Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sarah Earhart, Ohio Serial Killer - 1873

Note: Some sources give the spelling "Earhart," others have "Earhardt" or "Earheart."


FULL TEXT: Another female poisoner has been brought to justice. Recently, at Germantown, Ohio, public attention was attracted to the simultaneous poisoning by arsenic of three members of a family named Hanna, while visiting the house of a kinswoman, one Sarah Earhardt. Fortunately the amount administered to each of the intended victims proved insufficient to cause death. Upon investigation evidence was produced, if correct, proving the woman Earlhardt to be as great a monster as either Lydia Sherman, Jane Ann Cotton or Mrs. Grinder. She is now in custody on a charge of having attempted to take the lives of the three Hannas, and it is to be the intention of the State prosecuting counsel to introduce testimony at the trial to show that she has poisoned her husband, her son’s wife, her son-in-law’s child, and her husband’s first wife, all within a few years. Minor crimes, such its the poisoning of juvenile animals and the burning of numerous houses, are also said to be among the number of her achievements. By the death of the Hannas she would have come into possession of a considerable amount of property. The most extraordinary circumstance in connection with this case is that the woman is upward of seventy years of age.

[“Another Female Poisoner.” The Bloomfield Times (New Bloomfield, Pa.),  Jun. 10, 1873, p.4]


FULL TEXT (“Earheart” in original): Germantown, Montgomery County, Ohio, has a sensational poisoning case. Sarah Earheart [sic], an old woman seventy years of age, is charged with putting arsenic into the coffee-pot of a family named Hanna, while enjoying their hospitality at dinner. The Earhearts hand Hannas are connected by marriage; Michael Earheart, the old lady’s son, having married Mary Hanna, who is a daughter of Mary Hanna, who is a daughter of John Hanna, Se., about a year ago. The families have always been intimate and friendly until now. John Hanna, Sen., aged sixty; John, about thirty-six, and Catharine, thirty-five, all partook of the coffee. They were seized with violent vomiting, and remained sick for several days. Catharine sent for Dr. Donnelan, who examined the coffee pot, and discovered small granules, which he took to be white arsenic. She was arrested, together with her son, Mike, and examined before a magistrate. Catharine stated, that after dinner was over, when she was putting the things away, old Mrs. Earhart took a seat near the stove in the outdoor kitchen, where she was at work; that she asked her to go into the house, where it was pleasanter, but she declined, saying the kitchen was good enough for her. The coffee pot was on the stove, and the old woman sat within a foot and a half of it, and remained in the kitchen while she was running back and forward to the house, and the cellar. It is believed that it was at this time that the poison was dropped into the coffee. This is, probably, not her first offence. She is accused of poisoning her father, two of her children, and of burning her uncle’s barn about five years ago. The bodies of her supposed victims are all to be disinterred this week, and further horrible developments in confirmation of the dark hints thrown out against her will be awaited for with patience.

[“News of the Week Condensed.” ‘The Wilmington Journal (Oh.), May 22, 1873, p. 2]


FULL TEXT (translated from German): An old woman, named Sarah Earhart (or Ehrhardt), and her son Michael were caught a few days ago in Georgetown, near Dayton, O., on charges that they tried to poison the Hanna family with coffee from the Clear paths. The Earhart family and the Hanna family are Pennsylvania-German craftsmen. Mrs. Earhart is over 70 years old, her son about 32 years. The latter married Mary Hanna about a year ago. The old and the young couple visited the Hanna family on April 22nd, and on this occasion the old woman, who was working in the kitchen, threw arsenic into the coffee pot, in which the rest of the coffee was should be warmed up for dinner. The Earharts then left. Old Hanna (an 80-year-old man), his son John and his daughter Katharine drank from the coffee and became violently ill. The doctor who came over recognized the cause and a chemical analysis found poisoning.

The old woman is now accused of committing a whole series of terrible crimes. Of course, as in all such cases, there may be a strong exaggeration; however, the popular voice pronounces that the woman poisoned her husband 18 or 20 years ago. It is also said that this monster had sent the first wife of her son Michael out of the world by means of poison. It is said that Michael's wife was less ill at the time and Dr. Hinkle was treated. However, the doctor considered her condition to be so harmless that he canceled his visits and entrusted the care of the patient to the old mother-in-law. In less than 24 hours, the young woman was a corpse.

Furthermore, there is serious suspicion against this woman that two or three years ago she poisoned the child of her son-in-law Martin Foutz by sprinkling arsenic on the child's buttered bread. The child died under acute symptoms of a poisoning.

Michael Earhart is also said to have had a woman in Indiana who is said to have died suddenly before he married the allegedly poisoned McLean. Michael denies, of course, that he had been married before his marriage to the McLean, but when he was courted Miss McLean, he was considered a widower throughout the area.


Shortly after Martin Foutz, a respected citizen of West Alexandria, heard that the Hanna family was suffering from an arsenic disorder, he fell into a dark, alienated mood and committed suicide a few weeks ago by shooting himself. As previously reported, Martin Foutz was the son-in-law of Sarah Earhart. He is said to have always shuddered before the old woman, a disgust that he could not overcome even in the presence of other people. He did not dare to look at the murderess and was visibly embarrassed even if his mother-in-law was merely mentioned.

At that time there was no suspicion against the old woman and therefore one could never explain the shy behavior of Foutz in the presence of his mother-in-law. Foutz is said to have known, as is now suspected, that his mother-in-law had poisoned his child and her son's wife. He did not dare to bring the matter to the public in order to save the family from shame, but when the enigmatic woman tried direct her lust for murder towards the Hanna family as well, his mind was affected and he committed suicide.

In West Alexandria, where Sarah Earhart is well known, she is openly accused of poisoning several neighbors whom she did not like. The same woman is also said to have set fire to a house in Alexandria.

When the rumors of the countless previous crimes that she is said to have committed came to her attention, and when her own brother initially refused to provide the bond, she showed some excitement.

The bodies of the first wife of Michael Earhardt [sic] and Martin Foutz's child will be excavated again and then examined.

[“A Modern Lucretia Borgia.” The German Correspondent (Baltimore, Md.), May 22, 1873. P. 2]


FULL TEXT: Eine Greisin, Namens Sarah Earhart (oder Ehrhardt), und deren Sohn Michael wurden vor einigen Tagen in Georgetown, bei Dayton, O., gefänglich eingezogen unter der Anklage, daß sie versucht haben, die Familie Hanna durch vergifteten Kaffee aus dem Wege zuräumen. Die Familie Earhart und die Familie Hanna sind pennsylvanisch-deutscher Herkunst. Frau Earhart ist über 70Jahre alt, ihr Sohn ungefähr 32 Jahre. Letzterer verheirathete sich vor etwa einem Jahre mit Mary Hanna. Die Alte und das junge Paar waren am 22. April bei der Familie Hanna zu Besuch und bei dieser Gelegenheit warf die Alte, welche sich in der Küche zu schaffen machte, Arsenik in den Kaffee-Topf, ,in dem der übrige Kaffee war, der zum Abendessen aufgewärmt werden sollte. Die Earhart's gingen dann fort. Der alte Hanna (ein 80jähriger Mann), dessen Sohn John und dessen Tochter Katharine tranken von dem Kaffee underkrankten hestig. Der herbeigerusene Arzt erkannte die Ursache und ein eche mische Analyse stellte die Vergiftung fest.

Die alte Frau wird jetzt überall mit der Verübung einer ganzen Reihe von furchtbaren Verbrechen beschuldigt. Natürlich mag, wie in allen derartigen Fällen, auch hier eine starke Uebertreibung stattfinden; jedoch spricht sich die Volksstimme dahin aus, dag das Weib vor 18 oder 20 Jahren seinen Gatten vergiftete. Ferner heißt es daß dies Ungeheuer vor 17 Monaten die erste Frau ihres Sohnes Michael vermittelst Gift aus der Welt befördert habe. Es heißt, daß Michael's Frau damals leichter krankt war und von Dr. Hinkle behandelt wurde. Der Arzt hielt jedoch ihren Zustand für so unbedenklich, daß er seine Besuche einstellate und der alten Schwiegermutter die Pflege der Patientin anvertraute. In weniger als 24 Stunden war die junge Frau eine Leiche.

Ferner liegt ein schwerer Verdacht gegen dies Weib vor, daß sie vor 2 oder 3 Jahren das Kind ihres Schwiegersohnes Martin Foutz vergiftete, indem sie dem Kinde Arsenik auf ein Butterbrod streute. Das Kind starb unter allen Symptomen einer Vergiftung.

Michael Earhart soll ferner, ehe er sich mit der angeblich vergifteten McLean verheirathet hat, in Indiana eine Frau gehabt haben, welche plötzlich gestorben sein soll. Michael leugnet freilich, daß er vor seiner Ehe mit der McLean bereits einmal verhenatbet gewesen wäre, als er jedoch um Fräul. McLean warb, galt er in der ganzen Gegend für einen Wittwer.

Kurz nachdem Martin Foutz, ein anzesehe, ver Bürger von West-Alexandria, hörte, daß die Familie Hanna in Folze einer Arsenikvergitiung erkrankt sei, verfiel er in eine düstere verschlossene Stimmung und beging vor einigen Wochen Selbstmord indem er sich erschoß. Martin Foutz war, wie oben schon gemeldet wurde, der Schwiegersohn ver Sarah Earhart. Er soll stets einen wahren Schauder vor dem alten Weibe gehabt haben, einen Abschen, den er selbst in Gegenwart from der Personen  nicht  überwinden  konnte.  Er wagte das Mordweib nicht anzusehen und wurde sichtlich verlegen, wenn nur von seiner Schwiegermutter die Rede war.

Damals lag noch gar kein Verdacht gegen die alte Frau vor und deshalb konnte man sich das scheue Benehmen des Foutz in Gegen wart seiner Schwiegermutter nie erklären. Foutz soll, wie man jetz Ursache zu vermuthen hat, gewußt haben, daß seiner Schwiegermutter sein Kind und die Gattin ihres Sohnes vergiftet hatte. Er wagte es nicht, die Sache an die Oeffentlichkelt zu bringen, um der Familie die Schande zu ersparen, als aber das rätselhafte Weib ihre Mordlust auch an der Familie Hanna zu kühlen suchte, da wurde sein Geist umnachtet und er beging Selbstmord.

In West-Alexandria, wo die Sarah Earhart wohlvekannt ist, beschuldigt man sie ganz offen der Vergiftung mehrerer Nachbarn, welche ihr nicht gefielen. Ferner soll dasselbe Weib ein Haus in Alexandria in Brand gesteckt haben.

Das surchtbare Weib legt eine fast unheimliche Ruhe und Ueberlegung an den Tag. Alle aus ihre zahllosen Verbrechen bezüglichen Fragen läßt sie unbeantwortet. Als die Gerüchte von dem Bekanntwerden der zahllosen früheren Verbrechen, welche sie angeblich begangen  haben soll, ihr zu Ohren  kamen, und als ihr eigener Bruder sich zuerst weigerte, die Bürgschaft zu stellen, legte sie einige Ausregung an den Tag.

Die Leichen der ersten Gattin des Michael Earhardt [sic] und des Kindes von Martin Foutz werden wieder ausgegraben und dann untersucht werden.

[“Eine modern Lukretia Borgia.” Der Deutsche Correspondent (Baltimore, Md.), 22. Mai 1873. P. 2]


3 attempts; her husband, her son’s wife, her son-in-law’s child, and her husband’s first wife.



For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America


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