Executions · Famous Last Words · New York · Religion

Priest executed for the murder of his “wife”

February 18, 1916
Ossining, New York
Hans B. Schmidt is executed for the murder of a woman posing as his wife

Schmidt was a Catholic priest, and holds the honor being the only priest to have been executed in the United States.

He met his victim, Anna Aumüller, in 1912 and later told his alienists (an archaic term for psychiatrists and psychologists) he heard God’s voice telling him to love Anna. She rejected his advances at first but eventually began a secret sexual relationship with him. Later that same year, Schmidt began a secret homosexual relationship and a counterfeiting ring with a dentist, stating after Anna’s murder that he preferred his dentist lover over Anna.

Anna and Schmidt were married in secret, with Schmidt himself officiating. There were also no witnesses, so the ceremony was never legal. Some time later, the two engaged in a sexual act upon the High Altar of St. Joseph’s Church, during which time Schmidt heard God commanding him to sacrifice Anna.

On September 2, 1913, the couple stayed in an apartment they had rented together. During the night, Schmidt cut Anna’s throat as she slept, drank her blood, raped her as she was dying, dismembered her, discarded her body parts as he traveled on a ferry over the East River, and attended Mass. He was arrested on September 15 and confessed to Anna’s murder and dismemberment, and convicted of murder on February 6, 1914.

Schmidt was executed in the electric chair on February 18, 1916, his last words — aside from repeating a prayer as he was strapped into the chair — were “My last thought is for my mother. Please give my mother my last good wish. It is for her.”

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