Executions · Illinois · Newspaper clippings

Man executed for killing woman with chisel during robbery

March 26, 1886
Chicago, Illinois
Frank Mulkowski is hanged for killing a woman during a robbery

Mulkowski had become acquainted with Joseph Kledzeick around 6 weeks before the killing, and was thus familiar with the times Joseph would not be at home. He entered the Kledzeick home on August 22, 1885 and, either after being discovered in the home or as a precautionary measure to leave no witnesses, struck the 24-year-old, pregnant Agnes Kledzeick in the head with a heavy chisel and fled. Joseph discovered Agnes’ body later that day.

Mulkowski and another man, named in newspapers only as Phomming or Phamming, were arrested within days of the murder after Mulkowski was found in the possession of some jewelry and other trinkets missing from the Kledzeick home. He also had a small amount of blood splatter on his hat. Phomming was later released.

The trial brought hundreds of spectators, including “a thousand howling women,” as the Weekly Commercial Herald (Aug. 30, 1885) reported — despite the same article citing the crowd consisted of between 400 to 500 hundred women. To alleviate their anger, the crowd created an effigy of Mulkowski and hanged it between two buildings.

The defense attempted to prove Mulkowski could not have been at the scene at the time of the killing, and produced a map of Chicago labeled with his home, the Kledzeick home, and the places Mulkowski claimed to have visited that day. The defense counsel also noted that the force used to kill Agnes would have drenched her killer in blood rather than leave a small amount behind on the hat, and demonstrated his point while holding a human skull in his hands. The attorney did not mention the amount of blood on Mulkowski’s hat was found on the day of his arrest, days after the killing, which would have granted him ample time to clean himself.

The prosecution called dozens of witnesses to discredit Mulkowski’s timeline as to his whereabouts at various points of the day of the murder. They also noted the stolen property from the Kledzeick home in Mulkowski’s possession.

Mulkowski was convicted of Agnes’ murder and sentenced to hang, with his original execution date scheduled for January 15, 1886, though it was later changed to and carried out on March 26. He left behind no recorded final statement.

Sources:
Hearn, Daniel Allen. Legal Executions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2016
“Murderer Mulkowski.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. March 26, 1886
“Sentenced to be Hanged.” Weekly Commercial Herald [Vicksburg, Mississippi]. December 11, 1885
“Mrs. Kledzeick’s Murderer Soon to Follow the Italian Stranglers.” The Chicago Tribune. November 14, 1885
“The City In Brief.” The Daily Inter Ocean [Chicago, Illinois]. November 6, 1885
“A Chicago Scene.” Weekly Commercial Herald. August 30, 1885
“The Supposed Murderers of Mrs. Agnes Kledzeick Arrested.” Ottawa Daily Republican. August 27, 1885

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