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The Horrible Crimes That Led To Catholic Priest Hans Schmidt's Execution In The US

Updated November 5, 2019 107.2k views10 items

Hans Schmidt was a seemingly average Catholic priest during the turn of the century. But behind his godly facade was that of a cold blooded killer.

Schmidt was born in Aschaffenberg, Germany in 1881, and was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1906. After practicing and preaching Catholicism in his homeland, Schmidt was sent to the United States in 1909, briefly stopping in Louisville, KY, before ultimately landing at St. Bonaface's Parish in New York, NY.  

It was in New York City that Schmidt would be implicated in the brutal murder and dismemberment of his bride (yes, he was a priest with a bride) Anna Aumuller. In a case that rocked the city and made for salacious tabloid fodder, Schmidt was ultimately found guilty and sent to the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, NY. Schmidt remains to this day the only Catholic priest to ever face capital punishment in the United States.

The Catholic church is certainly not without its fair share of scandals, but Schmidt ranks uniquely high in the annals of its offenders. Beyond the murder of Anna Aumuller, Schmidt was a very well-rounded criminal, as well as an outright weirdo, leaving behind a torrent of bizarre acts and transgressions. Let's take a look at some of the worst things that were ever done by Hans Schmidt, one of the most terrible priests in US history.  

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  • He Counterfeited Money

    Photo: Paul Nicholson / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Dr. Muret and Hans Schmidt were not only in the more extreme business of murder, they had lesser criminal enterprises in the works as well. When investigators discovered Schmidt's second apartment - the home base for his and Muret's practice - they found a machine that was capable of duplicating $10 bills. Though that may seem like a weirdly small denomination for man capable of brutal homicides, $10 in 1913 comes out to roughly $240 by today's standards.

  • He Possibly Killed A Woman In Germany

    Photo: Rod_Dennis / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Prior to Schmidt's bloody exploits in the US, it's speculated his streak of killings may have begun in his native country of Germany. A murder took place in Schmidt's hometown of Aschaffenburg - that of a young woman - a crime for which German authorities found evidence leading to the malevolent priest. The German police never got a chance to question Schmidt prior to his execution, however, so the case ultimately went cold.

  • He Faked Insanity To Get A Hung Jury

    Photo: srqpix / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Hans Schmidt’s trial for the murder of Anna Aumuller began on December 7, 1913. His defense team, led by attorney W.M.K Olcott, did not make an effort to deny Schmidt had committed the heinous crime, but instead took another tack, painting him as a deranged mad man instead of that of a calculated, cold-blooded murderer. The gamble to acquit Schmidt on the grounds of insanity sort of worked, as the trial led to a 10-2 hung jury. 

    In the second trial, however, Schmidt's counsel was not so successful. He was found guilty of murder on February 15th, 1914, and sentenced to death by electric chair. 

  • He Liked To Watch Cows And Pigs Be Slaughtered

    Photo: Animal Freedom / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    As with many psychopathic murderers, Hans Schmidt showed signs early in life that he had a thirst for violence. As a boy in Germany, Schmidt had a unique hobby. Deviating significantly from the schoolyard games enjoyed by his peers, his pastime of choice was hanging out at the local slaughterhouse, where he would observe the slaughter and processing of cows and pigs.