Born December 11, 1936, in Philadelphia, Kallinger was surrendered for adoption as an infant, finding a home with Austrian immigrants Stephen and Anna Kallinger in October 1938.
His childhood was bizarre, to say the least, marked by parental abuse in the form of floggings with a cat-o'-nine-tails, beatings with a hammer, and repeated threats of emasculation. In the summer of 1944, Kallinger was sexually abused at knifepoint by a gang of older boys, prompting subsequent episodes in which he masturbated while clenching a knife in his fist.
Kallinger married his first wife at age 17, the stormy relationship producing ten children before she abandoned their home for another man in September 1956. A year later, Joseph was hospitalized with a suspected brain lesion, but tests revealed only a "psychopathological nervous disorder."
Married a second time in April 1958, Kallinger soon torched his own home for amusement, reaping the fringe benefit of $1,600 from fire insurance. Committed to a state hospital in July 1959, following a suicide attempt, Kallinger would set fire to the family's second home on four separate occasions -- twice in May 1963, once in August 1965, and once in October 1967.
By 1972, the Kallingers had six children at home, including two from his failed first marriage. On January 23 of that year, Joseph branded his oldest daughter's thigh with a hot iron, as punishment for running away. Arrested a week later, he was found incompetent for trial and held for 60 days psychological examination, ultimately ruled fit for trial in June. Conviction on child abuse charges earned him four years probation, with a provision for mandatory psychiatric treatment.
By mid-1974, Kallinger was reportedly hallucinating constantly, holding animated discussions with a disembodied head (dubbed "Charlie") and receiving personal "orders from God." The divine orders included demands that Kallinger murder young boys and sever their genitals, an urge that he confided to his son, 13-year-old Michael, on June 26. When Joe requested Michael's help, the boy responded with enthusiasm: "Glad to do it, Dad!" Eleven days later, they murdered Jose Collazo, a Puerto Rican youth, in Philadelphia, first torturing their victim and cutting off his penis.
Kallinger next set his sights on one of his own children, Joseph, Jr. In his first attempt, Joe tried to make the boy back off a cliff, cartoon-style, while posing for photographs. Failing in that, he took both boys along on a July 25 arson run, bungling an attempt to trap Joe Junior in a burning trailer. Finally, three days later, Kallinger and Michael drowned their victim at a demolition site, the body recovered by authorities on August 9, 1974. Questioned as a suspect in the murder, Kallinger was not arrested due to lack of evidence.
That autumn, the father-son team began ranging farther afield in their search for victims. On November 22, they burglarized a house in Lindenwold, New Jersey, but no one was home. At their second stop, victim Joan Carty was tied to her bed and sexually abused by Joe Kallinger. Eleven days later, in Susquehanna Township, Pennsylvania, five hostages were bound and robbed at knifepoint, the Kallingers making off with $20,000 in cash and jewelry after slashing one victim's breast. Striking in Homeland, Maryland -- a Baltimore suburb -- father and son held Pamela Jaske captive in her home, forcing her to fellate Joseph at gunpoint. On January 6, the ritual was repeated in Dumont, New Jersey, with victim Mary Rudolph.
Two days later, on January 8, Kallinger and son invaded a home at Leonia, New Jersey, holding eight captives at gunpoint while they ransacked the house. Nurse Maria Fasching was stabbed to death for refusing Joe's order to bite off a male victim's penis, but Kallinger got careless during the getaway, discarding a bloody shirt near the scene. Officers traced the shirt to its owner, and the Kallingers were arrested on January 17 by a joint raiding party of federal and state authorities. (Two months later, Michael Kallinger was ruled delinquent but "salvageable," with murder charges dismissed in return for his guilty plea on two counts of robbery. He was placed on probation until his twenty-fifth birthday, in December 1982.)
Joe Kallinger's first trial, in Pennsylvania, ended with a hung jury in June 1975. Three months later, at his retrial, he was convicted on nine felony counts, sentenced to prison for 30 to 80 years by a judge who called him "an evil man... utterly vile and depraved." Convicted of the New Jersey murder in October 1976, Kallinger received a mandatory life sentence, to run consecutively with his time in Pennsylvania.
Kallinger's violent outbursts have continued in prison, with Joseph setting himself on fire in March 1977. A month later, he assaulted a fellow inmate before lighting a fire on his cell block. In March 1978, he slashed another convict's throat in an unprovoked attack, but his victim managed to survive.
Ten years later, in televised interviews, Kallinger
expressed his continuing desire to slaughter every person on hearth,
after which he hoped to commit suicide and "become God".
that time, Kallinger had been tried and convicted (en enero de 1984) of
murdering Jose Collazo and his own son Joseph Jr., drawing two more
consecutive life sentences. Briefly transferred to Pennsylvania's
Fairview State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in 1990, after a new
spate of suicide attempts and "religious" hunger strikes,
Kalliger was back in state prison on March 26, 1996, when he choked to
death on his own vomit in the prison infirmary.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial
Killers - Hunting Humans
Kallinger, Joseph & Michael
Joseph Kallinger, a cobbler by trade, led a life
steeped in madness and crime. As an adopted child he grew up under the
constant abuse from his parents. It is no surprise that when he became a
father he was abusive too. On January 23, 1972 he branded his oldest
daughter for running away. He was arrested for child abuse and found
incompetent to stand trial.
By mid-1974 he was constantly hearing voices from a
floating head that followed him around. God also spoke to him and told
him to kill young boys and sever their penises. Eager to comply, Joe
enlisted his 12-year-old son, Michael, and proceeded to torture and
murder a nine-year-old Puerto Rican youth. Their next victim was one of
his own children, Joe Jr. who had previously accused him of abuse. He
was found drowned in an abandoned building. By the third murder they
On Jan. 8, 1975, Kallinger and his son gained
entrance to a house in Leonia, N.J., by posing as salesmen. For the next
several hours, they beat, robbed and terrorized the eight people inside.
One of the eight, a 21-year-old nurse named Maria Fasching, who had
stopped at the house to aid an elderly neighbor and friend, was taken to
the basement, tied up, sexually assaulted, and killed. A bloodstained
shirt left by one of the intruders was traced by a laundry mark to
Kallinger, who lived with his family in a cramped apartment above his
shoe repair shop in Philadelphia.
Michael, who was still a minor, was placed on
probation until his twenty-fifth birthday. He is now free and is
believed to have changed his name. After his capture Joseph was
pronounced paranoid and schizophrenic by psychiatrists. During his New
Jersey trial, he sometimes moaned and babbled incoherently and would
foam at the mouth. Nevertheless, the jury concluded that he had known
right from wrong and convicted him of murder.
Joe was given 40 years in jail in Pennsylvania for a
series of robberies followed by a life sentence in New Jersey for the
murder of Maria Fasching. In jail Joe has expressed repeatedly his
desire to kill every person on earth including himself. He set fire to
his own cell in an attempt to kill himself and also tried to suffocate
himself. After that he was moved to the Farview State Hospital for the
criminally insane where he would talk to God whom he said he'll become
In recent years, Kallinger expressed remorse, refused
to eat and attempted suicide yet again. On March 26, 1996 the cobbler-turned-killer
who terrorized New Jersey suburbs two decades ago died of a seizure. He
was 59 years old.
Joseph and Michael Kallinger
There is nothing
unusual about an American father taking his
son out hunting. But late in the morning of January 8, 1975, when Joseph
Kallinger took his thirteen-year-old son out on a hunting expedition,
they didn’t go out into the woods, as they weren’t after conventional
game. The quarry they sought was human. Their preference was young,
attractive women, especially those who were at home looking after small
Their devious quest began early the same day when
they left their home in suburban Philadelphia and took a bus to New York.
From there they traveled to Fort Lee, New Jersey. Not finding anything
to their particular liking, they walked on into the neighboring town of
With only 9,000 residents, Leonia was a classic small
town complete with small town values. People kept to themselves and
generally minded their own business, but, when strangers entered their
midst the well-meaning residents usually took careful note. Perhaps in a
larger, busier community, the sight of a
man and his school-age son walking along a
suburban street in the middle of a week day may have gone unnoticed but
not in Leonia.
A local postman, Salvatore Tufo, was doing his normal
round when he saw them walking south along Reldes Avenue just before
eleven o’clock. He noted that they walked casually and without purpose
and seemed to be scanning the houses as they went. What was also unusual
to Tufo was the way the man and boy related to each other. As he watched
them walk by, he noted that they were holding hands and occasionally
cuddled each other. He considered this behavior
strange, almost effeminate.
Lucy Bevacqua, another local, saw the strange couple
at five minutes past twelve. While she was talking on the telephone, she
glanced out the window and noticed them walking south along Glenwood
Avenue. She may have forgotten the sighting had it not been for the
boy’s actions, which she later described as “offensively effeminate.”
Ten minutes later Lucy left the
house. The man and the boy were still
strolling south along Glenwood. At three twenty, Lucy returned home to
wait for her daughter to arrive home from school. Her daughter Andrea
arrived home ten minutes later. Shortly after, Lucy went out to check
her mailbox. As she glanced across the street her neighbor, Edwina
Romaine, hopped out of the front door of her house at number 124
Glenwood. She was screaming.
As Lucy approached, she heard Edwina babbling
something about a killing. Lucy, knowing that Edwina’s husband DeWitt
was in hospital following a severe heart attack, thought that he must
It was then that Edwina collapsed on the edge of her
porch and asked Lucy to untie her feet, which appeared to be
bound together with a thin cord. Instead Lucy
ran home and called the police.
Four hours earlier, at about the time that Salvatore
Tufo witnessed the strangers walking up Reldes Avenue, Didi Romaine
Wiseman and her four-year-old son Robert arrived at her parent’s house.
Didi, at twenty-eight, was the eldest of the Romaine’s three children
and the only one married. She was also blond, pretty and well built. Her
sisters, twenty-one-year-old twins Randi and Retta, still lived at home.
Didi was at the house to spend the morning looking
after her ailing grandmother while her
mother, sister Retta and Retta’s boyfriend
were visiting an elderly relative. Randi was visiting her father in
When they had gone, Didi went down to the basement to
catch up on some washing. At midday, her seven-year-old daughter Wendy
came home from school for lunch. At 12:45 Didi left the house to drive
Wendy back to school. As she drove away, she noticed a man and a boy
walking along Glenwood Avenue. They also noticed her.
She returned to the house shortly after, checked on
her grandmother and began tidying the house. While she worked, she
looked out the window and saw the man and boy approaching the house. She
met them at the front door where the man identified himself as a “John
Hancock” salesman. He then asked if there was anyone else in the house.
Spooked by his demeanor, Didi told him to go away. Joseph Kallinger then
grabbed Didi and forced his way into the house while his son Michael
stood passively on the porch. She would later recall that the man was
swarthy with dark, penetrating eyes and had a strange body odor.
Didi fought back and during the struggle the man
produced a chrome-plated revolver. Hearing the disturbance, Didi’s son
Robert entered the room and, seeing his mother struggling with a
stranger, began to scream. Kallinger Sr. then turned Robert and pointed
the gun at his head. “This is a robbery,” he said, grabbing her by the
hair. “Do as I say and you won’t get hurt.”
He then placed the gun in his pocket and drew out a
long knife. “Don’t look at me,” he ordered Didi. “Keep your eyes shut.”
When he asked again if there was anyone else in the house, Didi told him
about her invalid grandmother. Forcing her to walk in front of him, he
pushed Didi up the stairs to the grandmother’s bedroom with Robert
clinging desperately to his mother. Kallinger then ordered Michael, who
had quietly entered the house during the ruckus, to check the old woman
to see if she really was an invalid. The boy did so and in a high
squeaky voice confirmed that she was.
Satisfied, Kallinger pushed Didi into a vacant
bedroom and asked for scissors. After she told him that she didn’t know
where they were he gagged her and wrapped tape around her face, covering
her eyes and mouth. “Take off your clothes,” he ordered.
She shook her head. Unperturbed, he undressed her. He
asked if anyone else would be coming home. Didi nodded again. He then
removed her jewelry and tied her hands behind her back.
Kallinger asked what time her daughter was due home.
She held up her hand indicating five. He then tied her elbows and ankles
before binding them together with electrical cord. She then heard him
yell out to his son to check that the front door was locked. Kallinger
then stripped Robert naked and laid him on the bed next to his mother.
Returning to Didi, Kallinger rolled her onto her back
and forced her legs apart. Alarmed that she was menstruating, he removed
her Tampon and threw it on the floor in disgust. Shortly after, the
doorbell rang. It was Didi’s sister Randi, home from the hospital.
Randi was surprised to find the door locked. As she
was trying to unlock it a strange man opened it and dragged her inside.
Putting a gun to her head, Kallinger told her it was a robbery and to do
as she was told. As before, he told her to keep her eyes shut and pushed
her up the stairs. When he demanded money she gave him five dollars.
He pushed her along the hall and entered the bedroom
where Didi and Robert lay naked on the bed. Randi opened her eyes and,
seeing Didi and Robert lying naked on the bed began to panic, thinking
they were dead. To settle her, Kallinger allowed her to check if they
were breathing. Again he asked for money. She told him that there was
some in a box on the dresser. While the boy checked the box the man
ordered Randi to strip.
As she complied Kallinger took out his knife. When he
asked if there were any more people coming home she told him that there
would be lots of people coming home. He ignored her and bound her as he
had done with her sister. When he rolled her over he saw that she was
also menstruating and cried, “What’s this?” before leaving the room. As
Randi wondered what would happen next, the doorbell rang again.
Family at Risk
Edwina Romaine returned home to find her door locked.
Retta and her boyfriend, Frank Welby were with her. She was reaching
forward to ring the bell when a swarthy stranger with a gun opened the
door and ordered them inside. The instructions were the same as before
“Do as you’re told and you won’t get hurt.”
He ordered them into the living room and forced them
to lie down, Edwina and Retta on one side of the room and Frank on the
other. Kallinger then removed their jewelry and watches and bound the
women’s feet with venetian blind cord. Michael then held a gun to Frank’s
head while his father bound Frank’s hands with his own belt. Satisfied,
he ordered Michael to bind the women’s feet with the cord from a vacuum
cleaner. He tied Retta as he was told but had trouble tying Edwina’s
hands. “Don’t bother with her,” his father told him, “She’s too old to
do anything anyway.”
The man and boy then left the room to look for
valuables. The phone rang but Kallinger ignored it and eventually it
stopped. Not long after there was a knock at the door and again
Kallinger Sr. went to open it. From the living room Edwina recognized
the voice at the door. It was her twenty-one year-old neighbor, Maria
Fasching. She then heard raised voices before Maria was also herded into
the living room and forced to lie down.
Possibly seeing Frank – the only male hostage – as a
threat to his plans, Kallinger produced a handkerchief and gagged Frank
before binding tape around his face and hog-tying his hands to his feet.
Barely able to move, Frank was then ordered down to the basement where
his pants and underwear were pulled down to his knees. Kallinger then
took out his knife and held the blade against the base of Frank’s penis.
“If you move, this goes,” Kallinger warned him.
A short while later Frank heard Maria’s voice
protesting as she was led down into the basement. Bound as he was he
couldn’t see anything but he heard enough to assume that Maria was being
raped. While the attack continued the blower of the furnace he was
laying next to started up and drowned out most of the noise but Frank
was sure he could still hear Maria screaming.
While Frank wasn’t sure what he had heard, everyone
else in the house heard Maria’s screams clearly and trembled in fear.
“Help me!” she cried, “He’s hurting me, I’m drowning!” This was followed
by a gurgling sound.
Fearing that she or her daughters would be next,
Edwina jumped to her feet and hobbled towards the front door screaming
and made it out the front door as Michael Kallinger screamed,
“Somebody’s loose!” In the living room Retta rolled herself behind a
sofa to hide. Randi, still in the upstairs bedroom, pulled her feet free
of her bindings and ran to a window to try and see why her mother was
When police Sergeant Robert R. MacDougall and his
partner Sergeant Henry Alston received a radio call directing them to
attend to a screaming woman complaint at 124 Glenwood Avenue, they didn’t
know what to expect. When they pulled up outside the Romaine house,
MacDougall, a twenty-three year veteran, knew instinctively that it was
He was met by Lucy Bevacqua who told him she had
called on behalf of her neighbor Edwina who was screaming and hysterical.
As he and Alston approached the house, they saw Edwina on the porch, her
legs still tied. Seeing the police she screamed that two men with guns
and knives were killing her family and begged them to go in and save
them. Hearing the mention of weapons, MacDougall ran back to his car and
called for backup.
Returning to the house he drew his service revolver
and gingerly entered the house while his partner tended to Edwina.
Inside the door he stopped and listened before walking quietly down a
hallway that led to the kitchen. Passing the living room he saw the mess
that had been left. Smashed vases and other items littered the floor.
Lamps and appliances, their cords missing, lay strewn about the room.
Hearing a noise from the other side of the room he pointed his revolver
towards it and called, “Come out with your hands up.”
A terrified Retta Romaine crawled out from behind the
sofa. MacDougall asked who else was in the house but she couldn’t speak.
Eventually, with great effort, she stuttered a single word – “Upstairs.”
MacDougall untied her and told her to get out of the house before
proceeding up the stairs.
Reaching the top of the stairs he heard moaning and
whimpering noises from a bedroom to his left. Scanning the hallway ahead
he stepped forward and peered into the room. Randi Romaine sat naked on
the floor, her hands still bound, her head swathed in adhesive tape.
Her sister Didi and her nephew Robert lay on the bed,
also naked but unharmed. MacDougall untied them. At that time Detective
Roger Quinton had arrived at the house and was informed by Edwina that
there were others in the basement. He and two other officers quickly
found the stairs to the basement and descended. It was in pitch darkness.
Fumbling for the light switch, Quinton turned it on to reveal the body
of a young woman slumped in a corner. She was still dressed but her
white clothes were bathed in blood. As Quinton stepped closer he saw
that her throat had been slashed from ear to ear. As she feared, Maria
Fasching had indeed drowned – in her own blood.
Hearing moans from the other end of the basement, the
police soon discovered Frank Welby, bound and blinded by adhesive tape,
huddled next to a furnace. He was unharmed.
It didn’t take the police long to search the rest of
the house and realize that the assailants had fled. With the exception
of Maria, everyone in the house was unharmed. The police were puzzled.
Most of the occupants had either been stripped naked or partially naked
and taunted sexually. Yet Maria had not been stripped or sexually
molested in any way prior to her murder.
Descriptions of the Kallingers were circulated and
the entire Leonia police department placed on alert.
While the police searched, another resident of Leonia
was calling them. Eva Rumi lived only a few
streets away from the Romaines. She told the
police that she had been walking her dog in nearby Sylvan Park, when she
saw a man and a teenage boy run into the park – they were hand in hand.
As she watched, they stopped near a basketball court where another
teenager was playing basketball. The man took off his dark overcoat and
handed it to the boy while he removed his shirt and tie and threw it on
the ground. He then bent forward and did something on the ground. The
pair then ran out of the park. After they had gone, she walked over to
where the clothes had been left near a puddle and realized that the man
had been washing his hands in it.
The clothes were streaked with mud and what looked
like patches of blood. Eva returned home, stopping just long enough to
talk to the boy in the basketball court about the couple’s strange
Soon after Eva placed her call, Sergeant MacDougall
arrived at her house and, after hearing her story, drove her to the park
to examine the discarded shirt and tie. The boy was no longer at the
basketball court but later confirmed Eva’s story and provided the police
with an accurate description of Michael and Joseph Kallinger.
Although the blood-spattered shirt and tie weren’t
immediately connected to the Fasching murder, they were retained and
examined for further clues. The details from a laundry mark and a
manufacturers label on the shirt were circulated in an attempt to trace
its owner. The Romaine house was also closely examined for fingerprints
and other trace evidence. In one of the upstairs rooms, detectives found
a typewriter case full of property belonging to the occupants of the
house – the attackers had obviously left in hurry.
In the days following the attack, with news of Maria
Fasching’s murder spreading rapidly throughout the small community, the
police were flooded with reports of alleged sightings of the two
strangers. One such sighting was reported by a man who told police how a
dark-eyed stranger in a dark topcoat and a teenage boy with long blond
hair and a ski cap had come to his house on that same morning. When his
stepdaughter answered the door, the boy asked her if the Joneses lived
there. When the man went to the door to see who his stepdaughter was
talking to, the man and boy left in an obvious hurry.
The most important sighting of all was from the local
bus driver who reported a man and boy getting on his bus during the
afternoon of January 8. The bus was heading out of Leonia to George
Washington Bridge via Fort Lee. The driver remembered the pair clearly,
describing them in detail. He also told detectives that they seemed to
be in a hurry and looked as if they had been running.
With sightings confirming the pair’s arrival and
departure in and from Leonia, the police began piecing together a map of
the route Kallinger and son had used both in and out of town. The
assistant prosecutor for Bergen County, Larry J. McClure, took over the
investigation and ordered a full search of the streets used as an escape
by the strangers. He reasoned that if they went to the trouble of
discarding a shirt and tie, the couple might have dumped other items as
His hunch paid off. Lieutenant Paul Dittmar of the
Leonia police was searching Park Avenue, part of the escape route, when
he found a man’s watch with a distinctive blue face. It was hidden in
shrubbery. Two blocks further on he found a brown leather knife sheath.
Ten minutes later he found a knife. It had a round, black handle and a
four-and-a-half inch blade, which was razor sharp and stained with blood.
(An autopsy conducted the day after the murder revealed that Maria
Fasching had died from multiple stab wounds to the chest and deep
slashing wounds to the neck. The wounds in her chest were later matched
with the blade dimensions of the knife found by the detective.)
An hour later, the same detective found a chrome
plated .32-caliber revolver dumped in a hedge. It was fully loaded.
Nearby he found Edwina Romaine’s Timex watch and a garnet ring belonging
to her daughter Didi. As the search wound up for the day other jewelry
was found in the same area.
Any hopes the police had of tracing the assailant via
the gun or the knife disappeared when they were examined. The knife had
no obvious markings or brand name and the serial number on the gun had
been filed off. They also drew a blank with the shirt. They had
ascertained that it had been manufactured in Philadelphia and bore the
laundry mark “KAL,” they had no way of tracing it’s ownership.
Working on the premise that the same pair had
committed similar offences in other areas, Prosecutor McClure sent out
notices to police departments along the east coast, requesting any
information on any incidences involving a man and boy.
Within days he received a response. A man and boy
answering the same description had been suspected of four similar events
in the previous six weeks. The first report was in Lindenwold, New
Jersey on November 22, 1974. This was followed by attacks in Harrisburg
Pennsylvania on December 3, Baltimore, December 10 and Dumont New Jersey
on January 6. The reports all agreed on two distinct details. The
suspects had approached residents using the ruse “Do the Joneses live
here?” and the victims had all described the man’s unusual smell.
No murders had been committed in the previous attacks
but a woman in Harrisburg had received a deep cut to her breast. All
were attacked at their front door before being forced inside. They were
then tied up and robbed. Out of all the attacks, only two victims were
sexually assaulted. This consisted of Joseph Kallinger forcing the women
to perform fellatio on him. On one occasion he ordered one of his
victims to “let the boy do whatever he wants,” and left his son alone
with her. According to the woman, the boy undressed and tried to have
sex with her but was unable to sustain an erection.
In all, fifty-three matching fingerprints were taken
from the Romaine house and the homes of the other victims and sent to
the FBI for identification. No matches were found. Further examination
of the search yielded a complete name – “KALINGER.” A search of criminal
records in the surrounding police districts and FBI files was made for
the name but again no match was found.
Finally, a detective attempting to trace the shirt
got a break. The entire production run of the company that made the
shirt was sold through one retail outlet, Berg Brothers department store
in Philadelphia. After interviewing the staff, the detective learned
that the shirt had been sold during the autumn of 1973 to an unknown
customer. Assuming the purchaser of the shirt was a resident of
Philadelphia, the detective, Robert Roseman rang the Philadelphia police
and asked if they had any record of a guy with the name KALINGER or
similar. Unknown to Roseman, the Philadelphia computer had already drawn
a blank on the name search because it was looking for a different
spelling but the officer Roseman spoke to recognized the sound of the
name, not the way it was spelled. His correct name was Joseph M.
Kallinger, a resident of Philadelphia; he also had a police record.
The file that the Philadelphia police had on
Kallinger included his current address and photographs, which matched
the descriptions the victims had provided. With their quarry pinpointed,
the police set about compiling evidence against him. Knowing that
Kallinger lived at 2723 North Front Street in the Kensington district of
Philadelphia, just a few blocks from the department store where he had
bought the shirt, they began canvassing the laundries and dry-cleaners
in the district to confirm that the shirt belonged to him.
They found what they were looking for when they
approached Joseph Felcher, the owner of “Bright Sun Cleaners” located
just up the block from Kallinger’s house. As soon as he was shown the
bloodstained shirt he told them – “That’s Joe Kallinger’s, he runs the
shoe repair place down the block!” When asked how he could be so sure it
was his without even looking at the laundry mark he replied, “The smell,
his shirts always smell like that.” (The smell was later found to be
from a pungent glue that Kallinger used to repair shoes.) Felcher also
explained why Kallinger’s name was misspelled on the laundry mark. The
marking machine was only capable of printing eight letters so he had
left one letter off.
With the shirt identified they sought to learn more
about their suspect. From the file they learned that Kallinger was a
self-employed shoe repairman who worked out of his own shop at the same
address as his house in Front Street. He had learned his trade from his
adoptive father Stephen Kallinger, an Austrian immigrant who had died in
1965 aged seventy-two. Joseph’s adoptive mother, Anna, still lived
nearby. Joseph was born on December 11, 1936 and was just eighteen
months old when Anna and Stephen adopted him.
At the age of sixteen Joseph married for the first
time to a woman named Hilda. They had two children; Stephen and Anna.
When he was twenty the couple divorced. As grounds, Joseph cited his
wife’s promiscuity. Hilda cited his sexual incapacity. In 1958 Joseph
married twenty-three-year-old Elizabeth (Betty) Baumgard. They had five
children; Joseph Jr., Mary Jo, Michael, James and Bonnie Sue.
It was through Joseph Jr. that Joseph Kallinger first
came to the attention of the police. At 9.30 in the evening of January
30, 1972, Joseph Jr., who was known as Joey, Mary Jo and Michael went to
the nearest police station to report that their father had been abusing
them. They were accompanied by a nineteen-year-old neighbor who
confirmed their claims telling police that, the previous Sunday,
Kallinger had arrived at his house where the children were playing,
threatened him with a pistol and ordered the children home. (He later
described the gun as being shiny with black handles.)
Mary Jo told the police that her father threatened
her with a knife; beat her regularly, often tying her up and burning her
on the buttocks with a hot spatula. She described how on one occasion
she had been punished for being fifteen minutes late by having to strip
from the waist down and to be whipped in front of her family. Joey and
Michael told how their father had tied them to a radiator and beat them
with hammer handles and strips of leather taken from his workshop.
After taking statements, the police sent the children
to a local hospital for a physical examination, which showed injuries
consistent with their claims. They then went to confront Kallinger at
home, which they reported as being “dirty and squalid.” Kallinger denied
the allegations, as did his wife who suggested the children had received
their injuries after they ran away.
Kallinger was later charged and brought before the
Family Court where a judge ordered that he be sent to the State Maximum
Security Forensic Diagnostic Hospital at Holmesburg Prison for a
psychiatric evaluation. During his incarceration, it was discovered that
he had a long history of “mental problems.” They started in 1952 when
Joseph was fifteen. He was having difficulties at school and his
adoptive parents had charged him with incorrigibility. He was examined
and found to have a “subnormal intelligence quotient of 84. The report
also stated that he was “defiant, disrespectful and undisciplined.”
In 1957 he was hospitalized for eleven days after
complaining of severe headaches. He was examined and diagnosed as having
a “psychophysiological nervous disorder.” He was later prescribed
On July 24, 1959 he was found sitting on the steps of
a church in Pennsylvania in a confused state and suffering from apparent
amnesia. He was given a series of tests and found to be suffering from a
form of sexual anxiety that “projects hostility towards females.” (It
was later established that his sexual anxiety was the direct result of a
hernia operation he underwent when he was six. At that time he was told
that his penis would stop growing. This led to the mistaken belief that
his penis was abnormally small, even as an adult.)
The report also stated that: “He appears to be
developing agitation and anxiety in the sexual area and, if this loading
becomes strong, he will again repeat his sadistic response when he
discharges this effect.”
In conclusion the report, compiled by Drs. Francis H.
Hoffman and Alex von Schlichten found that: “Mr. Kallinger suffers from
a major mental illness in the form of schizophrenia of the paranoid type.”
They went on to recommend that he be committed to the Philadelphia State
Hospital for – “an appropriate period of time.”
Despite the reports recommendations, he was re-examined,
found to be fit to stand trial before a grand jury and was brought to
trial on the child abuse charges in August 1972. He was found guilty on
all charges and sentenced to eleven months’ imprisonment but, because he
had already served seven months, he was given four months probation and
In February 1973 Joey, Michael and Mary Jo submitted
signed affidavits to the court, which stated that their charges against
their father had been fabricated and were completely false. The police,
suspecting that they had been coerced, interviewed them at length but
they refused to be swayed. As a result, the conviction against Kallinger
was quashed, his record cleared and no further action, including the
court-recommended psychological treatment, was ever taken.
Although his conviction was overturned, Joseph
Kallinger Sr. came to the attention of the police again just two years
later when he was questioned in relation to the untimely death of his
Following Joey’s assertion that he had fabricated the
charges against his father, he was sent to reform school. Joey, who had
previously been in trouble for having homosexual relationships with
older men, underwent a psychological examination while at the
reformatory and found to be “seriously disturbed.”
Shortly after Joey entered the reformatory he escaped.
The following morning he arrived at the offices of a local newspaper. He
had bruises on his face and he was on crutches. He said that he had
received his injuries from falling off a railway platform. He was later
examined and found to have broken his leg in three places. While he was
still at the newspaper office his father was summoned and, after a loud
argument, Joey agreed to return to the reformatory.
In May 1974, Joey was released. In July Kallinger
took out a $45,000 triple indemnity
insurance policy on Joey’s life. Just weeks
later, Joseph Kallinger went to the Philadelphia police to report Joey
missing. Two weeks later Joey’s body was found in the basement of an
abandoned building a short distance from the Kallinger home. As the
building was in the process of being demolished, his body was partially
crushed by machinery prior to it being recovered. Perhaps this was the
reason why a later autopsy failed to find an official cause of death.
Even though the cause of Joey’s death was never
established, the detectives of the Philadelphia homicide squad were
convinced that Kallinger was involved in his son’s death and set out to
prove it. The fact that Kallinger had taken out an insurance policy on
Joey just weeks before his death was
suspicious enough on its own but when they
added the recanted charges of child abuse and Joey’s supposed railway
injuries they became doubly inquisitive. They soon learned that
Kallinger had tried to claim the insurance as soon as his son’s body had
been found but the
insurance company refused to honor it.
Kallinger tried to counter their decision by telling them that he had
also insured his other son Michael at the same time and, as nothing had
happened to him, insisted they pay out. The insurance company refused.
When the detectives dug deeper they found that
suspicious behavior and Joseph Kallinger were never far apart. On May
21, 1963, the basement of a building at 2039 East Fletcher Street,
Philadelphia was gutted by fire. Joseph Kallinger owned the building.
The insurance payout was $15,000.
Four days later another fire broke out on the second
floor of the same building. The insurance company paid an additional
On August 16, 1965 the first floor of 2039 East
Fletcher Street caught fire. Incredibly, the insurance company again
paid the claim – $11,000.
Finally, when the same building caught fire on
October 3, 1967, the insurance company refused the claim and the
Philadelphia fire department filed arson charges against Joseph
Kallinger. They were later dismissed owing to lack of evidence.
Two months after Joey’s death, his brother Michael
was found wandering the streets in a dazed condition. He was later
examined and found to have multiple head injuries. His father told
police his son must have fallen down. When Michael was questioned about
his injuries he told the police that he couldn’t remember.
Believing that Kallinger had tried to kill Michael
for the insurance money, the homicide squad doubled their efforts.
Kallinger strongly resented their implications and filed suit against
them in a federal court, citing their continued harassment of him and
his family following Joey’s death. Although the police offered numerous
examples of why they considered Kallinger a prime suspect, the court
found that their interest in him was unwarranted and ordered the police
to drop the case. They did so reluctantly but consoled themselves with
the fact that someone like Kallinger would be sure to slip up eventually.
They didn’t have to wait long.
With Joseph Kallinger confirmed as the owner of the
shirt and his location confirmed, the Philadelphia police sent
photographs of both Joseph and Michael to the other jurisdictions where
the pair were alleged to have been operating. In all cases the photos of
Kallinger Sr. returned positive identifications from the witnesses and
victims but most were unsure in their identification of the boy as
Michael and his brother James were both blond, slightly built and of a
With sufficient evidence collected, the Philadelphia
homicide squad laid plans to arrest Joseph and Michael Kallinger at home
at 9.30pm on January 17. Because police from the other jurisdictions
wanted to be in on the arrest Prosecutor McClure allowed two detectives
from each location to accompany him to Kallinger’s house.
At 9.30pm precisely, the contingent entered the house.
They arrested Michael and James but did not find their father. After a
brief search the police found a hole that had been cut through the wall
connecting the house to Kallinger’s mother’s home next door. Fearing
their suspect had fled, the police quickly entered the second house only
to find Joseph Kallinger talking to his lawyer on the phone.
He surrendered to the police without further incident
telling them that he would not talk without an attorney present. While
Kallinger was being taken to police headquarters in Philadelphia, a
search was conducted of his house, which uncovered numerous items that
had been allegedly stolen from the homes of some of the victims.
Upon his arrival at the police station Kallinger was
formally charged with the murder of Maria Fasching, armed robbery,
wounding, kidnapping, theft and rape.
Satisfied that James wasn’t involved, the detectives
turned their attention to Michael in the hope that he would “break” and
implicate his father. However, while he was being led into an interview
room for questioning, he passed his father in a hallway and was told,
“If you tell them anything I’ll kill you.” Whether it was this threat or
blind loyalty, Michael Kallinger never said an incriminating word
relating to the charges against him or his father despite being
questioned at length by police, psychiatrists and social workers.
Almost from the time Joseph Kallinger was taken into
custody, his behavior began to change. Whether he was genuinely insane
or playing the part to avoid going to jail for life is still undecided.
He spoke of ordering his wife and daughter out of bed in the middle of
the night to make him tea, sometimes as often as thirty or forty times!
He also told police that he had built a bowling alley next to his bed
and practiced bowling at night. Both of these claims were later
The more he was questioned the more bizarre he became
but one main theme began to take hold. He began telling psychologists
that God had sent him to earth on “ a divine mission.” This consisted of
helping people whose brains had malfunctioned because they wore badly
He also told them that he had been alive for a
thousand years, mostly in the form of a butterfly, and had been
constantly pursued by the devil. He began blocking up the toilet in his
cell with books and papers to cause flooding and putting red fruit juice
in samples of his urine in an attempt to prove that he had a medical
As the date for his first trial in Harrisburg neared,
his behavior grew more and more peculiar. At the trial itself, Kallinger
read his bible and seemed to take very little interest in the
proceedings. As the prosecution presented its case and the strong
evidence that they had collected he seemed strangely calm. His defense
attempted to counter by portraying him as a family man who was being
unfairly accused but to no avail. On September 18, 1975, Joseph
Kallinger was found guilty of robbery, kidnapping and burglary. Despite
his “performances” for the psychologists he was found to be mentally
capable and responsible for his actions and was sentenced to a term of
thirty to eighty years imprisonment.
Prior to sentencing, Kallinger was obviously
confident that his psychotic “ruse’ had worked and showed obvious shock
at the outcome. Following the first trial, he was taken to Huntington
State Correctional Institution to await extradition to New Jersey to
face trial for the Leonia offences, which included the most heinous of
all, the murder of Maria Fasching.
Back at Huntington, Kallinger’s behavior went
ballistic. As well as blocking toilets, he began collecting cups of
water and placing them under his bed. He threw excrement and cups of
urine at the guards and spent much of his day rolling on the floor of
his cell and howling. He told the prison psychologist that a severed
head named “Charlie” floated around his cell, told him what to do and
was generally responsible for his actions. At one time, when he was
found sleeping on the floor of his cell, he told a guard that Charlie
had taken over his cot and wouldn’t let him sleep on it.
He made several attempts to commit suicide, normally
by making superficial cuts to his wrists and, on one occasion, trying to
choke himself with a plastic mattress cover. He ranted, raved and
continued to make a nuisance of himself night and day until his
extradition to New Jersey on September 13, 1976. As he left the prison
the guards, obviously relieved that he was going, yelled after him,
“Don’t forget to take Charlie with you!”
His second trial began on September 23, 1976. Present
were most of his Leonia victims and others who had seen him in and
around Leonia on that fateful day. The evidence was compelling as was
the testimony of the witnesses. In answer the defense produced two
witnesses who gave testimony that a person similar to Kallinger had been
seen in another district on the day of the offences. Throughout the
trial, Kallinger was at his lunatic best. He rolled his eyes, shook his
head, kicked his feet and threw his arms about while making an
assortment of strange sounds. At times he became so disruptive that
Judge Thomas Dalton had him removed from the court.
The evidence against him was overwhelming but the
jury was still in a quandary regarding his sanity. The defense had
produced documentary evidence that suggested Kallinger, having worked as
a shoe repairer for may years, had been inhaling the fumes of a leather
treatment that contained Toluene, a dangerous chemical substance that
can numb the senses and damage the brain.
One after another, prominent mental health experts
took the stand and gave their opinion. Some said he was completely sane
while others diagnosed him as being a schizoid-paranoic.
Finally, on October 13, 1976, after two hours of
deliberation, the jury found that Joseph Kallinger was responsible for
his actions and guilty of the murder of Maria Fasching and all other
charges. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Michael Kallinger,
deemed by the court to have been under the control and influence of his
father at the time of the offences, was sent to a reformatory, released
into the care of foster parents and placed on probation until his twenty-fifth
birthday. He later changed his name and moved to another state.
Following his last trial, Kallinger was returned to
Huntington to serve out his sentence. He was incarcerated in the
Behavioral Adjustment Unit in ‘B’ block, known in the prison as “the
hole.” He was later transferred to general population at his own request
where he was put to work in the prison shoe shop. He was stable for
several months and was promoted to workshop supervisor. He spent his
leisure time taking courses and writing poetry and seemed to be
adjusting to life in prison.
Some months later his behavior became erratic which
resulted in him stabbing and trying to strangle another inmate.
Following the attack he went on a hunger strike and was eventually
transferred to Philadelphia’s Farview Psychiatric Hospital. His behavior
deteriorated including “speaking in a strange tongue,” and he was given
a wide range of medications in an attempt to keep him stable. In 1981,
two psychiatrists, Drs. Arieti and Robbins examined Kallinger. The
latter wrote in his report, “I can only concur with Dr. Ariete’s finding
and that of the Farview doctors that Mr. Joseph Kallinger chronically
suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and that his criminal behavior is a
manifestation of his illness.”
For six years after his transfer to Farview,
Kallinger was visited and interviewed by author Flora Rheta Schreiber.
During these interviews Kallinger told of “visions” that controlled him
and made him perform evil tasks including the drowning of his son Joey
and the mutilation murder of a child named Jose Collazo. Schreiber
attempted to contact Michael Kallinger to confirm his father’s story but
was told by his foster parents “Michael will never talk to you – ever.”
On March 26, 1996 Joseph Kallinger had a seizure and
died – he was fifty-nine years old.
- Flora Schreiber: The Shoemaker.
Anatomy of a Psychotic (1983).