The Murder of Mary Wertheimer's Three Month Old Baby Part II

Search For That Lost Dead Baby: Mary Wertheimer's Child 1892

Laborers, under police supervision, were digging all day yesterday around the banks of the desolate rain water pond, near the new railroad bridge, at the head of Newtown creek canal, in a still unsuccessful search for the body of the strangled 3 months' old baby of 17 year old Mary Wertheimer. The spot is a five minutes walk from the back of the Bushwick depot of the Long island railroad, and is in the center of a region of partly marsh meadow and partly made land. The pond is about 150 feet from the canal and lies about midway between it and the newly graded roadway, called Varick avenue, which stretches from the Johnson avenue road to Metropolitan avenue, just inside the city line. Around the stagnant pond, which is about thirty-five feet long, from fifteen to twenty feet wide, and from fourteen to thirty inches deep, is a heavy porous bank. North of it is a stretch of clay filling over the soft meadowland, and across the Varick avenue roadway is an area of slimy, oozing swamp, into which a belated and lost wayfarer might stumble and sink and never be heard of again. Somewhere in this region Mary Wertheimer's child lies buried.

Mary says it was Tuesday night, about 11 o'clock, when Peter Schultz, the 18 year old youth who hired her room for her, and Adam Haas, the son of the woman whose room, at 56 Morrell street she occupied, took her child away from her, telling her that they would put it in an institution. Investigation, however, shows that the child was taken Monday night, for on Tuesday, after the child was taken, the Haas family and Mary Wertheimer, together with her follower, Peter Schultz, moved to 14 Bremen street. Schultz was supposed to have lived with his parents at 100 Bushwick avenue, but he spent most of the time with the Haas family, and when arrested Friday midnight was at their house in Mary Wertheimer's company. To the spot described above Schultz, accompanied by young Adam Haas, carried the child, according to his own confession. Haas says that Schultz first threw the child into a hole just off the Varick avenue roadway and tried to smother its cries in the mud; that afterward he tried to drown the child in the pond by fastening to its neck a suspender with a stone attached and that finally he choked the child and buried it in a hole in the pond's bank. Schultz acknowledges that after trying to drown the child he choked it and buried it, but he says that Haas helped to choke the child to death and in fact, was the first to suggest murder as the easiest method of disposing of the infant. Detective Sergeant George Campbell, who first learned of the crime and made the arrests, is inclined to believe Haas. He does not believe Schultz.

Handcuffed to Policeman Hall young Haas was taken from the Stagg street station to the scene of the crime and asked to point out the spot where the child was buried. He tried to do so, and six laborers, urged on by Acting Police Captain Brown, dug rapidly and thoroughly all around the spot, but found nothing. Then Haas was taken back to the station, and Schultz, also handcuffed to a policeman, was brought to the pond. He was just hardened enough to enjoy the situation, and he told falsehood after falsehood, apparently for the sake of pure malicious mischief, leading the men to dig in one spot after the other. Detective Sergeants Campbell and Lyons soon saw that nothing reliable was to be gained from Schultz and he was sent back to the police station and Haas was once more brought out to the meadows. Haas seemed honestly desirous of imparting accurate information, but was clearly puzzled. A strip of bank twenty-five feet long and three feet wide was shoveled away, but still no body was found. Then the detectives and Policeman Hall drew on long legged rubber boots and treaded the edges of the pond, but still with no result.

Crowds of men and boys watched the searchers, some indifferently and inclined to be cynical in their comments on so much trouble being taken to find the body of an infant. Others were earnest but hardly practicable in their suggestions. One elderly German drew a smooth, round stone from his pocket.

"It is my lucky stone," he said, "and I will give it up that justice may be done. Wherever this stone falls there is the body of the child."

He tightly closed his eyes, turned himself rapidly about and threw the stone. it narrowly missed a policeman and a couple of reporters, and fell in the middle of the pond. The mud under the water was soft and deep, and no one ventured out that far.

Next there was some digging in the hole by the roadside where the child had first been flung face down in the mud to stifle its cries. Still no result. A little more digging around the banks and 5 o'clock came and the men stopped work for the day. Detective Sergeant Campbell looked tired and disappointed.

"I believe," he said, "that Haas pointed out the spot where the child was first buried, but I am convinced that Schultz had no confidence in Haas and that he returned to this place alone and, disinterring the body, concealed it somewhere else."

The detective as he spoke glanced hopelessly over the expanse of miry marsh. it would be possible to stamp a child's body under the treacherous soil there with the certainty that no tell-tale mark would long be left on the surface. The programme of search for today has not yet been divulged. Possibly a fire engine will be called out today or tomorrow to drain the pond. But if the body is there it may still be hidden by the deep mud and long grass at the bottom. If it should be concealed in the mire of the broad meadows the situation is even more hopeless. it is a remarkable case, for the murderer is under lock and key and it is the victim that eludes search.

The three prisoners, Peter Schultz, Adam Haas and Mary Wertheimer are still in cells in the Stagg street station, being kept there at the request of Coroner Lindsay, so that the two young men may be on hand whenever needed to assist the policemen in the search, and so that the young woman may be near by to promptly identify the body, if it should be found. The reputation of all three is thoroughly bad and it is difficult to understand how confidence can be placed in any of them. Mary Wertheimer, a short, thick set, black haired girl, of repulsive features and vicious eyes, had been on the streets since she was a child. She says that she only met young Schultz recently and that the father of the infant is Adam Kraft, the driver of an ice wagon, who lives in Olive street, near Metropolitan avenue. When Schultz was arrested there was found in one of his pockets a slip of paper on which was written: I Mary Wertheimer, give my child, which is a boy, to Annie Haas as her own child, which I never want to claim again as my own.

Mary X Wertheimer
                                                                                                                                                                    April 19, 1892

Mary Wertheimer says she never signed or authorized the signing of such a document. Annie Haas, who is the sister of Adam Haas, says she never sought possession of the child and never before knew of the existence of the document. The Wertheimer girl says that she surrendered the child last Monday night because neither she nor any of the Haas family cared to be bothered with it, and she believed that Schultz had arranged to have the infant cared for in an institution. She is held as an accomplice to the crime. Schultz, although only 17 years old, has for some years been known as a petty thief and has served short terms in prison. Adam Haas, who is 25 years of age, has served five years in the penitentiary for burglary. His brother George, who died there years ago, also served a five years term and the house of his father, Adam Haas. Sr., has more than once, the police say, been raided in searches for stolen goods. Against his sister, Annie Haas, who is 19 years old, nothing has been said, except that she knew of the relations existing under her parents' roof between Peter Schultz and Mary Wertheimer, and not only made no protest, but made a companion of the Wertheimer girl. The police consider it possible that every member of the Haas household suspected last Monday night what the fate of the child would be when the two young men took it away, and were quite content to have it so.

Website: The History
Article Name: The Murder of Mary Wertheimer's Three Month Old Baby Part II
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle May 8, 1892
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