Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mary Demmer, Illinois Serial Killer - 1921

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 5): Chicago, Aug. 1. – The body of John Demmer, a well-to-do farmer, s who died eight years ago, is to be exhumed and examined for poison. If poison is found Coroner Hoffman will order the arrest of Mrs. Mary Demmer, his widow.

John Demmer and his wife lived in the same house with John Kolze, a wealthy farmer, and his wife at Schiller Park. Eight year ago Kolze’s wife, Etta, died suddenly and left her husband a life interest in an estate valued at $50,000.

There had been rumors that Kolke was too attentive to Mrs. Demmer, and this had brought on a quarrel between him and Demmer.

Very soon after Mrs. Kolze’s death, which the physieians said was due to a heart lesion. Demmer also died suddenly after drinking a glass of water.

After these deaths Mrs. Demmer became housekeeper for Kolze. Then arose talk of Kolze’s infatuation for a Mrs. Springborn, a pretty neighbor, and two weeks ago she also died. The three deaths and the talk of the village led to an investigation by Coroner Hoffman. He had the body of Mrs. Kolze exhumed first and found abundant evidence that she had been poisoned.

John Kolze’s body was then exhumed and enough poison to kill half a dozen men was found in it. Demmer was buried in a cemetery at Colby, Wis., and the authorities there have been asked to permit its exhumation and examination for poison.

[“Woman Suspected Of Slaying Tree In Tangle Of Love - Body of Husband, Buried Eight Years, to Be Exhumed in Search for Poison.” The Washington Times, Aug. 1, 1921, p. 5]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 5): 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 does 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]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 5): 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 today, 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]


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 5): Chicago, August, 7. – The poisoning of Mrs. Marietta Kolze and John Demmer, eight years ago, was not the work of one person, Coroner Hoffman stated to-day. From two witnesses, whose names he is withholding, he said he obtained information tending to prove that a pact existed to kill them.

Kolzes and Demmers lived in the same house in Schiller Park, Ill., at the time. After the deaths of Fred Kolze, then a Village Trustee, and Mrs. Masry Demmer consolidated their families and moved to another house, where Mrs. Demmer ostensibly was the housekeeper.

Mrs. Demmer is said to have admitted last week to a representative of the State’s Attorney that in reality she was more than housekeeper, and that she was jealous of Kolze’s attentions to another woman in the village. She also admitted Kolze had told her he had “done away” with his wife, and that she saw him give white powders to her, it is alleged.

Kolze died July 18 and an examination of his body and that of Mrs. Kolze and Demmer disclosed that all had been poisoned. A fourth body, that of Mrs. Lena Kolze, mother of Fred, has been exhumed and the chemist will report to the Coroner to-morrow as to whether or not her death was due to poison.

Mrs. Elizabeth Harwood, of Bensonville, mother of Mrs. Kolze, told the Coroner, it is said, that Mrs. Demmer had intimated, after her daughter’s death, that “something was wrong.” Shortly before Kolze died Mrs. Demmer is alleged to have told Mrs. Harwood that “he would not live long unless he mended his ways.”

Search for the money supposed to have been left by Mrs. Kolze has begun. Mrs. Harwood says she had $15,000. Mrs. Demmer had herself appointed administatrix of the estate of both Mr. and Mrs. Kolze, ansd also guardian of Fred Kolze, Jr. She declares no money was left.

Mrs. Demmer, who was arrested and freed temporarily on a habeus corpus writ, will have another hearing Tuesday.

[“Poison Pact – Behind Death of Two, - Illinois Coroner Declares, in Continuing Inquiry. Chemist To Report on Examination of Fourth Body Today – Search For Money Is Begun.” The Cincinnati Enquirer (Oh.), Aug. 8, 1921, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 5 of 5): 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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