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Anna Marie HAHN

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "Arsenic Anna"  - "The Blonde Borgia"
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Poisoner - To support her gambling habit - Anna offer her services as a live-in "nurse" to elderly men in the German community
Number of victims: 5 +
Date of murders: 1932 - 1937
Date of arrest: September 1937
Date of birth: July 7, 1906
Victims profile: Ernest Koch, 73 / Albert Parker, 72 / Jacob Wagner, 78 / George Gsellman, 67 / George Obendoerfer, 67
Method of murder: Poisoning (arsenic)
Location: Colorado/Ohio, USA
Status: Executed by electrocution at the Ohio Penitentiary on December 7, 1938
 
 

 
 
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Department of Psychology - Radford University - Virginia

 
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Anna Marie Hahn (1932-1937) was a 26-year old immigrant from Germany who offered her services in Cincinnati as a live-in attendant for elderly men. Over a period of about a year apiece, she would end up bilking 5 victims of all their assets in a variety of ingenious ways and then finally murdering them after they had nothing more to take.

She was also an expert in poisons, using a different kind each time to dispatch her victims. Her activities came to the attention of meticulous bank examiners, and suspicious police exhumed the bodies of her former employers. Her mercy killing defense failed, and in 1938, she became the first woman in Ohio's history to die in the electric chair.


Anna Marie Hahn

The first woman to die in Ohio's electric chair, Anna Hahn was a German native, born in 1906, who immigrated to Cincinnati at age 21. There, she married a young telephone operator, briefly managing a bakery in Cincinnati's German district before she tired of the hours and set her sights on easy money. Life insurance seemed to be the answer, and she twice tried to insure her husband for $25,000, meeting resistance each time. Soon after rejecting her second demand, Philip Hahn fell suddenly ill, rushed to the hospital by his mother over Anna's objection. Physicians saved his life, but there was nothing they could do to save his marriage.

Despite a total lack of training or experience, Anna began to offer her services as a live-in "nurse" to elderly men in the German community. Her first client, septuagenarian Ernest Koch, seemed healthy in spite of his years, but that soon changed under Hahn's tender care. Koch died on May 6, 1932, leaving Anna a house in his will. Its ground floor was occupied by a doctor's office, and Hahn visited her new tenant frequently, stealing prescription blanks to keep herself supplied with "medicine" for her new "nursing" business.

Her next client, retired railroad man Albert Parker, died swiftly under Anna's ministrations. This time, she avoided the embarrassment of a convenient will by "borrowing" Parker's money before he died, signing an I.0.U. that predictably vanished as soon as he died. Jacob Wagner was next, willing a lump sum of $ 17,000 to his beloved "niece" Anna, and Hahn soon picked up another $15,000 for tending George Gsellman in the months before his death.

George Heiss was a rare survivor, growing suspicious one day after Anna served him a mug of beer. A couple of house flies had sampled the brew, dropping dead on the spot, and when Anna refused to share the drink herself, Heiss sent her packing. He did not inform police of his suspicions, though, and so the lethal nurse was free to go in search of other "patients."

George Obendoerfer was the last to die, in 1937, lured to Colorado on a supposed visit to Hahn's nonexistent ranch. Obendoerfer died in his hotel room, soon after arriving in Denver, and Anna took the opportunity to loot his bank account, pocketing $5,000 for her efforts.

Police became suspicious when she balked at picking up the tab for George's funeral, demanding an autopsy after they turned up evidence of the unorthodox bank transfer. Arsenic was found in Obendoerfer's body, and detectives were waiting for Hahn when she reached Cincinnati, armed with arrest warrants and court orders demanding exhumation of her previous clients. Each had been slain with a different potion, and a search of Hahn's lodgings reportedly turned up "enough poison to kill half of Cincinnati."

Convicted of multiple murder and sentenced to die, Hahn kept her nerve, maintaining her pose as an "angel of mercy." On June 20, 1938, she hosted a small party for local newsmen in her cell, lapsing into hysterics as she began her last walk to the death chamber. It took a prison chaplain to restore her calm, holding her hand as she was buckled into the chair. Facing the minister with a level gaze, Hahn warned him, "You might be killed, too, Father."

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans


Anna Marie Hahn (1906-1938) was the first woman to die in the electric chair in the State of Ohio. She was executed on December 8, 1938 for the murder of 73-year-old Jacob Wagner of Cincinnati in 1937.

Hahn, a German immigrant, was suspected in several other poisoning deaths.

After her second marriage ended in divorce (her first husband, a Viennese physician died before she emigrated to America), Anna began working as a live-in "nurse" to elderly men in the Cincinnati German community. Her first client, Ernest Koch, died on May 6, 1932, shortly after Anna began working for him. He left her a house in his will.

Her next client, Albert Parker, 72, also died soon after Anna began caring for him. Prior to Parker's death, Anna signed an I.O.U. for $1,000 that she borrowed from him, but after his death the document "disappeared."

Jacob Wagner died on June 5, 1937 leaving $17,000 cash to his "beloved niece" Anna, and Hahn began caring for George Gsellman, also of Cincinnati. For her service to the 67-year-old man before his death July 6, 1937, she received $15,000.

George Obendoerfer was the last to die, on August 1, 1937 after he traveled to Colorado Springs with Anna and her 12-year-old son. Police in Colorado said Obendoerfer, a cobbler, "died in agony just after Mrs. Hahn had bent over his deathbed inquiring his name, professing she did not know the man." Anna's son testified at her trial that he, his mother, and Obendoerfer traveled to Colorado by train from Cincinnati together and that Obendoerfer began getting sick enroute.

George Heiss was one of the very few men who knew Anna who survived her ministrations. After Anna served him a mug of beer, he said a couple of house flies had sampled the brew and drop dead on the spot. Anna refused to share the drink with him and he ordered her from his home. However, Heiss was partially paralyzed from earlier attempts by Anna to kill him.

After Obendoerfer died and an autopsy revealed high levels of arsenic in his body, police became suspicious of the spate of deaths around Anna. Exhumations of her previous clients revealed that they all had been poisoned, but that each was slain with a different potion.

Anna was convicted after a four-week trial in November 1937 and sentenced to death in Ohio's electric chair. Up until the end she remained convinced that her life would be spared and while she was being strapped into the chair she pleaded with the prison warden to save her.

"No, no, no! Mr. Woodward, Mr. Woodward, don't do this to me. Won't someone help me?" were her last words.


Anna Marie Hahn (née Filser; July 7, 1906 in Bavaria, Germany – December 7, 1938 at the Ohio Penitentiary) was a German-born American serial killer.

The youngest of 12 children, as a teenager she had an affair with a Viennese physician, or so she claimed—no records have been found of a Viennese doctor by the name she gave. They had a son she called Oskar (also spelled "Oscar"). Her scandalized family sent her to America in 1929, while her son remained in Bavaria with her parents. While staying with relatives Max and Anna Doeschel in Cincinnati, she met fellow German immigrant Philip Hahn; they married in 1930. Anna Marie briefly returned to Germany to get Oscar, then the trio set upon life as a family.

Hahn allegedly began poisoning and robbing elderly men and women in Cincinnati's German community to support her gambling habit. Ernst Kohler, who died on May 6, 1933, was believed to be her first victim. Hahn had befriended him shortly before his death; he left her a house in his will.

Her next alleged victim, Albert Parker, 72, also died soon after she began caring for him. Prior to Parker's death, she signed an I.O.U. for $1,000 that she borrowed from him, but after his death the document was either discarded or simply "disappeared."

Jacob Wagner 78, died on June 3, 1937 leaving $17,000 cash to his "beloved niece" Hahn. She soon began caring for 67-year-old George Gsellman, also of Cincinnati. For her service before his death July 6, 1937, she received $15,000.

Georg Obendoerfer was the last to die, on August 1, 1937, after he traveled to Colorado Springs, Colorado with Hahn and her son. Police said that Obendoerfer, a cobbler, "died in agony just after Mrs. Hahn had bent over his deathbed inquiring his name, professing she did not know the man." Her son testified at her trial that he, his mother, and Obendoerfer traveled to Colorado by train from Cincinnati together and that Obendoerfer began getting sick en route.

An autopsy revealed high levels of arsenic in Obendoerfer's body, which aroused police suspicions. Exhumations of two of her previous clients revealed that they had been poisoned.

Hahn was convicted after a sensational four-week trial in November 1937 and sentenced to death in Ohio's electric chair, the first woman ever to be executed in Ohio, which was carried out on December 7, 1938. She was buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Columbus.

Wikipedia.org


HAHN, Anna (USA)

Many people believe that the number thirteen is unlucky; it certainly was for the thirteen people murdered by Anna Hahn.

Being of German descent, she concentrated on befriending German men, usually elderly ones, writing their cheques out for them – and also ‘helpfully’ signing them. Eventually she would add a little toxic flavouring to the meals she cooked for them, thereby acquiring their money and valuables.

So George Gsellmann, Albert Palmer, George Oberndoefer, Jacob Wagner and others all involuntarily helped to pay her gambling debts and embellish her lifestyle. Nor were men the only ones to sample the food she prepared. Ollie Koehler and Julia Kresckay also died of acute poisoning. So much evidence mounted against her that in late 1937 she was arrested and imprisoned in Hamilton County Gaol. Confident of convincing the courts of her innocence, she invited journalists into her cell one morning, one reporter describing her immaculate appearance, her hair carefully brushed, her fingernails polished, her attitude almost carefree as she exclaimed that this surely was the weirdest breakfast chat she had ever had.

Searches in the homes of the various victims revealed bottles of poison and stolen belongings, this being testified at her trial which opened on 11 October 1938. Much attention was paid to her appearance by the press; fashion editors dwelling on her brown crêpe dress, the shade of her lipstick, her stylishly long skirt. Eventually the jury retired and needed less than three hours to reach a decision – guilty, with no recommendation for mercy.

So assured was she that she would be found innocent, that before the trial she had packed her belongings ready to take home; now, her complacency shattered, she broke down in her cell and sobbed uncontrollably, her hair awry, her voice breaking with the shock of the judgement.

Prior to execution day, one of her pyjama legs had been slit to permit the attachment of one of the electrodes. On the morning of the day itself, another warder cut away some of the hair on the back of her neck to accommodate the other electrode. As the time approached she was so near to collapse that she had to be supported as she was led to the execution chamber. There, Anna collapsed completely. Her escort managed to prevent her from falling to the floor, and as quickly as possible placed her in the electric chair, stopping her from slumping forwards while the guards strapped her into it. Momentarily recovering, she cried, ‘Don’t do that to me!’ but the prison warden, sympathetic despite the appalling crimes she had committed, replied, ‘I’m sorry, but we can’t help it.’

As the black mask was placed over her face she felt her hand held by the priest; although doubtless longing to have his comforting grasp until the very last moment, nevertheless she realised the risk: ‘Be careful, Father, you’ll be killed!’ she exclaimed.

As he moved away, the warden gave the signal, and she jerked against the restraining straps as the powerful current surged through her body. In accordance with regulations, two doctors monitored her condition using stethoscopes, and within seconds confirmed her death.

Let it never be said that women are more squeamish than men! If proof were needed, one need look no further than the case described above. Eleven of the jury were women, yet not one of them apparently batted an eyelid when the exhibits were passed round for them to examine, despite them consisting of a jar containing Albert Palmer’s brain, and bottles filled with some of Jacob Wagner’s internal organs!

Amazing True Stories of Female Executions by Geoffrey Abbott


ARSENIC ANNA : THE TRUE STORY OF ANNA MARIE HAHN

By David Lohr

A Mysterious Death

On August 1, 1937, doctors at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado contacted local authorities regarding the sudden and mysterious death of a patient.  The victim, 67-year-old George Obendorfer, had fallen unexplainably ill just days earlier.  Doctors were unable to determine what had made him sick, and their best efforts had not been enough to save him.  After interviewing staff members at the hospital, investigators discovered Obendorfer had been visiting the area, and his primary residence was in Cincinnati, Ohio.   Apparently, the elderly man, along with two unknown companions, checked into the Park Hotel on July 30, 1937.  Colorado authorities found the circumstances intriguing because the owner of the hotel had just filed a report regarding $300 worth of stolen diamonds.  Investigators now wanted to determine whether the two incidents were related.

Shortly after arriving at the Park Hotel, investigators learned that Obendorfer had registered there with a woman named Anna Marie Hahn and her young son, Oskar.  According to the hotel owner, Mrs. Hahn had informed him she lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was in Colorado on vacation.  A quick check of the room revealed no clues and Mrs. Hahn and her son were nowhere to be found.  In an attempt to determine whether the jewels and Mr. Obendorfer's premature death were related, investigators began visiting local pawnshops with the hope that the thief might have tried to sell the diamonds.  It was not long before their efforts paid off.  One local shop owner informed them that a woman, who was accompanied by a young boy, had tried to pawn similar jewels but the owner had decided not to purchase them.  His description of the woman matched the hotel owner's description of Anna Hahn.

As Colorado authorities broadened their search for Hahn, they learned that a woman fitting her description had tried to withdraw $1,000 from a Denver bank, using a Cincinnati bankbook in the name of George Obendorfer.  Even though the woman claimed to be Mrs. George Obendorfer, the bank manager, sensing something was not right, refused to make the transaction.  Detectives were convinced the woman in question was Anna Hahn.

According to The Cincinnati Crime Book by George Stimson, investigators wasted little time securing an arrest warrant for Hahn for "suspicion of grand larceny" in the theft of the hotel jewelry.  Suspecting she had fled the area and returned to Ohio, investigators contacted Cincinnati authorities for assistance.  It was soon learned Hahn had returned home and Cincinnati investigators promptly picked her up.  When asked by Colorado investigators what she knew about George Obendorfer's death, Anna responded, "The man is a perfect stranger to me."  However, when reminded she had signed the hotel registry book for Obendorfer, herself and her son, Anna changed her tune.  "I met him (George) on the train from Denver," she said.  "He was Swiss.  I felt sorry for him, and was only trying to help him."  Both teams of investigators knew Obendorfer was from Cincinnati, and doubted Anna's story.

Luckily for investigators, several of George's relatives lived in the area and were able to shed some light on the situation.  Through interviews with his family, investigators learned George had immigrated to Ohio from Russia years earlier.  A retired shoemaker and father of three, George had recently separated from his wife.  Family members were also shocked by his sudden death, stating he had been in excellent health.  Nonetheless, more telling was one family members revelation that Anna had in fact known George and the two had been dating.  The trip was, according to the relative, Anna's idea - and George had gone along under the premise they were going to visit a ranch she owned in Colorado Springs.

Confronted with this new evidence, Anna admitted to detectives that she knew George Obendorfer.  She claimed to have met him weeks before in a local shoe shop, but denied the two had been involved in a recent relationship.  Instead, she reverted back to her original story.  Anna claimed it was by chance she had met George on the train and they were coincidently going on vacation to the same place.  According to Anna, she and George got along well during the trip and ultimately decided to share a room once they got to their mutual destination in Colorado Springs.  However, shortly after arriving and registering at the hotel, George became ill and went to the hospital.  Anna claimed to have had no further contact with him after that.

Investigators continued to doubt Anna's claims and decided to look further into her background for answers.

Early Years

Through continuing interviews with the suspected thief and possible murderer, investigators learned that Anna was a German native, born in 1906, and had immigrated to Cincinnati in 1929, at the age of 23.  Before coming to the United States, she had married a doctor from Vienna, and the couple had a child, Oskar.  Not long after the birth of their son, the family immigrated together, but the doctor died shortly after their arrival in the states.

Both the Cincinnati Post and The Cincinnati Inquirer obtained several transcripts of Anna's police interviews, which they both published several times during the course of the investigation.  According to those accounts, Anna had an aunt and uncle in Cincinnati's German district, so she decided to stay in the country and make a new start.  During a community dance at the Hotel Alms, Anna met a telegraph operator named Philip Hahn.  The couple quickly fell in love and eventually wed.  Philip desperately wanted to leave his job, so the couple saved their money and eventually opened two delicatessens.  Shortly thereafter, Anna's aunt and uncle died and left her their home on 2970 Colerain Avenue. 

Investigators soon learned that while Anna's marriage to Philip may have appeared solid to outsiders, the young couple had their share of problems, most of which seemed to have revolved around Anna's hunger for money.  Anna seemed to tire quickly of her duties operating one of the couple's delicatessens, and opted to work on various moneymaking schemes.  Arson was apparently Anna's first choice, as there were three suspicious fires on the books; the first of which occurred at one of the delicatessens, located at 3007 Colerain Avenue.  While the fire caused minimal damage, Anna still managed to collect $300 from the insurance company.  The other two fires both took place at the Hahn residence -- the first on June 2, 1935 and the second on May 20, 1936.  Anna collected just over $2000 for both fires. 

Regardless of her suspected taste for fire, one of Anna's presumed schemes might have required the death of her husband, albeit by mere accident or brutal intent.  On two separate occasions Anna tried to secure a $25,000 life insurance policy on her husband, but each time she met resistance from him.  Whether it was a simple superstition or the fear of losing his life is unknown.  Regardless, what is known is that shortly thereafter Philip Hahn became desperately ill and, against Anna's wishes, was taken to the hospital by his mother.  Although Philip survived his mysterious illness, the marriage continued to suffer and the couple eventually separated. 

After the falling out with her husband, and despite her lack of training or experience in the field, Anna began working as a visiting nurse for elderly patients.  It was perhaps this revelation that made investigators decide to follow up with several of her previous patients.

Mounting Evidence

Cincinnati investigators were shocked when they discovered that a separate case, the mysterious death of 78-year-old Jacob Wagner, had ties to Anna Hahn.  Whether by accident or through unconscious remorse, Anna told investigators she had been caring for Wagner while working as a visiting nurse.  The German native and retired gardener had mysteriously died two months earlier and in his final will he left his entire estate to Anna Hahn. While the coroner's report listed heart disease as the cause of death, a suspicious friend had been badgering police to investigate and an exhumation had just been granted, in order to autopsy Wagner's remains.  As investigators began putting the pieces together they decided to visit Wagner's neighborhood.   They soon learned that Anna had approached Wagner and claimed to have been a long lost niece.   The elderly man knew he had no living relatives and balked at her claim, but soon relented and allowed her to help him with his day-to-day chores.   Neighbors also claimed that Hahn had spent several hours in Wagner's apartment after his death. Investigators soon met Olive Luella Koehler, an elderly woman that lived in the same apartment building as Wagner.  They learned that Anna had befriended the woman and on at least two occasions had brought her ice cream cone treats.   However, after eating the second cone, Mrs. Koehler became violently ill and was admitted to the hospital.   While the police almost immediately became suspicious, it is unknown whether or not the elderly Mrs. Koehler herself ever connected the ice cream with her illness.   Regardless, during her stay in the hospital, someone did in fact steal a bag from her residence, which contained an unknown amount of cash and jewelry. 

It did not take long for investigators' suspicions to reach the media, which immediately published several stories about Hahn possibly poisoning elderly patients.  While most of the initial reports were exaggerated and full of errors, they did serve to provide the police with several promising leads.   One of those came from 62-year-old George Heis.   According to Heis, he had met Anna Hahn a year earlier.   While the two appeared to get along in the beginning, Heis claimed to have become suspicious of Anna when he became violently ill after drinking a mug of beer she pored for him.   While he had since never felt like he was in good health, it was only after seeing reports in the newspaper that he decided to come forward with his story. 

Investigators were beginning to fear Anna was poisoning her elderly patients for money and when they learned of yet another mysterious death, in which Anna was acquainted with the victim, they launched yet another investigation.   On July 6, 1937, just weeks before Anna's trip to Colorado, another one of her patients, 67-year-old George Gsellman, died in his room at 1717 Elm Street.   Friends of Gsellman's told authorities he had become suddenly ill after his last visit with Anna and died shortly thereafter.   Investigators worked quickly to secure an order for exhumation and autopsy, which they were immediately granted. 

According to Michael Newton's Hunting Humans, the coroner's preliminary examination of George Gsellman, he discovered a metallic poison in the body.   The substance was initially thought to be arsenic, but upon conducting further tests it was found to be croton oil, a general household remedy used during the turn of the century.   While the drug is usually not fatal in small doses, a large dose could easily kill.   Stedman's Medical Dictionary  states that the drug could cause "an intense burning pain in mouth, throat, and abdomen; excessive salivation, vomiting and diarrhea with tenseness and passage of blood."   In other words, anyone taking a large dose of the drug would meet a very brutal and bitter end.

As investigators worked to gather their evidence, Philip Hahn came forward and gave them a half-ounce bottle of croton oil he had taken away from his wife when the two lived together.   Upon doing his own investigation into the effects of the drug, Philip had taken the bottle to work and hid it in a locker, suspecting that his wife had used it to poison him.  "I kept intending to turn it over to police," he told the Cincinnati Post during a September 1937 interview.   A pharmacist at a drug store in North College Hill later confirmed that Anna purchased the oil on July 20, 1936.   The druggist knew Anna personally and said she had told him her husband was a German druggist who used the oil in his practice.

Because of her Colorado warrant, Anna continued to be detained by Cincinnati authorities.   While Colorado may have wanted to arrest her for theft and question her about George Obendorfer's untimely death, Ohio was beginning to make their own case and they were not about to let her go.   Not yet anyway.

Presenting Evidence

During a search of Anna's home, investigators found a promissory note for $2,000.   Money she had apparently borrowed from someone named Albert Palmer.   During a follow up investigation on the note, investigators learned that Albert Palmer was a 72-year-old resident of 2416 Central Parkway.   However, upon paying a visit to Palmer's home, they were informed by relatives he had died on March 27, 1936, after having been ill for an extended period of time.   It was also revealed that Anna Hahn had been caring for the man before his death.   In addition, relatives also informed investigators that at least $4,000 was missing from Palmer's estate. 

Ohio authorities were getting more than they had bargained for and their suspicions turned to allegations when the results of Jacob Wagner's autopsy came back.   While they found no trace of croton oil in his system, they did discover large quantities of arsenic, an all too common poison used by murderers then and now. 

Investigators decided to question Anna's son, Oskar, in hopes that he might be able to provide them with some answers.   While the young boy knew nothing of his mothers patients, he did tell them that, contrary to his mother's statements they had met George Obendorfer by chance at the train station; she had in fact purchased his ticket at Union Terminal in Cincinnati.   Oskar also informed them that his mother had served Obendorfer several drinks on the train and that the man began feeling ill prior to their arrival in Colorado. 

Deciding to move on Anna before her extradition to Colorado, Ohio authorities arrested her on August 10, 1937 and charged her with the murder of Jacob Wagner.   Hamilton County Prosecutors Dudley Outcalt, Loyal Martin and Simon Leis were given the duty of presenting the state's case.   For her defense, Anna was granted two attorneys, Joseph H. Hoodin and Hiram Bosinger, Sr. 

Anna Hahn's trial began on October 11, 1937.   Common Pleas Court Judge Charles S. Bell presided and a jury, consisting of 11 women and one man, were selected to hear the case. From the start the prosecutors insisted that Anna had killed Jacob Wagner out of greed, pointing out that his money and estate was motive for the murder.   A barrage of witnesses were then called forth, starting with hospital employees, who recounted Wagner's last agonizing days.   According to The Cincinnati Inquirer, a chemist testified that the victim had enough arsenic in him to "Kill four men."   A handwriting expert was then called forward and told the court that Wagner's will was a forgery and the handwriting was identical to Anna Hahn's.   In an unusual move, Judge Bell allowed the state to introduce evidence relating to the other poisoning cases, in order to show a pattern of homicidal behavior.  George Heis, presumably the only surviving victim, was also called forward to discuss his encounters with Hahn and his subsequent illness.   As the states case wound down, they presented the court with several exhibits, which oddly enough, included Jacob Wagner and Albert Palmers internal organs.   The prosecution rested its case on October 29, 1937.

On Monday, November 1, 1937, the defense began its presentation.   With little evidence of their own to refute the state's claims, the defense was left only with the defendant.   Once on the stand Anna denied any wrongdoing and during cross-examination could not be slipped up.   This however amounted to little in comparison to the states mountain of evidence and witnesses.   With little else to do, the defense decided to hold their cards for closing arguments and rested their case on November 4, 1937.

Closing Arguments & Judgment

The Cincinnati Crime Book states that Prosecutor Dudley Outcalt was chosen to make the closing arguments for the state and he wasted little time in getting to the point.   "She is sly, because she developed her relationships with old men who had no relatives and lived alone.   She is avaricious, because no act was so low but that she was ready to commit it for slight gain.   She is cold-blooded, like no other woman in the world, because no one could sit here for four weeks and hear this damaging parade of evidence and display no emotion.   She is heartless, because nobody with a heart could deal out the death she dealt these old men.   We've seen here the coldest, most heartless cruel person that ever has come within the scope of our lives.    In the four corners of this courtroom stand four dead men.   Gsellman, Palmer, Wagner, Obendorfer!  From the four corners bony fingers point at her and say: 'That woman poisoned me!  That woman made my last moments an agony!  That woman tortured me with the tortures of the dammed!'  Then, turning to you they say, 'Let my death be not entirely in vain.   My life cannot be brought back, but through my death and the punishment to be inflicted upon her, you can prevent such a death from coming to another man.'  From the four corners of this room, those old men say to you 'Do your duty!'   I ask of you, for the state of Ohio, that you withhold any recommendations of mercy."

Following the prosecutions closing arguments, defense attorney Joseph H. Hoodin stood up for the defense and addressed the jury.  "I will not say that a single witness lied, but this case has had such widespread publicity that it would have been impossible for these witnesses not to have preconceived ideas before they ever came into this courtroom.   Particularly this is true of the witnesses from Wagner's neighborhood, where the case has been the chief topic of conversation for months.    Although she is no angel, she is not guilty of the murder of Jacob Wagner."

It took only two hours for the jury to return with their verdict.   Anna Hahn sat motionless as the jury foreman read the decision: guilty with no recommendation for mercy.   Following the verdict, each jury member was polled and each one affirmed his or her vote.   Anna was then handcuffed and led back to her jail cell.   While the jury may not have immediately realized it at the time, their decision was historic -- the lack of recommendation for mercy meant that Anna Hahn would automatically be sentenced to death and the state of Ohio had never executed a woman before. 

On November 10, 1937, Anna was again brought before Judge Bell.   However, this time there was no question of her guilt and the sole purpose of the hearing was to announce her ultimate fate.   Judge Bell asked Anna if she had anything she wanted to say.   "I have," she replied.   "I'm innocent, Your Honor."   Judge Bell paused momentarily and then formally sentenced her.   "It is ordered, adjudged, and desired by the court that the defendant, Anna Marie Hahn, be taken hence to jail in Hamilton County, Ohio, and that within 30 days hereof the Sheriff of Hamilton County shall convey the said defendant to the Ohio penitentiary and deliver her to the warden thereof, and that on the 10th day of March, 1938 the said warden shall cause a current of electricity sufficient to cause death to pass through the body of the said defendant, the application of such current to be continued until the said defendant is dead."  Looking directly into Anna's eyes he concluded, "And may God, in his infinite wisdom, have mercy on your soul."

Death Chamber

Anna Marie Hahn was transferred to the Ohio State Penitentiary on December 1, 1937.   Her attorneys kept the court system busy with appeals and her March 10 execution date came and went.   Her case passed through the Ohio court system several times before being taken to the United States Supreme Court.   Nonetheless, they agreed with the state of Ohio and refused to block her execution.

On Tuesday Dec. 6, 1938, Ohio Governor Martin L. Davey made a formal statement, in which he refused to interfere with the decision of the courts  .  Later that day, accounts on local radio, by Special Dispatch from The Cincinnati Inquirer, reported that Anna's execution was scheduled for 8 o'clock the next evening.

The following day Anna spent much of her time writing four separate letters, which she later handed to her attorneys.   As the clock grew nearer her emotions became more difficult to control and she was an emotional wreck by the time prison authorities arrived to walk her down to the death chamber.   

"Oh heavenly father!   Oh God!   Oh God!   I can't go!   I won't go!" she cried out, according to The Cincinnati Crime Book.   She was unable to walk to the chamber on her own and had to rely on the guards to help her along. 

As they made their way into the death chamber Anna passed out and collapsed to the floor. Officials quickly revived her with an ammonia capsule and then strapped her into the chair.   "Don't do this to me," she continued to cry out.   "Oh, no, no, no. Warden Woodard, don't let them do this to me."   Tears began to role down the Warden Woodard's face as he solemnly replied, "I am sorry, but we can't help it." 

Upon hearing the warden's words Anna began to scream, "Please don't.   Oh, my boy.   Think of my boy.   Won't someone, won't anyone, come and do something for me?   Isn't there anybody to help me?   Anyone?   Anyone?   Is nobody going to help me?"

As prison officials let the clock click down, in the off chance that the Governor might call, Anna called out for Father John Sullivan, the prison chaplain.   "Father, come close," she said.   Together the two began to recite the Lord's Prayer, but just halfway through the switch was thrown and Anna's body jerked and convulsed as the electricity flowed through it.   Anna Marie Hahn was officially pronounced dead at 8:13 p.m.  

The Ohio Historical Society reports that on December 8, 1938, Anna Marie Hahn's body was buried in unsanctified ground at the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio.

Final Words - Part 1

Following Anna's execution, On December 17, 1938, defense attorney Joseph H. Hoodin announced that the letters Anna had given him the night of her execution had been sold to the Cincinnati Enquirer and the money was put into a trust for Anna's son, Oskar.   The next day, the paper announced that they would be publishing the letters on the following two days.

"I don't know how I could have done the things I did in my life.   Only God knows what came over me when I gave Albert Palmer that first one, that poison that caused his death. 

"When I stood by Mr. Wagner as he was laid out at the funeral home I don't know how it was I didn't scream out at the top of my voice.   I couldn't in my mind believe that it was me.   I can't believe it even today.   I couldn't believe it when in the court those people came to the room and told the jury how they said these men died.   I was sitting there hearing a story like out of a book all about another person.   As things come to my mind now and as I put them on this paper I can't believe I am writing about things I did myself.   However, they must be about me because they are in my mind and I know them. 

"God above will tell me what made me do these terrible things.   I couldn't have been in my right mind when I did them.   I loved all people so much.   Now I am so close to death.   Death is all around me.   I have been here (on death row) for what seems another lifetime already.   Several other people in this place have been called out."

Anna went on to tell of her life in Germany and her eventual immigration to the United States.   She then began to recount the circumstances, which she claimed eventually led to her life of crime.

"I went into business again, always thinking about my boy that would have money to raise him properly.   However, business was bad again and this time before I lost everything I sold it to pay all my debts.   In a little while though, this money went.   My husband and I had been out of work and I started worrying about my boy's future.   I became crazy with fears that my boy and I would starve.   I signed some notes for my husband, because I had signed these notes they threatened to take my Colerain Avenue house away from me, to sell the house over my head and throw me and my boy out into the street.   Then it was that I started gambling and playing the racehorses.    I wanted to make some money for my boy."

During one of her outings to the horse track, Anna met Albert Palmer. The two grew closer over time and Anna eventually started to borrow betting money from Albert.

"I paid much of it back.   Then when I didn't pay it back fast enough to suit him, then it was that he wanted me to be his girl.   He threatened me that if I didn't do what he asked he would get his attorney to get the rest of the money that I borrowed from him.    He wouldn't leave me alone.    God knows that I did not want to kill him, and I don't know what put such a thought in my head.    I remembered that down in the cellar was some rat poison.   Something in my mind kept saying to me, ' give him a little of this and he won't trouble you anymore.'     I don't know what made me do it, but I slipped some of the poison in the oysters.   I told him to go on home and he left at the same time, threatening what he was going to do to me."

A short time later Anna learned from one of Albert's relatives that he had become suddenly ill and was in the hospital.

"I visited him just as soon as I could and he was very nice to me.   He told me that he was sorry for the way that he had treated me.   I prayed that he would get well.   Nobody knows the things that went through my mind.   I told the nurses and doctors to do everything they could to make him well, but on Holy Thursday, Mr. Palmer died.   Only I knew why."

Final Words - Part 2

Anna described a struggle within her and the problems she had accepting what she had done.   Nonetheless, the battle was short lived and it was not long before she moved on.   In describing her encounter with George Heis, Anna denied any wrongdoing, but did admit foul play in regards to Jacob Wagner's ultimate fate.   Apparently Anna had stolen some of Wagner's bankbooks and when he found out she became scared that he would turn her in.

"I got scared that if the police would start questioning me maybe all this about Mr. Palmer would come out.    Something cried out in me to stop him, so that all my troubles wouldn't start again.   I don't know what guided my hand, but I fixed him some orange juice and placed a half of teaspoon of the powder poison, which I took from my purse in the glass.   Mr. Wagner drank it down.  ...   Early the next day, I went back to the room and Mr. Wagner was very sick.   I knew what I had done to him.    It was another mind that made me do these things.   I didn't do them.    I cannot describe how I felt when Mr. Wagner died and that I had something to do with his death.    I did not harm Mr. Wagner for his money.   I never had such a thought.   It was not until Mr. Wagner had died that I wrote the will.   I placed in his room on the afternoon that the man from the Probate came to Mr. Wagner's room.   The poison that I used is, for all that I know, still in my house.   I found it first in the paint cupboard in the basement.   If I had never found that poison in the first place I know that I would not be in all this trouble right now."

Anna had little to say in regards to George Gsellman and George Obendorfer.   While she did not describe the circumstances surrounding to two men's premature deaths, she did appear to take credit for them.

"I cannot say anything about those other cases that came after -- Mr. Yeltsin and that last one, Mr. Obendorfer -- except that they died of the same symptoms and as I face my Maker I take full responsibility for what happened in them."

As Anna's letter came to a close, she again described the battles she had to fight within her, in order to keep her sanity and touched upon her son and the concern she had for his well-being.

"There were times in the courtroom, the times that the newspapers wrote, that I seemed worried, that I was just about ready to cry out.   I was just about ready to cry out.  I could hardly keep my secret in me.   It seemed that I would have to cry out.   I wanted to cry out that they were trying the other Anna Hahn and not this one sitting in the courtroom.  Somehow I kept the secret.    I hope that God will take care of my son, for I would not want anything to happen to my boy.    I feel that God has shown me my wrongs in life and my only regret is that I have not the power to undo the trouble and heartache that I have caused. 

"(signed) Anna Marie Hahn"

After reading Anna's confession, detectives, while shocked that she actually admitted her crimes, were elated that, in the end, they got most of the answers they had desperately been seeking. 

Anna's son, 12-year-old Oskar Hahn, was placed with a foster family in the Midwest.   The Cincinnati Crime Book claims that the newspaper kept its promise to Anna and bankrolled the boy's education and never revealed his name or whereabouts to the public.   The only thing ever released about Oskar was that he lived a normal life and eventually fought for the Navy during World War II.

Bibliography

The Cincinnati Crime Book, by George Stimson; July 1, 1998, Peasenhall Press; ISBN: 0966349407

Stedman's Medical Dictionary, by Thomas Lathrop Stedman; January 15, 2000,   Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; ISBN: 068340007X

Hunting Humans, by Michael Newton; September 1991, Breakout Productions; ASIN: 1559500263

CrimeLibrary.com

 

 

 
 
 
 
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