The dangers of hitchhiking have been highlighted by
Christchurch coroner Richard McElrea in his formal findings
relating to the death of Czech tourist Dagmar Pytlickova.
The 31-year-old was sexually assaulted and killed by Waimate
resident Jason Frandi, who picked her up near Cromwell when
she was hitchhiking in May last year.
Ms Pytlickova was working in the Cromwell area for a vineyard
agency and planned to meet her sister in Cave, near Timaru.
She started hitchhiking alone about 2.30pm on May 26 at the
side of State Highway 8 just out of Cromwell, and was picked
up from there by Frandi about 5pm.
Text messages sent by Ms Pytlickova to her sister indicated
she was not concerned about travelling with Frandi (43), whom
she described as a ''character''.
Frandi drove Ms Pytlickova to a remote forestry block near
He used severed seatbelt webbing from his vehicle to restrain
her, and forced her to walk about 4.5km through the forest in
Frandi sexually assaulted Ms Pytlickova and cut her neck and
throat, severing a major artery. She died as a result. Frandi
then took his own life.
About 11am on May 27, members of a school trail bike ride
discovered Ms Pytlickova's body in the forest and,
subsequently, Frandi's body about 150m away. Police examined
the scene and surrounding area, and found Frandi's car hidden
In his findings, Mr McElrea warned against hitchhiking. He
said although police did not have an official policy on
hitchhiking, a police visitor safety brochure advised against
''For your own safety, hitchhiking or accepting rides from
people you don't know is not recommended. If you do decide to
hitchhike, police strongly advise you not to travel alone,''
the brochure stated.
Ms Pytlickova had previously hitchhiked in New Zealand, Mr
In 1999, a complaint of indecent assault was made against
Frandi by a 5-year-old girl, but police did not have
sufficient evidence to prosecute.
The following year, Frandi abducted a 19-year-old girl from a
street in Oamaru by pushing her into the back seat of his
She fought with him and escaped, after which Frandi was
arrested. He admitted to police he intended to rape the
''He said in an interview that he had intended to take her to
a forestry location, have some fun with her, then take his
own life,'' Mr McElrea said.
Frandi spent almost two years in jail for the abduction, then
in 2005 and 2006 he faced assault, cannabis cultivation and
driving charges. In May last year, police were investigating
an allegation that Frandi abused a young girl.
On May 26, about 11am, Frandi learned of the investigation
when he was confronted by the girl's father in a Waimate
When police learned of the incident, they tried to locate
Frandi, but found his house empty and his car gone.
He drove 220km to Cromwell, for no apparent reason.
Mr McElrea said when police started searching for Frandi in
the afternoon of May 26 they could have alerted all
Canterbury and Otago officers to look out for him and his
car, but it was highly unlikely those steps would have
changed the outcome.
''The response from all police members was entirely
appropriate and timely,'' Mr McElrea said.