Thursday, February 27, 2014
Larry Stromberg -- Washed in the Blood
For the past five years the 30-year-old struggling actor worked as a fitness trainer at the Riverside Racquet and Fitness Club in the Philadelphia suburb of Bala Cynwyd. Stromberg appeared the 1989 horror-comedy Blades, and in minuscule parts in two films partially shot in Philly (12 Monkeys, 1995; Up Close & Personal, 1996). The actor was writing a script about a serial killer when his troubled three year marriage to Stefan Stromberg, 30, finally disintegrated amid his wife's alleged infidelity and subsequent abortion. In mid-April 1996, the woman obtained a protection-from-abuse order against her husband citing his threats and violence. On April 28, 1996, eleven days after the decree was filed, Paula Rathgeb, Stefan Stromberg's mother, was helping her daughter move out of the married couples' apartment in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Larry Stromberg slashed and stabbed both women to death and fled into the woods in suburban Montgomery County. He surrendered to police a few days later and was charged with one count of first-degree murder (his wife) and one count of second-degree murder (his mother-in-law). At trial in May 1997, Stromberg pleaded "not guilty" by reason of insanity. Arguing his client was psychotic on the day of the killing, defense attorney Nino V. Tinari maintained Stromberg was the product of a mentally ill mother and a domineering father who had been molested as a child by babysitters and his mother's boyfriends. "He couldn't interact with women," Tinari said. "At age 30, he still played with dolls given to him at age 10." When Stromberg learned of his wife's alleged affair, pregnancy, and abortion, he became irrational and fatally inflicted a total of 34 wounds on his two victims. Prosecutors presented a simpler theory of the case -- the actor killed his wife and mother-in-law out of rage. Stromberg was found guilty on both murder counts on June 6, 1997, and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences (plus 10 and 20 years) after a jury deadlocked over imposing the death sentence on the double killer. While doing his stretch, Stromberg formed The Redeemed Theater Ministry and, according to the group's website, "has written and directed over 25 original plays for the prison population and the glory of God." As of February 2014, Inmate #DG6379 was incarcerated at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution in Coal Township.