Hans Schmidt – the Only Priest Executed in the U.S.

  1. Hans Schmidt

    Hans Schmidt was born to a Protestant father and a Catholic mother. There had been a long history of mental illness on both sides of the family. While growing up, young Schmidt displayed a fascination with blood and dismemberment. His family reported that when the boy was younger, he chopped the heads off of two geese belonging to the family. He then kept the heads in his pocket. He also enjoyed visiting the local slaughterhouse on a daily basis, where he watched the killing and dissection of different types of farm animals. He seemed to be fascinated with the process.

    Was Hans Schmidt Ordained?

    Schmidt eventually entered a seminary where he studied to become a priest. The young man went on to become a priest despite claims he was not morally or mentally fit to serve in a parish. It’s not known if Schmidt was ordained, although he claimed Bishop Kirstein of Mainz appointed him. He said the Bishop ordained him alone, and he said he did not like to speak about it. He also claimed that St. Elizabeth ordained him. Schmidt said he was praying at his bedside when she appeared to him and said, “I ordain you to the priesthood.” Schmidt said he didn’t tell anyone because people would make fun of him. He insisted that God spoke to different people in different ways. 

    Hans Schmidt Meets Anna Aumuller

    In his early years as a priest, Schmidt molested altar boys, had affairs with several women, and entertained prostitutes. Schmidt also had a “creative” way of saying Mass, which led parishioners and fellow priests to take complaints to the monsignor and Bishop. When it became clear that no other Diocese in Mainz wanted him as a priest, he moved to the United States. During his first assignment, he had problems with the senior pastor and was transferred to a church in New York City. There he met Anna Aumuller. She was the housekeeper at St. Boniface’s Rectory. Schmidt insisted he had a message from God ordering him to “love” Anna. Anna refused his sexual advancements in the beginning but then entered a relationship with Schmidt. During the same time, the priest was having a relationship with a male New York City dentist. Schmidt later said he enjoyed his relationship with the dentist more than with Anna.

Hans Schmidt Marries Anna

Although Schmidt was transferred to a different church, he continued his affair with Anna. Apparently, they were married in a “secret ceremony.” Schmidt performed the marriage. Next, Schmidt claimed he received a command from God saying he needed to sacrifice Anna. He reported this to Anna, and she told him he was crazy. Soon after telling Anna about his message from God, Anna told her “husband” that she was pregnant.

Hans Schmidt Shows He is Mentally Ill

Schmidt’s mental illness became apparent one night when he visited her in the apartment they had rented where they posed as a married couple. He slit Anna’s throat while she was asleep. Then he drank her blood. He raped her as she bled to death. He dismembered her body by sawing off her head with a hacksaw. Then he sliced her body in half. He dumped the remains in the Hudson River. Schmidt then returned to St. Joseph’s Church where he offered Mass and gave Holy Communion – just like nothing had happened. Within days the body washed up to the shores, and the police traced the remains back to Schmidt. When the police contacted him, he confessed to the marriage and murder within minutes. He claimed, “I loved her. Sacrifices should be consummated in blood.” 

Jury Convicts Hans Schmidt

The jury convicted the “priest” to first-degree murder. He was sentenced to death by electric chair. He was electrocuted to death on February 18, 1916, at the age of 34. Schmidt became the first and only priest ever to be executed in the United States.

Schmidt sounds like a character out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. However, it seems nearly impossible that anyone could write a movie such as this.


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