Arizona

“Pied Piper of Tucson” dies from wounds inflicted in prison

March 30, 1975
Arizona
“The Pied Piper of Tucson” Charles Schmid dies of wounds sustained 10 days before

Schmid (pictured, left) had killed his occasional-girlfriend Alleen Rowe (15) on May 31, 1964, after deciding to kill someone just to know how it felt. Shortly after the killing, he told another occasional-girlfriend, Gretchen Fritz, of the crime. A year later, when Schmid attempted to end things with Gretchen (16), she threatened to turn him in to the police. Schmid attacked Gretchen and her 13-year-old sister Wendy who happened to be with her, strangling the pair and beating them to death with a shovel on August 16, 1965.

Schmid was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death for the Fritz killings. Additionally, he pleaded guilty to second degree murder for Rowe’s death and received a sentence of 50 years to life. Schmid’s death sentence was later commuted to life in 1972 after the Supreme Court banned capital punishment.

On March 20, 1975, Schmid and fellow inmates Dennis Eversole (22) and Jimmy Ferra (26) got into an argument. Schmid’s height — 5’3” or 160 cm — was insulted, which was a sensitive topic for Schmid and he attempted to stab the inmates with a shank he had concealed. The inmates fought back, stabbing and slicing Schmid between 14 and 20 times. In the attack, Schmid’s right eye was damaged severely and needed to be removed, his lung was deflated, and his abdomen was sliced open. During treatment, he developed a blood infection, required a tracheotomy, and his kidneys failed. Schmid succumbed to his injuries ten days after the attack at the age of 32.

Eversole and Ferra pleaded guilty to second-degree murder despite their claims of self-defense. Eversole was sentenced to 10 to 10.5 years in prison and Ferra to 10-20 years, with their sentences to run concurrently to those they were already serving.

Recommended reading: The Pied Piper by Harold Schechter.

Sources:
Schwartz, John. “Attack on murderer of 3 girls was self-defense, convict says.” Arizona Republic [Phoenix, Arizona]. July 13, 1975
“Schmid Dies From Wounds.” Arizona Daily Star [Tucson, Arizona]. March 31, 1975
Burton, Ken. “‘Pied Piper’ Was Sensational News 10 Years Ago.” Arizona Daily Star. March 31, 1975
“Triple-Slayer Charles Schmid Stabbed to Death in Prison.” The Missoulian [Missoula, Montana]. March 31, 1975
“Killer near death after knifing at prison.” Arizona Republic. March 22, 1975

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