Hoch first appeared in Wheeling in February 1895 using the name “Jacob Huff”. He opened a saloon in a German neighborhood and became a popular man in the community. He also began to seek out marriageable widows or at least divorced women with money. One of those he found was Caroline Hoch, a middle-aged widow whom he quickly married. Caroline died in agony after her husband was seen giving her some sort of white powder. Huff (as he was known) insisted that his wife be buried right away. He then collected on Caroline’s life insurance, sold her house, cleaned out her bank accounts and disappeared.
Brown Widow Spider with egg sacs found here
Huff went to the nearby Ohio River on the night of his disappearance, stripped off his clothes, placed his good watch, with his photo in the locket, and a suicide note on his pile of clothing and walked into the river to a rowboat. He then rowed up to the Ohio side of the river, set the boat adrift and continued on with his journey. He was no longer Jacob Huff but Johann Otto Hoch, taking the last name of his victim.
image found here
From 1900 to 1904, Hoch, using various names, married and murdered as many as 15 more women. Prior to a prison term in Chicago for swindling, Hoch would marry women and then slowly poison them to death, calling in doctors who he knew would innocently diagnose his wife’s ailment as a disease of the kidneys, for which there was no treatment. He took his time, spending patient months and murdering his wives very carefully. After his release from the Cook County jail however, Hoch’s careful method fell to pieces. He began killing in record time, murdering some of his wives within a week of their nuptials. He married his last victim, Marie Walcker, in Chicago on December 5, 1904 and he poisoned her days later.
Yves St Laurent wedding dress found here
On the night of her death, the victim’s estranged sister, Amelia, appeared at her home. As his wife lay dying, Hoch embraced and kissed Amelia and asked her to marry him after the death of her sister. Amazingly, she agreed. Marie was buried a day later without being embalmed and Hoch married Amelia six days after the service. The killer had received $500 from Marie’s life insurance policy and Amelia gave him another $750. He disappeared immediately after.
No, not this Amelia
Amelia went to the Chicago police who sent photographs of Hoch to every major newspaper in the country and a short time later, a widowed landlady in New York, Mrs. Katherine Kimmerle, recognized the likeness as being that of her new boarder, Henry Bartels. She recalled him so vividly because the strange man had proposed marriage to her only 20 minutes after he had taken the room. The authorities soon had Hoch in custody.
Kim Novak in The Notorious Landlady
When he was arrested, Hoch claimed that he was being framed and the “truth” about him was misrepresented. Discovered in his room was $625, several wedding rings with the inscriptions filed off, a loaded revolver and a fountain pen that contained 58 grams of arsenic. Hoch claimed that he had planned to commit suicide with the poison.
Montblanc Fountain Pen found here
During his trial, the killer hummed, whistled and twirled his thumbs in court. Until the very end, he insisted that he was innocent.
Police believe that he married at least 44 women (and perhaps more) in his career as a bigamist and a swindler and he murdered an unknown number of those. Hoch was a middle-aged, balding and burly man with light-blue eyes and a handlebar mustache. There was nothing about him to suggest that he would be so attractive to the fairer sex that they would agree to marry him within days of an introduction — and yet many of them did so. Hoch did have a set of rules that he lived by which he used to make women fall in love with him. He told them to the Chicago Sun newspaper just a short time before he was executed:
6 WAYS TO WIN A WOMAN TOLD BY “BLUEBEARD” HOCH
– Nine out of every ten women can be won by flattery
– Never let a woman know her own shortcomings
– Always appear to a woman to be the anxious one
– Women like to be told pleasant things about themselves
– When you make love, be ardent and earnest
– The average man can fool the average woman if he will only let her have her own way at the start
Original article found here