A priest, a maid, and a Second Avenue murder

HansschmidtOrdained in his native Germany in 1904, Roman Catholic priest Hans Schmidt was assigned to St. Boniface Church, at Second Avenue and 47th Street, in 1908.

There he met Anna Aumuller, a beautiful 21-year-old housekeeper for the church rectory. Aumuller was an immigrant too; she came to New York from Austria five years earlier.

They started an affair. Schmidt even obtained a wedding license and performed a secret but obviously illegal marriage ritual.

In early September, Aumuller found out she was pregnant. Terrified that his affair would be exposed, Schmidt slit Aumuller’s throat, cut up her body, and dumped it in the Hudson River.

Unfortunately for Schmidt, a pillowcase containing some of Aumuller’s body parts washed up on the Hoboken side of the river later that month.

AnnaumullerPolice quickly traced the pillowcase back to an apartment Schmidt and Aumuller shared in Harlem.

Schmidt confessed, and officials realized that in addition to being a murder suspect, he was also running a counterfeiting ring.

At his trial, he claimed God ordered him to kill Anna. Nonsense, prosecutors replied; he was simply faking insanity to escape execution.

The jury gave him the chair in February 1914. Several months later, Schmidt changed his story: He now claimed that he accidentally killed Aumuller during a botched abortion, and should only be penalized for manslaughter.

He went to the electric chair anyway on February 19, 1916—still the only priest in U.S. history ever executed for murder.

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One Response to “A priest, a maid, and a Second Avenue murder”

  1. BabyDave Says:

    Thank you. I had never heard this story.

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