Alchemy of Bones: Chicago's Luetgert Murder Case of 1897

By Stamm, Michael | Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Autumn 2004 | Go to article overview

Alchemy of Bones: Chicago's Luetgert Murder Case of 1897


Stamm, Michael, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society


Alchemy of Bones: Chicago's Luetgert Murder case of 1897. By Robert Loerzel (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003. Pp. 319. Illustrations, photographs, index. Cloth, $29.95).

Robert Loerzel swiftly narrates the events surrounding the late 189Os investigation and trial of Chicagoan Adolph Luetgert on charges of murdering his wife. Luetgert-a German immigrant and onceprosperous sausage-maker-had made a series of unfortunate business decisions that left him on the verge of financial ruin. Luetgert's wife Louise had grown increasingly angry about the family's declining fiscal fortunes and disappeared on 1 May 1897, after a few days of erratic behavior. Or at least that is what Adolph Luetgert told police. Investigators soon found a much more grisly explanation for Louise Luetgert's disappearance: Adolph had killed her and disposed of the body by boiling it in a vat of potash in his sausage factory.

For Chicagoans in 1897, the Luetgert matter was a grisly reminder of the sensational prosecution of serial killer Herman Mudgett (alias H.H. Holmes) that had taken place only a year before. For contemporary readers, this book will be a companion piece to Eric Larson's Devil in a White City, a study of the Holmes affair. Loerzel's book, while not pulpy like Larson's, is still probably one of the few university press books one might reasonably call a "page-turner," and will interest any reader intrigued by Larson's book. Alchemy of Bones is an exceptional example of the true-crime genre.

Loerzel moves beyond the grisly details and into deeper and more analytic territory with extended discussions of Luetgert's media-hyped public trial. Loerzel puts heavy of emphasis on the press coverage of the trial, and shows how sensationalistic coverage stirred the public to become ravenous for daily news about the trial. Chicago at the time had ten English-language dailies, all of which had reporters in the courtroom, as did the city's German-language papers and the national wire services, and reporters became so competitive that they resorted to tactics like climbing down airshafts to spy on the deliberating jury. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Alchemy of Bones: Chicago's Luetgert Murder Case of 1897
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.