The Gruesome Crimes Of Hans Schmidt, The Only Catholic Priest Ever Executed In US History

Published April 22, 2016
Updated November 1, 2017
Published April 22, 2016
Updated November 1, 2017

The Illegal, Self-Performed Marriage That Led To Murder

Hans Schmidt Catholic Priest

Hans Schmidt, right, and Anna Aumuller, left. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hans Schmidt was an unusual child. He was born in the German town of Aschaffenburg in 1881, and had an eerie childhood habit of spending his afternoon watching the cows and pigs be processed through the local slaughterhouse.

He was also entranced by Roman Catholic rituals, and played priest with a homemade alter. These two childhood passions would eventually converge in an unsettling way.

A 25-year-old Schmidt was ordained in Germany in 1904. He spent the next four years serving in Germany, but disputes with his higher-ups led to a relocation. It was only the start of his pattern of confrontation and relocation.

In 1908, he was transferred to St. John’s Parish in Louisville, Kentucky. Schmidt bumped heads with Catholic leaders in Louisville, and he was forced to relocate to St. Boniface Church on the east side of Midtown Manhattan.

But he wasn’t the only recent addition to St. Boniface at the time: a young Austrian housekeeper named Anna Aumuller had recently been hired to keep shop.

St Johns Parish

Louisville’s St. John’s Parish today. Image Source: Facebook

Schmidt and Aumuller then began having an affair. However, Schmidt’s pattern of relocation continued on and he was moved to St. Joseph’s Church in West Harlem. One possible reason for the transfer is that the church found out about the affair, and looked to keep the news from getting out. But distance couldn’t stop the two lovers.

On February 26, 1913, Schmidt married Aumuller in a secret ceremony that he performed himself. Of course, Catholic priests are banned from getting married, let alone have sexual affairs.

Nickolaus Hines
Nickolaus Hines is a freelance writer in New York City. He graduated from Auburn University, and his recent bylines can be found at Men's Journal, Inverse, and Grape Collective.