Cy Ferenchak, stated that American authorities have no power to intervene in an investigation in a foreign country. A high-ranking official in the Vienna Police wrote in an email: “No shortfalls whatsoever were determined; all necessary measures were taken within the scope of what was legally possible. I have nothing more to say about this case. Our officers did their work; there are no shortfalls.”

The record thus far suggests that the Vienna police investigation was slipshod at best, and the cover-up of a hate crime at worst. The characterization of Aeryn Gillern as a suicide-prone, HIV-positive man who "spontaneously" threw himself into a canal sounds like an excuse not to pursue the investigation because the victim was gay. The homophobia is barely concealed, and the unwillingness to dig deeper into the case is suspicious. Officially, the investigation is proceeding, but nothing is being done. If Gillern went into a canal, on his own or with help, where is his body? What measures have the Vienna Police taken to locate the alleged corpse, including contacting the police of neighboring countries? Why is the disappearance of a properly documented foreign employee of a UN agency in Vienna being swept under the rug as if he were a foreign sex-tourist who got what he deserved? And why is the U.S. government, which intervenes in the affairs of foreign countries routinely, doing nothing to pressure Austrian authorities to probe deeper?

Anyone who cares about basic human rights should be outraged about how the Aeryn Gillern case has been treated by both Austrian and American authorities. I hope that Mrs. Gillern asks New York's senators, Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, to exert pressure on the U.S. State Department to pursue this case vigorously.

22 comments:

GirlyGal said...

This is a frightening story. I suspect that part of the issue is that the police don't take his disappearnce seriously because he doesn't fit the preferred profile (blond, blue-eyed, young female). I hope his mother eventually gets some closure.

runningpal said...

As a parent,grandparent and human being, I find Aeryn Gillern's disappearance very frightening. He worked for the United Nations, but there has been no comment on their response. Have they been of assistance? If not, why not?

I too recommend that Aeryn's mother contact her senators and congressional representative.

The results are not likely to be positive, but someone should be able to find out why the Vienna authorities have caused or supported a coverup.

koit said...

In addition to contacting federal representatives, I would recommend calling the National Organization of Victim Assistance. They have worked well in the past with situations involving American citizens victimized abroad.

Call 1-800-TRY-NOVA (1-800-879-6682)
or (703) 535-NOVA (6682)

Cincinnati said...

This is simply unconscionable. Anyone who thinks discrimination does not exist toward the gay community should read this story - and many, many others that are similar. Anyone who is gay has experienced discrimination from the authorities, courts, and governmental agencies.

It does not just happen in other countries - it happens here are home.

Anonymous said...

Discrimination is alive and well all over the world. Anyone who thinks discrimination does not exist toward the gay community should read this story - and many, many others that are similar. Anyone who is gay has experienced discrimination from the authorities, courts, and governmental agencies.

Henry Vinson

Anonymous said...

According to a Dutch friend of mine who lived in Germany, Austria and Italy, the Austrian police is not all that upstanding; the Italian police has far more integrity than the Austrian police. I wonder whether some rich or important person is responsible for Aeryn's disappearance and the police is covering up.

Anonymous said...

It could've been one of his associates. Ms. Gillern's attitude toward the Viennese people has been less than affable. While I wish her luck, she must remember her precious son is only one of many victims.

Anonymous said...

Less than affable, she has been more than patient with the police in Vienna and they should not be in that line of work if they are not willing to do they're job... period! They are either lazy or they are trying to cover up the facts. Aaron had filed a complaint about the police back in 03 when he was assaulted by them and discriminated against.... Her precious son is only one of many victims? I definatly believe that considering the police work I have seen in this case! Does that make his disappearance Any less important....NO! And judging by your comment you don't think the police in Vienna should have to awnser for what they have done, is that because Aaron was gay or because your gay and don't want to accept it? YOU ARE IGNORANT!

Charley Snow-White said...

This is an outrage! I had just learned about this incident this morning. The documentary "Gone" was on air. The Austrian government is full of s#\+ and as for the US, I am appalled that our government has not intervened. I saw the pain in Mrs. Gillerns' face and as a mother, A citizen to learn that the government does not care about their own was disheartening.

They deserve to know the truth and I am certain that the Austrian government has all of the answers.....

Anonymous said...

Tragic story; poor mother. Clearly the Austrian authorities are not going to give their time and resources to a foreigner --- it's no loss to them. Their society has held witness and partaken in larger tragedies -- with no real regard to human kind/life. So many unanswered questions and thoughts... Where are Aeryn's Austrian friends? Those friends can be instrumental in applying pressure. The vision of the mother holding a vigil alone was heart breaking. The Kaiserbrundl is key in this matter -- and so many are protecting this "institution". How awfully sad that a country and culture that he loved so dearly -- abandoned and betrayed him.

anonymity said...

I watched Aeryn's mother on the Discovery ID channel and her story broke my heart. Although I don't know her son, I too would like to know what happened to him and am outraged at the treatment that she received from the Austrian authorities. Aeryn and his mother will forever remain in my prayers. I hope that he will one day be able to rest in peace and that his mother will one day be able to bring him home. I strongly believe that he was a victim of a senseless crime because someone who was "'Mr. Gay Austria" and HIV negative would never have taken his own life. So, to the so-called Austrian investigators.....FUCK YOU I HOPE YOU ROT IN HELL!

Anonymous said...

I also watched GONE on ID yesterday, 3-22-2012.. My heart just broke 4 Kathy. It surely seems the police are protecting someone in high authority, something happened @ the Kaiserbrundl, involving someone that had enough clout to have the police cover it up. So sad, I hope someone will grow a conscience & come forward with the Information that can solve this terrible nightmare.

MistyRose1997 said...

I too like many others just learned of this horrible, nightmarish tragedy while watching the independent film about it on ID a little less than a week ago. I can't believe this happened going on 5 years ago, and not only is this the first time I and many others are even learning about it for the first time..but the case "still" is not properly investigated or brought to any "true" conclusive closure. WHAT A NIGHTMARE! It's appalling to me that not one individual nor group in all this time had the decency to take this case up from scratch & give it some true attention to detail to find the answers for this heart-broken woman, and this lost, beautiful, intelligent man. And it utterly sickens me that this guy adored and admired this nation that literally spat on his existence and threw him away like trash to be disgarded and never seen again. I couldn't stop myself from looking on the net and reading every drop of info there is out here about poor Aeryn, his mom and this awful mystery; which I agree w/ most people was a tight-lipped cover-up by "mainly" the Kaiserbuendl spa in conjunction w/ the police. I have no doubt in my mind that given the resistence, diregard, lack of interest and/or endeavors to truly investigate "at least" what really happened to him (especially since they didn't have the decency to try and recover his remains so that his mother and loved ones could bring him home for a proper service in a land where he was truly loved for who he was and all he was) that Aeryn ran into or possibly witnessed or overheard something that was never meant to be known publicly of either a person of high ranking authority at the UN/ his own work-place, or possibly a member of the Green Party itself in Austria, some other high ranking official, possibly a wealthy Austrian citizen noted or not OR what I think may be highly most probable of all...a scum police officer... perhaps even one of the ones from the precinct where he was harassed, assaulted and maligned. In the film, you hear Kathy, Aeryn's mom mention how eventually the owner/proprietor of the Kaiserbruendl let her inside and gave her a tour, and I don't remember if she said it was weeks or months later, but either way "how convenient" it was like here take a look...this long afterwards...he's not here! And then he actually dropped to the tile floor, and began sobbing and saying this is the last place I saw him alive! In America that is a statement of "material knowledge" and would be grounds for a subpoena & how dare those God-awful Austrian police refuse that woman use of a restroom when she felt like she was going to become ill or let her stand near an open window for air when the nausea hit her! All of that foul treatment is indicative of an elitist attitude and a sense of superiority over her and them lording power over her to make her feel weak and ashamed because she was the mother of a gay son. No police officer anywhere on this planet, in any nation should be allowed to maintain a position as one when such overt and obvious prejudices are evidenced in their behavior and treatment, especially when they are sworn to uphold laws AS WELL AS RIGHTS of all their people equally...citizens or not, and that kind of blatant, ignorance and hate is a disability! Im so upset with this case in so many ways. I haven't been able to stop thinking about poor Aeryn or his mom since Gone aired on ID where I live just about a week ago...just so heart-wrenching, unjust and unsettling!

Anonymous said...

I am not trying to attack any country or anything but this is my opinion on this coverup..which is what it is.

In Europe, having lived there myself for three years..one will be shocked to find out sometimes how blatant the coverups are.Speaking from personal experience..a family member of my ex who was somewhat popular in the small town we lived in got favors done for him all the time by the police.. so if a moderately wealthy man can have such influence..could you imagine a politician?

Remember the Marc Doutroux case in Belgium? Most Belgians know that politicians were involved in buying and ordering kiddy porn and yet the police insisted there was no pedo network & that the accused Doutroux was working alone. Now this went all the way up to the most influential politicians but in spite of witness testimonies and heaps of evidence, the politicians were never brought to trial.

My point here is that this is probably politically motivated considering Aeryn's job and the huge police cover up, cops fearing for their lives etc..obviously they are covering for someone high up there and sadly if they wanted this to go away, they very well could have.

They say Aeryn was running scared when the couple witnessed him..what could he have seen that scared him so much? All i am saying is that a bit of research into these matters..Bohemian grove etc would reveal just what kind of evil we have running the worlds governments and sadly the good guys who live to tell the tale dont live long at all.

Anonymous said...

I for one think the police know and others know and they are all a bounch of chickens,i think of this a lot, that mother mostly

reino333 said...

This is a government cover up on their part. A dead American working for the UN turning up dead is not good for "business" at any level, so they covered it up.

Anonymous said...

UNIDOS do you know anything?...
You should know anything a least investigate.

Anonymous said...

I saw this story and my heart goes out to his mother. I once dreamed of Austria, now I am just sickened and will never set foot in that country. It doesn't surprise about the police. Some police would call this a NHI case (No Humans Involved) these include, gays, prostitutes, people who use drugs, runaways and anyone else they think are less than. I'm not saying everyone police officer thinks this way, but I have heard the term used often. You would think in this day and age things would be different. Don't act surprised it happens right here in the United States, it makes me sick My friends daughter was murdered, or as the police say under mysterious circumstances. Thank god she's not missing, but what has happened is just as bad.

How many of you would leave your girlfriend you say you loved in your father's house? Grab here purse, that by all accounts was never out of her sights, go to her and her mother's friends house to hang out. Never saying anything to anyone. Letting your father come home after a long weekend to find your girlfriend dead in his house. Who does that? A killer that who! He's getting away with it.

Homicide detectives investigate suspicious death in Chollas Creek
Posted: Oct 24, 2012 2:43 AM EDT Updated: Oct 24, 2012 2:58 AM EDT

Video Report By Richard Allyn, Reporter - bio

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Homicide detectives were investigating a suspicious death at a Chollas Creek apartment complex Tuesday evening.

I don't care what kind of lifestyle a person has. They are humans with families and friends and to be shut down or out is just so awful This will be over when someone else's falls prey to this creep.

Lincoln said...

I have read numerous comments and seen the TV programs concerning this matter. However, I have seen no indication that anyone has diligently sort God's help in solving the disappearance of her son. God cannot lie and if the mother will ask God in the name of Jesus, she will eventually know what happened to her son. She has to believe and have faith as it is impossible to please God without faith. The mother should fast and pray and God will answer her prayer. Stop depending on man. Let God handle this matter

Anonymous said...

I was planning a trip to vienna in September of this year ,,after watching the movie this morning I have cancelled my plans. I will not give them a penny or support that corupt city. Its a matter of time before the cover up gets exposed. Someone will piss the wrong person off at that sauna and start talking. I believe they murdered him because he was approached at the Sauna and refused their sick wishes , he threatened to report him and their security rushed him , he tried to get away but was apprehended by the evil scum that they are,This Murderer will Rot in Hell .
I send Positive Energy and peace to his mom .

Anonymous said...

Where is the US government in all of this? If this happened to an Austrian citizen while visiting our country it would be a worldwide scandal if we reacted the same way. Someone knows what happened to him..............

Anonymous said...

I watched the Aeryn Gillern doc and I am so sickened and heartbroken. For an American citizen who works for a branch of the United Nations in Vienna to go missing is frightening. For the American and Austrian authorities ti do nothing is disgusting. I hope and pray that this case is solved and to Aeryn Gillerns mother, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. So sad.