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Saturday, March 18, 2017

"Yes, I Shot to Kill."

Little Murders

Commerce on the busy intersection  of Twenty-Fourth and J Streets, in Omaha, Nebraska, was interrupted, the evening of October 16, by the crack of three pistol shots. A young woman fired once in the air, trying to get the attention of the man who had just walked away from her. When he continued walking without turning around, she aimed at his back and fired again. Then she pointed the revolver at her own head and fired a third shot. Two bodies fell to the pavement.

Both were still alive and were quickly taken to Presbyterian Hospital. The man was Henry J. Reiser, a well-known, single, man-about-town, connected to the Armour meat packing company. The shot had severed his spinal cord, and he was not expected to live. The woman was Mrs. Eloise Rutiger, a prominent Omaha social leader, whose husband was also associated with Armour. The bullet had only grazed her head, and she was in no danger.

“Is he dead yet?” Mrs. Rudiger asked when she came to in the hospital, “Yes, I shot to kill. It was for my husband to do, but he would not, so I did it myself. The wretch has given me enough cause, and I hope I have accomplished what I undertook.”

Henry Reiser had come to America from Germany, ten years earlier. He was from an aristocratic family and was often referred to as Baron Henry Reiser. He first settled in Chicago where he became a packing-house promoter then moved to Omaha to work for Armour. He met Eloise Rutiger through her husband two years before the shooting.

Mrs. Rudiger was instantly fascinated and eventually seduced, by the handsome young baron. He had a “marvelous influence” over her—a “mesmeric power” she would later say—which seems to have been noticed by everyone except her husband.

“I loved the man at first and do not deny it.” Mrs. Rudiger said, but their relationship did not run smoothly. Reiser, at times, became abusive. Once he fractured her ribs, and she begged the physician who treated her not to tell her husband.

Eventually, guilt overcame the power over Reiser had over her and Mrs. Rutiger told her husband about the affair. Mr. Rudiger wanted to divorce his wife and went to Reiser asking if he would admit to adultery so they could settle the matter quietly.  Reiser refused, so Eloise Rutiger went to Reiser and asked him herself. When he refused again, she shot him and tried to shoot herself.

Henry Riser clung to life for nearly two months, but his death was inevitable. When he died in December, Eloise Rutiger was indicted for first-degree murder.

The courtroom was filled to capacity when Eloise Rudiger’s trial began in March 1894, and public sentiment was generally in her favor. She pled self-defense, citing Reiser’s hypnotic control over her. The jury deliberated for four days, sleeping when they could, in chairs or on the floor. They could not reach an agreement; seven wanted to convict and five to acquit. Two of the five would convict if the charges were reduced to manslaughter, but the remaining three were unyielding. The trial ended in a hung jury.

The case was tried again in June, and this time Mrs. Rudiger was acquitted. Her husband stood by her through both trials and during her ordeal they had reconciled. After the verdict was read, Mr. and Mrs. Rudiger left the courtroom together.

“Died of his Wounds,” Logansport Reporter, December 16, 1893.
“Dressed to Kill,” Omaha World-Herald, March 19, 1894.
“Given to the Jury ,” St. Louis Republic, June 9, 1894.
“Henry J. Reiser Dead,” Daily Inter Ocean, December 16, 1893.
“A Married Woman Kills her Lover,” National Police Gazette, November 18, 1893.
“Mrs. Rudiger Acquitted,” Elkhart Daily Review, June 13, 1894.
“Mrs. Rudiger Killed Him,” New York Herald, October 28, 1893.
“Mrs. Rudiger of Omaha,” Galveston Daily News, October 28, 1893.
“Reiser's case is Hopeless,” Omaha World-Herald, November 10, 1893.
“Shot Her Seducer,” Salem Daily News, October 27, 1893.
“Sorry for the Jury.,” Omaha World-Herald, March 27, 1894.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Maniac at Des Moines.

Little Murders
(From Jackson Citizen, July 17, 1883)

The Maniac at Des Moines.

The fight with a maniac at a Des Moines (Iowa) hotel, briefly chronicled previously, was as follows: At noon Sunday a man who apparently alighted from the Rock Island train going west registered his name at the Morgan House, near the station as Henry Seage, of Swans, N. Y. He paid for his room and went thither at once. About 4:30 o’clock a boarder heard the cry of murder, and called the landlord. The latter hurried to Seager’s room, and found the door barricaded with the bed. Seager fired a shot at the landlord, and he fled. Other shots were fired, one of which carried off the door plate, and following in quick succession until thirteen had been fired through the door and wall, several of which scarred the wall across the narrow hall. Seager then demolished the furniture of his room, and did the same in several adjoining rooms, and threw his money, a considerable amount, into the gathering crowd below. He then had a collision with a boarder named Joseph Holmes, in a room at the end of the hall, but breaking away from Holmes he escaped to the roof of the wing to the building, Holmes followed, and while trying to grab seager he was felled by a blow from a bottle in the hands of the maniac, a bad gash being inflicted on the head.

By this time five policemen had reached the roof. A shot was fired, whether by Holmes or Seager is not certain, but it took effect in one of Seager’s legs, and he partly fell. In staggering, Seager fired again, aiming at the center of his forehead. He was then overpowered and taken to the city hospital, where he wounds were dressed. Seager’s skull was crushed by the ball aimed at his forehead, and the bullet that entered his thigh is thought by doctors to have entered his body. They consider his case fatal. He seems to be a mechanic or laborer. His luggage consisted of a pair of shoes, and inside his hat band was written the name of Mary Frew.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Murder Among the Whyos, Part 2.

Daniel M. Lyons (burglar),
Dan Driscoll and Dan Lyons were the successful leaders of New York City’s Whyo gang in the early 1880s. After Driscoll’s arrest for murder in 1886, Dan Lyons became the sole leader, but his reign did not last long. Confusion surrounds the cause of Lyons’ downfall in 1887—most modern accounts say he was executed for murdering a popular amateur athlete, but in fact, he was shot to death by an angry saloonkeeper. Either way, murder led to the demise of the Whyos.