Date of murders: 1900 - 1918
Method of murder: Poisoning
Location: Several US States
Born in Germany, Helmuth Schmidt immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s. He would go on to become one of America’s most prolific “Bluebeard” killers, believed to be responsible for the deaths of at least 40 immigrant women in Missouri, New York, New Jersey and Michigan.
Schmidt’s M.O. was simplicity itself. Using various aliases, he would place newspaper ads in Lonely Heart’s columns, describing himself as a wealthy man in search of a wife. The women he attracted were in the main poorly educated, German immigrants, many of them employed as domestic servants. Schmidt would invite the girl to his residence to discuss the prospect of matrimony. There, he’d murder her, relieve her of whatever meager belongings she had, and then bury the body in a pre-dug grave in the cellar. He’d then disappear only to show up elsewhere and run his ruse again.
In 1918, Schmidt fled New York after he was connected to the death of a woman named Augusta Steinbach. He turned up in Royal Oak, Michigan, where he found work at the Ford plant and started placing Lonely Heart's ads in the local newspaper. Fortunately, New York detectives tracked him down before he could find a new victim.
Schmidt must have known that the game was up. While awaiting extradition to New York, he committed suicide in his cell, pulling a heavy iron bedstead down on his head and crushing his own skull.