Thursday, September 22, 2011

Euphemia Mondich, Detroit Black Widow Serial Killer - 1924

Early news reports state Euphemia had had a total of nine husbands, yet that count, based on a statement to police made by Steve Mondich, seems to have included lovers along with the men she had been married to.

Husbands & Lovers (partial list):

George Woodwood, Poland; “died mysteriously” after 3 years of marriage.
George Woropchurk; Euphemia deserts him in 1914; in 1917 is stabbed 15 times, lived.
Joe Sokolsky (John Sokolski), married Jun. 14, 1921?; murdered Jul. 7, 1921.
Steve Mondich, married in 1921; Euphemia deserts him in Sep. 1924.
John Urdovich, not married; murdered in 1921.
Carmine Piano, young lover in 1924.


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 6): Imperturbable in the face of murder charges, Mrs. Euphemia Mondich, alleged “feminine bluebeard,” looked out with indifference last night while police, by the uncertain light of candles, disinterred the dismembered bones of a suitor whom she had slain and buried in a shallow grave beneath the cottage in which she lived at the time.

From the dark and cavernous hole they had dug beneath the cottage, which is at 17687 Dwyer street, police intermittently tossed out thigh bones, forearms and other parts of a human skeleton. Mrs. Mondich watched without the slightest show of emotion.

The bones were those of a man known to the woman and police only as “John,” according to Mrs. Mondich’s reputed confession, helped her kill her eighth husband, Joe Sokolsky, about three years ago. She killed John, the woman resisted, when he threatened to “squeal” to the police about the eighth husband’s murder unless she would consent to marry him, so shot him with his own gun – that was her story laconically told.

~ Three Other Husbands. ~

One of the things which police are trying to find out is what became of the seven husbands who preceded Joe Sokolsky. Mrs. Mondich is vague on the subject. To trace the seven unaccounted-for husbands, and to unravel other mystifying angles to the case, will take at least a month, police believe.

~ Slaying Confessed. ~

Four hours of questioning at headquarters brought from the woman the admission that she had killed a man. She offered to show detectives where she had buried him. The scene at the Dwyer street cottage followed. It was about dusk when the detectives found the first human bones. Candles were called for and the digging went on. All the while Mrs. Mondich sat behind the locked glass doors of the police sedan, emotionless as a thing of granite, even while the crowd that gathered jeered and some of the children shrank from the vicinity in terror.

The known facts in the story, as pieced together from the translations of a Polish interpreter, through whom Mrs. Mondich was questioned, were something like this:

Mrs. Mondich had a husband in Poland. She left him and came to Canada. There she acquired more husbands. One of them was a Toronto man, whose first name was George. Later, she came to the United States. More husbands were acquired. According to the police, Mrs. Mondich didn’t bother with divorces. They were unable to learn from her whether she was a bigamist or had evaded bigamy by more sinister means than divorce.

In the early part of 1921, Mrs. Mondich met “John.” John wanted to marry her. She already was married to Joe Sokolsky. One night Joe and John and Mrs. Mondich went riding. They drove out Gratiot avenue. Somewhere out Gratiot avenue. Somewhere out Gratiot avenue. Somewhere out Gratiot avenue Joe was murdered – in the car.

Mrs. Mondich remained in the car while John dragged the body away somewhere and buried it. She at that time was living at 972 Osborne avenue. She went back there.

A few weeks passed, John insisted on marriage. Something had occurred that made mariage undesirable. Mrs. Mondich moved to the Dwyer street cottage, hoping to evade her too persistent suitor.

But John followed. He confonted Mrs. Mondich. He had a gun in his hands. She pretended to accede to his demands. He laid the gun on the bed.

Mrs. Mondich lunged toward the bed. She grabbed the gun and fired. John fell to the to the floor, dead.

After a little while Mrs. Mondich went outside. There were no neighbors in sight. With her hands she dug a shallow hole in the ground under the cottage. She shoved the body into it, replaced the ground, and tried to sleep. The next morning she moved from the neighborhood.

~ Tip Leads to Arrest. ~

Years passed. Mrs. Mondich married her present husband – number 9. They lived in their Main avenue home, apparently happy. Then came the tip that led to the arrest and confession.

In their investigation, police found the woman’s trunk and baggage. Her belongings were in an automobile at 13753 Anglin street. The automobile, police say, was stolen. The officers arrested Carmine Piano, who lives at the Anglin street address. Piano is 22 years old – much younger and more attractive than Husband No. 9.

Police have practically despaired of finding Joe Sokolsky’s body, as the directions of “somewhere out Gratiot avenue” are too vague. They are following that clue, however, at the same time that they are tempting to learn something about Joe’s predecessors.

[“Woman, Wed 9 Times, Held As Murderer – Killed Suitor Who Helped Her Slay Husband No. 8, Is Charge. – Points Out Grave; Skeleton Unearthed – Calmly Watches Police Disinter Bones; Suspected of Being ‘Lady Bluebeard.’” The Detroit Free Press (Mi.), Sep. 9, 1924, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 6): Detroit, Sept. 9. — Having confessed, according to the police, that he killed a sweetheart four years ago, after she had helped him hide the body of her eighth husband whom he had slain, Mrs. Euphemia Mondich was being questioned by the authorities today in an effort to determine where her other husbands are.

Information furnished by the woman’s ninth husband three days ago led to her arrest. Mrs. Mondich told the authorities she did not know the name of the man she killed, except that he was known as “John” were unearthed yesterday under a house formerly occupied by Mrs. Mondich. According to the police, Mrs. Mondich under grilling, confessed she had killed “John” with his own revolver, a week after she had seen him club her eighth husband, John Sokoloski, to death in an automobile.

“John” then came to live with her, she told the police and remained in her home about a week One day, she said, he came to the house and threatened to kill her. “I made him put the revolver on the table,” she informed the police. “I thought he would kill me, so I picked up the gun and shot him.”

She then described how she went under the house, dug a hole and dragged John’s body from the house and buried it.

She married Steve Mondich, she said, shortly afterward. Mondich, according to the police, became incensed when she left him and took their automobile which they owned jointly, and furnished information which led to the discovery of the bones of a man under the house.

[“Woman Tells Police That She Murdered Eighth Husband and Then Sweetheart,” Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nv.), Sep. 10, 1924, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 6): Detroit, Mich., Sept. 14. – Mrs. Euphemia Mondich, nine times married, and held for the murder of John Udorouich [sic], was confronted Sunday with her second and fourth husbands at police headquarters, while the skull of Udorouich grinned at them from the table.

George Woropchurk, Mrs. Mondich’s second husband, for whom the police have been seeking, learned this morning that he was wanted at police headquarters when he read an account of the mystery in the newspapers. George declared that he hurried to headquarters and hastened to contradict the statement of his former wife who had $500 of her money.

~ Married in Toronto, He Says. ~

According to George they were married in Toronto in 1914, later moving to Stratford. He said that in 1917 Euphemia was in Detroit and decided to look her up. He found her address and took detectives, and when he entered the house to seek a reconciliation Joe Sokolsky, the third husband [sic] stabbed him 15 times in the arm and chest, he told the police. George showed the detectives stab wounds he alleged were inflicted upon him by Sokolsky.

~ Fourth Husband’s Story. ~

The woman’s fourth husband, Steve Mondich, who told the police that she had murdered Udorouich and Sokolsky, who was her third husband, declared that she had been married nine times. He said that she had two husbands alive in Austria at the present time.

When she was taken into the small room in which detectives and her two husbands were seated with the skull of Udorouich on the table, she begged George to bail her out. George and Steve Mondich ignored her plea for bonds.

[“Former Husbands Confront Woman At Police Rooms – Skull of Man She Is Accused of Murdering Is Present Also – Sordid Story In Detroit,” The Globe (Toronto, Canada), Sep. 15, 1924, p. 2]


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 6): HUMBLY twisting a battered cap in his work-roughened hands, Steve Mondich, immigrant laborer, appeared at the Detroit Police Headquarters on Sept. 4, 1924. Doggedly, he fought with a halting English to make clear to police that his wife, Euphemia, age 40, had left him, and to beg aid in finding her.

To the officer who took tho report, it was Just a routine missing complaint with maybe a touch of larceny thrown in. Mondich said that his wife had left without warning, taking her clothing and some $200, all the money there was in the house.

In an effort to give as much detail as possible to facilitate police search, Mondich mentioned that his wife had been questioned by police in 1921 concerning the disappearance of a former husband.

The officer promptly marched Mondich into the Homicide Squad room, where the case was assigned to Detectives Paul Wencel and the late Frank Collins.

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

THE OFFICERS checked back and found that Euphemia’a former husband, Joseph Sokolsky, whom she had married on June 14, 1921, had vanished mysteriously three weeks later after the wedding. Neighbors in the vicinity of their home on Osborne held that Sokolsky was not the type to disappear without warning and asked police to look into it.

Police arrested her on July 12, but released her four days later when their investigations failed to unearth any signs of foul play.

Moving to another house on Dwyer, Euphemia lived quietly for several weeks, and then sued Sokolsky for divorce on grounds of cruelty and desertion. In face of his continued absence, the divorce was granted and the court awarded her the house on Osborne.

“She know about Sokolsky,” Mondich insisted. “She know something she never tell.”

For four days Wencel and Collins sought the woman. During the search, they kept hearing things that they didn’t like. They learned that Mrs. Mondich had been seen with another man frequently during the weeks preceding Sokolsky’s disappearance.

They learned that her suit for divorce was filed suspiciously soon after Sokolsky’s disappearance. They learned that when she moved away from Osborne, the “other man” also disappeared and neither were seen around the neighborhood again.

Then, on the afternoon of the fourth day, an anonymous telephone tip sent the detectives to the County Building where they found Mrs. Mondich negotiating for the sale of her poverty. They learned that she was making plans to flee the country.

Arrested and registered for investigation of murder, Mrs. Mondich refused to talk. She had a happy habit for misunderstanding questions and the interview bogged down until an interpreter could be brought in.

For four hours, her composure absolutely unruffled, the woman withstood the grilling. Then, toward dusk, she said abruptly.

“Yess. I kill a man.”

“Where did you bury him,” Wencel asked quickly.

“Under my house on Dwyer.”

Slipping only to pick up some coveralls, the detectives droves Mrs. Mondich to her former home. It was a dingy loittle four-room frame dwelling without a besement.

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

“UNDER the house,” Mrs. Mondich said. “Behind the wainscoting.”

As he slipped into the coveralls, Wencel, now chief of detectives, grinned at Collins. “Here’s where we clear up the disappearance of Joe Sokolsky.”

He climbed under the house through the storage door in the rear and flicked the flashlight around in the darkness. The rough, unleveled earth looked like it might have hid a dozen bodies.

He returned to the car, where Mrs. Mondich waited impassively.

“Where under the house?” Wencel asked.

“Up by the front, this corner,” she directed.

Wencel crawled back to the designated spot and prodded the soft earth with a tire iron. Within a few minutes, his tool hit something solid and he pried up a thigh bone.

Calling for a shovel, Wencel resumed digging by candlelight. A group of curious onlookers gathered to watch the eerie proceedings. Mrs. Mondich eyed the crowd inscrutably, said nothing.

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

FINALLY Wencel emerged from under the house. On the lawn he laid out a complete human skeleton. He terned to Mrs. Mondich.

“Is this Joe?”

The woman eyed the skeleton with disinterest.

“No,” she said thoughtfully. “That’s John.”

Stunned, the detectives simply stared at her. “Who is John?” Wencel finally recovered to ask.

“John Urdovich. He used to board with us; Joe and me.”

“What happened to him?”

“I shoot him,” she said simply. “He want to marry me.”

“But Where’s Joe Sokolsky, your husband?”

“He killed. Buried out Mack Avenue,” she nodded to the skeleton. “John and I kill Joe; then I kill John, see?”

Wencel shook his head. “Let’s go back to headquarters and start all over again.”

At headquarters, the detectives learned that Mrs. Mondich had been married four times. They questioned her closely, fearing, not she was a bigamist, but that she had avoided bigamy by more sinister methods.

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

They found that she was married in Poland to George Woodwood, who died mysteriously three years later. Then she came to Toronto where she married again to George Woropchuk, whom she deserted in 1914. coming to Detroit, she married Sokolsky in 1921.

Laboriously, Mrs. Mondich sat down to untangle the mystery. Her attitude said plainly that she was doing her best to be very patient with the police and found it hard to understand why they couldn’t seem to comprehend the simple facts of murder.

She explained that John Urdovich fell in love with her when he was boarding with Sokolosky and her on Osborne.

Oftentimes the three went out together, and on July 7, 1921, they went for a ride out Mack. Near Connors, Urdovich stopped the car, saying he though a tire had gone flat.

When Sokolsky climbed out to help, Mrs. Mondich said, John slugged him with a wrench.

Mack, in those days, was a lonely mud road. Off to one side was a huge hole which marked excavations that had been made by a brick manufacturing company. Abandoned for some time, the huge hole was used as a dump, where trucks loaded with refuse came to unload.

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

SOKOLSKY’S body was dropped into the hole, Mrs. Mondich said, and partially covered with rubbish. The first truck to unload the next day entombed it forever.

The site has long since been filled in; and the foundation of a building on Mack near Connor now rests on the lost remains of Mrs. Mondich’s third husband.

“Then, after Joe die, John came around,” Mrs. Mondich related. “He want to marry me. I tell him no, and move away soon. I know the neighbors wonder about us.”

The security she found on Dwyer was lost within three weeks when Urdovich appeared one night to repeat his demands.

“He came with gun,” she said complacently. “He say he kill me if I don’t marry him. After while I tell him yes and he sit down to read the paper. Then I pick up the gun and shoot him. He try to run out the window and I shoot him in the back. Then I stand over him and shoot him in the neck.”

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

DETAILED questioning revealed the exact locations where Mrs. Mondich claimed her bullets had entered. Checking the skeleton, the detectives found corresponding fractures in the bones. A fracured rib and the bullet-torn skull were later admitted, as evidence in her trial for murder.

Remaining quietly in the house that night, Mrs. Mondich said she buried Urdovich under the house early the next morning. Then she moved away.

As months dragged by without alarm, she married Steve Mondich and lived at his home on Main until she brought about her own downfall by deserting him.

At the heighth of the investigation, when detectives were desperately trying to ascertain the whereabouts of previous husbands, George Woropchuk, Husband Number 2, turned up at police headquarters, where he met his former wife and Mondich.

Woropchuk and Mondich were so engrossed in congratulating each other on still being alive that they ignored Euphemia’s pleas for bail. It was the only time, from her arrest to her conviction, that she lost her composure.

Mrs. Mondich was convicted of first degree murder on Dec. 12, 1924, after a trial that lasted only two days. Recorder’s Judge Christopher E. Stein sentenced her to life in the Detroit House of Correction, where she still is today.

[“Mrs. Mondich Trapped As Bizarre Slayer,” The Detroit Free Press (Mi.), Part 5, page 4]


FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 6): Detroit – A 77-year-old Detroit woman, convicted in 1924 of the murders of a lover and one of her four husbands, died Monday night in the Detroit House of Correction.

She was Euphemia Mondich, whose second and fourth husbands once met to congratulate each other on being alive. The woman was serving a life term.

Mrs. Mondich’s first husband died mysteriously. The skeleton of her lover, John Urdovich, was dug up by police under a house she once owned. She admitted shooting Urdovich.

The body of her third husband, Joe Sokolsky, never was found. She said she and Urdovich had buried it where a building now stands.

[“Woman Convicted Of Murders Dies,” syndicated (AP), Aug. 29, 1961, p. 4-A]


Article 6 of 6:
EXCERPT (Court records):

Supreme Court of Michigan; 234 Mich. 590 (Mich. 1926); PEOPLE v. MONDICH. Docket No. 137. Supreme Court of Michigan. Submitted April 15, 1926. Decided April 30, 1926.  Error to recorder’s court of Detroit; Stein (Christopher E.), J. Submitted April 15, 1926. (Docket No. 137.) Decided April 30, 1926.  Euphemia Mondich was convicted of murder in the first degree, and sentenced to imprisonment for life in the Detroit house of correction. Affirmed.

Defendant’s so-called confessions are not claimed to have been obtained by any threats, promises, or other improper inducement. She admittedly told her story to the officers voluntarily, before and after her arrest, and repeated it at her trial as a witness in her own behalf. She did not admit or confess that she was guilty of any crime. Her attitude and claim in court and out was that she killed Udurovich in self-defense and was therefore justified in doing what she did. That issue was carefully submitted to the jury under full and correct instructions on the law of self-defense.

Defendant was a woman of mature years and varied experiences, and not a stranger to court proceedings. She was born, raised and first married in Austria, was divorced from her first two husbands, claimed her third was killed by Udurovich, with whom she afterwards lived in meretricious relations, and was married to a fourth husband some time before her trial. She first came to America in 1916, going to Winnipeg and from there drifted into Duluth, from where she was furnished free transportation to the land of her nativity [Austria] under the Federal deportation act. She soon returned to America, going first to Toronto and from there to Detroit which has since been her abiding place. Her sordid story on the witness stand of her life with Udurovich and his claimed abuses of her, terminating in threats and assaults which compelled her to shoot him in self-defense, was for the jury. She testified that he had assaulted her, got his revolver and threatened to kill her unless she promised to marry him, get some more furniture and continue living with him. In fear he would carry out his threat in case of refusal she so promised. He then put his revolver under a pillow in the bed room, returned and sat down in the kitchen smoking cigarettes, *596596 when she went and took the revolver from under the pillow and shot him in the eye before he could get to her. Of what followed she said:

“Then after that he wants to run away. Yes, he would open the window and get out. He started for the window and then I shot him the second time in the back. He fall down. I shot him again over here (indicating) under the chin. . . .  He fall down, he don’t do me nothing, he can’t do me nothing. I put the gun under his chin and shoot. After he was dead it was night.” * * *

Supreme Court of Michigan; 234 Mich. 590 (Mich. 1926); PEOPLE v. MONDICH. Docket No. 137. Supreme Court of Michigan. Submitted April 15, 1926. Decided April 30, 1926.  Error to recorder’s court of Detroit; Stein (Christopher E.), J. Submitted April 15, 1926. (Docket No. 137.) Decided April 30, 1926.  Euphemia Mondich was convicted of murder in the first degree, and sentenced to imprisonment for life in the Detroit house of correction. Affirmed.






For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.


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