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

All Three Held For the Murder of Mary Wertheimer's Baby 1892

The mob like crowd that stood waiting last night to see the trio of baby murderers brought from the Sixth precinct police station to Coroner Lindsay's office could not very well be estimated in numbers. It was thickest and most compact at either end of the line, but it stretched along Bushwick avenue from Stagg street across Scholes and Meserole streets to Montrose avenue and one long block up the latter avenue to the coroner's office. It was composed of men, women and children, mostly residents of the thickly populated Sixteenth and Eighteenth wards. Their talk was only of the little helpless victim, its unnatural 17 year old mother who had wanted the child disposed of in order that she might be free to go to picnics this summer and of the two young men who complied with her wishes by strangling the little one and burying its still struggling form in a desolate mud bank.

The multitude of people was worked up to so high a pitch of excitement as to hope for a successful lynching. The police feared that some attempt of the kind would be made, and were prepared for it. When the prisoners emerged from the station house, Peter Schultz and Adam Haas were handcuffed together and held in the grasp of Detective Sergeants Campbell and Lyons, Mary Wertheimer was in the custody of Patrolman Hall. Acting Captain Brown walked with them and surrounding the group was a detail of twelve uniformed and armed policemen. A howl of rage greeted the prisoners as they appeared on the street.

They were walked through Bushwick avenue and Montrose avenue to the coroner's office, the angry multitude pressing as close to the police guard as it dared and shouting and shrieking maledictions and threats in both English and German. "Hang the fiends!" was yelled again and again in the ears of the miserable, trembling trio, and women took up the cry and fairly screamed for special and speedy vengeance on the mother. The indignation of the mob, however, spent itself in loud and fierce execration, but the prisoners were thoroughly frightened. "Their faces were white when they were brought into the coroner's office and Mary Wertheimer was sobbing. In a little while she regained her air of jaunty composure, but at intervals during the inquest she sobbed again, not from any feeling of horror at the recollection of her child's fate, but simply through fear of personal violence.

Young Schultz, cowed at last, shrank into the corner of the office where the detectives had seated him and shifted nervously about with a white, scared look during the entire proceedings of the inquest. His terror grew while the relatives of Adam Haas were testifying, and an Eagle reporter, who was seated at a table close beside the prisoners, heard Schultz mutter, with an oath, to Haas: "Yes, that's their game. They're trying to save you and slaughter me." Haas was too nervous to say a word in reply. He was seated with his back to a window which opened in the back yard if Coroner Lindsay's home. Once he turned, and seeing the peering faces of the coroner's neighbors at the window-panes, arose in evident terror and pulled down the blind. Two minutes later the window was softly opened from the outside, a girl's hand stole through and the spring blind went up with a snap that twisted its lower edge about the roller near the ceiling, where it remained, too high for Haas to again reach. The crowd outside was heard to cheer the girl.

District Attorney Ridgway attended the inquest and aided Coroner Lindsay in conducting it. The first witness was Valentine Haas, an older brother of Adam Haas, the prisoner. He said that on Tuesday, May 3, the day after the child's disappearance, he had moved, with his parents and the others of the household, including Mary Wertheimer and Peter Schultz, from 56 Morrell street to 14 Bremen street.

"When did you last see the child alive?" asked the coroner.

"On Monday night of last week," was the reply. "It was about twenty minutes to 12 o'clock. My mother, my sister Annie, Mary Wertheimer and I were there; also, my brother Adam and Peter Schultz. Mary wrapped a shawl around the child and Peter shoved the child under his coat. The child cried and Peter made a little fun with it. When he started to go my brother Adam said it was so late he guessed he'd stay home. Then Mary Wertheimer said to Adam. "Oh, go on along with him," and Adam went. Before they went my mother said that the child should be nursed. Peter said, "Oh, give it the nipple from the bottle. That will keep it quiet." Then they went out."

"When did they come back?" "About 20 minutes to 3." "Did they have the child with them, then?" "No." "Had anything been said before about disposing of the child?"

"That Monday in the day time Mary said that she had not been able to get the child in an institution. Peter Schultz said he had heard that a needle pressed through the top of the head of a very young child would kill it. I said, "What's the use of doing that? Put the child in a basket and leave it in a doorway." Then they talked about putting the child that night with a woman in Central avenue. When Peter started out that night he coaxed Adam to go with him. The next day we moved. Peter worked half a day that day and then came home and went out with Mamie."

"Were you told anything about the fate of the child?" "Yes; my brother told me the next day that Peter Schultz had killed the child."

To District Attorney Ridgway the witness said that the child was a boy three months old and its mother was Mary Wertheimer, and she had said that one Al Kraft was its father. The witness identified the suspenders found about the dead child's neck as a pair which had been worn by Schultz before the night of Monday, May 2, but not afterward.

"Did Schultz tell you," asked Mr. Ridgway, "that he had killed the child?"

"No; my brother told me. He said that Schultz put the child into the water and when he took it out it was still alive. Then he choked it and put it in the water again. When he took it out it was still alive. Then he choked it and put it in the water again. When he took it out it gave one squeal, and Schultz then dug a hole and put the baby into it."

"Did he say why?" asked Mr. Ridgway. " He did it because he wanted to get it out of the way."

"When my brother told me about this," continued the witness, "I said, "You'd better tell the police about this. It will be found out sooner or later. You and Mamie and Pete will have a growl, and if it comes out then you'll get in trouble. You'd better report it now. This was on Wednesday. Adam said to wait awhile. That day he said to me: "You shouldn't look at Mame so sharp. She'll suspect that I told you. If she thinks she's going to be locked up for this she'll take poison sure." On Friday I told the police all I knew about the case."

Mrs. Maria Haas, the mother of Adam Haas, testified in German, Lawyer Merkert acting as interpreter. "Mary Wertheimer," she said, in answer to questions put by the district attorney, "came to live with me on Saturday, May 1. She had the child with her and it was not known by any name. She said she wanted to put the child in a home and I made a top dress for it while my daughter, Anne, made a little skirt."

The scanty clothing found wrapped and twisted about the child's waist was identified by Mrs. Haas as having been made by her. She said that Mary Wertheimer on Monday May 2 had taken the child out to get it in a home, but had failed and had said that that night Peter Schultz would take the infant to a woman at 74 Central avenue who would care for it.

"Pretty near 12 o'clock," she continued, "Peter Schultz said, "Mamie, I must take the child to that woman.' Mamie wrapped the child up in a shawl and Peter put it under his coat. Then Mamie said he shouldn't harm the child, and that it might be better to leave it home, but Peter said 'No; I promised this woman.' Then Mamie told my son Adam to go out and see that the child was not harmed. Adam went out with Peter. I saw the dead child afterward in the station house and identified it."

Annie Haas, a brown haired girl of 19, better dressed and seemingly more intelligent than any of the others mixed up in the case, gave similar testimony, explaining first that she was the sister of Adam Haas. She, too, said that Mary Wertheimer, just before the child was taken, seemed anxious for a moment to have it left with her and then asked Adam Haas to go with Peter Schultz and watch the child.

"The next day," continued Annie Haas, "I said to Mary Wertheimer, "Mary, where's your baby.' She said, 'It's up with that lady in Central avenue.' Saturday morning my brother Valentine told me why Adam and Peter Schultz and Mary were arrested. I identified the dead child at the station house, and saw the nipple from the bottle still in its mouth. The suspenders here are the suspenders which Peter Schultz wore on Monday of last week."

Detective Sergeant George Campbell testified to having arrested the prisoners about midnight last Friday and of the conversation he had with them afterward. "Haas," he continued, "told me that Schultz, accompanied by him, took the child from 56 Morrell street on the night of Monday, May 2. They went along Bushwick avenue to Boerum street and through Johnson avenue to the south side railroad. Then they walked along the track over the new bridge and across the meadow to the bank of the pond near the head of Newtown creek canal. Haas said that Schultz at first choked the child. It gave a squeal and Schultz took off his suspenders, fastened one end of them to a stone, the other end around the child's neck and threw the child into the pond. The stone slipped from the suspenders and the baby floated to the surface. Then Schultz waded out after the child, took it to the shore, gave it another squeeze about the throat and buried it.

"After that," continued the detective sergeant, "Schultz admitted to me that he choked the child, but said that while it was still alive he gave it to Haas and that Haas also choked it. We found the body after a three days' search buried in the bank of the pond about a foot and a half under ground. The suspenders were still fastened about the child's neck."

Detective sergeant Joseph Lyons testified that he took Mary Wertheimer from the jail to the Sixth precinct police station and that she identified the body as that of her child.

Dr. Joseph M. Creamer, who made the post mortem examination, said that the child was a boy about 3 months old. He found a pair of suspenders tied around the child's neck, and two bruises on the scalp as though the child had been struck, either before or after death. The cause of death was strangulation.

Coroner Lindsay charged the jury, and, by request of District Attorney Ridgway, explained that it was not necessary to show that Mary Wertheimer was present at the death of the child to hold her as an accessory. This was the verdict:

We find that the male child whose body was found near the head of Newtown creek canal came to his death by asphyxia at the hands of Peter Schultz and Adam Haas, and we believe the mother of the child, Mary Wertheimer, to be an accessory to her child's death.

The prisoners were committed to await the action of the grand jury and were escorted back to the Stagg street station under the same strong police guard that had brought them to the coroner's office and surrounded by the same howling, hooting, threatening mob. Several hundred people waited outside the station house door after the prisoners had been returned there to see their departure for Raymond street jail. Only a glimpse of them was caught, for they were placed in the patrol wagon and driven through the stable doorway on a gallop.


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


 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle May 13, 1892
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