“I have done with… everybody”
Johann Otto Hoch was born in 1855 (some sources say 1862) as John Schmidt in Horweiler, Germany. He moved to the United States in the early 1880s and began adopting a series of aliases as he worked in meatpacking plants in Chicago. He married Christine Ramb and had three children by her. He deserted them in 1887. Eight years later he married Maria Steimbucher who died four months later. He sold her property for $4,000.
In November of the same year he married Mary Rankin and left her the next day, taking her money with him. In 1896 Hoch married four times and had another proposal rebuffed. Two of the wives died and Hoch was more than $2,000 richer by the end of the year. In January 1897 he married Julia Dose and vanished the same day but not before taking $700 with him. Two years in prison for selling furniture that was not his did not deter Hoch and in 1900 he married Mary Schultz.
Shortly after, the new Mrs Hoch, her 15-year-old daughter Nettie and $2,000 vanished. In November 1901 Hoch married Anna Goehrke and left her. On 8 April 1902 he married Mary Becker who died the following year. On 2 January 1904 Hoch walked up the aisle with Anna Hendrickson. He walked out on her 18 days later with $500 of her money. Eighteen months later he married Lena Hoch who died three weeks later leaving him $1,500 richer.
On 20 October he married Caroline Streicher and left her eleven days later. On 16 November he rented a cottage in Chicago and spent $120 on furniture. On 5 December, he married Marie Walcker. As a wedding gift she sold her sweet shop for $75 and gave Hoch her life savings of $350. Fifteen days later, she fell ill and died on 12 January 1905.
Three days later he married her estranged sister Amelia Fischer and she gave him another $750 before he upped and left. On 30 January he proposed to Katherine Kimmerle 20 minutes after taking a room in her house but she turned down his offer and, thanks to Amelia Fischer’s persistence, Hoch was arrested. In his pocket was a fountain pen filled with 58 g (2 oz) of arsenic.
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Following Hoch’s arrest several of his dead wives were exhumed and arsenic was found in their bodies. On 19 May 1905 Hoch was found guilty of the murder of Marie Walcker and on 23 June sentenced to hang. He went to the gallows on 23 February 1906. Protesting his innocence, Hoch said, “I am done with this world. I have done with everybody.”
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Hoch had six pieces of advice for would-be Lotharios:
- 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.