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Murders in Shawano County

Transcribed by Editor Jim Glasheen & Cathe Ziereis


Thurs 25 June 1931

New London Men Fall Dead From Poisoning 

Tests of the stomachs of Henry Kopitzke and Louis Hoffman, the two New London men who died in great agony at a dance between New London and Weyauwega Saturday evening, were reported on today, and it is found that both stomachs contained strychnine.  County officers are putting forth every effort to find how the poison was administered. 

Tragedy stilled the merriment at a barn dance near New London late Saturday night when two of the celebrators fell victim to a mysterious, malady, in the midst of an old fashion square dance and died within five minutes.

The dead were Henry Kopitzke, 48, a widower and the father of five children and Louis Hoffman, 35, a World War veteran and father of three children.  Both men were New London laborers.

Coroner Adam Schider and Sheriff Arthur Steenbock of Waupaca County launched an immediate investigation, but Sunday night both officials said they were baffled as to cause of the deaths.


INQUEST IS BAFFLED.  The coroner promptly impaneled a jury and an inquest was conducted early Sunday, but was continued until June 29 when it was deemed essential that the stomachs of the victims to be sent to Madison or Milwaukee for a chemical analyses.

Rigidity of the bodies, the coroner said, indicated to him that there was a possibility of strychnine poisoning.  But no facts were brought to light bearing of the source of such poison.

Kopitzke, Hoffman, and Hoffman’s wife arrived at 10 p.m. at the barn of Harold Douglas’ farm, where the dance was under way.  Two hundred persons were on the floor.  It is on County Trunk Highway K between New London and Weyauwega, six and a half miles from New London.


WIFE DENIES DRINKING.  Neither man had been drinking Mrs. Hocman said later and testimony of other dancers bore out that statement.  Nor had they had anything to east for several hours before going to the dance, the Woman told Sheriff Steenback.

Kopitzke was Mrs. Hoffman’s partner in the square dance when he was seized with violent cramps about 11:15 p.m.  Almost at the identical time, Hoffman, who was sitting out the dance was similarly attacked.

Within five minutes Hoffman lay dead.  Kopitzke, who had been taken outside, died two or three minutes later.  The horrified dancers were thrown into an uproar; the music was silenced and all grouped around the suffering men as they writhed in the throes of death.

Attempts to administer first aid appeared to have no effects; and the men were long dead before help could be summoned.

Coroner Schider took charge of the bodies and brought them to Waupaca, the county seat, where the inquest was held.

The witnesses at the inquest were unable to throw any light on the cause of the deaths.  It is one of the most Puzzling cases in Waupaca county annuals and both the sheriff and the coroner confessed Sunday they had not developed a theory as to whether the deaths were accidental or otherwise.

The possibility of a suicide pact between the men was abandoned when it was learned from Mrs. Hoffman there was no reason for such a move.  Both men were employed, neither had financial difficulties and the widow declared there was no quarreling at all during the evening, she insisted.




Thurs 9 July 1931

Poison Murder near Solution.  Ed Riske under Arrest for Death of New London Men


Solution of the mystery of the poisoning of Henry Kopitzke and Louis Hoffman at the barn dance on county highway between New London and Weyauwega two weeks ago nears completion.

Last Sunday Mrs. Hoffman committed suicide by drowning in the Wolf River between New London and Northport.  The Journal editor happened to be at the scene when the body was taken from the river.  The banks were lined up with cars for two miles, each car filled with people curious to know whether or not Mrs. Hoffman had really thrown herself into the river.

The Friday before District Atty. Lloyd Smith had given Mrs. Hoffman and her paramour Ed. Riske, a grueling siege of questioning, Riske was held thereafter in the Waupaca county jail without charge.

Saturday night Mrs. Hoffman stayed with a relative.  Early in the morning, about three she complained that she could not sleep and told her relative that she was going to get a drink of water.  The relative went back to sleep and when she awoke at eight o’clock, Mrs. Hoffman was missing.

She gave the alarm and search for Mrs. Hoffman began.  Her tracks led to the river, and a posse of New London people searched from nine in the morning to four in the afternoon when the body was found floating on the water and caught in some bushes.

On the following day the hearing was held.  The hearing resolved itself into an examination of Riske.  It started in the city hall but the crowd outside demanded entrance and the hearing was removed to Jack Hickey’s Opera House.  The house holds seven hundred people, but at that the crowd outside was as large as that within the building.

Things look bad for Riske.  It was brought out that last year Mrs. Hoffman’s husband went south with

a truck in search of work.  He was gone several months and during his absence Riske and Mrs. Hoffman kept company.  After Hoffman’s return the trouble began for the friendship started in his absence id not cease upon his return.

We knew Ed Riske when he was a boy and went to school with him in Manawa.  There were two of the boys, Frank and Ed and no one would believe that either of them could come to the present situation and predicament.  He worked for some years for Wm. Ritchie and was a trusted employee on that farm.

Recently he worked for Charley Specht., a former Manawa man who now owns a farm near New London.  Specht testified that a bottle of rat poison similar to that found in the stomachs of the two dead men was missing from his granary since the night of the tragedy.

New London physicians believe that Mrs. Hoffman also took poison before she cast herself into the river.

On various occasions lately she had asked friends if drowning were a painful death, and had also asked when dawn came.  She was the mother of three children.

Some Shawano people were at the hearing in New London Monday and they tell us that Riske appeared like a broken down old man.  He is forty-eight years old but looks much older.

He is now under arrest for murder and will be on trial in the September term of court in Waupaca.



Thurs 16 July 1931

Parents Believe Kurt Schuettpelz Did Not Hang Himself

Kurt Schuettpelz a fifteen year old was found hanging in his father’s barn Sunday evening, at Suring.  He is the son of Fred Schuettpelz, who owns a cottage on North Breach of Shawano Lake and consequently the family is well known here.  They are very well known by Nettie Morton and the Gilsons. 

The coroner of Oconto County, Clyde Jones, empanelled a jury to make an inquest.  This jury returned a verdict of death by suicide, but the parents do not believe the verdict at all and suspect foul play.  There was absolutely no motive for suicide because the boy was happy and well and had no enemies.

Kurt’s parents, his brother, Alfred, and two sisters, Gertrude and Lillian, went on a picnic Sunday morning, and Kurt was invited to an outing with his uncle Frank Schuettpelz.  He did not go, however, and nothing is known of his whereabouts during the day.  When the family returned home from the picnic, they found things misplaced in the home as if someone had been rummaging about.

The body was discovered a short while later when Mr. Schuettpelz and son went to the barn to throw down hay.  The fact that the rope was only two feet long and tied in a peculiar knot led relatives to believe that the bay had been dead before the hanging.  The examining physician declared that the boy had been dead three hours.  There were no marks of violence on the body.



SCJ Thurs 20 Aug 1931

Suicide Disclaimed: Suspect Foul Play 

Recent Disclosures Point to Probability of Murder in Suring Case 

You will recall that on the 12th of July, Kurt Schuettpelz, of Suring, was found dead, hanging from a rafter in the barn, when the family returned home from an outing.

Every appearance indicated that the young man had killed himself by hanging, but the parents insisted that there must be foul play.  The coroner’s jury returned a verdict of death by hanging, self-inflicted, but even then the parents clung to the other theory.

Shawano People were interested because the parents were pretty well known here.  They have a cottage on North Beach and spend some time there each summer.

Now new evidence has come up which leads to the belief that the parents are right – that the boy was killed.  A sweeping investigation is to be made of all the incidents surrounding the death.

Finger prints have been found which allow that someone other than the boy was at the home and far-reaching investigation will be made to run down the finger-prints.




Thurs 15 Oct 1931

Suspect Relative in Death of Child

Latest:  As we go to press it is reported that a federal warrant has been issued for Mrs. Rachel Kaquatosh, wife of George Kaquatosh, and a sister-in-law of the mother of the little girl.  The warrant, according to report, charges first degree murder.


What has the suspicious marks of murder of a two year old child was uncovered on the Reservation Wednesday only by happenstance.  Harvey Stubenvoll, who is Corner of Shawano County, was making a tour of the cabins of the Reservation trappers and hunters, in company with Barney Penass.  They came to the home of George Kaquatosh and Barney asked if he had any furs to sell.

Without answering about the furs, Kaquatosh said, “We had bad luck here today,” and upon further questioning he told that the little girl had died.  Harvey Stubenvoll immediately asked to see the child, having shown his identification as Coroner.

There were scratches on the Childs face visible at first glance.  Harvey asked the cause of the scratches and Kaquatosh answered that the child had been fighting.  Harvey made very little further investigation before he came convinced that there had been foul play and without any ado went out and got Officer Erick Jensen who with the coroner took the body to Shawano and to the Manning Funeral Home.

There an inquest was held by Dr. C E Stubenvoll and Dr. Lyndall Peterson.  They found that the body was cut in the lower part, the wounds seemingly having been inflected with a stick.  The upper jaw was fractured; there was a deep hole in the forehead from a broken skull, bruises on the body, and severe burns on the thigh and arms.

The child was Margaret Hagen.  She was a daughter of Mary Hagen.  Both the mother of the girl and the husband were serving terms in jail.  The father of the child, it was alleged, is not the husband, and the father too is serving jail sentence, all three for previous offences.

After the investigation at the Manning funeral home, the case was in the hands of Supt. Beyer, for the offence, if proven, will be a federal charge.

A special investigator, Mr. Neuman, was sent from the Department of Justice, in Chicago.  The mother and the husband were kept in separate cells and were grilled separately.  Armed, it is reported, with a written confession from the mother, he went back to Chicago Sunday to report to United States council-at-law Koelzer.  It was Mr. Koelzer who ordered the investigation at the Manning home.

Uncontrolled jealousy is said to be the motive which had played a major part in the case.  When Harvey Stubenvoll and Penass happened along they found the child wrapped in a sheet, but no effort had been made to get a doctor or report the death.  Except for the timely coming of the two men it is possible that the death could have gone through without suspicious notice.


Thurs 29 Oct 1931

Charge Woman with Murder of Baby Girl 

Mrs. Rachel Kaquatosh, through a written statement given to a special U. S. Investigator, Jay C Newman, on October 9 at the Keshena Indian agency in the presence of Superintendent Beyer, testified in a hearing at the Shawano County court room last Friday afternoon that she had beaten Marjori LaVerne Schmidt Hagen with a small club said to be seasoned and an inch thick.  The beating occurred only a few days before Corner Harvey C Stubenvoll discovered that the child had died in the Kaquatosh home.  Statements by Mrs. Kaquatosh and husband George gave evidence that George had not beaten the baby during her recent illness before the death occurred with the results that Geo. was dismissed from the charge of murder while Mrs. Kaquatosh was bound over to be tried for murder in Federal court.  The penalty is death.

Lawyers Argue.  Considerable arguing took place before Commissioner Bernard Dillett between U. S. District Attorney Koelzer and defense attorney M. G. Eberlein.  Eberlein insisted that the woman be bound over on a manslaughter charge while Koelzer argued that it had not yet been proven that the child was murdered.  Dillett settled the question when he decided in Koelzer favor.

Dr. C E Stubenvoll testified and reported upon an examination which he and Dr. L W Peterson had performed immediately after the child had been found.  In the post-mortem he found that the child’s jaw had been broken and that it had not eaten for at least two or three days.  A bone had been forced into the nasal cavity and had prevented breathing through the nose.  Other brutal marks were found over the entire body.

The court room was overflowing with Indians from the Reservation as well as by a large number of white people.  Contrary to the white people, however, most of the Indian women had brought their families which consisted of infants of a few weeks an up.

Sign A Confession.  The signed confession which Newman introduced concerning the beating of the child related how the infant had been left with the Kaquatosh family while its father and mother served time in the House of Correction in Milwaukee.  The child was difficult to manage and would not mind, confessed Rachel in the written statement.  While caring for the baby on October 4, while George the husband was hunting.  Rachel flew into a rage after she thought the baby had made a “face” at her.  She took a birch stick about an inch thick and beat the child into an unconscious condition, after which she put it to bed and took care of it.

In a written confession by George Kaquatosh which was also given to Newman on October 9, the husband told how he came back from hunting on October 4 and October 6.  On the latter date, he returned to find the child’s arm bandaged.  The child was in very serious condition he thought.  Late on October 7, George went to a neighbor to call a doctor, but before he got back the child was dead.  No statement was made as to whether a doctor arrived on the scene and it was not explained why the death was not reported until Coroner Harvey Stubenvoll simply happened into the home on other business.  It was not clear whether or not the doctor reached the home after he was called.

Makes Second Statement.  Mrs. Kaquatosh made a second written statement mostly which was stricken from the records on heresay, because the defendant George Kaquatosh was not present.

Edgar Manning, Shawano funeral director, and Superintendent Beyer were called upon the witness stand to testify that the child was dead and buried.

Among other injuries found on the child was a depression in the child’s head which amounted to less than a fracture and several burns.  Mrs. Kaquatosh could not testify as to the cause of the burns.

Coroner Harvey Stubenvoll testified that he accidentally discovered the situation when he called at the Kaquatosh home to buy furs.  The coroner was then told that the baby was injured when she got into a fight with another child about four years old.



Thurs 5 Nov 1931

Bear Creek Girl Is Not Dead Woman 


After a wild goose chase thru the Bear Creek territory yesterday in an effort to identify the Mattoon murdered woman as Margaret Moriarity, Bear Creek girl who was missing a few days before the woman was found in the Mattoon cow pasture, Coroner Harvey Stubenvoll and District Attorney Louis Cattau positively found out that Miss Moriarity was not the victim.

In an effort to identify the girl, Cattau and Stubenvoll visited many farmers in the Bear Creek territory and then went to New London to interview the girl’s relatives and her dentist.  Descriptions would not check, although the size and general character of the dead woman and Miss Moriarity were similar.




Thurs 3 Dec 1931

Official Have Little Hope Of Solving Mystery 

The coroner’s jury in the Mattoon murder case met at the Shawano Court house at 2 o’clock Wednesday afternoon to determine the cause of death of the unidentified body of a girl which was found in a sack in a cow pasture four miles south of Mattoon on October 27.  The coroner’s jury held that the women had been killed by an unknown person and for an unknown purpose by being shot through the head.  No new facts were uncovered by the meeting of the jury which consisted of George Frank, Jr., Carl Lueke, Jim Gehr, G L Bauhgn, Otto Regling and Webb Knope.  John Pulcifer and Waldo Rinehart, former jurists could not be notified in time for the inquest.


Last Friday an effort to identify the mysterious murder victim as Miss Anita Vander Zander, 27, of Milwaukee and formerly of the town of Oneida failed.  The girl’s father, Peter Vander Zander and her bother Martin of Kimberly were in Shawano, but were unable to identify the body.  The girl had been missing since February.  District Attorney Louis Cattau, in advance, was sure the body was not that of the Vander Zander girl, in spite of the fact that relatives had formerly said the descriptions in newspapers had somewhat resembled her.



Thursday 9 July 1932

May Identify Murdered Mattoon Girl

At the suggestion of District Attorney Louis Cattau, Sheriff John Anderson of Racine is investigating whether or not the body of the unknown woman found near Mattoon last fall was Mrs. Charles Rogers, wife of Charles Rogers, who is now serving one to twenty years in Waupun for wounding Laura Tally, a dentist’s assistant, after spending the night in a Root River cottage with her.

District Attorney Cattau has sent complete records to Sheriff Anderson, and a complete check-up is being made at the present time.  Mrs. Roger’s brother informed authorities that the family was much worried about the sister, as his mother claims to have not heard from Mrs. Rogers in eight months.

Shawano County Journal

Thursday 9 Aug 1934


Indian Couple Arrested in Death of Their Child


Byron Williams and Naomi Williams, his wife, Stockbridge Indians living about five miles from Gresham, were arrested by sheriff’s officers Saturday at the home of Mrs. Williams brother near DePere and were turned over to Shawano county officers on charges of first degree manslaughter.

The complaint for their arrest was sworn out by Coroner Harvey Stubenvoll after an inquest into the death of their 7-month-old daughter, Joyce, had revealed, according to medical testimony, that death was due to starvation.

The child died July 31 after the parents had been absent from home on a trip.  They had left their six children, the oldest 11, in the house without any food, officials stated, and the plight was revealed when the oldest child came to the home of a neighbor to beg for something to eat.



10 Dec 1937

Mysteriously Murdered in Milwaukee Saturday

Frances Balzer Found Dying By Policeman In Milwaukee Railroad Yards

Francis Balzer, son-in-law of Wm. R. Hahn of this village and known too many Tigerton people, was killed in Milwaukee sometime last Saturday afternoon or night.

He was last seen alive about 3:30 Saturday afternoon and was not again seen until a policeman found him in a dying condition in the railroad yards at 11 p.m.  Who his assailants were and why he was attacked is not certain but Milwaukee police are holding five men who are suspects. Young Balzer was positively identified by his father, Frank Balzer.

Louis F Balzer, better known to Tigertonians as Francis Balzer, was 26 years of age.  He leaves a wife and five children, the youngest being an infant, the oldest eight years.  He has lived in Milwaukee since his marriage some 9 years ago.

Mr. and Mrs. William Hahn, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Hahn and Clarence Hahn left by auto for Milwaukee Monday morning to console the stricken family with their presence,  Funeral services and burial will be held today (Friday) in Milwaukee.

SL Tues. 20 Oct. 1942

Schuettpelz Held on Murder Charge

Beat His Wife to Death Sunday in Family Argument


Oconto, Wis.  A warrant charging first degree murder will be issued this morning for William Schuettpelz, 57, Oconto County District Attorney Harold E Krueger said last night.

Schuettpelz, well-to-do farmer is accused of beating his wife Martha, 54, to death Sunday because she took his shotgun when he wanted to go hunting.

Krueger, who questioned Schuettpelz again, last night, said the farmer, who was hauled into court two weeks ago on a charge of wife-beating, had admitted the slaying, but had not signed a formal confession.

Sheriff Joseph F0ral said Schuettpelz beat his wife with a shore pipe.  A broken chair and a bloodstained knife also were found near the death scene.  Feral said the prisoner was released on the wife beating charges because his wife refused to press charges.

Shawano Evening Leader

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 1949


Second Degree Murder Charge Faces Shawano County Woman

Mrs. Annabelle Rades Held Following Death of Husband

Faces Murder Charges


District Attorney, C. Strossenreuther said this afternoon a second degree murder charge will be filed against Mrs. Annabelle Rades.

A shocked Shawano county was recovering today from a domestic tragedy which resulted in the death of a 27 year old father.  He was Levi Rades, killed by the discharge of a 20 gauge shotgun which his wife, Annabelle, admitted discharging, Shawano county authorities said.

The tragedy occurred at the Rades farm house in the town of Pella, about 3 miles south of the Shawano county settlement of the same name.

Mrs. Rades is being held at the sheriff’s offices.  She is 22 years old and married Rades in 1946.  Coroner Harvey Stubenvoll said no inquest would be held.

The shooting followed a husband and wife quarrel.  The gun’s full charge struck Rades in the brain cavity and he apparently died within seconds of the discharge, Coroner Stubenvoll said.  The couple’s two children, Lee, who will be two in April, and Robert, who will be one in May, were in the family kitchen at the time of the shooting, officers said.

The house, in which the family lived, was sold at an auction in Sep. 1948, to Edgar Malueg.  It previously was owned by the victim’s father.  There were no animals on the farm.

A house with a number of rooms, the family apparently had been living in one downstairs room, the kitchen.  Officers said the children’s beds and other furniture were in the kitchen, indicating it was the only room in use.

They said there was no food or fuel in the house, except for one-half loaf of dry bread.  The kitchen fire was out.  According to Mrs. Rades’ oral confession, her husband had not been working since Dec. 8, when he quit working for a Shawano lumber concern.  She said he had never worked steadily and he failed to provide adequately.

Prior to the quarrel, which resulted in the shooting, Mrs. Rades told authorities that there was a dispute over the lack of food and he made serious threats to her.

As the story is reconstructed, it appears that the shooting occurred between 9 and 10 a.m. yesterday.  At about 1:30 p.m. Mrs. Rades went to a neighbor’s home about ¼ mile north of the Rades home and called the sheriff’s office.  The neighbor whose telephone was used to notify authorities was William Wolf’s.  Mrs. Rades took the two children with her when she placed the call, then waited at the Wolf residence until the arrival of authorities.

Sheriff Hugo Baker and Undersheriff William Seering, coming from Shawano, reached the scene at the same time as Coroner Stubenvoll arrived from Clintonville, where the latter is employed.

No explanation was given why Mrs. Rades waited for several hours before informing authorities.  She is a native of Hawkins, Wis.

A prominent Pella citizen, expressing the view of a stunned township and county phrased it well, stating: “We haven’t recovered yet.  When it happens in a far-off place one doesn’t think much of it but in your own community it takes a real hold.”

The victim’s funeral arrangements are in charge of the Uttormark Funeral home at Marion.  Arrangements had not been completed by noon today.

Mrs. Rades will be represented by Shawano Attorney Louis Cattau.