WIFE GROUND UP IN SAUSAGE PLANT – In 1878, Adolph Louis Luetgert's sausage factory was located at the corner of Diversey and Hermitage in the German neighborhood of Lakeview. In the 1880s, Luetgert, a widower, married Louisa Bicknese of Kankakee and she moved into his home on Hermitage in back of the factory, which was on Diversey. Louisa could not satisfy his insatiable sexual tastes, so Luetgert had a variety of lovers, including Louisa's maid, a longtime mistress, and a barkeeper, Mrs. Agathia Tosch, whose establishment was located near the sausage factory. Luetgert, morose and arrogant, fancied himself as a special gift to women. In 1897, Louisa, 42, was about at the end of her rope with his tomcatting. After many angry confrontations, Luetgert decided to kill her. On March 24,1897, the 275-pound Luetgert strangled his 115-pound wife and dumped her body into a huge vat that contained quicklime and acid. The quicklime and acid did not eat away all the flesh from her bones, so after an hour or two, he placed what remained of her into a sausage-curing vat and turned up the heat to 200 degrees. What little that was left of her, he threw into the boiler furnace in the engine room. Satisfied that there was nothing left, Luetgert went in the house, washed up and ate breakfast. The next day, an employee noticed a slime-like substance on the floor. He placed it in a barrel and dumped it by the nearby railroad tracks.
When relatives of Mrs. Luetgert reported that she was missing, the police talked to employees, who told them of the slime and glue that they had found. When the police opened one of the vats, they found it full of brownish fluid. After the vat was drained, they found several pieces of bone and two gold rings. One of them was a wedding band with the initials "L. L." on it. Luetgert was arrested for the murder of his wife.
UPDATE – Luetgert was tried twice for the murder of Louisa. The first trial ended in a hung jury but he was found guilty in the second trial and sentenced to life in prison. He died of a heart attack in the Joliet State Penitentiary in 1911. For years after, the kids in the neighborhood would sing; "He ground her up into sausage meat, and Luetgert was his name."The large brick plant was located on the south side of Diversey just west of Hermitage.
THE RAGGED STRANGER MURDER CASE – When Carl Wanderer, 32, and Ruth Johnson, 20, got married in September of 1919, they moved in with her parents here at 4732N. Campbell. Carl had just been discharged from the Army where he was a war hero. Just before Christmas, Ruth told Carl she was pregnant but he didn't show any happiness of the news. Instead, he fell into sullen moods and rarely spoke. This went on for several months until the night of June 21, 1920 when Carl and Ruth were returning from a movie. They didn't notice the man who followed them into the dark vestibule of their apartment building. When the stranger fired several shots at the couple, Carl pulled out his service automatic and emptied the clip in the direction of the intruder. Fourteen bullets were fired in a space of a few seconds. Ruth fell to the floor with two bullets in her. Carl went berserk with rage, smashing his gun and fists against a man dressed in rags who was also on the floor, shot full of holes. Ruth lived just long enough to whisper "My baby . . . my baby is dead." The stranger later died in Ravenswood Hospital. He had just $3.80 in his pocket. Carl was praised by the people of Chicago for his bravery.
– A few days later, reporter Ben Hecht of the Chicago Daily News sat at his desk looking at a picture of the two guns used in the shooting. One was Carl's army issued gun and the other belonged to the dead stranger. Something was not right. Both guns were identical. Over at the Chicago Examiner, reporter Charles MacArthur also noticed that the identical guns looked suspicious. A check of the stranger's gun, by the pair, revealed that it had been purchased by a Peter Hoffman. Hoffman told MacArthur that he sold the gun several years before to a man name Fred Wanderer. Fred was Carl Wanderer's cousin. A few days later, Hecht interviewed Carl in his apartment here on Campbell. While Carl left the room, Hecht found some incriminating letters Wanderer had written . . . to a man. Love letters of deep devotion. Hecht then realized that the war hero was a homosexual. Hecht and MacArthur went to the police with the letters and their suspicions. Carl was brought in for questioning. When confronted with the evidence of the gun and letters, he broke down and confessed to both killings. Carl told police that he had always been a homosexual and married Ruth for her money. When Ruth began to doubt his war record, he went to skid row and met a drifter named Al Watson. He told Watson that he would pay him to stage a hold-up in which he would hand a gun to Watson when the couple entered the vestibule and when Ruth turned on the light, he would floor him with a punch. Watson would run away and once again Carl would be a hero to his wife. Watson thought it was a harmless way to make a few dollars, and agreed. That night in the vestibule, Wanderer did not hand the gun to Watson. Instead he kept both guns and fired at both his wife and Watson. After they had fallen, he fired several more shots into them to make sure they were dead.
– After two sensational trials, Wanderer was sentenced to death by hanging. As Wanderer stood on the gallows on March 19, 1921, he threw back his head and began to sing "Dear Old Pal O' Mine." Carl was singing when the hangman placed the black shroud on his head and lowered the rope to his neck. His pathetic voice sang on behind the mask. The trap door opened and he shot to an instant death. MacArthur turned to Hecht and said, "You know Ben, that son-of-a-bitch" should have been a song-plugger." Humorist Alexander Woolcott, who also witnessed the hanging, was heard to say, " Wanderer deserved hanging for his voice alone."
UPDATE – Ben Hecht went on to become a novelist, playwright and a top Hollywood screenwriter. Charles MacArthur also became a top Hollywood screenwriter and married actress Helen Hayes. The pair co-authored the plays The Front Page, and Twentieth Century.
RIVERVIEW PARK – Opened in 1903-04, the 74-acre Riverview Park was the world's largest amusement park. It had over 100 rides and attractions with two miles of paved midways, seven roller coasters including the famous "Bobs," a 200-foot parachute jump, water chutes, boat rides on the Chicago River, and a 70-horse merry-ground. It was located on the northwest corner of Belmont and Western.
UPDATE – The park was closed in 1967 and torn down shortly after. Everything was destroyed except the 70-horse Merry-go-Round. It is now in Six Flags in Atlanta, Ga. The distortion mirrors from Aladdin's Castle fun house are in a dance club in Palatine.The site is now home to Devry Institute of Technology, a police station, and a shopping center.
LANE TECH HIGH SCHOOL – Lane Tech, one of the largest school buildings in the world, was built to accommodate 9,000 students. the murals in the cafeteria and at the auditorium entrance were painted by the Federal Art Project. One of the students here in the 1930s was Frank Lo Vecchio. He later added an i to Lane and became singer Frankie Laine. The school is on the southwest corner of Belmont and Western.
JOHN DILLINGER HIDEOUT HOTEL – Dillinger stayed here several times at the Bel Rey Hotel at 3254 N. Racine.