The Fight to Bring Claudia Hoerig to Justice
For a decade I have fought for justice for Major Karl Hoerig and his family. I want to give you an important update on my efforts to bring Claudia Hoerig to trial for the murder of her husband and my constituent, U.S. Air Force Reserve Major Karl Hoerig.
In March 2007, Claudia Hoerig fatally shot her husband Karl twice in the back of the neck and once in the back of the head at their home in Newton Falls, Ohio. Days before, she had purchased a Smith & Wesson .357 five shot revolver and practiced shooting the weapon at the Warren Shooting Range in Warren, Ohio. Claudia had also emptied her husband’s bank account and wired the money to relatives in Brazil. After being charged with aggravated murder by the Court of Common Pleas of Trumbull County, she fled to her native Brazil. Claudia Hoerig has remained free from justice since then, avoiding trial by taking advantage of a provision in the Brazilian constitution that bans extradition of Brazilian citizens.
In May 2013, I passed an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee to restrict immigrant visas for Brazilian nationals and citizens, which would put a moratorium on processing any additional visas for Brazilian citizens. Although this amendment was later taken out of the final Appropriations bill, it got the attention of Brazil. In July 2013, Brazil revoked Claudia Hoerig’s citizenship, the first step in the process of extraditing her to the United States to stand trial. Until this point, Brazil’s refusal to extradite its citizens was the primary barrier to extraditing Claudia, but I relentlessly petitioned Brazil to revoke her citizenship so the extradition could move forward.
In 2016, there was a major break in the case. Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins and I announced that Brazil’s Supreme Court justices ruled 3-2 to uphold the Brazilian Ministry of Justice’s decision to revoke Claudia Hoerig's Brazilian citizenship – closing off one of her last options to avoid extradition back to Ohio and allowing the extradition process to proceed. The U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, Liliana Ayalde, notified me by phone that Brazilian authorities have arrested Claudia and are holding her in custody. I am deeply grateful for Ambassador Ayalde and the foreign service officers assisting in this case for their hard work and commitment to justice.
It has been ten years since Major Hoerig had his life cut short, and for ten years his family and friends have seen no justice. This is a man who bravely served our nation, with nearly 200 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan under his belt, and we owe it to him to ensure his killer stands trial. While Claudia Hoerig’s lawyers will surely attempt to place procedural hurdles in our way, I am cautiously optimistic that we have taken a massive leap forward in holding her accountable for her crime. I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that Major Hoerig and his loved ones finally get the justice they have been denied for so long.