The Fiendish Murder of William Guldensuppe, 1897
Story by Thomas Duke, 1910
“Celebrated Criminal Cases of America”
Part III: Cases East of The Pacific Coast
On June 26, 1897, the upper part of the body (minus the head) of a powerfully built man was found wrapped in red oilcloth in the East River, off Eleventh Street, New York City. It was severed above the diaphragm by someone who was evidently proficient in anatomy.
On the following day, the lower part of the body (minus the legs) was found in the woods near 176th Street and Under Cliff Avenue, nearly eight miles distant from the gruesome discovery of the preceding day.
This portion of the body was also wrapped in red oilcloth.
Shortly afterward, two boys, while swimming near the Brooklyn Navy yard, found two human legs wrapped in canvas.
The New York press gave a great deal of space to the mystery and as William Guldensuppe, a masseur at the Murray Hill Baths, New York, had mysteriously disappeared a few days previously, Frank Gartner, an attendant at the same baths, called at the morgue to view the remains.
He had seen the missing man in semi-nude condition almost daily, and without hesitancy he identified the remains as those of Guldensuppe, because of a small mark on the body.
Several other attaches of the baths were then called in and they were equally as positive as Gartner.
Dr. J. S. Cosby of 215 Forty-Fourth Street examined the index finger of the left hand and recognized a scar he had caused by lancing Guldensuppe’s finger in treating an abscess.
It was learned that Guldensuppe had lived with a midwife named Mrs. Augusta Nack at 339 Fifth Avenue.
The woman was taken into custody, and when interrogated as to the whereabouts of Guldensuppe, she stated that she neither knew nor cared where he was.
Acting Inspector O’Brien then obtained a statement from a barber named John Gotha who repeated a confession made to him by another barber named Martin Thorn, which was substantially as follows:
“I roomed in Mrs. Nack’s house and when Guldensuppe was absent she made love to me.
“One night Guldensuppe came home and found me in her room. We had a fight and I was so badly punished I had to go to the hospital.
“I then moved to Third Avenue and Twenty-First Street where Mrs. Nack used to visit me clandestinely. She often gave me money and expressed a desire to leave Guldensuppe and live with me.
“On June 22, I saw an advertisement in the paper announcing that a cottage was for rent at 346 Second’ Street, Woodside, Long Island; so Mrs. Nack and I inspected it on June 24, and after deciding to rent it, we paid $15 down to a Mr. and Mrs. Braun.
“I was determined to get even with Guldensuppe, and I purchased a pistol and stilletto for that purpose.
“The next day, June 25, Mrs. Nack persuaded Guldensuppe to look at the ‘new house,’ and when he entered the building I was hid behind the door. At the first opportunity I shot him in the back of the head. We then threw him in the bathtub, and while he was breathing heavily, I cut off his head with a razor, and stripped his body.
“I then went to a store and purchased some plaster of paris and Mrs. Nack went to another store and purchased some red oilcloth. The head was covered with plaster-of-paris and bandages and thrown in the river and the other parts of the body were deposited in the places where they were subsequently found.”
This statement caused the authorities to take Thorn into custody. After considerable questioning, he stated that Mrs. Nack and he rented the house on Long Island, and that when he entered the house on June 25, Mrs. Nack had already killed Guldensuppe and that his only part in the crime was to assist her in disposing of the remains.
Max Riger and wife, who conducted a store near the scene of the murder, positively identified Mrs. Nack as the woman to whom they had sold red oilcloth similar to that in which the body was wrapped.
Several witnesses identified Mrs. Nack and Thorn as the couple who occupied the cottage.
A carving knife, saw and revolver were found in the cottage, and human blood was found on each.
Constantine Keehn, a barber, of 836 Eighth Avenue, and a confident of Thorn, stated that Thorn told him that he had taken a course in surgery in Germany. Thorn formerly worked for a barber named Hepp on Seventy-Fifth Street, but was discharged when he reported for duty with a pair of black eyes caused by blows from Guldensuppe’s fists.
On July 2, Mrs. Nack was charged with murder and a similar charge was entered against Thorn a few days later. Both were found guilty and appealed to the Supreme Court, but the judgment of the lower court was affirmed by that tribunal.
Mrs. Nack was sentenced to serve fifteen years in prison and Thorn was electrocuted at Sing Sing on August 1, 1898.