The Sausage Meat Mystery

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Part One: The Sausage Meat Murder Mystery, a True Crime Story

Adolph Louis Luetgert was a German immigrant who started his Sausage & Packing Company in Chicago with nor more than four thousand dollars he had saved up. In 1978, two months after the death of his first wife,  he married Louise Bricknese. Adolph had two children with his first and four with his second wife, but only three survived past the age of two.

Luetgert first came to the attention of the police when he went down to the station to complain that his wife had a secret lover. But the officers knew Mrs. Luetgert as a frail, sickly woman, who wouldn’t excite many men, and they also knew the sexual appetite of Mr. Luetgert was, well… far above “normal”. He often entertained the ladies in his plant after hours. So the officers did nothing about Luetgert’s odd complaint, until Mrs. Luetgert in May 1897 suddenly disappeared. Luetgert said his wife had deserted him for the secret lover he complained about, but the police began nosing around the sausage plant. The couple had a history of domestic violence, and according to one source, Luetgert had financial troubles and started courting a rich widow who he would marry once he got rid of his wife.

The theory was that the missing Mrs. Luetgert had been cooked down to something as easily disposed of as sausage meat. Now, a strange odor emanated from one of the vats in the factory. The vat was drained, but the police found nothing except a few unidentifiable bones and a gold wedding ring. Luetgert admitted it was Louisa’s – her initials “LL” were engraved on it – but he insisted he had been carrying it around in his pocket ever since she left him, in memory of their happier days. The ring must have dropped from his pocket into the vat while he was burning foul sausages.

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After poking around a bit, the police found other incriminating evidence: the bills, for instance, of the arsenic and potash Luetgert had bought the day before his wife disappeared. Potash, when boiled with water, can do a thorough job on the human body. “I was working on a secret formula to develop a new soap,” Luetgert explained. And soap with a potash base would certainly remove dirt… but skin too.

In a factory furnace bone fragments were found, identified as metatarsal bones, a toe phalanx, a rib and a head of a human female. Still claming his innocence, Luetgert was arrested and put on trial. The police could not prove beyond any doubt that Louisa’s body had been cooked into sausage meat and disposed of, but the authorities saved their little surprise until the trial, where Mrs. Luetgert’s doctor testified that Louisa’s knuckles were so painfully swollen from arthritis that she was unable to remove her wedding ring. “The only way it could have been gotten off would be for her finger to have melted out of it,” he said.

And maybe that was precisely what had happened…

The full true crime story and the true ghost story are here .

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