Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wilhelmina Waltmann, German Serial Killer - 1873


NOTE: Some sources give the name as “Waltmann,” others use the spelling “Woltman” or “Woltmann.”

Victims:

Child – knocked eye out
Wife of employer – death by poison
Her own child –murder suspected
Husband, Brunswick, army officer – death by poison
Mr. Wachter, Hanover – father-in-law
Mrs. Wachter, Hanover – mother-in-law
Mr. Woltman (her husband), Stade – 2 step-children

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FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): Wilhelmina Waltmann, known as the “Borgia of the Stade,” a little city on the banks of the Elbe, recently surrendered her life on the scaffold to atone for its iniquity. Her career had been marked by continuous, premeditated cruelty. While at school she knocked out the eye of a companion. Being a woman of great beauty she became governess to the children of a wealthy man who had made her his mistress. Her lover’s wife having learned of the affair the young tigress poisoned her.

At Hamburg, soon after, her beautiful face attracted many admirers, but becoming reckless the police expelled her from the city, and she went to Brunswick, where an officer of the Ducal army fell in love with and married her. She poisoned him soon after, and then turned up in Hanover, where she married a merchant named Wachter, and avenged herself upon his parents, who opposed the match, by poisoning them. Wachter soon deserted her, and she married a widower named Waltmann, with two children. These latter became the victims of their murderous stepmother, and this last crime exposed her. Her antecedents were examined, her other victims exhumed, and the evidence came in copious enough to fix a dozen death penalties to her had it been possible.

Throughout her confinement prior to her death the wild beast in her underwent no subjugation and though chained to the wall she undertook to attack a clergyman who visited her with spiritual consolation. Her beautiful hair was cut off before taking her to the scaffold, and she was arrayed in a low black muslin dress, which left the neck exposed. She was then forced to kneel in front of the block before a crowd of witnessed; her bead was strapped to it, and with one blow of the executioner’s axe it rolled into the basket.

[“The End of a ‘Borgia,’” The Coshocton Democrat (Oh.), Feb. 4, 1873, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): Although the 3d of December last was a bitter cold day, from the earliest hour in the morning vast crowds of people filled the streets of the little city of Stade, on the bank of the Elbe river, nearly opposite the great North German seaport of Hamburg. By 9 o'clock at least 20,000 people had arrived in Stade, and the police had the utmost difficulty in keeping order in the surging multitude. The occasion which had caused all these thousands to flock to Stade was the beheading of a woman, refined, attractive and intelligent. The name of the doomed woman was Wilhelmina Woltman, and the career of this extraordinary woman, almost from her earliest youth, had been marked by an uncontrollable and wicked temper. When at school she had knocked out the eye of one of her young companions. A few years after she became the governess of the children of a wealthy landed proprietor, who had fallen in love with her and made her his mistress. Her lover's wife having discovered the liaison, the girl poisoned the woman; and there is suspicion that she also caused the death of her own child. She buried herself thereupon for a time in a whirl of fashionable dissipation in Hamburg, where her extraordinary beauty attracted numerous admirers. But, becoming very reckless, the police expelled her from the city, and she went to Brunswick, where an officer of the ducal army fell in love with and eventually married her. She returned his devotion by poisoning him. She next turned up in Hanover, where she became acquainted with a merchant named Wachter, who married her. Wilhelmina revenged herself upon the opposing parents by poisoning them. The cholera raged at the time, and, in consequence, it remained a secret for years. Wachter soon afterwards became a bankrupt, and deserted his wife, who went to Stade and married a widower named Woltman, who had two children. These also became the victims of the murderous passions of their stepmother, and then her criminal career was brought to a close. She was arrested, her antecedents closely examined into, and her victims exhumed, her trial took place at Stade on the 2d of October, and the result was that she was convicted and sentenced to death.

Pastor Decker made, on the morning of the day on which she was to be executed, a determined effort to move her stony heart. The woman was fastened to the wall by a chain ten feet long, which was attached to her left wrist. After listening to the reverend gentleman for two or three minutes, she made a sudden attack on him, compelling him to beat a hasty retreat. Reiflenberg, the executioner, saluted his victim respectfully, and informed her who he was. "What do you want of me?" she said to the headsman, fixing her large, lustrous eyes inquiringly upon him. "I want to prepare you or the scaffold." he answered. "Oh," "she said, carelessly, "I am prepared." "Not quite," he rejoined. He then unchained her hand and began to cut off her hair. Then he threw a heavy fur cape over her shoulders, and the toilet for the scaffold was finished. He thereupon left her cell, and the next visitor was the warden of the prison, who asked her if she wanted anything. "Only a glass of water," she said, dryly. It was then about half-past 1, and her last moment rapidly drawing nigh. Ten minutes afterward the Judge and Clerk of the Criminal Court appeared before her, and the death warrant was read to her a last time. The presiding Judge urged her in feeling words to confess her crimes, and make her peace with her God. She responded by shaking her head impatiently. They left her, and then the headsman and his assistants took her to the scaffold. When she appeared in the open air the biting cold caused her to shiver; but she bore the glance of the thousands of eyes, which the multitude riveted upon her, without flinching.

The scaffold was a coarse, wooden structure, about eight feet in diameter. Wilhelmina Woltman ascended it with a firm step, and walked to the fatal block in its middle without betraying any nervousness. The warden of the prison asked her if she had anything to say. "No, no!" she answered angrily; "Make haste! make haste!" The next moment the two assistants of the executioner caused her to kneel in front of the block. They took the fur cape from her shoulders, and pressed her head upon the top of the block, to which they fastened it by means of a leather strap. She shook convulsively for a moment or two, until the executioner, who had meanwhile taken his flashing ax from a sort of scabbard, hastily stepped up to her. He took his position at the left side of the block, lifted up his ax, and struck heavily upon the beautiful white neck of the woman. He had done his work well, for the head fell down in front of the block, while the trunk raised itself convulsively, a stream of dark, red blood spouting in the air. The headsman and his assistants sprang to one side of the scaffold, in order not to be stained by the blood of the murderess.

[“Brinvilliers At Stade. - A Beautiful Poisoner Brought to the Scaffold.” Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 44, Number 6808, Jan. 28, 1873, p. 1]

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For more examples, see Step-Mothers from Hell.

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