Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thriller Thursday - Doubt Schmidt's Standing

Doubt Schmidt's Standing.

Church Investigates His Record - Dismissed from Charges.

When Mgr. Lavelle, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of New York, was asked last night if there was any doubt as to Schmidt's pretensions to ordination, he said:

"That is something which we are trying to clear up now. I know practically nothing of the man. He came to this diocese with credentials which were apparently in every way authentic and genuine. We hope, of course, to be able to prove that this unspeakable monster was an impostor and that he had been using forged papers. Fathers Sullivan and Evers of St. Andrew's Church were unable to obtain from him information as to where he was ordained or the circumstances of his first entry into the Church.

"An investigation was made in Schmidt's case when he came here with the result that we learned that he had officiated regularly as a priest. We found nothing wrong with his record except that he had once been disciplined by the Church. I am not at liberty to say when or where this happened, but for your information and of the public I will say that the offense was not one constituting moral turpitude, but merely an infringement of a rule of the discipline in the priesthood.

"It is too horrible to conceive," Mgr. Lavelle continued: "we can only hope that he may prove to have been a pseudo-priest."

Father Luke J. Evers, chaplain of the Tombs and pastor of St. Andrew's Church in City Hall Place, visited Hans Schmidt yesterday afternoon in his cell in the Tombs at the request of Mgr. Lavelle, to whom he afterward made a report on what he had learned about the priest. Last night in the parish house of the church he told a reporter about his visit.

Father Evers said he had come to the conclusion that Schmidt had never been ordained into the priesthood and was masquerading as a priest of the church. Schmidt, he said, did not appear to be in the soundest mental condition, as his talk at times had been rambling and vague.

When asked why he had killed Anna Aumuller, Schmidt replied, Father Evers says "I was in love with the girl, and I wanted her to go to heaven. It was necessary to make a sacrifice, and the sacrifice had to be consummated in blood in the same manner as Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac."

When Father Evers asked him why he had cut up her body and carried the fragments to the river, Schmidt replied that sacrifices must be consummated in blood and water. Schmidt said that the fragments in the water would go into "clouds of eternity." He added that he expected to meet the girl in heaven.

"Schmidt," said Father Evers, "told me he was a priest. He said he came from the City of Mainz, Germany, where he had lived a year. He first said he had been ordained a priest by the Bishop of Mainz, and that he had left that diocese for Munich because the Bishop did not like him. In Munich, he said, the Bishop of Mainz had caused his arrest for impersonating a priest. I told him that is the Bishop of Mainz had ordained him, the Bishop would not afterward have had him arrested for not being a priest. He then told me that it was not the Bishop of Mainz, but St. Elizabeth, the patron saint of Hungary, who had ordained him."

Father Evers said that from what he could get out of Schmidt the latter came to this country in 1907 or 1908, and having no friends here went to the Leo House for Immigrants in Battery Place. After remaining here a short time he went to Louisville, Ky., where he remained six months. He got into trouble of some kind, and the Bishop told him to go. He then went to Trenton, and later came to New York. Here, he told Father Evers, he met a German friend, who introduced him to a German priest in the city. This priest in turn introduced him to Father Braun, pastor of St. Boniface's. He remained at this parish for four months, when Father Braun dismissed him, and it was then that he went to St. Joseph's, in Harlem.

The Rev. Father Huntmann, rector of St. Joseph's Church, was weeping when he received reporters there yesterday in the study of his church. He said:
"All that I have to say is that I have told the proper officials the facts of the case as I know them. I do not care to say anything else."

A story told by some of the parishioners of the church yesterday was that Father Schmidt confessed his crime first to Father Huntmann and that the police were notified by him. Father Huntmann would not talk about the matter.

Father Braun of St. Boniface's Church said yesterday that Schmidt had originally come to his church on the recommendation of some one in Trenton. During his stay at St. Boniface's, Schmidt did not make a good impression on persons he came in contact with, according to Father Braun, who said:
"I did not like the man myself and was glad when he left here. There was never any objection to the way that he discharged his duties, but his personality was displeasing. He seemed humble and meek at times, but occasionally there was a fierce expression on his face and his manner was disagreeable. His relations with Miss Aumuller could not have existed while I was here. It must have been during the time that I was in Europe."

Doubt Schmidt's Standing, The New York Times, 15 September 1913.