The man who dissolved his wife (7 photos)

Category: Nostalgia, PEGI 0+
16 May 2024

Blessed be the person (or people) who invented and legislated divorce. For thanks to him, if such wild cases did not completely disappear into oblivion, then at least their number decreased.

At Diversey Street and Heritage Avenue in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood is an industrial building that was converted into condominiums in the 1990s. Although the building is unremarkable today, a terrible murder took place here in the late 19th century.

Adolf Lutgert was a tanner and butcher who moved from Germany in the early 1870s. Soon after the death of his first wife, Lutgert married Louise Biknese, who was ten years younger than him. On the wedding day, he gave Louise a gold ring with her new initials - L.L.

In 1879, Adolf Lutgert opened a small sausage shop, which became successful. In 1897 he opened his own production A.L. Sausage & Packing Company in a five-story building. Next door to the sausage factory, Lutgert built a three-story house for Louise and his sons, Elmer and Louis.

Unfortunately, the marriage of Adolf and Louise was not a happy one, and the world had to find out what kind of monster was hidden inside the outwardly respectable family man.

Adolf and Louise

Adolf and Louise went for a walk on the evening of May 1, 1897. This was the last time anyone saw Louise alive. On May 7, Adolf reported his wife missing, but her family suspected something was wrong. Police interviewed relatives and friends and searched the city for Louise or her remains.

During a search of Lütgert's factory on May 15, a watchman suggested looking into a vat in the basement that was used for dipping sausages. Police looked inside and found the vat half filled with reddish-brown liquid. When they pulled out the plug at the bottom of the vat, a bunch of mucus and small pieces of bones fell out. Inside the cauldron, police found a gold ring with the engraving L.L. Next to the vat, investigators found a strand of hair, pieces of clothing and half a false tooth.

After police questioned some of the employees, it was discovered that Luetgert had ordered workers to throw away the ashes from the smokehouse. After examining the places indicated by the factory workers, investigators found more bones and pieces of charred steel from the corset.

Shortly after these discoveries, Lütgert was arrested and put on trial for Louise's murder. The trial became a sensation for the media, and reporters from different cities came to watch it.

Factory A.L. Sausage & Packing Company

During the trial, friends and relatives of the Luetgert family testified that Adolf physically abused Louise and cheated on her. The smokehouse assistant also testified that on March 11, Lutgert ordered 170 kilograms of potash, and on April 24, he ordered workers to pour the chemical into a steam vat along with water. The same worker stated that on Saturday, May 1, the day Louise disappeared, the owner turned on the steam line to the boiler and boiled the mixture. The following Sunday and Monday, factory workers helped clean up the liquid that boiled away from the vat, which was either buried throughout the factory or burned in the smokehouse.

Adolf's excuse was that his wife had gone crazy and ran away, the potash was used to make soap for cleaning the factory, and the bones found in the factory belonged to animals. Without a body, it would be difficult to confirm that Louise is dead. Therefore, the prosecution had to prove that the potash mixture could have been used to dispose of the body, and the remains found in the vat could have belonged to her.

The prosecution established that the mixture could dissolve the human body, demonstrating this in practice. Using a real human corpse and a cauldron, the prosecution was able to dissolve the corpse and obtained the same reddish-brown liquid.

The murder trial was one of the first in which an anthropologist was called as an expert witness. Today, forensic anthropologists doubt that Dr. Dorsey would have been able to determine whether the tiny pieces of bone were human or not.

But the discord in the marriage and the presence of Louise's wedding ring in the vat were simply devastating evidence. And Lutgert's excuse that he used potash to make soap to clean the workshops was ridiculous, since his mixture would have made about 900 kg of soap. This amount would be enough for several visits. Yes, it cost more than buying soap in the store.

Factory today

As a result, Adolf was found guilty and sent to prison. He died on July 7, 1899, but throughout his short imprisonment he maintained his innocence.

After the trial, several urban legends spread. The creepiest of them said that Lutgert ground Louise's body into sausage and sold it to his clients. But at the time of the murder, the factory was not producing sausage, so the presence of the body in the factory had nothing to do with the production of the product. Despite this, the rumors were enough to cause sausage sales to plummet during the investigation and trial of the killer.

There were also stories of Louise's ghost haunting the factory. A few years after the trial, a watchman claimed to have seen the ghost of a woman. When the watchman reported the visions to the police, two detectives were sent to investigate the phenomenon. Detectives allegedly witnessed mysterious lights and also saw the ghost of Louise near the vat in which her body was dissolved. Well, in the condominiums that are here now, people live quietly, calmly, eat sausage and do not encounter any otherworldly lights.

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