Killer Priest: The Crimes, Trial, and Execution of Father Hans Schmidt

( 11 )

Overview

He was a Catholic priest and a killer. Hans Schmidt, ordained in Germany in 1904, arrived in the United States in 1908 and was assigned to St. John's Parish in Louisville, Kentucky. Arguments with the minister resulted in Schmidt's transfer to St. Boniface Church in New York City. There he met beautiful Anna Aumuller, a housekeeper for the rectory who had recently emigrated from Austria. Despite his transfer to a church far uptown, Father Schmidt and Anna continued a romantic affair and, in a secret ceremony he ...

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Killer Priest: The Crimes, Trial, and Execution of Father Hans Schmidt

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Overview

He was a Catholic priest and a killer. Hans Schmidt, ordained in Germany in 1904, arrived in the United States in 1908 and was assigned to St. John's Parish in Louisville, Kentucky. Arguments with the minister resulted in Schmidt's transfer to St. Boniface Church in New York City. There he met beautiful Anna Aumuller, a housekeeper for the rectory who had recently emigrated from Austria. Despite his transfer to a church far uptown, Father Schmidt and Anna continued a romantic affair and, in a secret ceremony he performed himself, they were married. When he discovered she was pregnant, Father Schmidt knew his secret life would soon be exposed. On the night of September 2, 1913, he cut Anna's throat, dismembered her body, and threw the parts into the Hudson River. When the body was discovered, he was arrested and charged with the murder. A media circus ensued, as the New York papers became fascinated by the priest and his double life. After feigning insanity during his first trial, which ended with a hung jury, Father Schmidt was eventually convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. He remains the only priest ever executed for murder in the United States.

The public fascination with cases involving husbands suspected of murdering their pregnant wives predates Scott Peterson and Mark Hacking. When the press learned that Father Schmidt was suspected of killing his pregnant wife, it generated the kind of flashy headlines and gossipy speculation similar crimes elicit today. The case provided a spectacle for the media and captured the imagination of a city. Not only did Father Schmidt kill his young, pregnant bride, but further investigation proved that he had a second apartment where he had set up a printing press and counterfeited $10 bills. In Louisville, the dismembered body of a missing nine-year-old girl was found buried in the basement of St. John's church, where Schmidt had previously worked. In addition, German police wanted to talk to Father Schmidt about a murdered girl in his hometown. Though he was never charged, it was strongly suspected that Father Schmidt committed these murders as well. On February 18, 1916, Father Schmidt was executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison. This book tells this tale in vivid and lively detail and looks at the man, the crime, and the attention both received in the popular press and the city at large.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In Killer Priest, Mark Gado recounts the true story of a Catholic priest from Germany who, after what Gado believes were actually a string of killings, ends up an inmate on Sing Sing's death row convicted of the murder of the rectory housekeeper he impregnated."

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Journal News (Westchester)

"Father Hans Schmidt was convicted of the gruesome murder of Anna Aumuller in 1914, in a case that was widely covered in the New York papers of the time. In this book New York City police detective Gado reconstructs Schmidt's early life, describes the events of the case, and considers lingering questions of whether Schmidt was responsible for other murders as well."

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Reference & Research Book News

"[A]s compelling as any popular work of crime fiction."

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Internet Law Book Reviews

"[M]ark Gado, a former detective, has come out with an excellent book-length account of the trial based on the transcript and newspaper accounts: Killer Priest….It reads like a Gothic Gilded Age novel in the style of Alfred Hitchcock."

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New York Law Journal Magazine

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Product Details

Meet the Author

MARK GADO is a Police Detective in New York where he has received dozens of awards and commendations during his 29-year career. He is a Vietnam combat veteran (1967-68) and was part of the Ground Zero rescue effort in September and October 2001. Gado writes on criminal justice issues and historical crime for Court TV's Crime Library. Killer Priest is his first book.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

The Chapel

The Sixth

Alma

Into the Cellar

The Pursuit

At Dawn

Cliffside Park

Weehawken

Faurot

The Rectory

Muret

Stigmata

Bellevue

In the Tombs

Trial

Close Union

Jeliffe

Zech

The Sacrifice

Sing Sing

Death Row

Appeal

Execution

Freedom

Bibliography

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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(9)

4 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2006

    Deserves to be a bestseller!!!

    I just finished reading this book and I have to say it is one of the most entertaining and exciting books I have ever read. I love mystery books and am a big fan of James Patterson and courtroom drama. Killer Priest has a great trial in which the priest fights for his life. I don't want to say what happens and ruin it for people, but what I like best in this story is the dialogue between the priest and the other characters.......I really felt like I got to 'know' him.....and what a twisted individual he was!! And all of it was true. It's hard to believe there were priests like this, even back then. I highly recommend this book but, be aware, it's not for children.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2013

    Is this price for real?

    $40 for an e-book? The author must have gotten 10 relatives to write the reviews.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2007

    Crazy

    This book had me hooked the whole time. Every page had something shocking to say. I never would have thought that a priest could commit such a crime.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2006

    Book of the Year!

    Couldn't put it down...the way this true story remains unresolved adds to its realism. Father Schmidt was a one of a kind killer and the dialogue in the narrrative is compelling writing. Grisham and Patterson should read this book for some pointers...because Killer Priest is a better book than anything they've written recently...I'm not kidding!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2006

    An Incredible Story

    If you are interested in true crime, and the diabolic behavior of catholic priests perplexes you...then this book is a must read. A true story about the only catholic priest ever executed in America. You are captivated by the deviant lifestyle of Hans Schmidt as the author takes you on a journey through his life. From the early years where Hans first realizes his fetish for blood, to his years as Father Hans where the author so vibrantly tells about his sick and twisted criminal activities. A compelling book from beginning to end!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2006

    Crime and Punishment In An Era Gone By

    Killer Priest is a really great read! I enjoyed the book from cover to cover. Mark Gado's writing enables the reader to truly get to know the 'Killer Priest' and what made him tick. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of a time past allowing a comparison of 'old' New York with 'current' New York. The differences were truly facinating! I look forward to reading Mark Gado's next book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2006

    I stummbled upon this book and WOW!

    I stummbled upon this book and am so glad I did! What an intriguing topic and one I will never forget! I was born and raised catholic and found this priest's struggle with good and evil compelling! Let's just say evil won! I usually don't read unknown authors but am glad I did! Hope to see more of his books in the future!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2006

    Killer Priest is an excellent book

    Killer Priest by Mark Gado is an electrifying story expertly told. Hans Schmidt, the only priest ever to be executed for murder in the U.S., had character flaws that surfaced during his childhood in Germany. He had no use for his brothers or friends, but became transfixed with religion and killing. When adolescent sexual fantasies become intertwined with images of death and slaughter, problems are almost certain to arise. As an introverted teenager, the intelligent and scholarly Schmidt drifted into ecclesiastical studies. However, the character flaws and sexual conflict deepened and he ran afoul of the law. He became a thief and a forger who was ostracized by the clerics that knew him. Gado¿s meticulous research traces Father Schmidt¿s twisted childhood in Germany, through his years at the seminary in Mainz, his flight from Europe and eventually his first clergy assignment in Louisville, Kentucky. A missing nine-year-old girl case raised questions at his parish and Father Schmidt suddenly leaves Louisville and heads for New York City. There, he secretly married a beautiful young woman in a ceremony he performed himself. When her dismembered body parts turned up in the Hudson River, a city became mesmerized by the spectacle of a Catholic priest arrested for a murder¿and the possibility he was a serial killer! As a seasoned detective, Gado carefully lays out the investigation and the manner in which the detectives built the case against Schmidt. Once it got to court, Schmidt, ever the manipulator, attempted to hide behind the insanity defense ¿ creating the disturbing risk that the killer could have been turned over to the custody of the Catholic Church. Gado¿s experiences in homicide and death investigation, his first-hand understanding of the criminal mind and his ability to dramatize a story so effectively combine to make Killer Priest an excellent read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2006

    What a page turner!

    Killer Priest,is for anyone who enjoys a look into the criminal mind. Eerily frightening that a man could be this way and be a Man of the Cloth!! You don't feel like you're reading a book you feel like you're right there! A MUST READ

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2006

    I can see Ed Norton playing Father Schmitt in the movie!!!

    Because of the recent trial of the Ohio priest, I was looking to see if there were any books written about priests who commit murder. I thought I would come across a fiction - never dreaming that I would find a true crime story of a priest who was executed in the electric chair for murder...I still find it hard to believe. This was a real page turner. I hope this author plans on writing more books because I am already his number one fan!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2006

    Killer Priest Delivers

    Killer Priest - A superb true account of the only priest executed for murder in American history. The book is set in the early 20th century and tells the story of the successful use of forensics by early law enforcement, and also highlights the captivating mix of theological, social, and historical strata of New York City in the early 1900's. Det. Gado has written a page-turner certain to delight any reader.

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