Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thriller Thursday - Dentist and Woman Held in Schmidt Case


Dentist and Woman Held in Schmidt Case

Counterfeiting Charge Made Against Them After Police Find Bad Bills in Room of Priest Who Slew Girl.

Dr. E. Muret a Prisoner

Evidence in Hands of Inspector Faurot Shows Clergyman Was Plying Bogus Money Trade While Planning to Rid Himself of Anna Aumuller.

"Plant" in 134th St. Flat.

Young Man Accused as Accomplice Says Curate Was Instigator in Counterfeiting - Instruments for Illegal Operations Found in Quarters Occupied by Friend of Priest.

Prima facia evidence, according to the police, that Father Hans Schmidt, held for the murder of Anna Aumuller, was a counterfeiter and had been actively plying his trade while he was scheming to rid himself of the incubus which his life with the young woman had placed upon him, was obtained by Inspector Faurot at an early hour this morning in the arrest of Dr. Ernest Arthur Muret, of No. 301 St. Nicholas avenue, a dentist, who was captured in a flat in West 134th street.

Muret, caught, the police believe, in the midst of his attempts to rid the flat of the counterfeiting equipment, offered no resistance when his captors came upon him. He was placed in an automobile and hustled away, while other members of Inspector Faurot's staff went to his apartments, where they found Bertha Zech, a servant, and took her into custody as a material witness.

The events following the discovery of the new criminal feature of the priest's activities were swift in their disclosures. In going through Schmidt's effects at the parish house Inspector Faurot came on some bogus $20 bills hidden away in a box, which also contained the 134th street address and a $48 receipt for dental services signed by Dr. Muret.

Find Counterfeiting Plant.

The detectives left the parish house and went to the 134th street flat. As they ascended the stairs and arrived opposite the door to the apartment it was opened by Dr. Muret. While the inspector engaged him in conversation the others entered and began an examination of the room.

At once the evidences of counterfeiting operations became apparent. A die bearing the impression of a #20 certificate was one of the first objects the detectives encountered. It bore a carefully engraved representation of the bill, and was marked with the serial letter "A" and the number "12,436,782." All about the room were scraps of bogus bills, some of which had been partly burned, and a small printing press.

The arrest of the dentist and the examination of the flat next gave way to an examination of Muret's quarters in St. Nicholas avenue, and there, the police say, they found evidence which may furnish a basis for a new criminal charge against the doctor. Mixed in with the instruments the dentist employed in his trade were others commonly employed in illegal operations and which, it is suspected, may establish the man's connection with the priest in another capacity that that of fellow counterfeiter.

The latest arrest came after Faurot employed translators to go over some documents written in German which were found in Schmidt's papers. Among the documents was an affidavit reciting the details of Schmidt's acquittal of a charge of forgery in Munich, on the ground of insanity.

After the examination of Schmidt's property Faurot and Detective James O'Neill, advised through an anonymous communication, went to a vacant lot at 152d street and McComb's Dam Place, where they found further evidences of the murder of Anna Aumuller - details which were not mentioned in Schmidt's first confession.

Bone in Charred Pile.

It developed that a laborer saw a man enter the lot at 3 o'clock in the afternoon of September 5. He carried a large bundle and a small tin pail. The pail contained kerosene, which the man poured over the bundle before he set fire to it. Faurot and O'Neill found the remains of that bonfire, and in the charred pile they found some feathers, some pink pillow covering, splattered with blood, and a small piece of human bone.

They found also a portion of a photograph, from which the face had been torn, and which seemed to be a picture of a man on a photographer's model of the observation platform of a railway train - such pictures as are taken and sold at Coney Island. The detectives were satisfied, from the small part of the picture left, that it was a photograph of Father Schmidt in civilian clothes.

George Sachs, the dealer at No. 2762 Eighth avenue, who furnished the police with the list of persons to whom he sold the peculiar pink pillow covering, identified the scrap of that material the detectives found in the lot yesterday as part of the pillow covering from that order.

The confessions made by Father Schmidt on Sunday did not include any reference to a destruction of evidence in the lot on which the pillow covering was found yesterday, nor did it include any mention of other persons being concerned in the case as developed later by the second arrest in the affair, which Faurot's men made late last night.

Defense To Be Insanity.

Meanwhile, Father Schmidt's defense, according to his lawyer, Alphonse G. Koelble, was announced as the expected insanity plea. Koelble, who is engaged in German-American matters, and who is the man who precipitated the riot in Carnegie Hall at the big peace meeting a year ago, said he would interpose no delay of any kind and would be ready for trial as soon as the state was prepared to put the case on.

It was intimated by former friends of Schmidt that the priest would welcome the chance to plead guilty, and would forego the insanity defense if the state would accept a plea of murder in the second degree.

The first official move in the case is set for Thursday night, when Coroner Schlem will hold an inquest at Volk's morgue, Jersey City, on the portions of the body recovered from the river. It is likely that after that formal proceeding the New Jersey authorities will surrender possession of the body to Coroner Feinberg, in New York, and the inquest and grand jury presentation of the case in this city will follow.

Monsignor M. J. Lavelle, rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral, announced yesterday that a message from Germany said that Schmidt was regularly ordained as a priest there, but later was suspended for attempted fraud. His dismissorial papers, by which he obtained a priest's standing and position in this country, are believed to be forgeries.

The announcement of the arrest of a second person in the murder case of Anna Aumuller was made by Inspector Faurot at Police Headquarters at 11 o'clock last night. Detectives assigned to lay in wait for the person, whose identity Inspector Faurot would not disclose, communicated with the detective bureau by telephone. A few minutes later Inspector Faurot, in a high state of mixed excitement and glee, entered his automobile and was driven swiftly uptown.

It was 9 o'clock last night before Inspector Faurot, who had been out all the afternoon, returned and said he had obtained evidence which led him to believe that Father Schmidt had not covered all his movements in disposing of the dead girl's body in the written confession he made to the District Attorney's office yesterday.

The laborer who gave the tip to Faurot told a detailed story of the man's actions in the park.

Glancing furtively in all directions to determine whether any one was paying particular heed to his actions, the man, who detectives learned yesterday was without doubt the priest, set the package on the ground and removing the cover from the small pail, poured the contents on the bundle.

After setting fire to it and lingering beside the blazing package until he was sure if would be consumed by the flames, the priest walked rapidly to the sidewalk and paced up and down 152d street while the flames destroyed the bundle.

The informant of the police said his curiosity was aroused by the queer actions of the man who had lighted the fire, and that he lingered in the near vicinity that he might watch him further. When the fire gradually died down, however, the observer decided that the man was evidently disposing of some rubbish, as many residents of that neighborhood are in the custom of doing, and he left the scene while the priest lingered nearby.

When the story was told to Inspector Faurot yesterday, he assigned Detective O'Neill to the vacant lot to search for the remains of the fire and to gather whatever evidence of the burned objects that remained uncharred.

Tallies with Schmidt.

The description of the man who had burned the bundle tallied exactly with the description of Father Schmidt, although the man was not attired in clerical clothes. His wildest expectations of obtaining further evidence which might be used against the murder of the Aumuller girl were greatly exceeded with the stuff turned up by O'Neill.

The spot where the fire had been made was found without difficulty, and one of the first things to meet the eye of the detective was a four-inch square of the peculiar pillow ticking with which the police had come to be so familiar. O'Neill poked about among the embers, and at the bottom of the heap was rewarded by finding a mass of unburned feathers.

On close examination it was found that large handfuls of them were clotted together with blood. The heat of the fire had not penetrated to the bottom of the pile and the color was unchanged.

The most gruesome part of the find, however, was a section of bone which looked as it it might have been sawed from a shoulder blade of the victim. The flames had come in contact with the bone and burned all but the mineral formation away. It was impossible to tell, Inspector Faurot said, if the bone came from a human body. It would have to be inspected by a physician, he said, before he could tell positively.

Two Boxes of Feathers.

In all, there were enough feathers found to fill two pasteboard shoe boxes, in which they were carefully gathered and brought down to Headquarters. While sorting over the feathers, Detective O'Neill came upon what the police also considered an important find - parts of a photograph of a clergyman.

It was evident that the picture had been torn into a number of small pieces before being placed in the package. Parts of the photograph evidently had been destroyed by the flames, for only two sections of it were found.

The most important piece of the picture, the part on which was printed the face of the subject, was missing, and careful search of the feathers failed to reveal it. The photograph was creased and torn below the chin, and the only distinguishable part depicted a white collar of medium height and a clerical vest.

The general appearance of the man, taking into consideration his breadth of shoulders and chest, indicated that the priest attempted to dispose of a photograph of himself which the Aumuller girl may have had among her effects.

The blue enameled pail which Schmidt brought to the lot also is in the possession of the police, an employee of the McKnight Construction Company having picked it up in the lot where the priest threw it into the weeds. It smelled strongly of kerosene.

Dealer Identifies Slip.

In order that there could be no mistake as to the owner of the pillow Inspector Faurot yesterday caused George Sachs, the dealer who sold Schmidt the goods, to look at the charred remnants. Sachs positively identified it was one of the pillows he delivered to the apartment on Bradhurst avenue.

In the confession made yesterday Father Schmidt made no mention of disposing of any of the dead girl's body or the furnishings of the flat in the lot at 152d street.

While searching among the priest's effects in the rectory of St. Joseph's Church, in 125th street, Inspector Faurot came upon an affidavit in German sworn out in the court at Munich on January 29, 1909. It said Schmidt was discharged by the court for forgery and fraud, and when translated read as follows:

"Fourth Court, Munich, January 29, 1909, 10 a.m.

"Held secret session; presiding judge, Royal District Director Hezner; judges, Heuser and Leitz.

"In the case of Johanus Schmidt, of Ganzenheim, charged with forgery of private papers.

"After examining and reading the private documents in the case, in the private hearing, according to the opinion of the district attorney, under date of January 21, 1909, regarding the complaints against the defendant, ordered his acquittal and the return of all papers and documents to him.

"Resolved.

"First - That accused Johanus Schmidt, priest of Ganzenhein, who was accused of having forged private papers, attempted fraud, charges have been dismissed against him.

"Second - That the royal court will bear the expenses of this trial.

"Third - That all property is to be returned to Johanus Schmidt."

The document said that Schmidt had been discharged because the court held that he was not sane and, therefore, not responsible for the acts for which he was arraigned.

Morbid Crowd at Church.

The parish house adjoining St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, at Morningside avenue and 125h street yesterday attracted thousands of the morbidly curious. It is one of the oldest churches in Harlem and was dedicated in the old days, when that section was known as Manhattan Valley. The congregation is the largest of any of the uptown churches.

Persons in automobiles and the many surface cars that passed the church door all turned their faces toward the three story building in which Schmidt served for the last seven months as an assistant pastor and in the office of which he was arrested.

Throngs of pedestrians were kept on the move by policemen assigned to the church for that purpose. All requests there for permission to see Father Huntmann, the pastor, were refused. It was said that Father Huntmann has been in poor health for a long time and that the shock of the murder and the arrest of his assistant priest caused him to collapse.

The telephone connection with the parish house was discontinued yesterday.

Father Kessler, who was the pastor of the church fifteen years ago, lost his life aboard the La Bourgogne when that vessel went to the bottom off the Newfoundland coast.

The apartment house at No. 68 Bradhurst avenue, in which the crime was committed, also was an object for the eyes of the curious to feast on yesterday. Many women and children of the thirty families in the house were in a nervous condition from thoughts of the murder so near to them. Many went in search of new homes.

Opposite the house in Bradhurst avenue, which is the easterly boundary of Colonial Park, was the scene of a murder a few years ago. Joseph Ferrone, while walking with his wife, cut the woman's throat with a razor. Ferrone was arrested after a long chase through the city, tried and convicted. On the night the jury found him guilty Ferrone became a maniac and tried to slash the face of one of the jurymen with a broken piece of glass.

"John Schmidt" on License.

The records of the marriage license bureau at the City Hall show that a license was issued to Schmidt on February 26. Accompanied by Anna Aumuller, he went to the license bureau and filled out the usual marriage license blank. The priest wrote his name as John Schmidt. After swearing to the statutory questions, Schmidt paid the fee of $1 and left with Miss Aumuller. The license was handled by Edward W. Hart, Deputy City Clerk.

Annie Hirt, the other servant at the St. Boniface's rectory when Anna Aumuller was employed there, went to Volk's morgue in Hoboken yesterday and identified the torso and the leg of the murdered girl as parts of the Aumuller girl's body. The birthmark on the left shoulder and a brown spot beneath the left breast convinced Miss Hirt that there could be no mistake in the dead woman's identity.

Returning to Manhattan, the Hirt girl went to Police Headquarters, where she repeated the story of her knowledge of the murdered girl's life which she told to a Tribune reporter Sunday, and also identified some clothes and a gilt picture frame found in the Bradhurst avenue apartment as having belonged to the Aumuller girl.

Dentist and Woman Held in Schmidt Case, 16 September 1913, The New York Tribune, page 1, column 7, and page 2, column 1.