Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Husband Shoots His Wife

Source: Evansville Journal, Evansville, Indiana, September 16, 1883.


The Dull Monotony Of Weeks Unbroken

A Husband Shoots His Wife and is Stabbed by his Brother-in-law - Scenes and Incidents

For weeks the city has been fearfully dull in matters of news, and with the ghoullike nature, we have longed for a break in the monotony, for a sensation of criminal nature, but an event of last night filled that longing to the uttermost, even to satiating us, for never are those finer senses dulled that the perception of the effect of so great a crime is not easily seen.

Chas. Schaeffer, who lived at 812 Second avenue, has for several months worked in Knox's coffin factory, on outer Main, as a varnisher.  He is a painter, but, having no work took to varnishing.  His wife was formerly a Miss Rieber, and he married her in this city about eleven years ago.  He has never been a man of much industry, but has managed pretty well to support his wife and the children who have come to them at intervals of two years since their marriage.  There are five children living and one dead, the eldest child is 10 years old and the youngest three months.

Last night Schaeffer went out with his brothers-in-law, John and Andy Rieber, to Zachres' saloon on the corner of Third avenue and Franklin street.  There they drank considerably and sang.  Schaeffer in a statement made to the reporter last night said they were having a very pleasant time when he saw his wife peeping in the door.  He finished a song he was singing and went out to her followed by her brother John who treated Mrs. Schaeffer, and his wife and his brothers wife who were with her, Mrs. S. taking whiskey while the other women drank beer.  They then went back to the saloon leaving the women outside and sang again.  The women still lingered and this time, he (Schaeffer) treated them, Mrs. S. still taking whisky.  After that she went home with her sisters-in-law, and he presently followed.  She and her sister were in the house and they sent for some beer.  He assisted her in drinking this and went with her to a saloon for more.  As they were making a second trip for the same purpose he remonstrated in a playful way "for her a-making such a bum of herself, an' she said, ef you drink I'm a-going to drink. An' I said ef you drink eny more I'll kill you.  I pulled my pistol out'n my pocket to show it to her, jest in fun, an' it went off. 'Fore God, sir, I didn't 'tend to shoot her.  I didn't 'tend to shoot her - it jest went off.  I tell you it did;" and in his endeavor to justify his action and impress his statement with truth, he became strangely excited.

His statement continued after the recital of the main tragedy.  After the shooting he ran to Zachres' saloon and told John Rieber to take him in charge, stating that he had shot his wife.  John told him he did not want to have anything to do with him and then Policeman Schuetler appeared on the scene.  The policeman took him in charge on the representations he made, and at his request was taking him up to the house to see how badly his wife was hurt, when at the corner of Michigan street they were met by Andy Rieber, who had heard of the tragedy and was looking for Schaeffer.  Seeing him in the policeman's charge he ran to him and easily throwing the dull witted officer aside, he dealt Schaeffer a severe blow to the left side, about two inches from the left nipple.  It penetrated to the lung substance and was done with a long blade of a pocket knife.  Schaeffer caught the arm of his antagonist and held it, until he was assisted, in a terrible grip, knowing his life depended upon it.  In getting his hold he was slightly cut about the fingers of his left hand.  He was then taken to headquarters though apparently not by Schuetter.  Schaeffer says a citizen arrested him and no policeman's name appeared on the slate in that connection.

This was his direct statement, but afterward he said he had reason to doubt his wife's faithfulness though he had never known of her drinking as she did last night.  He said he had not been drunk before since July 5th and his wife had no reason to complain of his drinking habit, though he admitted he did take a glass when he thought "it would do him good."

He has lived in the city for about 13 years, and came from Cincinnati to this city with his parents, who now live on Babytown hill.  He was born in New Albany, and is 31 years of age.  When taken to the lockup Surgeon Wilton was sent for and his wound attended to.  It was not necessarily dangerous, and was cared for so that it was not painful.  He was very drunk when taken to the lockup, and only realized the magnitude of his crime and position as a drunken man might.

Another story of the shooting was obtained near the residence of the wounded woman from various persons.  When the reporter arrived she was unable to speak, had been undressed and put to bed in the front room of the lower floor, occupied by herself and family.  Dr. McClurkin was in attendance.  The ball had entered the abdomen about an inch and a half below the navel, and to the left of the median line.  It ranged downward and probably lodged against the skin at the back.  She was very low indeed, and the doctor had only the hope of possibility for her recovery.  At one point she was sinking rapidly, and it was thought she would be dead in a few minutes, but she rallied and was suffering and moaning when the reporter left - nearly three o'clock this morning.

Directly after the shooting, before being put to bed, she made a statement of the shooting.  She said she had started out that night with the intention of drinking if her husband did, but soon repented the notion.  After her return from the saloon Schaeffer came home then, and after drainking all the beer left from the amount they had sent for, asked her to go and get some more with him.  She refused to do this, and he asked her to go walking with him in a very affectionate (drunken) way.  She acceded, and when they got on the block between Michigan and Franklin on Second avenue, he renewed his request for her to go for beer.  She refused, and they quarreled in a violent way.  As they were quarreling, two men (Fred. Kroener and George Gerst) passed.  Schaeffer said, "You will go with me or I'll kill you;" and again she refused, whereupon he drew his pistol and fired.

The men, Kroener and Gerst, had gotten but a little way from them when they heard the shot, and having noticed the quarrel as they passed, they ran back to see what had happened.  Mrs. Schaeffer passed them as they ran, and said simply "Im shot."  They paid no attention to this, but went on to where Schaeffer was standing.  "Come on," he said, "and I'll blow your brains out."  They didn't "come on," and he turned and went towards Franklin street.  Mrs. Schaeffer fell at the corner of Michigan and Second avenue.  She was picked by neighbors and taken to her home and the physician called.

Statements as to the time of this occurence were very vague indeed, but the physician was not called until about a quarter after twelve, thoough the man Schaefer was slated at the lockup as arrested at eleven.  The shooting probably occurred later, as the earliest time given was half past eleven.

An effort was made to get a statement from Andy Rieber, but he would not talk.  Scheutler, who was ordered to remain in charge of Rieber and keep him at his sister's house until her death and then report with him at the headquarters, was met on Second avenue as he was coming back from having a drink with Rieber and his friends.  He was asked for his version of the cutitng scrape but admonished by a nudge from some member of the crowd to say nothing, he said, "I'll see you to-morrow."  So the public has to take the story unembellished by any of Mr. Schuetler's latent stores of knowledge.  The whole neighborhood was excited over this tragedy and not a soul on the blocks adjacent thought of sleep, all watching eagerly at the doors and windows for the first sign of the approach of death.  A priest was sent for as it was thought she would die soon and he came hurriedly.  He had prayers with the family and waited in readiness to perform those rites peculiar to the dying.  The scene was especially terrible to one of ordinary sensitiveness, the poor children waiting anxiously watching with the many relatives and friends, the dimly lighting candle before the crucifix, the kneeling priest and people, the watching physician and the moaning form on the bed, while without the crowd, was watching.

This article was provided to me by fellow researcher Ray Bland.  It is believed to be from the Evansville Journal.  Mary V. (RIEBER) SCHAEFFER was Corinne's 3rd-great grandmother.  There is much more research to be done on this family to sort out the details of this tragedy.

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