Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mrs. Schaeffer Dies And Her Husband Is Held For Murder

Source: Evansville Journal, Evansville, Indiana, September 17, 1883, page 4.


Mrs. Schaeffer Dies And Her Husband Is Held For Murder

His Defense to be Insanity - Rieber's Story - Suspension of Schuetler the Policeman

The tragedy of Saturday night, upon which the curtain fell at the opening of a new day before its completion, ended for the time last evening with the death of Mrs. Schaeffer a few minutes after six.  She had suffered great pain during the day, and required almost the constant attention of a physician to relieve her intense agony.  Toward the  last, however, this was ended, and she died from internal hemorrhage.  At the time of her death her husband's father, mother, brother and sister, her own mother and brother and sisters were with her, and watched the failing breath.  At the request of Andy Rieber, the brother of Mrs. Schaeffer, who tried to kill her murderer, he was allowed to remain in the house in charge of a policeman until some time after the death of his sister.

The coroner was immediately summoned, and after viewing the remains and getting a few preliminary statements, he adjourned the inquest until to-day.  This morning at 9 o'clock the post mortem examination will be made by the coroner and county physician, to determine the course of the ball.

It was thought at first there would be an unusual scarcity of witnesses and the exact time of the shooting had not been witnessed, but now the witnesses spring up, and the possibility is that each step taken by Schaeffer and his wife on the evening of the shooting can be traced from supper time until the time he left the policeman on the corner of Michigan street and Second avenue.  But the necessity of this seems vanishing, too, as the cloud of witnesses increases, for even the brother (Andy) of ther murdered woman who wished to kill the murderer, says Schaeffer was subject to epileptic fits, and whenever the moon changed he became irritable and "cranky."  At such times he was wont to drink considerably, and when full or even partially so, found a delight in picking a quarrel with any one.  A fight at such times pleased him most of all.  At such times his wife was afraid of him, and he was generally given free reign by every one.  The sprees were frequently followed by fits, when it would take four men to hold him.  Not long since, while irritable, he threatened his brother-in-law, and abused them so that the oldest jumped on to him.  They were presented in police court for fighting and were fined.

One of the children, a boy, shows that he inherits to a marked degree, this epileptic tendency, and is quite idiotic at times, and always weak in mind.

About 10 o'clock last night Andy Rieber was taken to the lockup and placed in a cell.  He gave the reporter a statement of the shooting, and his subsequent action, claiming the statement made by Schaeffer tended to make Mrs. Schaeffer appears as inclined to drink, when she was not that kind at all.  She went to the saloon as Schaeffer has told, and was there treated twice with Mrs. Andy Rieber, by John Rieber and Schaeffer.  They then went home and sent for five cents worth of beer, which was drank by Mrs. Schaeffer and Mrs. Rieber.  Schaeffer then entered the home, which was occupied in common by his own and Andy's families.  He asked his wife to go to the saloon with him, and she to humor him consented, but refused to proceed further than the alley between Michigan and Franklin streets, on Second avenue.  There the shooting took place as described yesterday.  It was witnessed by John Ashby, a man employed on Bingham's wharfboat, who lives in a cottage on the corner of the alley and Second avenue, on the Franklin street side.  It was a very few moments afterward when Andy Rieber heard of the affair, and, maddened beyond control, he started to find Schaeffer.  He saw him at the corner of Michigan near his house in company with the officer, and jumped at him with the avowed intention of killing him.  After this his mind is greatly confused and he cannot remember with any degree of certainty what happened except that after a time he was being taken away and he saw an officer had hold of his arm.  That hand held the knife and he dropped it as soon as he saw the officer who then released him, and his friends took him away.  Whether it was Schuetler who took him off or Schaeffer or not he is unable to say.

Yesterday at the morning roll call (at eleven) Capt. McCutchan, to whose watch Schuetler belonged, suspended him for cowardice, to await an investigation into his conduct, which takes place to-day.

In addition to the brothers and sisters mentioned, Mrs. Schaeffer's mother survives her and resides at 310 Virginia street.  Her father is dead.  Schaeffer's parents, who live on Babytown hill, came in early yesterday, and stayed until the death of the murdered woman.  They are quite old and past work, and lived with their daughter and her husband, Gottfried Stocker, who has a malt house in Babytown.  A son, who works for the Mechanic's furniture company as a varnisher, lives in the city.  All of the Rieber boys, but one, are varnishers, and Andy worked for the Crescent City chair works.

When the news of the woman's death was telephoned the lock-up, Capt. Newitt went in the cell house to secure the door of Schaeffer's cell, as is customary with murderers.  He asked about his wife, and was told she was dead.  He cried out, not loudly, but in a pained way, and then, in a few minutes, asked how long she had been dead.

"We have just learned of it" was the response.  "Oh," he said, and that was all.  Later, when the turnkey went in the lockup he inquired if the report was true, and an hour later was sleeping soundly and peacefully.  His wound is not serious and will hardly be worth mentioning in a day or two.  The line of his defense which has been indicated, although he has not yet secured counsel, will eventuate most probably in his confinement in an insane asylum.

Rieber is not at all exercised over his predicament, and seems confident it will all end happily.  They will be transferred to the county jail this morning - at least Schaeffer will.  Rieber will probably be admitted to bail.

Mary V. (RIEBER) SCHAEFFER (c1853-1883), was Corinne's paternal 3rd-great grandmother.  Additional information regarding her murder was posted previously.

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