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

Go Back to Part I-Prologue & Investiation
Go Bank to Part II


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