The Creepy True Story Behind Orphan

Life as an adult can be tough, and sometimes looking at an endless parade of bills and obligations can have even the best of us momentarily wishing for a return to the carefree times of childhood. Even so, most of us would never actually try to force that return by masquerading as teenaged orphans well into our thirties. And then there's Barbora Skrolva, who's story sounds like it was ripped straight from the 2009 horror movie "Orphan."

The Real Life Esther

In "Orphan," an unsuspecting couple that probably should have worked on their own issues before deciding to add another member their family adopts a peculiar 9-year-old girl named Esther. Despite the fact that Esther is clearly a little weirdo with serious issues and a mysterious past, they discover all too late that she's not who she claimed — or appeared — to be at all. In fact, she's not a child; she's actually a deeply disturbed, homicidal grown woman with creepy intentions. Esther's true identity is Leena, a 33-year-old escaped psych patient and serial killer. While the unlucky family that adopted Esther was completely unaware of her true nature and identity until her violent behavior was too great to ignore, the people who took in the very real Barbora Skrolva were active participants in her deception.

Like her fictional horror movie counterpart, Barbora Skrlova was an adult woman who had a disturbing history of masquerading as a child. She started off posing as a young 13-year-old girl named Anicka, and she was "adopted" by two sisters named Klara and Katerina Mauerova. Klara knowingly played the role of her adoptive mother, making Klara's two young sons Barbora's "brothers." During this time, the adults (including Barbora) participated in horrific child abuse against the boys, who were only 8 and 10 years old at the time.

As one news report states, "Klára was keeping one of her boys — an eight-year-old called Ondřej — naked and bound and locked in a broom cupboard. According to witnesses he was beaten and tortured and made to eat his own vomit." The little boy was monitored through a camera that was set up inside the cupboard.

Their inhumane treatment only came to light by chance when a technological glitch caused the video feed from the camera to be picked up by a neighbor's baby monitoring system. Greeted by the graphic, gut-wrenching sight of a malnourished little boy, the neighbors immediately contacted the police, who arrested Klara and removed the children from the home.

Barbora on the Run

Because the authorities were not yet aware of Anicka's true identity as 32-year-old Barbora Sklorva, they had no reason to suspect her of any wrongdoing, and so she was able to keep up her ruse. Katerina, Klara's sister, aided Barbora in continuing her charade by placing her into a children's home, from which she escaped just days later. Upon the discovery of "Anicka's" disappearance, a search began. Authorities and staff were baffled when they realized that there was no real record the girl's existence, and what initially began as a missing person's case eventually led to the realization that Anicka was actually Barbora when someone was able to identify her from a photo.

By the time she was finally caught, Barbora was 33 years old and had assumed yet another underaged identity, living as a 13-year-old boy named Adam in Olso, Norway. There, she had been taken in by a family who had attempted to enroll her in school. She was eventually captured, and her true identity was revealed and examined in both the Scandinavian media and the courtroom.

Courtrooms, Cults, and Confusion

After her capture, Barbora was put on trial for her participation in deceiving the children's home she was placed in when she was living as Anicka. For this, she faced up to two years in prison, but was ultimately released without issue ... only to be immediately arrested outside of the courthouse for her connection to the child abuse that took place when she was living as Klara's adopted daughter.

In the time leading up to Barbora's conviction, there was much speculation concerning her motivations and whether or not she was a willing participant or victim in the crimes she committed. One theory involved an alleged small religious cult that Klara and Katerina, the women who first took in Barbora, were members of. Another theory is that Barbora's behavior is the result of trauma and severe psychiatric issues. As far as Barbora herself, while she hasn't made any effort to explain why she decided to do what she did, she has spoken about how easy she found it to assume new, childlike identities, "I never had a problem managing both lives — that of Anicka and that of Barunka. Now that Anicka no longer exists, it is much harder for me. I'll see what the people will do with me. I do not trust people and feel no need to make any contact with them — only with those who I know well." 

Whatever the case may be, Barbora still played a hand in the suffering of innocent children. In 2008, Barbora was found guilty of child abuse and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Surprisingly, in 2011, Barbora was granted early release from prison because her lawyers successfully argued that was not mentally sound, and that her mental condition had not improved while she was living in prison. She was given five years of probation, meaning she has been living completely free since 2016. Her current whereabouts are unknown, and so we may never truly know why Barbora chose to live such a strange and sinister life masquerading as an orphan.