Before recent history, priests were deemed as holy patrons who helped their followers into salvation. The reputation of the priesthood has been sullied somewhat with heinous crimes, but priestly sin has a history that dates through centuries of history. There are, of course, holy man and women who have stayed true to the straight and narrow…but there are some who crimes and sins that are horrific on their own, but magnified due to the calling of the offender.
1881 marks the birth year of Hans Schmidt. He was born in Aschaffenburg Germany and ordained a priest in 1906. This vocation was not surprising as Schmidt immersed himself in religious practices as a child and earned the nickname The Little Priest. The religious fascination was bound with a fascination with sacrifices and young Schmidt would spend hours watching animals get butchered.
Schmidt immigrated to Louisville, Kentucky in the USA in 1909 and was assigned to St. John’s Parish. An unknown issue with another priest caused Schmidt to be transferred to the St. Boniface Church in New York. At this Parish there was a housekeeper named Anna Aumüller who was also from Germany and the two fell into a secret and forbidden relationship. Their relationship escalated and even included a secret marriage ceremony in which Schmidt himself performed the marriage.
Schmidt was obviously not fully committed to the gospel he professed, but that was never made clearer than when he learned that his illegal spouse was pregnant. On September 2, 1913 Schmidt slit his wife’s throat, sawed her body into pieces, tied the individual pieces up in separate pillow cases and dumped her in a river.
Schmidt was as careless in his disposal as the pillow cases he used to package the pieces were anagrammed with the letter ‘A’ and easily traced back to his home where the unique order had been made. Police made their way to Schmidt’s apartment and were horrified to find blood spatter all over the walls and floor. Schmidt made the comment that sacrifices require blood.
During Schmidt’s trial, it was revealed that his wife and unborn child may not have been his only victims. A second apartment with records of money laundering, correspondence with a physician regarding murdering people and collecting on the life insurance. Perhaps the most haunting was the body of a 9-year old girl found underneath his New York parish who was dismembered in the same way Anna had been. Schmidt never stood trial for these other potential crimes because he took a final seat in the electric chair in Sing Sing Prison on February 18, 1916.