Priest in Rage Throws Rosary Beads and Money at Spectators in Court
Coroner’s “Millionaire” Jury Quickly Finds Verdict Against Him for Killing Girl.
Shonts is Foreman.
Interboro President Glad to Serve, He Says, but Wall Street Men Grumble.
Hans Schmidt, the discredited priest who has confessed the murder on Sept. 2 of Anna Aumueller, the servant girl, formerly of St. Boniface’s rectory, with whom he lived at No. 68 Bradhurst avenue, went into a melodramatic rage today just before a Coroner’s jury found him guilty of the murder. He hurled his rosary and the money there was in his pockets – a dollar bill and a small quantity of change – at the audience. The rosary and the money struck the faces of the reporters working at the rail dividing the spectators from the enclosure reserved for the Coroner, the prisoner, the lawyers and the jury.
The outburst of the murderer came just as the jurors, headed by President Theodore P. Shonts of the Interborough; Vincent Astor, the richest bachelor in America; J. B. Greenhut, the department store magnate; and Marcus Loew, the head of a theatrical syndicate, had risen after Coroner Feinberg’s charge to go to an anteroom to form their verdict. Coroner Feinburg had finished his charge to the jury by making an appeal to public spirited and wealthy men of the community to save the fragments of the body of Anna Aumueller from Potter’s Field. The spectacle of the Coroner making this appeal to a jury which had somewhat ostentatiously been gathered by him as a “jury of millionaires,” notwithstanding the fact that the Public Administrator now has charge of the dead girl’s $300 bank account, caused a slight disturbance back among the spectators, which increased into a buzz of comments as the jury rose.
Reporter’s Face Cut by Silver Cross on Rosary.
Schmidt, with a stubbly, froway beard and a malicious look in his eyes, sprang from his seat beside Lawyer Koelble, his counsel, and Detective Cassasas and faced the spectators, baring his teeth with a snarl. He reached into his right trousers pocket, drawing out a crumpled dollar bill, a number of small coins and a jet rosary, and with a sweeping gesture of contempt hurled them at the audience. The small silver cross on the rosary made a slight cut on the face of one of the reporters. The coins rattled and jingled across the floor.
Lawyer Koelble and Detective Cassasas jammed Schmidt back into his chair. Detective McKenna hastily went to their assistance. The coins, the rosary and the dollar bill were hastily picked up and passed to the detectives who handed them to Schmidt. He stuffed them into his pocket, glaring about sulkily.
Coroner Feinberg explained his desire for a distinguished jury by the great popular interest in the trial of a man of Schmidt’s religious and privileged character for the slaughter of Miss Anna Aumueller, followed by the throwing of the parts of her body, hacked to pieces while life was still in it, in the North River. Mr. Shonts agreed with Dr. Feinberg.
Shonts on Duty of Rich Men to Accept Jury Work.
“It is the duty of men who receive high salaried, no matter how important their public responsibilities,” said Mr. Shonts to a reporter of The Evening World, “to do jury duty. The laborer and the clerk who earn only a few dollars a week are ordinarily selected for this service. While they may be just as able to find the truth in the evidence, their being drafted in a trial is a hardship on them; it is an unnecessary tax on their comfort, and that fact must distract their attention from the balance of justice. I have cheerfully accepted my summons to this duty.”
Assistant District-Attorney’s Deacon Murphy and Delehanty represented the County of New York. Alphonse G. Koelble was attorney for Schmidt. Through the audience of about two hundred admitted by cards countersigned by Coroner Israel L. Feinberg were scattered representatives of the board of alienists engaged by the District Attorney to test the sanity of Schmidt: Drs. A. Ross Dieffendorf, Carlos F. MacDonald, George H. Kirby and William Mabon.
A number of the talesmen summoned by the coroner were brokers from Wall street. As the hour of opening the proceedings was delayed from 10 o’clock to half-past 10, they grew restive and noisy with their protests. They didn’t mind a perfunctory appearance at a cause celebre, they said, but in contrast to Foreman Shonts they disliked the idea of allowing public duty to interfere with private business.
Even with the limited number who held cards the press in the miniature court room became suffocating by 10:35. A hundred women were the earliest in the room and held their places against all comers – talesmen, witnesses and experts. Spectators stood about the walls four deep.
Jacob B. Praeger and Dr. George W. King, County Physician of Hudson County, New Jersey, where Anna Aumueller’s body was found, were called into Coroner Feinberg’s office at twenty minutes of 11 o’clock. A moment later it was announced that the case was to be transferred to the rooms of Part IV of the General Sessions. There was an unseemly stampede through the corridors and a scramble for seats.
Here are the Jurors Called to Hear the Testimony.
The jurymen called to the box were these:
T. P. Shonts, G. G. McDuff of No. 252 Broadway, Marcus Loew of No. 210 Riverside Drive, Mortimer Regensburg of No. 47 West Seventy-fourth street, B. J. Greenhut of No. 26 West Seventy-second street, George W. Fairchild of No. 47 West Thirty-fourth street, Charles D. Dickery of No. 37 East Fifty-first street, Edwin Marston of No. 16 William street, Howard P. Weir of No. 207 Lenox avenue, Latham R. Reed of No. 151 East Fifty-sixth street, Patrick O’Laughlin of No. 4 Broadway and Vincent Astor.
Mary Benn, the girl, who with her brother, found a part of Miss Aumueller’s body in the [illeg.] off the North River, near Shadyside, on the Jersey shore, and saw Morgue-Keeper Ellerton take the body away, was first called. The questions were framed so that she could answer “Yes” and “No” and her testimony was brief.
Ellerton followed and verified the keeping of the body until it was viewed by Anna Hirt, a houseworker at St. Boniface’s rectory, who once roomed with Anna Aumueller, before the latter went away to live with Schmidt. The Hirt girl saw and identified the body by a dark brown mark on the breast of the section of the body shown to her in Volk’s morgue in Hoboken.
Detective Clinton Wood verified the facts of the identification. Dr. King said that the autopsy showed that the death was due to hemorrhage.
Inspector Faurot told of Schmidt’s confession. He said that after Schmidt’s admission that he had murdered Anna Aumueller, he showed Schmidt a chart of the human body and Schmidt marked on the chart the places where he had cut up the body.
“He said he cut her throat first,” said the inspector simply, “wrapped up the parts, took them across One Hundred and Twenty-fifth street, crossing the North River by the For Lee Ferry, and threw them into the North River.
The inspector identified a copy of the picture which Schmidt told him was a picture of Anna Aumueller, the murdered girl.
Coroner Feinberg’s Charge and Appeal.
Coroner Feinberg’s charge was the simplest possible summary of the evidence offered to show that the body was that of Anna Aumueller and that Schmidt was responsible for her death. Then he made his appeal, looking at Mr. Shonts, Mr. Astor, Mr. Greenhut and Mr. Loew, for a private burial for the remains of the victim of the murder. The outbreak of Schmidt followed. The stir caused by persons in the back of the court room who climbed upon their seats and tried even to balance on the trail in order to get a look at the “millionaire jury” kept many of the spectators from seeing Schmidt’s display of temper.
The jury remained out for just a little over twenty minutes. The verdict was handed to Coroner Feinberg as Mr. Shonts led his colleagues back to their seats. He read to them their decision that Anna Aumueller’s body was that which was found in packages in the Hudson and that Hans Schmidt was responsible for her death. They acknowledged it was their verdict by bowing.
The coroner had Schmidt stand up and after committing him to the Tombs to await the action of the Grand Jury, he was hurried there under the guard of four detectives, who held his arms to prevent another assault on the spectators.
It is the intention of District-Attorney Whitman to take Schmidt’s case before the Grand Jury on Monday or Tuesday of next week. Attaches of the office said today that when Mr. Whitman entered the room where four alienists were examining Schmidt last Wednesday, Schmidt approached him, grabbed his hand and said:
“Mr. District-Attorney, please get this thing over with as soon as you can. Hurry it along. I want to go to the electric chair, and the sooner the better.”
“We will do what is best,” replied the District-Attorney, and he gave Schmidt a cigar, which the murderer pocketed with a murmur of thanks.
Priest in Rage Throws Rosary Beads and Money at Spectators in Court, The Evening World, 3 October 1913, page 1, column 1 and page 4, column 3.