Executions · Illinois · Serial Killers

Man executed, but not before attempting to sell photographs of himself posing on the gallows to pay for his body to be returned to his home state

May 14, 1897
Paxton, Illinois
Fred Hoelman is executed for the murder of a woman, though suspected of having murdered more

Hoelman (alternatively spelled Hollman) was convicted of the murder of Weibke Geddes in December of 1896. According to Legal Executions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri: A Comprehensive Registry, 1866-1965 by Daniel Allen Hearn, Geddes was beaten, sexually assaulted, and hanged by her neck. Newspapers at the time simply noted her death was staged to appear as a suicide.

Hoelman was also believed to have been responsible for at least 3 other suspicious suicides in the area. The Topeka State Journal (May 14, 1897) reported “Mrs. Geddes’ body was found with a cord around her neck and the other end of the cord fastened to a door knob. [Hoelman] is believed to have killed several other women in the same way, but escaped suspicion and arrest, the coroners’ juries rendering verdicts of suicide.”

The day before his execution, Hoelman posed at the gallows (pictured), hoping to sell enough of the photographs to pay for his body to be shipped to Grand Haven, Michigan and buried next to his wife and daughter. Apparently he was unsuccessful in his fundraising as his body was buried in an unmarked grave in Glen Cemetery’s Potter’s Field.

Photo credit: Find A Grave

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