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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
continued to doubt Anna's claims and decided to look further into her
background for answers.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
According to Michael
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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,
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,
Closing Arguments & Judgment
The Cincinnati Crime
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."
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
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
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
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,
The Cincinnati Crime
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
Final Words - Part 1
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
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
"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
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.
12-year-old Oskar Hahn, was placed with a foster family in the
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.
The Cincinnati Crime
George Stimson; July 1, 1998, Peasenhall Press; ISBN: 0966349407
by Thomas Lathrop Stedman; January 15, 2000, Lippincott, Williams &
Wilkins; ISBN: 068340007X
by Michael Newton; September 1991, Breakout Productions; ASIN: