Friday, October 30, 2015

Kaethe Hagedorn, 18-year-old Who Murdered a 6-year-old girl and a 9-year-old Boy in a Fit of Homicidal Mania - Germany, 1927


FULL TEXT: Berlin, Jan. 30. – Germany’s most prominent psychiatrists, Prof. Raecke, Dr. Gunderlack and also the famous Prof. Hirshfield have been called into consultation on a murder case to be tried next month at Disberg, which is declared by both criminologists and psychiatrists to be unique in the history of crime. It is strongly reminiscent of the Leopold-Loeb case [because of the element of homosexuality] and is even more remarkable because the defendant. Kaethe Hagedorn, is an 18-year-old girl of a good middle-class family, quiet, pretty and modest, against whom no single witness has anything ill to say, but who has confessed to the brutal murder of two children, 6-year-old Katie Gelsleighter and 9-year-old Freidrich Schaefer.

The murder, which occurred in the woods behind the Duisberg Cemetery, appears to have been committed in an irresponsible frenzy, and the girl herself was unable to recall the details until, during her imprisonment, she cut her own finger, and at the sight of a drop of blood made a full confession. The story reminiscent of the Salome of Oscar Wilde, for Kaethe Hagedorn seems to have been a naive child, driven by fearful unconscious impulses.

Kaethe worked in her father’s grocery store, and was described by the neighbors as modest, exceptionally sensitive to music, and with a passion for Chopin. She seems to have been awakened to a craze for sensation through a woman circus acrobat, much older than herself, with whom she some time ago began a friendship which is believed to have been her undoing.

Her flapper enthusiasm was not taken seriously, however, by her parents or friends. Children adored her, particularly the two unfortunate little ones, who belonged to neighbors.

Although the murder was committed at noon, Kaethe lived calmly and was not suspected during twenty-four hours of lamentations. However, the next day she fled from the city, and this led to her pursuit and capture.

The girl is declared to be the first woman known to have committed murder from sheer urge of the sensation. [Note: This claim is not accurate, of course. Numerous other earlier cases were known and documented, yet overlooked. - RStE] The case is awakening interest among all the students of abnormal psychology, as no other motive can be discovered.

[“Killer Baffles Criminologists – Famed Professors to Study Young Murderess – Berlin Produces Parallel to Leopold-Loeb Case – Girl Soon to Be Tried for Children’s Death,” The Los Angeles Times (Ca.), Jan. 31, 1927, part I, p. 7]

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