Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ida Leckwold, Minneapolis Serial Killer & Family Annihilator - 1913


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 8): Sept. 30, 1913 - The rumors had swirled around the North Minneapolis neighborhood for months. The local undertaker had heard them, so had the family doctor and the neighbors, who of course where the ones spreading the suspicions: a family who lived at 3206 Second Street North was dying because the mother and wife was poisoning them. But no one told the police.

It wasn’t until Patrolman Frank Brunskill overheard a conversation on a street car that referred to the mysterious deaths of children in the Leckwold home that the police began an investigation, which drew Brunskill closer to the trail of the family as the day went on. Finally convinced that he was on the right track, he called Patrolman Hanson to assist him and the two visited the Leckwold home. The woman’s confession soon followed.

Coerced by a man with whom she had been having an affair, Mrs. Ida Leckwold admitted to Minneapolis Police Chief Martinson and Hennepin County Attorney Robertson this evening to taking the life of one of her children and attempting to take the lives of another child and that of her husband [Ole Leckwold].

She was arrested and held on a charge of murder, pending further investigation, as four of her other children have died under mysterious circumstances, very similar to the death of the one that brought about her arrest.

Godfrey Norman, was arrested later on information furnished by the woman and her husband. Norman was held under suspicion of being the ‘man in the case,’ although he denies vehemently that he is guilty of any crime. The husband is also being held as a witness.

Mrs. Leckwold is a woman of 32, who has been married for 13 years, and who is the mother of eight children, all but two of them having died under circumstances that seem to point to murder. She confessed to the murder of one of the children, but admitted when questioned by the police chief and the county attorney, that she had attempted that of another, Willie, who recovered.

The girl that died, Viola, 9 years old, is said to have succumbed to fly poison administered by her mother. Dr. H. W. Allen, who was called in the last two cases, those of Viola and Walter Laurel, 11 months old, who died about six weeks ago, said this evening when he first called he found the children were not seriously ill.  He prescribed for them, but when he returned the next day he found, in each instance, that the child had died during the night. The cause of death was given as cholera morbus.

Mrs. Leckwold became hysterical when talking to the chief. She said she had become infatuated with a man who had demanded that she kill her children, and she had blindly followed his orders. Her husband corroborated her story, saying that he had been suspicious of her for a long time, but had not for a moment suspected that the death of their children had been caused by her.

“I felt ill myself at the same time that Willie and Viola were taken sick,” he said, “but not for a moment did I suspect that I had been poisoned, which I am firmly convinced of now. Willie and I both recovered, but poor Viola died. I cannot believe, even in the face of her own confession, that my wife is guilty of such a heinous crime.”

Besides Willie, who is 12 years old, Myrtle, 11 years old, also survives. The only ones left of a family of eight children; they are being cared for by neighbors. Those that have passed all died before they had reached the age of one year, with the exception of Viola.
When questioned by the county attorney and the chief of police, Mrs. Leckwold hysterically denied having caused the death of her other children, but it is said by the police that they died under nearly identical circumstances and it is their firm belief that the mother was responsible for their deaths.

A liquid poison, said to contain large quantities of arsenic, is said to have caused the deaths of the last two children. How the woman administered the poison is not known. So cleverly did she do her work that she deceived the family physician, who, in each case, issued a certificate of death caused by cholera-morbus or summer complaint. These certificates were accepted by the undertaker.

Moe and McNameee were the undertakers who had charge of the last two bodies, as well as that of Perry, who died two years ago. All are said to have died from the same cause. The undertakers said this evening that they had received the death certificates in regular form.

While the police had no positive evidence that the first four children met the same fate as the last two, they know that the cause of their deaths was identical in each case. It is probable that the bodies will be exhumed and investigations made.

Brunskill learned that when Walter died, Mrs. Leckwold ran from the house when she saw the doctor coming to make his morning call. She knew that the boy was dead, but was not present when the doctor found him so. She is said to have hidden in a lumber yard nearby until he had departed.

Mrs. Leckwold collapsed when she was taken into police headquarters and it was necessary to call the police surgeon to revive her. She was able to give her story to the chief clearly, although skirting the features connected with the death of the first four children. It is generally believed that the woman is mentally deranged.

[“Mother Is Held for Murder of Two Children. ‘Eternal Triangle’ Is Held Responsible for Tragedy on North Side. Mrs. Ida Leckwold Arrested on Charge of Double Homicide. Godfrey Norman, ‘Man in the Case,’ Also Is Locked Up. Mysterious Deaths of Four Other children Being Investigated. Woman Is Said to Have Confessed—Man Denies Guilt.”; The Minneapolis Morning Tribune [Mn.], Oct. 1, 1913; pp. 1-2]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 8): Minneapolis, Oct. 1. – According to the police, Mrs. Ida Leckwold, 32 years old, arrested last night, confessed to having murdered six of her children by poison. Mrs. Leckwold was arrested on a charge of having caused the death of her daughter, Viola, aged 9, who died September 8 and Laura, 11 months old who died July 8.

The police declare that she not only admitted the slaying of these children but also confessed that she had caused the death of four others all under one year at different times between 1905 and 1911.

According to the police, Mrs. Leckwold declared she had poisoned the children by giving them a large quantities of liquid fly poison. She refused to say how she succeeded in getting them to swallow the liquid.

Ole Leckwold, her husband, declared that all six children died under almost identical conditions. The physician who treated the last two declared that when called in each case he did not consider the child he attended seriously ill and when they died he believed they had succumbed to natural causes.

He named cholera morous as the cause of death in each instance. The police are looking for a man whom they believe to have been implicated with Mrs Leckwold in the deaths of the children. They refuse to disclose his name. [Godfrey Norman, her boarder and lover]

[“Woman Admits To Killing Six Children – Liquid Fly Poison Used, She Says; Police Seek Man. – Revolting Details of Crime in Hands of Minneapolis Officers.” Oakland Tribune (Ca.), Oct. 1, 1913, p. 7]

[She also poisoned Willie, 12, and her husband, both of whom survived.]

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FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 8): Minneapolis, Oct. 1. – According to a statement today by chief of Police Martinson and County Attorney Robertson, Mrs. Ida Leckwold made a second confession today with regard to the death of her children. The police declared last night that Mrs. Leckwold confessed to having caused the death of six of her children by poisoning.

In her confession today, the officials assert, Mrs. Leckwold declared that she had murdered one of her children and attempted to kill another and to take the life of her husband within the last month. She is said to have admitted having killed her daughter, Viola, aged 9, who died September 8, and to have attempted the life of her son, Willie, aged 12. The five children who died between 1905 and 1913, she said, died from natural causes. Mrs. Leckwold is said to have declared a man whose name has not been made public inspired her “to get rid of her entire family.”

[“Unnamed Man Is Accused – Mother Says She Was Inspired to Get Rid of Children.” Morning Oregonian (Portland, Or.), Oct. 2, 1913, p. 3]

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FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 8): Minneapolis, Oct. 2. – County Attorney Robertson announced that Mrs. Ida Leckwold had confessed to her husband that she had poisoned four of her six children.

Leckwold said that his wife awoke him at midnight Thursday and related the story.

He said he was so stunned that he said nothing until the next evening, when he called the family pastor to the house and repeated his wife’s story to the minister. The wife, according to Leckwold, refused to tell the preacher the story. The police are now questioning the minister. The wife, according to Leckwold, refused to tell the preacher the story. The police are now questioning the minister as to why he had not notified them of Leckwold’s statement.

~ Son and Husband Recover. ~

Mrs. Leckwold, 32 years old, already had confessed to poisoning her son and husband, who recovered.

She says she was obeying a man-admirer, who commanded her to exterminate the family.

Of the six children who died Mrs. Leckwold claims that two deaths were due to natural causes.

The police have thrown out a dragnet for William Norman, who, according to the woman’s confession, was her admirer, and who suggested the murder of Viola, the children now living, and her husband. The children and husband were ill at the time of the girl’s death, but have recovered.

~ Woman Hated Her Offspring. ~

Viola died Sept. 24 from the effects of arsenic poisoning. The woman, the police say, confessed she mixed fly paper in a cup of water and gave it to the child. A neighbor said that Mrs. Leckwold declared she “hated the children and wished they were all dead.”

It is believed the bodies of the other five children will be exhumed and an analysis made of the viscera of each. The last two children who died were said to have died of cholera morbus.

[“Mother Poisons 4 of 6 Children – Says Admirer Had Commanded Her To Exterminate Entire Family. – Confesses To Her Husband – Confession is Repeated to Family Pastor, Who Is Being Questioned for Not Notifying the Authorities – Affinity is Sought.” The Daily Republican (Cape Girardieu, Mo.), Oct. 2, 1913, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 8): Minneapolis, Oct. 2. – County Attorney Robertson announced that Mrs. Ida Leckwold had confessed to her husband that she had poisoned four of her six children.

Leckwold said that his wife awoke him at midnight Thursday and related the story.

He said he was so stunned that he said nothing until the next evening, when he called the family pastor to the house and repeated his wife’s story to the minister. The wife, according to Leckwold, refused to tell the preacher the story. The police are now questioning the minister. The wife, according to Leckwold, refused to tell the preacher the story. The police are now questioning the minister as to why he had not notified them of Leckwold’s statement.

~ Son and Husband Recover. ~

Mrs. Leckwold, 32 years old, already had confessed to poisoning her son and husband, who recovered.

She says she was obeying a man-admirer, who commanded her to exterminate the family.

Of the six children who died Mrs. Leckwold claims that two deaths were due to natural causes.

The police have thrown out a dragnet for William Norman, who, according to the woman’s confession, was her admirer, and who suggested the murder of Viola, the children now living, and her husband. The children and husband were ill at the time of the girl’s death, but have recovered.

~ Woman Hated Her Offspring. ~

Viola died Sept. 24 from the effects of arsenic poisoning. The woman, the police say, confessed she mixed fly paper in a cup of water and gave it to the child. A neighbor said that Mrs. Leckwold declared she “hated the children and wished they were all dead.”

It is believed the bodies of the other five children will be exhumed and an analysis made of the viscera of each. The last two children who died were said to have died of cholera morbus.

[“Mother Poisons 4 of 6 Children – Says Admirer Had Commanded Her To Exterminate Entire Family. – Confesses To Her Husband – Confession is Repeated to Family Pastor, Who Is Being Questioned for Not Notifying the Authorities – Affinity is Sought.” The Daily Republican (Cape Girardieu, Mo.), Oct. 2, 1913, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 6 of 8): Oct. 5, 1913 – This evening, Mrs. Ida Leckwold, confessed murderer of her daughter Viola, was interviewed for the first time since her arrest, and told a clear story that adds light to her present predicament. Exhibiting bruises on her arm and head, and telling of scores of others that cover her body, the frail little woman sobbed as she recounted her married life. Mrs. Leckwold said that she has lived in constant terror of her husband, Ole Leckwold, and said that she was mentally affected by abuse and constant motherhood.

“This is the first peace that I have had since my marriage,” she said. “It seems that years have rolled from my shoulders here in this prison room, treated by kind hands, and unafraid that I will be beaten in the evenings, or humiliated before my children.

“I can blame no one for what I have done, but the world must know that no mother would do as I have done that knew what she was doing, or that was surrounded by pleasant home surroundings. My life has been a perfect hell. Often have my children pleaded on their knees for their father to stop beating me. There were hours that it would be impossible to tell you of, and this is the first time that I have ever told these things to anyone, although Matron Schaeffer has suspected since I came here with my eyes blackened by blows, and my body covered with black and blue bruises.

“Please don’t think that I am guilty of all that has been said about me,” she said. Beyond this she would not speak of the charge that is to be placed against her, other than to say that she believed the public would not condemn her if they knew more of her life’s story.

“My father often urged me to come back to his home and leave my husband,” she continued as she gripped the prison bars and tried to smile bravely through her tears. “I could not leave my family and refused, although he told me that I would be killed if I remained. At times my husband would call the children to see him strike me. He is a big powerful man and seemed to delight in pinching me in his powerful hands.”

Mrs. Leckwold then pulled up the sleeve of the house dress she has worn since her arrest and the marks of a bruise fully three inches long and two inches wide was shown. “That is the effect of one of the pinches,” she said.

William Norman, the alleged “man in the case,” still retains his silence on anything that pertains to the charge that he suggested the poisoning of Viola, or the other Leckwold children and their father, other than to deny it.

It is probable that information against the woman, charging murder will be sworn out tomorrow, and she will be in court late in the afternoon. This will depend on the action of Dr. Seashore and County Attorney Robertson in regard to the analysis of the stomach of the dead girl, Viola, now being made by Dean Frankforter of the University of Minnesota.

[“Mrs. Leckwold Tells of Her Married Life. Blames Present Predicament to Brutal Treatment she Says She Received. Declares that She Lived in Constant Fear of Being Beaten. Charge of Murder Will Likely Be Filed Against Woman Today.”; The Minneapolis Morning Tribune(Mn.), Oct. 6, 1913; p. 1]

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FULL TEXT: (Article 7 of 8) – Oct. 7, 1913 – Mrs. Ida Leckwold was indicted today on the charge of murder in the first degree for the murder of her daughter, Viola.

Meanwhile, William Norman, who took advantage of the distraught condition of the woman and encouraged her to break her marriage vows, was taken to the penitentiary at Stillwater to serve an indeterminate sentence, the maximum being three years.

Norman pleaded guilty today before Judge Molyneaux to information charging adultery. The court gave him the maximum penalty allowed by law. In the meantime, 23 men, composing the grand jury, listened to the story of witnesses weaving about Mrs. Leckwold, the chain of evidence on which to base an indictment, conviction on which means a life sentence in state prison.

Several witnesses, including patrolmen, coroner, undertakers and Dean George B. Frankforter, who made a chemical analysis of the stomach of Viola Leckwold, testified before the grand jury.

Dean Frankforter presented the report of his analysis showing that arsenic was found in the stomach. The confession made by Mrs. Leckwold to the police chief and the county attorney was made a part of the record. During all this time Mrs. Leckwold sat in her cell.

Ole Leckwold, arrested Monday on the charge of assault and battery preferred against him because of his treatment of his wife, pleaded guilty today to the charge and sentence was postponed until Oct. 10.

[“One Indictment in the Leckwold Case. William Norman Sentenced to Prison After Plea of Guilty. Poison Woman Accused of Murder in the First Degree. Her Husband Awaits Sentence for Assault on His Wife.”; The Minneapolis Morning Tribune (Mn.), Oct. 8, 1913; p. 11.]

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FULL TEXT (Article 8 of 8): Minneapolis, Nov. 7.— Mrs. Ida Leckwold was tonight found not guilty of murdering her nine year old daughter, Viola. Mrs. Leckwold was declared to have been insane at the time of the murder and at the time of her confession.

Mrs. Leckwold, was arrested September 30, soon after the death of her daughter and subsequently made a confession of the crime. She blamed her husband’s alleged cruelty for her acts.

[“Mrs. Leckwold Not Guilty.” The Waterloo Times-Tribune (Io.), Nov. 8, 1913, p. 3]

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VICTIMS:

Sep. 8, 1913 – Viola Leckwold, daughter, aged 9, died.
Jul. 8, 1913 – Laura Leckwold, daughter, aged 11 months
1913 – Walter Laurel Leckwold, 11 mo., son, died.
Willie Leckwold, survived, testified at trial.
Myrtle Leckwold – testified at trial.
Ole Leckwold, husband, survived
4 of Ida Leckwold’s babies aged under 1 year (between 1905-1911)

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For more cases of this type, see Serial Baby-Killer Moms.

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