Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gertrude Inez Brennan, Murder-Coaching Mom & Lonely Hearts Killer - 1949




Victims:
Wade W, Woolridge, 76, died Oct. 1948
Hugo Schulz, 61, died Jan. 10, 1949
Thomas Stretch, 63, Canton, N.J., next target

Chronology: (in progress)
April 19, 1949 – Inez confession
Nov. 28, 1949 – Inez & Robert? Sentenced to life

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FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): San Antonio, April 22. – Young George Brennan maintained today his mother is “a fine woman,” even though he admitted he helped bury two men she killed in a “lonely hearts” racket.

He told Texas Ranger Zeno Smith, however, that he still did not know why the men were slain.

His mother, Inez Brennan, 45, Dover, Del., recently implicated herself and two sons in the brutal killings, apparently for money.

“I can’t understand why she killed those two men,” Smith quoted Brennan as saying. “We were never in financial difficulty. All of us worked and turned over our money to her.”

Smith said Brennan spent more than eight hours dictating a 10-page statement after he was taken into custody.


~ Admits Burials ~

The ranger said Brennan told him he “helped bury two men” because he was frightened.

“I had to protect my mother.”

The Air Force listed Brennan’s age as 19, but he informed Smith he was only 17 and that

Smith said Brennan’s 25-year-old wife is an expectant mother.

The murders involving Mrs. Brennan, Delaware police said, were of Hugo Schulz, 65 at Concord, N. H., last October, and Wade N. Wooldridge, 70, at the Brennan farm home near Dover last Jan. 10.

[“’Can’t Understand Why She Killed Them’ – Mother Held In Lonely Hearts Deaths ‘Fine Women’ Says Son,” Lubbock Evening Journal (Tx.), Apr. 22, 1949, p. 2, Sec. II]

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FULL TEXT: Mrs. Inez Brennan, who, according to The Associated Press, confessed the slaying of two elderly men, is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John W. Brennan, Gettysburg: R. I. This was revealed when Dover state police came to Gettysburg on Saturday and recovered a watch, purported to have belonged to one of the victims, and sent by Mrs. Brennan to her father here.

Inez is one of 13 children, three of whom are dead. Her parents came to Adams county seven years ago from Philadelphia when her father retired after 40 years service with the Pennsylvania railroad. He will be 80 in November.

Mrs. Inez Brennan was twice married, and later resumed her maiden name. She has never resided in Adams county, but has visited her parents here.

~ Bodies Were Burned ~

Dover, Del., April 19. – A stocky, 43-year-old mother of four confessed today she plotted the shotgun slaying of two elderly “Lonely Hearts club” members and directed her three sons in burning the bodies and throwing the remains on a city dump.

Col. Herbert Bernes, state police commandant, said the woman had signed a statement detailing the killings. He said robbery was the motive in each case, and added that she took a sum of money from one man and after the second killing sold farm equipment and supplies belonging to the victim.

Through five days of police grilling Mrs. Inez Brennan had steadfastly denied any knowledge of the slayings of Wade N. Wooldridge, 70, Bedford, Va., and Hugo Schultz, 66, Epson, N. H. Her son Robert, 15, had admitted he shot Wooldridge and said his mother killed Schultz Robert’s half-brother. Raymond, 23, corroborated that story.


Their mother broke down in a five-hour grilling last night and early today as police played and replayed for her recordings of her son’s statements. Weeping and sobbing she fainted six times. Finally she cried to Col. Herbert Barnes, state police head

“Take me out of here!
“The ways the boys said it – that’s how it was.”

The woman and her sons, all handcuffed, were led back to their prison cells. Robert and Mrs. Brennan have been charged with murder in the Wooldridge slaying, and Raymond named as an accessory.

~  Involve Third Son ~

Barnes said charges will be filed later today in Schultz’s death, and that a third son, George, 19, now serving with the army in Texas, will be charged with being an accessory in disposing of both bodies.

Raymond and Robert said George helped bury and burn them before he entered the army.

Both bodies were Buried in a pigpen on the Brennan farm on lonely Horsepond road. Dug up later, they were burned and the remains scattered in the city dump of this capital city of Delaware, a town of 4,800 about 90 miles from Philadelphia.


Earlier Barnes announced the two sons – half brothers – signed confessions.

Mrs. Brennan and one of her sons, Robert, 16, already have been charged with murder in the Schultz killing, he said. The other son, Raymond, 33, is in custody as an accessory.

The Woodbridge slaying was disclosed last Saturday by Barnes.

At a press conference the state police officer described how the elderly southerner was shot with a 12 gauge shotgun. He said the victim was buried in a pigpen on the Brennan farm. Later the body was dug up and burned and the charred remains on the Dover city dump.

Early last night Barnes told reporters his investigation had linked the Brennans with a second slaying which he said also resulted from a Lonely Hearts club correspondence.

~ Bushel of Letters ~

Barnes said his men found “a bushel basket” of letters from lonely men who evidently read Mrs. Brennan’s advertisements.

Thomas Stretch, 63, Canton, N. J., farmer contacted police and said he had received three letters from Mrs. Brennan, one only a day before her arrest.

Stretch said he visited Mrs. Brennan and her sons and “they treated me fine.”

“I looked over her farm and even stood by the pigpen. If I had any money I might have been alongside the men who were buried there,” he added.

Barnes said he believes the motive was robbery although Woodridge reported to have had only $1,500 when he went to Dover.

Barnes said Robert told this story of the Schultz slaying in his signed statement:

The boy and his mother went by train to Concord, N. H. They were met by Schultz who took them to his chicken farm at nearby Epson.

The mother handed a son a shotgun and told him to shoot Schultz. She told him over and over to do it but he couldn’t. So she did it.

After the murder the mother and boy stuffed the man’s body into a 50 gallon drum and left it near the garage for several days. The woman sold 500 chickens, a gasoline motor and a sewing machine to an auctioneer and also some of Schultz’s tools and house furnishings.

Later the body was taken out of the drum, laid on the back of Schultz’s truck and covered with canvas.


~ Pays Attachment ~

They started to drive the truck home to Delaware but outside Concord, a policeman stopped them and said there was a sheriff’s attachment against the truck. They drove to the sheriff’s office. The mother went inside and paid off the attachment. And the two continued to Dover.

Barnes said Schultz was buried in the same pigpen with Wooldridge and similarly was dug up later, burned and the remains placed in the dump.

The state police officer said the story was corroborated in the statement Raymond signed.

An attempted visit by New Hampshire neighbors of Schultz led police here to discovery of the two killings.

~ Recover Watch Here ~

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wende, of Chichester, N. H., had been friendly with him, knew of his plans to marry the Brennan woman and sought to locate him last week as they were returning from a trip to Florida.

Told he had “left,” they reported to police.

Shortly before that time relatives of Wooldridge had asked police aid, saying he left Virginia last October to marry a woman here and had not been heard from again.

Barnes announced that Mrs. Romney J. Ayers of Bedford, Va., one of four children of Wooldridge, had positively identified clothing, tools and a 21-jewel watch as the property of her father.


The watch, Barnes said, was obtained for Mrs. Brennan’s father at Gettysburg, Pa., to whom she had sent it as a gift.

The father, John W. Brennan, 79, a retired railroader, said he had turned the watch over to Delaware state police in Gettysburg yesterday.

“I didn’t think anything of it when it arrived,” he told a reporter. “It looked new. I can’t believe she would do anything like this.”

The daughter, who uses her maiden name, is one of 13 children.

[“Woman Involved In Slaying Of Two Elderly Men Visited Aged Parents Here In Recent Years,” The Gettysburg Times (Pa.), Apr. 19, 1949, p. 1]

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For similar cases, see Murder-Coaching Moms

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