Thursday, September 22, 2011

Frau Buchmann, Swiss Black Widow Serial Killer - 1920

The following suggests that two husbands were murdered, plus two “lovers,” before a fifth victim managed to escape his fate. So far the two articles below are the only reports top be located. More detailed articles are expected to be available eventually. Each article gives a different spelling. It is quite possible that neither is quite accurate (perhaps “Büchmann”). Another, recently discovered, article gives the name as "Anna Buchmann." Still, no European source has been found to confirm the name.


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): Mme. Backman has been arrested at Zurich for poisoning five husbands. We think she should of told that this sort of thing has got to be stopped.

[Untitled, The Sunday Mirror, Perth, W.A., Australia), Sep. 12, 1920, p. 4]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): A sensational poison trial at Geneva, after two days’ hearing, closed at Zurich, when a handsome Swiss woman named Buchmann, dressed in the latest fashion and wearing expensive jewels, was sentenced to imprisonment for life for poisoning two husbands with arsenic during the last three years, and also attempting to administer arsenic to a prospective third husband. The latter’s suspicions were aroused, and he informed the police, who exhumed the bodies of the two victims. A medical expert stated that he found enough arsenic in the bodies to kill a dozen men.

The question of the mysterious deaths of two lovers of Buchmann, though mentioned at the trial, was not pressed by the Court, which had sufficient evidence on the first two charges. The jury promptly returned a verdict of guilty, the foreman adding that the woman was a Swiss Borgia without scruples of honour. The Cantonment Zurich has abolished capital punishment by the guillotine, and the murderess left the Court smiling between two gendarmes.

[“Poisoned Two Husbands.” The Auckland Star (New Zealand), Feb, 26, 1921, p. 19]


EXCERPT: Rafael Schermann is the most astounding phenomenon of our time. He is not a handwriting expert in the accepted sense of the term. He is not “scientific,” he has no system. But a person’s handwriting seems to fire him with an uncanny, supernatural second sight. He seems to be able to search out with deadly precision not only the character of the person whose writing he may see, but also the unexpressed desires and intentions which lie deep in their minds.

When Schermann was in Zurich, a year or so ago, public interest was aroused to the fever point by the trial of a certain Frau Buchmann, who was accused of having poisoned her husband. It was a mystifying case. Frau Buchmann was a mystifying woman. The public prosecutor, Dr. Brunner, asked Schermann to pass an opinion on Frau Buchmann’s handwriting. Schermann too one of the letters written by the woman and read it swiftly.

“This woman fears paragraphs,” he said. “In her mind, as she wrote this, was a dread of certain articles in the penal code. You see here, clearly, as suggestive of the mark we use to designate paragraphs. She is afraid of being arrested and punished for a terrible crime she has committed. Yes! There can be no doubt. She is guilty. She poisoned her husband.” [Does anyone understand the allusion to paragraphs? I don’t.]

Dr. Brunner was hesitant and embarrassed.

“I am sorry, sir,” he said. “That letter I showed you was written three years ago. She was not even married to Buchmann then.”

“Impossible. The woman who wrote this letter was married.”

“Married, yes. But to her first husband.”

“Is Herr Hanhardt living?”

“No, he isn’t. He—I recall it now—he died suddenly.”

“I should like to meet Frau Buchmann,” said the little wizard quietly.

Next day in Brunner’s office Schermann was introduced to the woman. She bowed to him with perfect self-possession.

“Would you mind writing two sentences that I will dictate?” asked Schermann.

“No, certainly,” she replied.

Schermann gave her paper and pen. “First, please write: “I have poisoned my husband,’” She did so calmly with a perfectly steady hand. “Now write: “’I have not poisoned my husband.’” She obeyed as before. “And sign your name.”

Schermann took the paper and studied it. Then he looked directly at the woman.

“You are the murderess, and you will confess,” he said.

Frau Buchmann lost her poise instantly. She sprang to her feet and passionately denied the accusation. Schermann bowed ad left the office. He started that day for Vienna. On his arrival there found this telegram: “The woman has confessed. She poisoned both husbands.”

[“Man With X-Ray Eyes Performs His Many Seeming Miracles With Uncanny Ease,” Washington Star (The Sunday Star)  (D.C.), Dec. 17, 1922, Magazine Section, p. 1]


Wikipedia: Rafael Schermann (1879-1945) also known as Raphael Schermann was a Polish graphologist, parapsychologist and writer.

Schermann was born in Kraków. From a young age he had a fascination with handwriting and collecting envelopes. He settled in Vienna in 1910 and worked for insurance companies. He became an expert graphologist and it was alleged that he possessed the powers of clairvoyance, second sight and telepathy.

Oskar Fischer a Professor of psychology from the University of Prague conducted a series of graphology experiments with Schermann between 1916 and 1918. Fischer reported that with his eyes bandaged or by just touching handwriting samples in sealed envelopes Schermann had successfully given many accurate character descriptions and statements about the writer. Fischer became convinced that Schermann was a genuine psychic.

Other researchers have been more critical. Brazilian physician Antônio da Silva Melo noted flaws in the experiments and attributed his graphology abilities to psychological factors relating to memory, unconscious cues and suggestion. [accessed Jul. 14, 2016]




More: Champion Black Widow Serial Killers



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


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