Updated:
Original:
Year
1964
Month Day
May 31

Convicted murderer Charles Schmid brags about his crimes

Fifteen-year-old Alleen Rowe is killed by Charles Schmid in the desert outside Tucson, Arizona. Earlier in the night, Schmid allegedly had said to his friends, “I want to kill a girl! I want to do it tonight. I think I can get away with it!” Schmid went on to kill three other teenage girls before being caught by police.

Constantly trying to compensate for his short stature, Charles Schmid wore oversized cowboy boots stuffed with rags to boost up his natural 5-foot, 3-inch stance. He was also a well-known pathological liar, telling girls that he had terminal diseases and that he had connections to the mafia. To his friends, he constantly bragged about his sexual exploits.

When Schmid was 22, he enlisted John Saunders and Mary French to assist in killing Alleen Rowe. They lured the girl out to the desert where Schmid raped her and then smashed her head with a rock before they each took turns digging a shallow grave in which to bury her. Providing alibis for each other, the threesome allowed police to write off Rowe’s disappearance as a runaway case. Most of Tuscon’s teen community had already heard rumors that Schmid, Saunders, and French were responsible, but no one came forward.

The following year, 17-year-old Gretchen Fritz, who had been secretly dating Schmid, disappeared, along with her younger sister Wendy. Schmid, who had killed the sisters in the desert, couldn’t resist telling someone, so he enlisted Richard Bruns’ help in burying the bodies.Schmid went on to kill two other teenaged girls. He later bragged about killing four people, but if there was a fourth, it was a teenaged boy that he killed before he met Rowe. When Bruns soon began to fear that Schmid would kill his own girlfriend, and he therefore told the police about the Fritz murders about three months later.The subsequent trial gained national attention as an example of the depravity of young people in the 1960s. Schmid was convicted and sentenced to death, but he survived because the Supreme Court invalidated most death sentences in 1972. Later that year, he escaped from state prison, only to be caught a few days later.

Tags
terms:
Crime

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The Johnstown Flood

In a river valley in central Pennsylvania, heavy rain and a neglected dam lead to a catastrophe in which 2,209 people die and a prosperous city, Johnstown, is nearly wiped off the face of the earth. Johnstown, located at the confluence of the Little Conemaugh River and Stony ...read more

The Boer War ends in South Africa

In Pretoria, representatives of Great Britain and the Boer states sign the Treaty of Vereeniging, officially ending the three-and-a-half-year South African Boer War. The Boers, also known as Afrikaners, were the descendants of the original Dutch settlers of southern Africa. ...read more

Netanyahu elected prime minister of Israel

In what was regarded as a setback for the Middle East peace process, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres is narrowly defeated in national elections by Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu. Peres, leader of the Labor Party, became prime minister in 1995 after Yitzhak Rabin was ...read more

Architect of the Holocaust hanged in Israel

Near Tel Aviv, Israel, Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi SS officer who organized Adolf Hitler’s “final solution of the Jewish question,” was executed for his crimes against humanity. Eichmann was born in Solingen, Germany, in 1906. In November 1932, he joined the Nazi’s elite SS ...read more

Germans conquer Crete

On this day in 1941, the last of the Allies evacuate after 11 days of battling a successful German parachute invasion of the island of Crete. Crete is now Axis-occupied territory. On the morning of May 20, some 3,000 members of Germany’s Division landed on Crete, which was ...read more