Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mary Demmer, Chicago Serial Killer - 1921


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 3): Chicago, Aug. 3. – Two more bodies are to be exhumed in the investigation of the deaths of the Kolze family. Coroner Peter Hoffman announced today. In the effort to trace down what county officials assert may be a series of murders.

Coroner Hoffman ordered exhumed the body of Mrs. Lena Kolze, an aged member of the family. If her body shows traces of arsenic as did those of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Kolze and John Demmer, whose widow, Mrs. Mary Demmer, has been questioned. Coroner Hoffman said he would examine a fifth body, not related to the Kolze family, but embalmed by the same undertakers.

The undertakers assert their embalming fluid floes not contain arsenic. Mrs. Demmer, housekeeper of Fred Kolze, was said to have admitted caring for her husband and Mr. and Mrs. Kolze prior to their deaths and also was said it to have admitted her liking for Fred Kolze and her jealousy of him, but denied the poisoning of any of the three.

John Demmer died about nine years ago and Mrs. Kolze died nine months later. Mrs. Demmer then became housekeeper for Fred Kolze, whose death occurred several weeks ago.

[“To Exhume More Bodies - Coroner Continues Probe Into Deaths of Kolze Family, of Chicago,” syndicated (AP), Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia, Pa.), Aug. 5, 1921, p. 3]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 3): Chicago. Aug. 5. – Startling revelations were being made to-day by Mrs. Mary Demmer regarding the three mysterious deaths at Schiller Park, when her attorney secured a writ of habeas corpus and took her away from the questioners acting for the state.

Mrs. Demmer formerly was housekeeper for Fred Kolze, wealthy farmer and owner of large tracts of land. This was after his wife had suddenly died. Then Mrs. Demmer’s husband died, also suddenly and mysteriously, and still later Kolze himself went by the same route. Post-mortems on the three bodies showed the presence of large quantities of arsenic.

Mrs. Demmer told of the presence in the Kolze house of a number of white powders, and of threats by Kolze to choke her if she ever mentioned that there was anything strange in the death of his wife. She also said: “It now appears that Kolze had something to do with the death of my husband, John Demmer.”

“Did he ever try to give you any of these powders?”

“Yes, once, when I had but a headache, I refused.” Mrs. Demmer expressed the belief that Kolze not only poisoned her husband and his wife, but that he killed himself by the same method.

The case took on larger aspects to-day, when the Coroner ordered the exhumation of Fred Kolze’s mother. It also is said another body, that of a person not yet mentioned in the case, will be exhumed and examined for poison.

In response to questions, Mrs. Demmer said she was in love with Kolze, but her affection did not become pronounced until two or three months after his wife had died.

[“Woman Tells of Poison In 3 Mysterious Deaths - Kolze Housekeeper Is Taken From Questioners on Writ of Habeas Corpus,” New York Tribune (N.Y.), Aug. 6, 1921, p. 11]

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FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 3): Chicago, Ill. – Mrs. Mary Demmer, who was held for weeks for questioning in connection of three arsenic deaths at Schiller Park, was released from custody Monday. The state had no evidence against her. Arsenic was found in the exhumed bodies of Mrs. Demmer’s husband and Mrs. Fred Kolze. The two families made their homes together.

[“Release Woman Arrested For Slaying 2 Families,” syndicated (UP), Aug. 24, 1921, p. 8]

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