when one wife is not enough

Johann Hoch was born John Schmidt in 1862.


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:



– 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

Published in: on December 29, 2010 at 10:29 am  Comments (36)  
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36 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Always brings me back to the question of how and why do some people become such monsters and also wonder why their prey are so easily harvested. It seems both types were created for the sole purpose path intersection for the horrible demise of the victim. Since this monster had such a long spree involving so many innocent women what was his purpose in the grand scheme of things and what kind of monster is the Architect of this scheme? Makes atheism more understandable.

    • It’s all meaningless…..

  2. Oui, le chaton…What I was saying? Happy New Year,by the way :)!

    • I like le bleu chat best

  3. Burley, light blue eyes, ardent and earnest?
    Best I keep a beady eye on my husband … and lay in a stock of arsenic for my trusty Parker pen.

    • But it might clog up the ink 😦

  4. Do you know the worst thing about having multiple wives, don’t you? Having multiple mother-in-laws! That could drive *any* man to murder.

    • That’s why he picked orphans

  5. this guy put forth a lot of effort for all this… seems to me it would have been far easier to just get a fucking job.

    • He *did* get a fucking job.

      • Haha… yes he *did*

  6. One’s quite enough for me *looks exhausted*

    • But are you enough for TG? That’s the real question here…..

  7. Those rules are a sad comment on how little most men can be bothered to even be nice to the women in their lives. Or to quote an early novel of Peter Straub (Shadowland), “We were so raw that we could be seduced by decency.”

    • I can usually be seduced by a quirky sense of humour

  8. Just as well he didn’t hitch up with Bel Gunness. He may have met his match with her!

  9. ardent and earnest always ticks a few boxes with me 😉

    • Ardent = yes!!!

  10. That Yves St.Laurent wedding dress reminds me of a very decorative tampon… and decorative tampons have got to be one of the most useless things I ever thought up, for reasons that are all too obvious.

    • It’s too perfectly hideous for words

      • Looks unneccessarily phallic to me.

  11. Intuition is a good thing. Either these ladies didn’t have it, or Hoch was reeeeally good at tricking women with small self-esteem to fall for him. Scary he was able to repeat his antics so many times–so tragic. I’m glad the Amelia I know best wasn’t the one in the story. She’s too smart for that mess.

    • Incredible isn’t it? To think he found 44 women that desperate.

  12. I’m pretty sure wrongly convicted people don’t hum and whistle during their trials. They’re too busy friggin’ weeping. It seems strange that such a brainiac got away with so many murders for so long.
    -signed Inspector Clouseau

    • I hum and whistle all through our weekly manager’s meeting at work. It’s an excellent distraction.

  13. Hoch was a freak, but I can’t get over Amelia. Estranged or not, what kind of crazy do you have to be to marry your deceased sister’s husband six days after the funeral?

    • Sibling rivalry gone wrong?

  14. Maybe he was a hypnotist.

    Happy New Year Delicious One xxxxx

    • Excellent theory Lulu. And best wishes for 2011. May it include a trip down under for you 🙂

  15. Myra, I admire you tremendously, I would love to marry you right now. What do you say? Just excuse me a moment while I adjust my fountain pen….

    • Sadly, I must decline your most flattering offer.

  16. This freaky dude reminds me of my former Indian lover, an ardent Rajasthani who was up there with the best. He finally managed to get an American to marry him after three days but after her initial zeal, the marriage didn’t last.

    • Was he trying for a Green Card?

  17. He had to have done more that that to win those women over. That’s too simple.

  18. Hmmmm…My wife and I both use fountain pens. Should we lay in two stocks of antidote I wonder?

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