March 26, 1929
A pregnant woman kills her 3 children and herself in a fire over money concerns
The woman, Hazel Steyer (25), and her husband Gaylord had been quarreling over a substantial debt of $2,881.61 (approx. $42,000 today). In a letter to her parents, she asked for forgiveness for the murder-suicide and noted “it was either this way or the bughouse” (slang for an asylum).
She knocked out her three children, Gaylord Jr. (5), Howard (4), and Mary Rose (1), beating them in the head with a rock which rendered them unconscious to spare them any pain from the fire. Hazel brought out various items of value from the home and placed them in a bin around 50 feet from the house to guarantee their safety, including a radio, shotguns, children’s toys, 3 loaves of bread, and a ham. She then locked the doors and windows, lit the home’s kerosene stove, and laid on her bed with the baby.
Smoke was seen by children passing by on a bus and the fire was quickly extinguished. One of the firefighters stumbled over Howard’s body after the blaze was put out, and it was suspected the boy had regained consciousness and attempted to get to safety before succumbing to smoke inhalation near the living room’s window. The bodies of Hazel, Mary Rose, and Gaylord Jr. were found in the bedroom. Mary Rose was on the bed, Hazel was partially on the bed, and Gaylord Jr. was on the floor with one arm slung over Hazel’s body. All victims had died from the smoke.
Clipping: The Richmond Item (Richmond, Indiana) Mar 27 1929
Clippings: Steuben Republican (Angola, Indiana) Apr 3 1929