German Chocolate-Pecan Pie Bars

German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
Two of my husband’s favorite desserts are German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting and Pecan Pie made from the old fashioned Karo Syrup recipe. When I saw a recipe on the web for these yummy sounding bars, I knew I had to give them a try. I love to bake, or to be more honest, I love to eat baked goods. But I’m truly into cutting corners whenever I can and making substitutions for whatever I may have on hand. It just so happened that I had a German Chocolate Cake mix on hand so instead of mixing all the ingredients for the cake which calls for unsweetened cocoa (which I have never had, bought, or even know really what is it–what’s the point if the chocolate isn’t sweet?) I decided to use the cake mix instead.

Yield: 24 bars (about 2-inch square)


3 cups pecan halves

1 German Chocolate Cake Mix
3/4 cup cold butter, cubed

1 & 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (or whatever chocolate you have on hand, or you can just omit then if you prefer)

3 large eggs
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut


Preheat oven to 350°.

Arrange pecans in a single layer of a shallow baking pan. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Stir halfway through baking. Obviously these pecans are not in a single layer, just all squished together showing other ingredients.

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Line bottom and sides of a 9″x 13″ baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two short sides. Grease foil.

Place the cake mix into a medium size bowl and combine butter with a pastry blender or knives or a food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. (A pastry blender is definitely on my “to buy” list”.)

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Press mixture into bottom and about 3/4-inch up sides of prepared pan.
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Bake crust for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over crust. Allow to cool on a wire rack at least 30 minutes.

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Place eggs in a large mixing bowl, and beat lightly. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and melted butter. Whisk together until smooth. Stir in coconut and pecans. Pour evenly over partially baked crust.

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Bake 28-34 minutes, or until edges are golden and filling has set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Then, refrigerate for an hour.

Using foil overhang, lift bars from pan and place on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into bars.

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As I said earlier, I sometimes substitute whatever I have on hand. I didn’t have enough chocolate chips so I mixed milk chocolate chips with grated chocolate almond bark and sprinkled that over the baked crust. Personally, I think the recipe would be fine without any additional chocolate.

Both my husband and my oldest son loved these bars. I started to take them out of the glass pan, but realized it would be just as easy to remove the foil and leave them in the pan. I found it difficult when cutting the bars and cutting through a pecan not to squish the bar. I think next time (and there definitely will be a next time) after I toast the pecans, I will chop them for ease in cutting.

Adapted from Bake or Break German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Click here to Download a PDF of this recipe german choc pecan pie bars.

Crescent Cherry Cream Cheese Cobbler

Crescent Cherry Cream Cheese Cobbler

My husband and I own a camping lot in a rural recreation park about 100 miles away from our home. We have a pop-up camper that sits on the lot all year round and we try about once a month during the spring, summer and fall to spend a weekend there with our dogs, just communing with nature and mainly getting away from everyone and everything, especially the phone. Earl and "the girls"

Whenever we go, I like to make a couple meals ahead of time so all we have to do is heat the meal up in the microwave. (I didn’t say I liked RUSTIC camping!) So for this last weekend, I made a pot of chili, a breakfast casserole (Incredible Breakfast Bake) and this Crescent Cherry Cream Cheese Cobbler. My husband is always generous with his praise but I can tell the difference between when something is good (or passable–he’s a man, he will eat most anything) and when something is REALLY good. This dish rated a “Oh my gosh, this is absolutely GREAT!” I have to agree with him, and I don’t necessarily like cherry pie filling, but he and I finished off the entire thing in two days. Next time, (and there will definitely be a next time) I think I’ll make it strawberry!


1 – 8 oz tube crescent rolls
8 oz block of cream cheese softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 can cherry pie filling (or any flavor you prefer)
1/2 stick butter, melted (optional)

1/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbls. milk


Preheat oven to 350F degrees
Spray an 8×8 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Unroll the crescent rolls. Lay four (4) of the rolls in the bottom of the baking dish. Spread them out to cover the bottom of the baking dish, pinching the seams together as much as possible. Bake this layer for 5 minutes (this helps prevent the crust from getting soggy).

While this is baking, combine the cream cheese and 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth; add vanilla and beat again. Once the crust has cooled, spread the cream cheese mixture over the crescent rolls to within 1/2″ of the edge of the crescent roll.

Spoon pie filling over the cream cheese layer and spread evenly. Top this layer with the remaining four crescent rolls. Stretch the rolls as much as possible to cover all the pie filling. Pinch the dough seams and seal the top and bottom edges together.

Pour the melted butter over the crescent rolls, if desired. (I omitted this step to save just a few calories). Bake for 35-45 minutes (I baked mine for 40 minutes) or until the crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cool completely. Once cool, mix the remaining powdered sugar with milk, one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Either spread or drizzle icing over cooled crust. You can see from the photograph that I forgot to do that before I took the picture.

To download a PDF of this recipe, click here: Crescent Cherry Cream Cheese Cobbler photo

Adapted from

Emma Heppermann, St. Charles Black Widow–Epilogue

Return to Part I-Prologue & Investigation
Return to Part II-The Inquest
Return to Part III-Murder Warrants
Return to Part IV-The Trial


When Edna Heppermann was arrested, she was at the home of her daughter and son-in-law Frank P. and Elmina E. Henerberg, 1138a Talmage, St. Louis, Mo. Also living in the home were Frank and Elmina’s three children: Delores, age 7, Beverly age 4 and Frank A. age 2.

The proverbial “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is apparently true in Emma’s family. Emma’s grandson, Frank A. Henenberg, was convicted of murder in 1970 for the shooting death of Martin Zlogar in McHenry County, Illinois. Zlogar had apparently picked Henenberg up while Henenberg was hitchhiking; Henenberg shot him and stole his vehicle and credit card; both of which were in his possession at the time of his arrest. He was sentenced to die in the electric chair for this homicide but in 1973 the Illinois Supreme court overturned this conviction on the grounds that his Miranda rights had been violated. The case was remanded to McHenry County were again he was found guilty of murder and armed robbery and sentenced to 150-300 years on the murder charge and 50-150 years on the armed robbery charge. Both sentences to run concurrent.

On June 28, 2013, St. Louis Post Columnist Bill McClellan wrote an article on Emma Hepermann entitled: “McClellan: Remembering Emma’s Deadly Potato Soup”.

“Aloys Schneider was a farmer in St. Charles County in the years between the World Wars. Lou Kampman is one of his grandchildren. Kampman wrote me a note after reading Monday’s column, which was about a poisoning case in Springfield, Mo.
“Today’s column reminds me of my own grandfather’s death from arsenic poisoning. He was murdered by his third wife, Emma Hepperman. She was convicted of murdering Mr. Hepperman and attempting to murder his teenage daughter. Prior to these, she poisoned several other people,” he wrote.

That was enough to send me to the clips to look up some old stories.
Emma Sarana was born in Steelville in 1894. She married her first husband when she was 14. He was 33. He died 17 years later, allegedly from drinking ice water while overheated. There was no autopsy.

Emma went on to have six more husbands. Most of them died. Suspicions were first raised after the death of her fourth husband, Bert Roberts, and his mother. They died after eating potato soup. The doctor who treated Roberts insisted he had been poisoned. A coroner’s jury decided he had died of acute gastritis.

Little is known of the fifth husband.

Schneider was number six. They were married in 1937. Schneider’s six kids from his first marriage were already grown. One of those kids was Antoinette Hepperman, Lou’s mom. She later told Lou that none of the family trusted Emma.

The newspaper stories confirmed that. Three years after Schneider’s death and shortly after Emma was arrested for the poisoning death of her seventh husband, a coroner’s jury was called to investigate Schneider’s death. One of the witnesses was Alphonse Schneider, the dead man’s brother. He told the jury he had lived with his brother and Emma on the farm for a short time, but he left because he couldn’t get along with Emma.

Here is the way the newspaper described his testimony: “She told me three times she wanted to kill me,” he testified. “One day, in the midst of a quarrel, she said she wanted to cook me some soup.” Schneider leaned close to the jury and said, “I sure am glad I didn’t eat any of that soup.”

But nothing seems to have come of the coroner’s jury. Most of the clips deal with the death of Tony Hepperman, Emma’s seventh and last husband.

He was 53, a widower who lived on a farm 3 miles west of Wentzville. Three years after Schneider’s death, Emma placed an ad in a St. Louis newspaper. It was under Situations Wanted. She gave her name as Emma Lee. Frank Lee had been her second husband. (The newspaper stories noted that his whereabouts were unknown.) Emma listed herself as a “housekeeper for a motherless home; neat and pleasant.” Her address was a rooming house on South Vandeventer Avenue.

Hepperman responded to the ad. Emma came out to take a look at the farm. She reportedly said, “I like the place, but what I really want to do is to get married. I don’t want to be a housekeeper. I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll work for two weeks. If you like me and want to get married, we’ll do that. If you don’t like me, I’ll go back to St. Louis and you won’t owe me a cent.”
Hepperman took the deal.

By the way, Emma was 46. She was described in one of the stories as “plump and white-haired.”

Her ad ran in March. She married Hepperman in April. He died in May. They had been married six weeks.

One of Hepperman’s daughters lived with them. She became very ill, too. She lost 23 pounds in three weeks. She testified that whenever she felt nauseated, Emma would say, “Eat some soup.”

Potato soup was Emma’s specialty.

Emma was arrested after Tony Hepperman was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Charles. He told doctors he thought he had been poisoned. After his death, an autopsy confirmed his suspicions.

The trial was moved to Franklin County because of publicity. Emma faced a jury of farmers. That probably did not work to her advantage. Too many of her husbands had been farmers themselves.

A store clerk testified that Emma bought fly paper soaked in arsenic and said she wanted it for water bugs. One of Hepperman’s sons said he had visited several times and noticed that Emma never seemed to eat. She always said she wasn’t hungry, he testified.

Emma was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. She served 27 years. Her sentence was commuted in May 1968 and she was released without supervision. I was unable to find any notice of her death.

She left a strange legacy. Lou Kampman told me that nobody in his family ever ate potato soup.”

Emma went on to serve 27 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections before she was released, presumably gravely ill, and returned to Steelville where she died in October 1968.

Go Back to Part I-Prologue & Investigation
Go Back to Part II-The Inquest
Go Back to Part III-Murder Warrants
Go Back to Part IV-The Trial

Download a PDF of this story here: Emma Heppermann, St. Charles’ Black Widow

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Emma Heppermann, St. Charles Black Widow 1940, Part IV-The Trial

Return to Part I-Prologue & Investigation
Return to Part II-The Inquest
Return Part III-Murder Warrants

Part IV–The Trial

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Wednesday February 26, 1941
St. Charles Weekly Cosmos-Monitor

Counsel for Defense Gets Affidavit of Fifth Person
For Venue Change at Last Minute
Geneva Schaefer, Ira C. Jones and Tyrell Robinson,
Local People Who Approve Change

Prosecuting Attorney David A. Dyer announced he would seek an immediate setting for the Hepperman poison murder case after Circuit Judge Woolfolk today sent the case to Franklin county of which Union is the county seat, on a change of venue.

The venue change was granted after affidavits of five St. Charles county residents are of the opinion the defendant, Mrs. Emma Heppermann, cannot get a fair and impartial trial here, were filed with the court.

A last minute affidavit was responsible for the venue change when the court was ready for trial today. Harold Pellett, counsel for the defendant, was ready to present affidavits of six persons, only four who reside in this county. Prosecuting Attorney David A. dyer pointed out that affidavits of five residents of the county would be necessary and Pellett was allowed an hour and a half to secure the fifth signature. Tyrell Robinson, a Negro laborer, was the fifth county resident who signed the affidavit.

The early ones to ask for the venue change were Miss Geneva Schaefer, St. Charles drug clerk, Ira C. Jones, St. Charles contractor, Clint Brown, Foristell farmer and William F. Meyer, a farmer, who resides three miles south of Wentzville. Those from Lincoln County who signed affidavits were R. S. Bettis of Troy and J. B. Mudd of Millwood.

Pellett opposed the case going to Warren county because of its proximity to St. Charles while Dyer suggested Warrenton because of its possible convenience. Judge Woolfolk said in view of the statements he would send the case to Franklin county.

The defense objected to the case being tried in the 35th Judicial district which includes St. Charles, Lincoln and Pike Counties.

Dyer said the next term of the court at Union began the second Monday in March and he would ask that the case be tried the earliest possible date.

Mrs. Heppermann is charged with the murder last May 28 of Anton Heppermann, her seventh husband and fifth one to die under mysterious circumstances. The state charges her with feeding him arsenic poison in his food which caused his death.

The costs of jurymen and witnesses, including mileage for their appearance in court today will run over $750, a court attachee said. If the venue change would have been filed earlier, the state would have been spared the extra costs.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Wednesday, March 5, 1941
St. Charles Weekly Cosmos-Monitor

Woman Charged With Poison Murder of Husband
Now a Charge of Adjoining County
Prisoner Who Had Been in Law Spirits Prior to Trial
Made No Comment on Transfer

Mrs. Emma Sarana Heppermann, 46, who is charged with the poison murder of Anton Heppermann, her seventh husband, last May 28, was transferred from the St. Charles to Franklin county jail at Union today where she will be kept in custody pending the outcome of her trial, sent there on a change of venue.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Les Plackemeyer, accompanied by a matron, drove the prisoner to the adjoining county seat where she was turned over to Sheriff Alvin Diestelkamp. Mrs. Heppermann made no expression on the change.

Her new prison is on top of the Franklin county court house and she will have as company nine other prisoners, including one woman, a Negro.

Thirty prisoners, including two colored women, were in jail here when Mrs. Heppermann was taken away.

The change of venue to Franklin county was obtained Monday morning when the case was scheduled to go to trial here. The lawyer for Mrs. Hppermann had to buttonhole people on the street in a last minute effort to obtain a fifth affidavit, which was necessary for the venue change.

During her last few weeks in jail here, Mrs. Heppermann seemed slightly worried, a deputy sheriff stated.

The woman will not be returned here and if she is sentenced at Union, she will be transferred to the state penitentiary from there. An early setting of the case will be sought by Prosecuting Attorney Dyer.

The prisoner had more than one run in with reporters and news photographers while in jail here. It was not unusual for her to let go with a verbal blast at the boys when they attempted to snap her picture or obtain an interview.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Wednesday, April 30, 1941
St. Charles Weekly Cosmos-Monitor

Prosecutor Charges Woman Poisoned Wentzville Man
Two Weeks After Their Marriage
Herbert Hepperman Tells of Father Feeling Sick Shortly After Marriage to Defendant

From Tuesday’s Daily:

Testimony in the trial of Mrs. Emma S. Hepperman, charged with the poison murder of her husband, Tony Hepperman, Wentzville, Mo., farmer, began today at Union, Mo., before a jury in the court room of Circuit Judge Ransom A. Breuer, at Union, where the case was taken on a change of venue from St. Charles. The state is asking for the death penalty.

Prosecuting Attorney David A. Dyer, in outlining the State’s case to the jury, charged that Mrs. Hepperman, whose marriage to Hepperman was her seventh, had poisoned him shortly after they were married following a two-weeks’ courtship. Mrs. Hepperman, attired in a black and white print dress, listened intently as her three attorneys occasionally objected to statements of the prosecutor.

The first witness today was Herbert Hepperman, 23 years old, a truck driver of Wentzville, and a stepson of the defendant. Hepperman, facing a crowded court room, related details of a three-day visit he made to his father’s farm home shortly after Hepperman married the defendant who had been his housekeeper for several weeks before the marriage.

Hepperman testified he visited his father for three days between May 11 and 13, 1940, and had a number of meals at the home. At the time, he said, his father complained of feeling sick and his 12 year old sister, Ethel, was seriously ill. The stepmother served the meals but did not eat with them, declaring she was not hungry.

Suggestions that a doctor be called were scoffed at by his stepmother, Hepperman said, who declared that if the girl were taken to the doctor she would be endangered by the ride and it was too expensive to have the doctor come to the farm home.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Wednesday, April 30, 1941
St. Charles Weekly Cosmos-Monitor

State’s Evidence Expected to be Finished Tonight;
Verdict is Expected by Saturday
Dr. Ben Neubeiser Tells How Seventh Husband of Defendant
Took Poison Through Mouth

Conclusion of the state’s evidence in the Hepperman poison murder case was expected by tonight with along parade of defense witnesses scheduled to begin tomorrow.

Several local persons were subpoenaed today by the defense to appear at Union Thursday and Friday. The case is expected to be terminated then with a verdict in no later than Saturday night.

George J. Koch, Jr., former State Highway Patrol Sergeant in the patrol’s laboratory at Jefferson City, who testified yesterday that he found enough arsenic in Hepperman’s vital organs to cause death, was under cross-examination by defense counsel this morning. He testified he could not tell from his examination how the arsenic was taken but said the poison could not have been put in the organs after death.

At a session last night, Dr. Benedict Neubeiser of St. Charles who performed the autopsy, testified it was his conclusion that the 53 year old farmer, died of arsenic poisoning, taken by mouth rather than by injection. The autopsy showed the lining of the stomach was destroyed, he said.

Dr. Neubeiser told Circuit Judge Ransom A. Breuer and the jury of Franklin County farmers and business men that when Hepperman was taken to St. Joseph Hospital, St. Cahrles, where he died last May 28, his physical condition indicated he was suffering from arsenic poisoning.

The physician expressed the opinion also that Hepperman’s 12 year old daughter by a former marriage, Ethel Hepperman, was suffering from arsenic poisoning at the same time her father was. She was a witness for the State yesterday. Witnesses testified yesterday that Mrs. Hepperman served meals to the family, but did not partake of the food herself, saying she was not hungry.

The plump, white-haired defendant, 45 year old mother of eight children, sat composedly in the crowded courtroom during the testimony of the witnesses for the State. She has steadfastly denied she poisoned her husband. The State will ask for the death penalty.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, May 1, 1941
St. Charles Banner-News

Courtroom Crowded as Son of Tony Heppermann Tells Story
Before Jury This Morning

From Tuesday’s Daily:

Testimony in the trial of Emma Sarana Heppermann, accused in the poison murder of her husband, Tony, Wentzville farmer, was begun this morning at Union where the case was taken on a change of venue. Circuit Judge Ransom A. Breuer is presiding.

Selection of a jury of 12 men was begun yesterday morning and was not completed until later afternoon. Prosecuting Attorney David A. dyer will ask for the death penalty.

Dyer, in outlining the State’s case to the jury, charged that Mrs. Hepperman, whose marriage to Hepperman was her seventh, poisoned him shortly after they were married, following a two weeks’ courtship.

Mrs. Hepperman was dressed today in a black and white dress and listened intently as her three lawyers made occasional objections to the prosecutor’s statements.

The first witness today was Herbert Hepperman, 23 year old son of Tony. He faced a crowded courtroom and related details of his three day visit he made to his father’s farm home shortly after Hepperman married the defendant.

He testified that he arrived home May 11 and had a number of meals at home. At the he said his father complained of feeling sick and his 12 year old sister, Ethel, was seriously ill. The stepmother, he said served the meals but did not eat with them, declaring she was not hungry.

Hepperman told the jury his suggestions that a doctor be called were scoffed at by his stepmother, who declared that if the child were taken to the doctor, she would be endangered by the trip and it was too expensive to ask the doctor to come to the farm home.

Dr. Ben L. Neubeiser was certified to appear in the court this afternoon. He attended Tony Hepperman at St. Joseph’s hospital and obtained a statement from him. Several State Highway Patrolmen and residents of Wentzville have been subpoenaed.

Session Will Be Held Tonight;
Defense Witnesses Will Be Heard Tomorrow

From Wednesday’s Daily:

The murder trial of Mrs. Emma Sarana Hepperman, accused in the arsenate poisoning of her seventh husband, Tony, a Wentzville farmer, was resumed today at Union, where the case was taken from St. Charles on a change of venue. Prosecuting Attorney David A. Dyer expected to finish his case in chief by this evening or early tomorrow morning.

George J. Koch, Jr., former State Highway Patrol Sergeant at the patrol’s laboratory at Jefferson City, testified yesterday that he found enough arsenic in Hepperman’s vital organs to cause death. He was under cross-examination by defense counsel this morning. He testified he could not tell from his examination how the arsenic was taken, but said the poison could not have been put in the organs after death.

Dr. B. L. Neubeiser testified at the night session yesterday. He said that when Hepperman was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he died May 28, his physical condition indicated he was suffering from arsenate poisoning.

The state is seeking to show that the defendant, who was married to the deceased five weeks before his death, put the arsenic in his food. Her motive, it was contended, was to obtain his $6,000 farm and $1,000 in United States savings bonds.

Dr. Neubeiser expressed the opinion that Ethel, 13 year old daughter of Tony, was suffering from arsenate poisoning at the same time. Witnesses testified yesterday that Mrs. Hepperman served meals to the family but did not partake of the food herself, saying she was not hungry.

A large number of witnesses from St. Charles County have been subpoenaed by the defense. They include County recorder Harry Sullentrop, Attorney Warren Dalton, Lon Hueffle of Wentzville, Dr. Raymond G. Cooper, and two St. Charles Newspapermen.

Court was expected to remain in session tonight.

Three Called to Testify Last Night; Only One Heard;
Trial May End Late Today

Defense counsel for Mrs. Emma Hepperman in the murder trial at Union indicated today that testimony would be offered to show that tony, the defendant’s husband who died last May, had suffered from a stomach ailment long before he met the defendant.

First testimony for the defendant was given last night when Attorney W. R. Dalton of St. Charles took the stand. His testimony was limited merely to the fact that he prepared an inventory of the estate. Two newspapermen, Darby R. Tally and Harold C. Crabill, summoned by the defendant, were not required to testify after the reporters were questioned privately by Mrs. Hepperman’s attorneys.

A defense demurrer was overruled yesterday by Circuit Judge Ransom A. Breuer. It was expected that the trial, which began Monday, would close late today. The State seeks a death penalty.

The courtroom was crowded last night as the defense began presenting its case. The prosecution has sought to show that the defendant, who married Hepperman five weeks before his death, put arsenic obtained from fly poisoning in his food.

Witnesses for the State yesterday included Steve Heppermann, brother of Tony and Mrs. Rosie Simpson, Negro laundress, who worked occasionally for the Heppermans. The brother testified that four days before his death his brother had known he was poisoned. Mrs. Simpson testified that Mrs. Hepperman told her shortly before Hepperman’s death, “Hep has $1,000 and I’m going to get it.”

Mrs. Hepperman has remained composed throughout the trial. Last night she told a Banner News reporter:

I just sit here and listen. That’s all I’ve got to do.”

Her Attorneys were debating last night whether or not to put her on the stand. The jury hearing the case is made up mostly of farmers.

Dateline: Union, Missouri
Wednesday, May 7, 1941
St. Charles Cosmos-Monitor

Verdict After Nine Hours Deliberation
Defense Counsel Immediately Filed Motion For New Trial;
Hearing Set For Next Week

From Friday’s Daily:

Mrs. Emma s. Hepperman, seven times married woman, was found guilty by a jury of twelve men in the circuit court of Union, shortly before noon today and was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment in the Missouri penitentiary. The verdict was returned after deliberation of nine hours.

Three ballots were necessary before her punishment was fixed. Two of the jurors held out for the death penalty on the first vote while one voted for death the second time. The third ballot was unanimous for life. Counsel for the defendant immediately filed a motion for a new trial. The hearing being set for next week in Circuit Judge Ransom Breuer’s court at Union, before whom the case was hard.

Closing arguments in the trial of Mrs. Hepperman charged with poisoning her husband, Tony, a Wentzville farmer last year were completed at 5:20 p.m. Thursday and the case given to the jury. After a short recess for dinner the jury remained closeted until 10:20 p.m. and asked to be locked up for the night. They resumed deliberations at 9:00 o’clock this morning.

The State asked for the death penalty in the final argument and Assistant Attorney General Oliver Nolen told the jury to

“say by your verdict that when a man eats the food prepared by his wife and when he places his head upon a pillow at night he won’t have to fear death in her hands.”

Judge Ransom A. Breuer, in his instructions to the jurors told them they could make one of three findings: “Guilty with the death penalty, guilty with life imprisonment penalty, or an acquittal.”

As the state was unable to produce any witness to testify that Mrs. Hepperman poisoned her husband, Judge Breuer pointed out that

a crime may be proved by circumstantial evidence if the circumstances are consistent with one another and when taken together shall exclude any reasonable hypothesis of innocence.”

Defense counsel argued that the State’s case against Mrs. Hepperman was

built upon the poison of the mind instead of poison of the body,

because the relatives of Tony Hepperman resented her marriage to him a short time before his death last May.

It was asserted by the defense that the State had not proven conclusively that Hepperman had died of arsenic poison from fly paper and other insecticides. Mrs. Hepperman, who was referred to as the “little woman” by the defense, did not testify.

The State referred to Mrs. Hepperman as having a heart as cold as the tombstone on her husband’s grave.

Mrs. Heperman displayed her first signs of emotion in the closing arguments. When Nolan asked for the death penalty, she grinned at the jury. When he pointed an accusing finger at her and called her the murderer, she visibly paled and shook her head violently as if saying: “No”.

The verdict was a notable achievement for Prosecuting Attorney David A. Dyer who with law officers of the county and state did a find job of solving the fiendish crime.

From Thursday’s Daily:

Rebuttal witnesses were expected to be called by the state today in the Hepperman poison murder case at Union as the as the trial is rapidly drawing to completion. At the rate the trial is progressing arguments are expected to be presented tonight or Friday with the jury getting the case no later than noon Friday.

Defense counsel for Mrs. Emma S. Hepperman, indicated they would seek to show by testimony of witnesses called today that Hepperman had suffered from a stomach ailment long before he met Mrs. Hepperman some nine weeks before his death last May 28. Relatives of the dead man called by the prosecution which rested its case yesterday, testified that Hepperman had been in good health before he knew Mrs. Hepperman.

A defense demurrer was overruled yesterday by Circuit Judge Ransom A. Breuer.

More than 250 persons, the largest crowd since the trial began, jammed the court room last night as the defense opened its case. Only one witness was called, W. R. Dalton, St. Charles attorney, who gave evidence about the inventory and appraisal of Hepperman’s estate.

The prosecution has sought to show that the defendant, who married Hepperman five weeks before his death and less than a month after she became his housekeeper, put arsenic obtained from fly paper in his food. Her motive it was contended was to obtain his $6000 farm and $1000 in United States savings bonds.

Prosecution witnesses yesterday included Steve Hepperman, brother of the dead man and also a Wentzville farmer, ad Mrs. Rosie Simpson, Negro laundress, who worked occasionally for the Heppermans. The brother testified that Hepperman, four days before his death, knew that he had been poisoned. Mrs. Simpson’s testimony was that Mrs. Hepperman told her shortly before Hepperman’s death, “Hep has $1000 and I am going to get it.”

An earlier prosecution witness, Miss Rosaline Karrenbrock, clerk in a Wentzville general store, testified that Mrs. Hepperman bought fly paper, which it has been established contained arsenic, on several occasions between April 13 and May 9, 1940. The witness said Mrs. Hepperman stated she wanted the fly paper “for water bugs” and rejected a suggestion that another insecticide would be better for the purpose.

F. A. Upsher Smith of St. Paul, Minn., chemist for the company that made the paper, testified under cross-examination by the defense that sodium arsenic was used in the manufacture of the paper.

He gave his opinion that sodium would show up in a chemical analysis of the contents of the stomach after death, had the fatal arsenic come from the fly paper. The report of the analysis presented by the prosecution showed arsenic trioxide, but not sodium.

Defense counsel said they had not yet determined whether Mrs. Hepperman would take the stand. The defendant mother of eight children, is 46 years old. Plump and white haired, she has sat in the courtroom and followed the trial with composure. She has fixedly denied she poisoned her husband.

Hepperman’s Letter Told Advantages of His Household

Anton Hepperman, whose first wife had been dead for eight years, was a lonely man, so when he saw the newspaper advertisement for a position as housekeeper in a “motherless home”, inserted by Mrs. Emma Hepperman, now on trial charged with his poison murder, he wrote a long an simple letter stating the advantages of working in the Hepperman household. The letter, dated March 1, 1940, which was read to the jury, said in part:

I am a kind-hearted working man, and I know it would suit you if you would see my place. I have two houses, two mules, three cows, ten hogs, 200 chickens, a lot of canned fruit, lots of milk, eggs and butter. I butchered five hogs this winter. Well, you know that don’t sound like starving. Well, I’ll be waiting for an answer from you.”

Dateline: Union, Missouri
Wednesday, May 14, 1941
St. Charles Cosmos-Monitor

Emma Hepperman To Begin Serving Life Term in State Penitentiary
Within a Few Days
Counsel Takes Case to State Court After Franklin County Circuit Judge
Refuses Second Trial

The gates of the state penitentiary will be swinging open soon to receive Emma Hepperman, whose motion for a new trial, was overruled Thursday in Franklin County Circuit Court by Judge Ranson A. Breuer.

Convicted of the arsenic poison murder of her seventh husband, the woman was sentenced to a life term by a jury a week ago. Her counsel filed a motion for a new trial contending the state failed to make a case and pointed out alleged technicalities.

Immediately after the court refused a new trial an appeal to the Supreme Court was filed and granted.

The Franklin County sheriff will take the 46 year old woman to Jefferson City within the next few days where she will begin her life term for the crime.

Continue reading Epilogue

Return to Part I
Return to Part II-The Inquest
Return to Part III-Murder Warrants

Emma Heppermann, St. Charles Black Widow, 1940 Part III-Murder Warrants

Return to Part I-Prologue
Return to Part II-The Investigation

Murder Warrants

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, June 6, 1940
St. Charles Banner News

From Wednesday’s Daily:

Mrs. Emma S. Heppermann, 46, accused in a warrant of first degree murder, will be given a preliminary hearing in the court of Justice of the Peace Gus Temme at Wentzville next Wednesday. She was returned to St. Charles County Jail where she is being held without bond.

Mrs. Heppermann, charged with administering poison which caused the death of her seventh husband, Tony Heppermann, was accompanied by her lawyer this morning. She made no comment. A first degree murder warrant was served on her in her cell late yesterday by Sheriff Joe Borgmeyer.

Coroner John H. Buse’s jury, which yesterday inquired into the death last September of Aloys Schneider, sixth husband of the suspect, returned the following verdict:

We hold that Aloys Schneider came to his death as a result of arsenic poisoning administered to him by a party or parties unknown.”

The jury then referred the case to Prosecuting Attorney David A. Dyer.

In the form of a prepared statement, Dr. Neubeiser testified yesterday that death of Schneider was do to “arsenical poisoning.” Sergt. George Koch, technical officer of the state highway patrol, said on the stand that an examination of vital organs of Schneider showed that there were about 3 grains of arsenic in his body. This is enough to cause death, he said.

Mrs. Lucy Schneider; sister-in-law of Aloys, told the jury that when Aloys became ill, she called at his residence. This was on the Friday prior to his death, she said. Mrs. Schneider testified that in answer to an inquiry, Emma told her that she did not know what was wrong with him. Later, out on the porch, she said, Emma told her that a St. Charles doctor had given him strychnine for a heart ailment. The doctor, however, who appeared on the stand, showed the formula he had prescribed and it contained no strychnine.

Another St. Charles doctor testified that he had been called to the Schneider home by Aloys’ sons and he found him in a dying condition. The doctor ordered the man taken to the hospital where he died a few hours later.

Mrs. Robert Illy of St. Peters said that the suspect frequently mentioned to her that she had in the past taken doses of poison and that she planned again to take poison because she “couldn’t live with Aloys any more.”

August Barthelmes and Mrs. Barthelmes testified that Emma many times impressed upon them the fact that Aloys frequently ate vegetables and melons from the garden after they had been sprayed with a poison containing arsenic.

Alphonse Schneider, a farm hand and a brother of Aloys, told the jury that three times Emma threatened to kill him. One time, he said, she offered to cook me some soup. He ended his testimony by saying: “I’m sure glad I didn’t eat any soup.”

Jurors hearing the evidence were George Bohrer, Frank Haake, t. G. Koelle, Fred Hackmann, Hugh Meyer and H. A. Schrader.

From Thursday’s Daily:

A newspaper reporter recently interviewed Wm. Vaughn, fifth husband of Mrs. Heppermann. Vaughn is employed as a laborer on a farm near Cook Station, Mo. Said the St. Louis Star-Times in describing the interview:

He was hoeing corn under a noon day sun when the reporter approached him. He put aside his hoe, went into the living room of the farmhouse and puffed on a pipe as he told of his life with “Emmy.”

Now 66 years old, Vaughn was 20 when Mrs. Heppermann was born at Steelville, Mo., only eight miles from Cuba, where Vaughn’s family lived. He knew her first husband, Charles Schwack, and also her fourth, Bert Lee Roberts, both of whom were Crawford County residents. Both are dead.

“Well, sir,” began Vaughn, as he rubbed a hand across his bald head, “I thought I knew women because I had had four wives before, but Emmy fooled me.

“About a year after Bert died (Roberts died July 21, 1933), I met Emmy at a carnival at Cuba. I saw her off and on after that, and in 1935 she became my housekeeper. She kept the house as neat as a pin.

“The first thing I knew we were on our way to Potosi and I was a married man again.

“On the way back to Cuba from Potosi she told me I ought to make her the beneficiary of a $1,000 life insurance policy I had. I told her that policy was for my four children and I wasn’t going to change it. About a month after we were married we separated and I left the house.

“A few weeks later she coaxed me back, but the house burned down and she went off to St. Louis. It was alright with me, but doggone if she didn’t come back and bring some furniture with her and we got a new house three miles outside of Cuba.

She commenced nagging me and I finally told her to get out.”

Vaughn married Mrs. Heppermann October 29, 1935 and they finally separated April 9, 1936. She obtained an uncontested divorce from him October 20, 1937, according to records at the Crawford county Courthouse.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Wednesday, June 12, 1940
St. Charles Weekly Cosmos-Monitor

Mrs. M. J. King of Cuba Died in 1933 After Soup
Prepared by Mrs. Hepperman
Divorced Husband of Seven Times Married Woman
Relates She Constantly Nagged Him

A death of a mother-in-law of Mrs. Emma Sarana Hepperman, charged with murder, is being investigated by the State Highway Patrol.

The investigation is into the death of Mrs. M. J. King, mother of Bert Roberts, fourth husband of the alleged poisoner, who died July 21, 1933. Mrs. King’s death occurred in March of the same year. The woman died at Cuba where she was living with her son and daughter-in-law, Mrs. Heppermann. The patrol learned from a relative that Mrs. King became suddenly ill after eating potato soup which Mrs. Hepperman had prepared.

William Vaughn, one of the two husbands of Mrs. Hepperman, who were divorced from her now resides at Cook Station, Crawford County, Mo. He said she constantly nagged him. The couple was married October 29, 1935 and separated several times before the final departure April 9, 1936. The marriage, the fifth for each one, ended in divorce which was granted October 20, 1937.

Vaughn related the woman wanted him to make her beneficiary of a $1000 insurance policy while returning from the wedding ceremony to their home in Cuba. Vaughn refused stating the insurance was for his children. “Emmy certainly fooled me, “ Vaughn was quoted as saying.

Wednesday morning the woman was taken to Wentzville where she was arraigned before Justice of the Peace Gus Temme and her preliminary hearing set for June 12th. About twenty-five townspeople crowded around the two room shoe repair shop of Temme to get a look at the woman. The hearing was held in the rear room of the shop.

Sheriff Borgmeyer and Deputy Cunningham took the prisoner and a Negro boy, the latter who is charged with larceny of a watch, to Wentzville in an automobile.

Borgmeyer said the woman seemed to enjoy the ride and carried on a general conversion, her only intimation to the poison case was that she enjoyed being kept in a basement cell at the jail where it is nice and cool. The cell where Mrs. Hepperman is kept is for juveniles. Several years ago, two youngsters made their escape fro the cell by pulling out pieces of the wire. Since then the wire has been welded, making escape by similar methods practically impossible.

Lawrence McKim, attorney for the defendant, was anxious to conduct the preliminary yesterday. He said he was anxious for speedy disposal of the case since the charge of first degree murder is non-bailable and his client must remain in jail.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Wednesday, June 19, 1940
St. Charles Weekly Cosmos-Monitor


Daughter of Poison Victim Who Is In St. Joseph Hospital
Was Not Called to Testify

Wild cheering prevailed at Wentzville Tuesday afternoon when Mrs. Emma Sarana Hepperman was bound over to the Circuit court on a charge of murdering her husband, Tony Hepperman, Wentzville farmer, who died May 28.

Justice of the Peace Gus Temme, before whom the hearing was conducted, lost no time in announcing his decision. More than 500 persons who had gathered in the Wentzville Community hall for the proceedings, broke out with a bedlam “that almost shook the building.” As Temme stated “I think the evidence sufficient to indicate a crime has been committed and bind the defendant over to the Circuit Court.”

Sheriff Borgmeyer was as quick to act as Judge Temme and immediately took the prisoner from the building and started on his return to the county jail here where she is being held without bond. On the return trip the accused prisoner remarked she was well pleased with the work of her counsel.

The hearing was started last Thursday and continued until Tuesday. Witnesses at the conclusion were state highway officers who gave technical evidence, Sergt. Hagan, who found poison in the Hepperman home, Miss Rosalind Karrenbrock, a store clerk who sold articles containing poison to the defendant prior to her husband’s illness and death, Herbert Hepperman and Mrs.. Isabelle Eagan, children of the victim, who repeated evidence they gave at the inquest.

Ethel, 12 year old daughter of the victim, who is being treated for symptoms of arsenic poison in the St. Joseph’s Hospital was not called as a witness, because of her condition.

Hepperman was the fifth husband of seven time married woman to die suddenly. Aloys Schneider of St. Peters, the sixth husband, died last September 19, and after his body was exhumed it was discovered, he, like Hepperman, died from the effects of arsenic poison.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Wednesday, June 19November 13, 1940
St. Charles Weekly Cosmos-Monitor

“Snickering” Provoked Mrs. Isabelle Eagan
Whose Father Died of Arsenic Poisoning
Says Woman Held in Poison Murder Said If He Could Wear Shoes
To Funeral He Could Get Married

Depositions were being taken at the court house today in the poison murder case of Mrs. Emma Hepperman, 46 year old woman, whose seventh husband died May 28, the result of arsenic poisoning according to reports.

Oliver N. Nolen, an assistant attorney general and specialist in murder cases, was here to assist Prosecuting Attorney Dyer. Nolen said he had been in consultation with Dyer for some time but this was his first public appearance in the case. Harold Pellett of St. Lous represented Mrs. Hepperman at the procedure.

While Mrs. Isabelle Eagan, daughter of Tony Hepperman, the poison victim, was testifying this morning Mrs. Hepperman snickered and Mrs. Eagan shouted, “You needn’t laugh either.” The sate cautioned Pellett to keep his client quiet and it was pointed out the sheriff was there to keep the two women apart, if that becomes necessary.

Mrs. Eagan said she didn’t approve of Mrs. Hepperman. She told of the woman being at her father’s home before the marriage and related at one time she remarked if he could wear shoes to a funeral he could wear them to get married in. That occurred early in April and the couple was married on the 13th of the same month. Mrs. Eagen said her father froze his feet and had trouble wearing shoes.

Mrs. Eagan wept when she was called to identify a wedding picture of her mother and father published in a detective magazine. She wept at various times when questioned concerning her father’s death.

Dr. Leland Keller, Wentzville dentist, told of Hepperman and the defendant coming to his office May 25, to have his teeth extracted. Dr. Keller testified he told Mrs. Hepperman that Tony was in poor health and could not stand to have all his teeth taken out to which she replied, “Go on Tony, let the doctor do it, you will feel better.” Dr. Keller said he pulled eight teeth and told the pair to come back later.

Mrs. Hepperman was showed the effects of being in jail and gained several pounds since her arrest. In contrast to the preliminary hearing inO Wentzville when a thousand persons heard the evidence, only five spectators were in court this morning.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Wednesday, November 13, 1940
St. Charles Weekly Cosmos-Monitor

Negro Neighbor Said Mrs. Emma Hepperman Told Her
She Was Going to Get “Heps” $1000
Deposition Hearing in Murder Case Continued;
Defendant Provoked

Depositions of nine persons were taken Tuesday in the Hepperman murder case at the court house after which the procedure was continued until next Tuesday.

During the testimony Mrs. Hepperman laughed at the witnesses and was admonished several times by Oliver Nolen, assistant attorney general of Missouri, to refrain from such practice. At one time Nolen informed the defendant “before this is over we may have that smile wiped off your face.”

Mrs. Heppermann, heavier by several pounds since her arrest, prompted her counsel during the questioning, especially concerning two women, described as old friends of her seventh and last husband.

Ethel, 13 year old daughter of Tony Hepperman, who died May 28 of arsenic poisoning, was the main witness during the afternoon. The child said she did not approve of her dad marrying Mrs. Hepperman and related she told her father she was an O.K. woman but really didn’t think so herself. The child also told of finding additional fly paper in a cupboard at the home after her dad died. The child also told of Emma making beer for the family early this year.

Arlie Broyles and Mrs. Rosalene Karrenbrock employees of the Wentzville mercantile company, told of Mrs. Hepperman buying various articles containing arsenic to kill roaches with. Broyles said he suggested sodium flueride instead of the more deadly arsenic but the woman insisted she wanted the arsenic containing articles. Ethel previously said there were no roaches in the house.

Mr. Claude Drace and Dr. H. C. McMurray told of treating Hepperman before his death.

Rosie Simpson, Negro neighbor of the Hepperman family said that last May 22, she helped Mrs. Hepperman do some washing and was given a quantity of meat for her services. In previous testimony Ethel said her step-mother told her the meat was tainted and caused her illness. Mrs. Simpson, when questioned concerning the meat, beamed and replied, “We ate the meat it wasn’t poison and it sure was good.” She said that during her visit with Mrs. Hepperman the latter told her “Hep” had $1000 and she was going to get it. Mrs. Simpson said the woman did not comment further on how she planned to get the money.

George Thielmann was the last to take the stand and told of Tony’s physical condition.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Wednesday, November 20, 1940
St. Charles Weekly Cosmos-Monitor

Refusal of Son of Murdered Man to Answer Question
Causes Action by lawyer for Defendant
Deposition Hearing continued Until Wednesday Morning;
Ten Have Taken Stand

An effort to have Herbert Hepperman committed to the county jail for failure to answer a question at the deposition proceedings in connection with the poison murder case, was overruled by Clarence Leritz, Notary public of Clayton, before whom the depositions are being taken.

Attorney Harold Pellett of St. Louis, who is defendant 47 year old Mrs. Emma Hepperman, who is charged with the poison murder of her seventh husband, sought to have the victim’s son committed when he refused to answer questions concerning a conversation with Prosecuting Attorney Dyer.

When Pellett submitted the question, Oliver N. Nolen, assistant attorney general said the question was without merit in the case whereupon Prosecuting Attorney Dyer advised Hepperman to refuse to answer. Pellett then resubmitted the question and the witness replied, “I ain’t answering.”
Pellet said the evidence was relative to the case and refused to question Hepperman further or allow the state to make querry until a ruling was rendered by the Circuit Judge.

The lawyer packed his brief case and stalked out of the court room only to return within a few minutes and put the question to the witness again. When Hepperman refused a second time to answer, Pellett asked Leritz to commit the witness, and Leritz’s overruling the motion, causing Pellett to pack his brief case for a second time and start out of the court room.

Pellett finally agreed to continue and said he wanted the records to show the procedure and that a ruling be obtained later.

In his testimony Hepperman said he left home March 8, two days after the defendant came to their home. He worked in Illinois and said all the folks were well on his first visit home April 6. He told of eating meals prepared by Mrs. Hepperman then and May 10 when he visited again only to find his sister, Ethel, critically ill in bed and his father not feeling well.

He said his father was in good health during the past seven years and was ill only three or four times. He told of discussing the proposed marriage with his father and told him

Mrs. Hepperman is not the right kind of woman for him to marry and that he better lay hands off of her.”

The lone witness during the morning session told of using fly stickers, which hang from the ceiling around their home and that other types of fly killer was something new. He said he found eight sheets of a black fly paper, containing arsenic, under an oilcloth in the cabinet after his father died. He added that he never saw any cockroaches or water bugs in the basement. Previous testimony revealed Mrs. Hepperman said she wanted to kill water bugs.

The young man also told of a St. Louis woman writing a story for a detective magazine abut the death of his father and said he refused $50 to sign his name to the story.

The evidence continued until two o’clock this afternoon before adjournment.

Because the Circuit Court room was being used the depositions were taken in the county court room today. Nine persons preceded Hepperman to the stand a week ago when the case was continued until today.

A short afternoon session which adjourned until 9 o’clock Wednesday morning. Hepperman told of finding his sister sick on May 10th and stated when he insisted she be taken to a doctor at Wright City that Mrs. Hepperman objected because the expenses would be too much.

Continue Reading Part IV–The Trial

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