Pork and Beans- The Carl Wanderer Confession

Part 14 can be read here if you missed it...

After being arrested by the police on the night of July 6th, Carl Wanderer was held for days of questioning. The last day, July 9th, he was awoken at 2 o'clock in the morning and would go on to endure a 16-hour interrogation that the police themselves described as a real 3rd degree. I have no doubt of Carl Wanderer's guilt and do not wish him any sympathy. He was a psychopath and in an interesting look into just how pathological he was, printed below he coldly confesses to the murder of his wife, their unborn child, and a vagrant he tried to pin the murder on, yet in this confession while admitting to heinous crimes he still finds time to slip in other inconsequential lies.

The confession was printed in its entirety in the July 10, 1920 Chicago Daily Tribune and the 218 questions and answers are below. It is another rather long post but the highlights have been bolded if you want to skim it.





Statement of Carl Oscar Wanderer made in the office of the state’s attorney last night at 6:40 o’clock:

Present- John Prystalski and James C. O’brien, assistant state’s attorneys; Peter M. Hoffman, coroner; Lieut. Loftis, George T. Kenney, secretary to the state’s attorney, and A. J. Flynn, shorthand man.

Mr. Prystalski – State your full name
A. Carl Oscar Wanderer

Q. Where do you live?
A. 4732 N. Campbell Avenue.

Q. Do you want to make a statement now with reference to the death of your wife?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Do you want to make that freely and voluntarily; do you?
A. Yes, sir.

(He was then told the identity of those present and the questioning continued.)

Q. Realizing the situation, you want to make a statement; do you?
A. Yes

Q. You understand anything you say must be free and voluntarily?
A. Free and voluntarily

Q. Nothing has been forced out of you?
A. No, sir.

Q. You understand anything that you say here may be used against you in the future proceedings?
A. Yes, sir; everything. I want it all to be used against me.

Q. You understand if you do not want to tell the truth we do not want you to talk.
A. That is right. I want to tell the truth.

Coroner Hoffman: And the statements you have made heretofore are only true in part?
A. Yes.

Q. The statement you make now will be the real truth?
A. Yes.

Q. How old a man are you?
A. Twenty-five

Q. Where were you born?
A. Chicago

Q. Your wife’s maiden name?
A. Ruth Johnson

Q. How long had you been married to her at the time of her death?
A. Since October 1st, about nine months.

Mr. Prystalski: She was about to become a mother; when?
A. In August, latter part of August or September

Q. Before you were married what was your business?
A. Butcher

Q. Were you in the army?
A. Yes

Q. For how long?
A. Five years

Q. After you came back here, when did you come back from the army?
A. June 26, 1919

Q. Where did you go to work then?
A. Working for my father, 2701 Western avenue

Q. As what?
A. Butcher

Q. In the army what was your rank?
A. Second Lieutenant

Q. Now, some time in the early part of June of 1920, this year, did you have a talk with your wife about money?
A. Not that I can remember

Q. Well, did you ever talk to her about money that you had in the bank?
A. Well, I might have talked about changing; never asked how much she had in the bank.

Q. You knew she had some money in the bank?
A. I knew she had some

Q. You say you were in the butcher business?
A. Yes

Q. Were you satisfied with that life?
A. Well, I never really liked the butcher business since I learned it- they all know it.

Q. Did you express that thought?
A. They all know- everybody knows that.

Q. Well on the Friday before your wife’s death, did you get a revolver?
A. Yes, sir, on Friday.

Q. Go to your cousin?
A. Yes

Q. You didn’t get it at that time?
A. No, sir

Coroner Hoffman: When did you first become tired of your married life and want to be single again? To get back in the army?
A. About a week before my wife’s death

Mr. Prystalski: In your own way start with the beginning and tell us all about it. About this man and everything else.
A. Well, on Monday, June 21st, I went down town with my father to buy a knife.

Q. Did you buy a knife?
A. Yes

Q. Where?
A. At Paul J. Daemicke’s on Lake and La Salle

Q. What time of day were you at that store?
A. About, perhaps 11, between 11 and 1; I don’t recall the exact time, between that time.

Q. On the way back from that store did you go anywhere?
A. I took a walk down La Salle street to Madison and across the river.

Q. How far west?
A. Up to about Halsted street

Q. Did you meet anybody there?
A. I met a young fellow there, yes, sir.

Q. That is the man that was afterwards shot?
A. Yes

Q. Do you know his name?
A. No, sir

Q. Did he tell you his name?
A. No, sir

Q. Where did you meet this man?
A. On Halsted and Madison, on the corner.

Q. In front of the cigar store?
A. Yes, right across from Mid-City Bank.

Q. Did you talk to him there?
A. Just a little while

Q. What did you say to him?
A. Asked him if he wanted a job.

Q. What did he say?
A. He says, “What kind?”

Q. What did you say?
A. Driving a truck; working for us, in my business.

Q. Yes.
A. He says, “How much do you pay?” I told him, “Twenty-five dollars a week.”

Q. What else?
A. He says, “All right. When can I get the job?” I says, “Meet me at Logan and Western” (that is a block from our shop) “at half past 6.” I gave him car fare.

Q. How much did you give him?
A. A quarter at that time

Q. Is that all that was said there?
A. Yes

Q. Then where did you go?
A. I went back to the shop to get the knife.

Q. What time of day was it you talked to this man?
A. Must have been between 11 and 1; I don’t really know the exact hour.

Q. Did you work all afternoon?
A. Yes, sir

Q. About what time did you leave the butcher shop?
A. About half past 6

Q. Where did you go then?
A. I walked a block south to the boulevard- Logan.

Q. Who did you see there?
A. I seen the fellow

Q. Which fellow?
A. That was shot

Q. That is the same fellow you saw earlier that day at Halsted and Madison?
A. Same fellow

Q. Did you talk to him there?
A. Not much there

Q. What?
A. No, sir; we got on the car

Q. Did you say anything to him?
A. Just said. “Hello.” That is all.

Q. What did he say?
A. “Hello”

Q. You got on the car?
A. Yes

Q. On what car?
A. Western Avenue

Q. Which way did you go on Western avenue?
A. North

Q. How far did you go?
A. Irving Park

Q. Then where did you go?
A. My cousin’s house, Irving and Greenview.

Q. That is Fred Wanderer
A. Yes

Q. What did you do at Fred Wanderer’s house?
A. Got the revolver

Q. That is the revolver here (indicating)?
A. The new one

Q. At the time you got the revolver at your cousin’s house, where was this other man?
A. Greenview and Irving Park

Q. Waiting outside for you?
A. Two blocks from the house

Q. Did you tell him to stay there?
A. Yes

Q. Why did you tell him to stay two blocks from the house?
A. So it would not cause suspicion when I went for the gun.

Q. Did you tell him what you were going for?
A. No, sir, not at that time I didn’t.

Q. How long were you at your cousin’s house?
A. About fifteen minutes at the most.

Q. Then what did you do?
A. I came out, walked back to the corner, met this fellow.

Q. At your cousin’s house whom did you see?
A. His wife and Mrs. Stockmeier

Q. Anyone else?
A. Her son might have been there; his son was there.

Q. Whose son?
A. Stockmeier’s son. I don’t know whether he was there that night or the other. I seen him one night.

Q. You had been there the Friday previous?
A. Yes

Q. After you left your cousin’s house, where did you go?
A. After I left my cousin’s house I went home, Irving Park to Lincoln, Lincoln to Lawrence

Q. Did you meet this other man?
A. Yes

Q. Where did you meet him?
A. Greenview and Irving Park

Q. Did you talk with him there?
A. No, sir, not much; got on the car.

Q. Did you talk on the car?
A. Not much, no, sir; the car was crowded

Q. Did you talk after you got off the car?
A. Yes

Q. Where were you when you talked to him?
A. Lawrence and Lincoln, right by the restaurant, one door from the corner.

Q. How long did you talk to him there?
A. Five or ten minutes

Q. Was there anybody around there at that time you knew?
A. No

Q. About what time of the evening was this?
A. Must have been 7:20, 7:25 some place in there

Q. What was said between you and him at that time?
A. I asked him if he wanted to make some money

Q. What did he say?
A. He says, “Yes.”

Q. Go ahead.
A. I says, “You just carry out my instructions. When I get to a certain place just ask for the money. I will give it to you. You just get it as quick as you can.” That is what I told him. I gave him a dollar to buy his supper and I left him there. I told him I would meet him.

Q. Did you say anything about how much money he was going to make?
A. No, sir

Q. What happened after that?
A. I told him I would meet him there between 9 and half past 9.

Q. Meet him where?
A. Lincoln and Lawrence

Q. What happened after that?
A. I went home and got my supper.

Q. Yes?
A. Then we went up to the show, me and my wife.

Q. How did you happen to go out to the show that night; did you suggest it or she?
A. Being we did not go Sunday we both thought we would go. I guess we both suggested it.

Q. You knew at that time you talked to the fellow your wife and you were going to the show that night?
A. Yes, sir

Q. What time did you leave the house to go to the show?
A. Must have been 7:30

Q. Then where did you go?
A. Went down Campbell to Wilson, Wilson over to Lincoln, to the show.

Q. Did you see this fellow on the way to the show?
A. No, sir, we did not pass that way to the show.

Q. What time did you leave the show?
A. 5 after 9.

Q. What show did you go to?
A. Pershing

Q. Do you remember what picture you saw?
A. I am quite sure it was “The Sea Wolf.” I wouldn’t say for certain.

Q. Then which way did you go home?
A. Went down Lincoln to Lawrence

Q. Did you see this man?
A. Yes, at the corner, at the drug store

Q. That is the same place you left him?
A. Yes, sir, a little bit this side

Q. How far is that from your home?
A. About two and one-half blocks

Q. Did you give him any sign of recognition?
A. Nodded my head

Q. Did he give any sign of recognition?
A. Yes, sir, by following us

Q. How close was he following you?
A. Sometimes alongside of us, sometimes behind us.

Q. How far behind you?
A. Couple of steps

Q. At the time you talked with him about getting the money did he say anything about where he was going to ask you for the money?
A. Up in the vestibule

Q. In the vestibule of what?
A. My house

Q. You told him that?
A. Yes

Q. Did he say he would?
A. He would

Q. You were going home, were you?
A. Yes

Q. He was following right behind you?
A. Yes

Q. Did you go in the vestibule of your house?
A. My wife went in first, I went in second. He followed behind us.

Q. How close behind was he?
A. Pretty near like going up the stairs.

Q. Did your wife see him there?
A. She did not notice until she got to the vestibule.

Q. What happened when you got in the vestibule?
A. My wife said, “We will turn on the light.”

Coroner Hoffman: When did you take out your gun?
A. When I got in the vestibule.

Mr. Prystalski: Before your wife said, “We will turn on the light?”
A. Yes

Q. Then what happened?
A. He says, “No, you don’t. How about the money?” That is what he said.

Q. Is that what you told him to say previously?
A. Yes

Q. Where was he when you told him that?
A. Lincoln and Lawrence

Q. Then what did you do, if anything?
A. Then I drew out my gun. First shot accidently hit the floor.

Q. Yes?
A. We did not have no money. I saw I made a blunder, not taking the money with me. I knew if I had to be there I had to do something- he might squeal. I drew the gun and shot both directions. I did not want to shoot my wife. Two shots hit her.

Q. Did you want to shoot this man?
A. Yes

Q. Why?
A. I can’t say why. I did not have the money on me there. I knew he would squeal if I did not carry out my plans.

Q. Now, you wanted to get away, didn’t you?
A. Yes

Q. You wanted to get back to the army life.
A. Yes

Q. You wanted to get away from your wife.
A. Yes

Q. How were you going to get away from your wife?
A. By having her killed like that.

Q. In this holdup?
A. Yes

Q. You intended to kill her?
A. Not really; I couldn’t say that, sir.

Q. Who did you intend would kill her if you intended to have her killed?
A. I thought maybe I would do the job if I intended to have her killed. I did not really want to kill her. I done it.

Q. Well, why did you do that?
A. Just as I said, I did not want anybody else to have her if I couldn’t. I wanted to get back to the army. I thought it would be better to have her dead.

Q. You thought she would be better off dead than with somebody else, is that it?
A. Yes

Coroner Hoffman: What did you intend to do with the money?
A. Bury her, do the best I could, cost $800…

Q. You told me you wanted to take the money?
A. After the burial was over.

Mr. Prystalski: Do you know who this man was?
A. No

Q. Have you any idea at all?
A. No

Q. Why were you going to kill him?
A. Well, just to make it look as if he done the job.

Q. What job?
A. Killing my wife

Q. Make it look as if it was a holdup?
A. Yes, sir; a holdup for money more than anything else.

Coroner Hoffman: You wanted your wife killed so you could get away and lead an army life?
A. Yes

Q. You wanted it to appear as though what?
A. As if he shot my wife and I shot him.

Q. You wanted it to appear as if you were held up?
A. Yes

Q. Were you really held up at that time?
A. No, sir, no more than what I told you.

Q. Were you afraid at that time of your life from this man?
A. No, sir.

Q. Did this man have a gun at any time?
A. Not that I know of.

Q. Did you see any gun?
A. No

Q. I show you this gun you identify as the one you got from your cousin.
A. Yes

Q. Did you have that gun at that time?
A. Yes

Q. Was it loaded?
A. It was

Q. Did you shoot any bullets from it at that time?
A. I shot seven

Q. I show you this other gun, which is marked No. C2282: did you have it at that time?
A. Yes

Q. Whose gun was that?
A. Mine, my army gun

Q. Did you shoot that gun at that time?
A. Yes, sir; three shots.

Q. Now when you shot was it dark in the hallway?
A. Yes, sir; very dark.

Q. You could see the outlines of the people, could you not?
A. Just the faces

Q. You saw the face of your wife?
A. Yes

Q. You shot her?
A. Yes, sir; but I was not looking when I shot her.

Q. You looked away from her?
A. Yes

Q. You shot at her?
A. Yes, in the direction she was.

Q. You knew she was there?
A. Yes

Q. You wanted to kill her?
A. Yes

Q. So you could get back to the army?
A. Yes

Q. Who did you kill first, your wife or the man?
A. This man

Q. What?
A. My first shot went into the ground alongside of us, the second shot must have hit my wife. I had a gun in each hand.

Q. Why did you get this other gun from your cousin?
A. Just to make out it was a stickup job. I said before, I planned it.

Q. That is the same caliber as your gun?
A. Yes

Q. Is that the reason you got it?
A. Yes

Q. What were you going to do with it after the stickup?
A. Leave it lay there on the floor; make out it was the other man’s gun.

Q. Did you think this gun could be traced?
A. I did after a while.

Q. At that time you thought it?
A. No, sir.

Q. Is that the reason you did not leave your own gun there?
A. Yes

Q. Because you thought your own gun could be traced?
A. Yes

Coroner Hoffman: When your wife went to the bank to get this money you knew that, didn’t you?
A. Yes

Q. Tell us about that.
A. I told her to draw out some money. She did not draw it all out. (She drew out $1,500, leaving $70.)

Q. You did not intend to put this money in any other bank?
A. Yes, sir, in the Bowmanville bank.

Mr. Kenney: You really did intend to?
A. No, she did.

Q. You told her you agreed it should be put there?
A. Yes

Q. You used that as a blind to get her to draw out the money?
A. Yes

Mr. Prystalski: When did you first decide your wife ought to be killed?
A. A day or two before she was killed.

Q. When did you first decide you were going to kill her?
A. That night

Q. Did you figure out any other schemes?
A. No, sir

Q. Did you talk to anybody about it?
A. No

Q. Did you make any preparation about your getaway, your alibi?
A. No

Q. You were going to stay here and face it all?
A. Right after it happened I couldn’t run away, I was going to run away first after I was freed from Lieut. Loftis.

Q. Why did you beat this man on the head on the ground?
A. I wanted him to die; I didn’t know how bad I shot him. I wanted him to die.

Q. Wanted to be sure he was dead?
A. Yes

Q. Why were you so anxious he should die?
A. So he would not talk

Q. Were you sure your wife was dead?
A. No

Coroner Hoffman: On this trip downtown to buy a knife for your father you conceived the idea to carry out your scheme to get this hobo to act as a holdup man?
A. Yes, sir

Q. For the purpose of shooting your wife and then killing him, to make believe it was a holdup, and that the holdup man shot your wife and you shot him?
A. Yes, sir

Q. Then you intended to take what money was left and go to the army.
A. After the burial.

Mr. O’Brien: Did you ever have any talk with your wife about your going to the army?
A. No

Q. Was she opposed to it?
A. No. I never had talked with her that I can remember.

Mr. Prystalski: Now, when you got this gun from your cousin, Fred Wanderer, what did you say to him?
A. I just says as I says to the sergeant, “I made a bet.” That is the only way I could get it.

Q. What was the bet about, supposed to be?
A. About taking a gun apart and putting together in such a time.

Q. This statement you make here is true?
A. Yes

Q. If we have it written up you will sign it?
A. Yes

Q. That is the whole truth?
A. Yes

Mr. Kenney: You have not been abused in the state’s attorney’s office?
A. No

Q. No one has harmed you in any way?
A. No

Q. As well as you think you should be treated?
A. Yes

Mr. Kenney: You have had something to eat?
A. Yes, sir

Q. You are not hungry?
A. Not hungry

Q. Your supper has been ordered?
A. Yes

Q. What did you ask for supper?
A. Pork and beans.


Wanderer signing his confession July 9th, 1920. Photo from the Chicago Daily Tribune.

Wanderer signing his confession July 9th, 1920. Photo from the Chicago Daily Tribune.



Part 16 coming Friday, July 20- Wanderer Goes to Trial


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  • Dear Ragged Stranger,
    I have not heard that terminology since my Dad was alive. He was born in Chicago in 1914 and grew up in Englewood 3 blocks from Sox Park. He belonged to a baseball team ( hometown kids) they named "The Ragged Strangers." It is hard to believe you could you been around at that time or did you know their story? Either way enjoyed this story - same flavor as my dad and please consider this a compliment.

  • In reply to Lana McBride:

    That was long before my time but the Ragged Stranger was a prominent story in the papers at that time, 1920-1921, and it would make sense for his team to be named after him. Thanks for the info, I've seen some other ephemera and memorabilia from the time regarding the story but never anything about a baseball team being named for him. I came across the story in a book on haunted houses in which I found my home address to have been the scene of the murder. Glad you enjoyed the story!

  • It's definitely a very interesting story that I would keep reading again and again. Check out this website http://writemypaper.com.au/ to learn different writing styles.

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