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John Flammang SCHRANK

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


The Attempted Assassination of Ex-President Theodore Roosevelt
 
Classification: Attempted assassination
Characteristics: He claimed to have shot Roosevelt as a warning to other third termers and that it was the ghost of William McKinley that told him to perform the act
Number of victims: 0
Date of attempted murder: October 14, 1912
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1876
Victim profile: Theodore Roosevelt (United States ex-President)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Status: Found insane. Sentenced to the Central State Mental Hospital in Waupun, Wisconsin, in 1914. He remained there for 29 more years, until his death from natural causes in 1943
 
 
 
 
 
 

CHAPTER VI.

GETS BACK INTO CAMPAIGN.

October 17, convinced that he was beyond all possible danger, Col. Roosevelt resumed the active campaign from his sick room in Mercy Hospital by dictating a statement in which he requested his political opponents to continue the fight as if nothing had happened to him.

The colonel awoke feeling as he expressed it, "like a bull moose." In the afternoon he overcame Mrs. Roosevelt's objections to work long enough to send for Stenographer Martin and dictate the statement that put him back into politics.

Then he answered dispatches from President Taft, Cardinal Gibbons, and several other of those who had sent messages of sympathy.

He carefully reread the dispatch from President Taft and dictated this reply:

"I appreciate your sympathetic inquiry and wish to thank you for it."

"Sign that Theodore Roosevelt," he said to Martin.

To Cardinal Gibbons he sent this:

"I am deeply touched by your kind words."

To Woodrow Wilson: "I wish to thank you for your very warm sympathy."

His statement dictated to Stenographer Martin asking the campaign to continue despite Schrank's shot was as follows:

"I wish to express my cordial agreement with the manly and proper statement of Mr. Bryan at Franklin, Ind., when in arguing for a continuance of the discussion of the issues at stake in the contest he said:

"'The issues of this campaign should not be determined by the act of an assassin. Neither Col. Roosevelt nor his friends should ask that the discussion should be turned away from the principles that are involved. If he is elected President it should be because of what he has done in the past and what he proposes to do hereafter.'

"I wish to point out, however, that neither I nor my friends have asked that the discussion be turned away from the principles that are involved. On the contrary, we emphatically demand that the discussion be carried on precisely as if I had not been shot. I shall be sorry if Mr. Wilson does not keep on the stump and feel that he owes it to himself and to the American people to continue on the stump.

"I wish to make one more comment on Mr. Bryan's statement. It is of course perfectly true that in voting for me or against me, consideration must be paid to what I have done in the past and to what I propose to do. But it seems to me far more important that consideration should be paid to what the progressive party proposes to do.

"I cannot too strongly emphasize the fact upon which we progressives insist that the welfare of any one man in this fight is wholly immaterial compared to the greatest fundamental issues involved in the triumph of the principles for which our cause stands. If I had been killed the fight would have gone on exactly the same. Gov. Johnson, Senator Beveridge, Mr. Straus, Senator Bristow, Miss Jane Addams, Giffford Pinchot, Judge Ben Lindsay, Raymond Robbins, Mr. Prendergast and the hundreds of other men now on the stump are preaching the doctrine that I have been preaching and stand for, and represent just the same cause. They would have continued the fight in exactly the same way if I had been killed, and they are continuing it in just the same way now that I am for the moment laid up.

"So far as my opponents are concerned, whatever could with truth and propriety have been said against me and my cause before I was shot can with equal truth and equal propriety be said against me and it now should be so said, and the things that cannot be said now, are merely the things that ought not to have been said before. This is not a contest about any man; it is a contest concerning principles.

"If my broken rib heals fast enough to relieve my breathing I shall hope to be able to make one or two speeches yet in this campaign; in any event, if I am not able to make them the men I have mentioned above and the hundreds like them will be stating our case right to the end of the campaign and I trust our opponents will be stating their case also.

"Theodore Roosevelt."

October 19, Gov. Hiram W. Johnson, of California, candidate for Vice-President on the National Progressive ticket, was summoned to Mercy Hospital by Col. Roosevelt.

The governor hastened to the hospital and conferred with Roosevelt for an hour. The ex-President urged upon Johnson that he return to California to hold his office as governor. Johnson had two years to serve of his term and under the law he would forfeit the governorship if he did not get back. The law there provides that no governor shall absent himself from office for more than two months running. Johnson had been away all but a few days of that period.

"Governor, I realize the sacrifice you have made in keeping so long away from your office," began the colonel, in serious tone. "I am told that if you do not hurry back they will take the governorship away from you. Now, I want you to go back. Leave the campaign to me. I can handle it all right. Soon I'm going out on the stump and I'll lead the fight myself."

Gov. Johnson marveled at the bold idea that Roosevelt, convalescing from the bullet wound, would take command again.

"You can't do it, colonel," he protested. "You will need to build up your strength. I won't——"

"Fiddlesticks," interrupted the colonel. "You'll do what I say. I never felt any stronger in my life. It's all a matter of being able to breathe easier with this splintered rib. That won't bother me more than a few days. Then they can't hold me back."

Flatly Gov. Johnson informed Col. Roosevelt that he wanted to stay in the fight.

"I'm needed," he went on. "I'm going to let them take the governorship. I'll resign."

Leaning out from the arm chair in which he sat, Roosevelt whacked his right fist down on the table before him. A sharp pain went through the breast pierced by the bullet.

"I tell you, governor, you'll not do it," fairly cried the colonel, so vehemently that Mrs. Roosevelt, in the next room, stepped to the doorway.

"You must be quiet, Theodore," spoke Mrs. Roosevelt, lifting a warning finger.

"Yes, that's right," agreed the colonel, "but the governor here is recalcitrant and I've got to speak roughly to him."

After a brisk interchange of opinion as to the feasibility of the governor giving up the campaign the two violently taking opposite sides, bidding the colonel an affectionate good-bye, Gov. Johnson left the hospital. As he passed out to an automobile, Johnson said he had promised the colonel to talk the matter over with other leaders before deciding what to do.

"He insists that I return to California and I insist I won't," explained the governor. "We couldn't agree."

Later Gov. Johnson conferred at his hotel with William Allen White, Francis J. Heney and other Bull Moose leaders. The governor was obdurate in his decision to stick in the race.

"Col. Roosevelt is in no shape to take up the responsibility," he maintained. "It is but an evidence of his magnanimity that he urges me to return to California. I'd rather lost the job than desert the colonel now."

Attorney General U. S. Webb of California on October 20 issued the following opinion, however, which did away with possibility of Gov. Johnson losing his office:

"There is a code section in the state limiting the absence of the governor and other officials from the state to sixty days, but the legislature of 1911 by resolution, removed the limitations on the governor and other high state officials. In addition to that the constitution of the United States specifically provides the conditions under which a state official may be removed, and it does not include this particular condition. There is no reason why Gov. Johnson cannot remain outside the state as long as he sees fit and there is nothing the legislature can do to remove him for remaining away more than sixty days."

 

CHAPTER VII.

BACK AT SAGAMORE HILL.

The trip of ex-President Roosevelt from Mercy Hospital, Chicago, to his home at Oyster Bay, beginning the morning of October 21 over the Pennsylvania road is described here by one of the correspondents who traveled with him. Under date of October 21, he wrote at Pittsburg, Pa.:

"On a mellow autumn day whose warmth seemed to breathe a tender sympathy, Col. Roosevelt traveled from Chicago today on his way to Oyster Bay on the most extraordinary trip ever undertaken by a candidate for the presidency.

"Unable because of sheer weakness to show himself on the platform of his private car, the stricken Bull Moose leader, with blinds drawn in his stateroom, listened with throbbing heart to the soft murmuring of eager throngs as they clustered at the stations along the way. As the train rolled into Pittsburg tonight the colonel, shaken up by the jostling of the train, meekly confessed to Dr. Alexander Lambert, his New York physician, who with Dr. Scurry Terrell, are making the trip with him, that he was 'tired out.'

"'I'm going to put in a sound night of sleep,' he sighed, 'I'll be all right again in the morning.'

"The bullet nestling in the colonel's chest and the splintered rib gave him more discomfort than the wounded leader had counted on. As the train jolted at times the ex-President experienced piercing pain. But he bore it without a whimper.

"When night came the physicians agreed that although the tumbling of the train had caused the colonel more worry than he would admit, he would suffer no ill effects.

"The ex-President's leisurely jaunt through Ohio, for he is running upon a twenty-four hour train, was in truth an occasion of tragic quiet. The waiting throngs which half anticipated that they would see the plucky third party fighter walk out onto platform of his car, stood in a respectful attitude as they learned that the colonel was unable to see them.

"Almost the whole day the ex-President lay on a soft bed in his state room, reading, or when that grew irksome, dropping into restful slumber. Outside of his family, his stenographer, John Martin and the latter's wife, who boarded the train at Lima, the colonel saw no one. He asked for quiet, feeling himself that he needed to conserve all the strength at his command for the long run to Oyster Bay.

"The ex-President started his jaunt homeward by fooling the newspaper men in Chicago. At Mercy Hospital the tip was allowed to filter out that the colonel would climb into an automobile at the front entrance. Camera men adjusted their machines and a flock of newspaper men waited.

"Instead, the ex-President was wheeled to a side door to an automobile ambulance, into which he pulled himself.

"'I fooled them that time,' chuckled the colonel to Dr. Lambert, who climbed in after him.

"While the colonel was driven to the train, Mrs. Roosevelt, Miss Ethel and Theodore, Jr., took an automobile. So as to avoid the crowd at the Pennsylvania depot, the ambulance was taken to the train by way of a yard, the colonel's private car being drawn up for it. Only a few yardmen were there to salute the colonel as he stepped from the ambulance. They raised their hats and one of them cried:

"'Colonel, good luck to you!' Roosevelt lifted his right hand to his hat and gave a military salute."

Concerning the ex-President's appearance in Madison Square Garden, New York, on the night of October 30, a press dispatch said:

"Bearing no outward sign of the bullet in his breast, Theodore Roosevelt tonight hurled himself back into the campaign at Madison Square Garden. He spoke for forty minutes to the biggest meeting he has ever addressed in New York and to one of the greatest gatherings ever seen in that historic auditorium.

"More than 15,000 men and women welcomed him. Another vast crowd waited all evening outside in the hope that they might catch a word or two from the colonel as he departed. They were disappointed, for his physicians, fearing too great a tax on his strength, refused to permit him to make more than one address.

"The crowd inside cheered for forty minutes when Roosevelt, at twenty minutes past 9 o'clock led his guards into the Garden, climbed the steps to the speaker's gallery and stood before them. Bandannas and American flags waved like a moving forest, the shouts of the crowd and the drumming of thousands of heels on the floor drowned the band and every air that has been sung in the campaign from 'Everybody's Doin' It' to 'Onward, Christian Soldiers,' boomed forth when the enthusiasts, wearied of plain cheering, of mooing like the moose, or of yelling: 'We want Teddy! We want Teddy!'

"The great hall whose galleries and arched ceiling were completely hidden with bunting and huge flags, made a marvelous picture as the colonel, leaning over the speaker's rail, his teeth snapping like a bulldog's, raised his left hand in first greeting.

"For three-quarters of an hour he stood there. Now and then recognizing a friend he would make a dash to the other end of the stand, a distance of twenty feet and wave his hand—always his left—in greeting.

"As he faced first to the left, then to the right, he awakened successive outbursts of cheers, and bandannas and flags were set in motion by sections, till red flushes ran over the crowd like waves.

"The colonel's speech was pitched in a solemn and impressive key. He made no direct allusion to the attack upon him. He made no attack upon any individual among his political foes. He named no names save those of Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Jackson.

"Deliberately avoiding the line of advance, which was punctuated with applause, he appealed for the votes of his auditors for the progressive cause, making no reference to himself and none to his achievements.

"With cheeks thinner than they were before the attack upon him, but with a brilliant color, with figure sturdy and erect, and with a voice that reached to every part of the hall, and never once cracked into the falsetto squeak that often characterizes it, the colonel seemed the picture of health. Not at all while he was speaking did he smile. All his gestures, save one or two were made with his left hand which, being farthest removed from the bullet wound, could be moved with impunity.

"Once or twice toward the end he brought his right hand down with a resounding slap on the rail of the speakers stand, but his face gave no indication that the gesture caused him pain. The flashlights which were set off at intervals during the address he faced without wincing.

"Col. Roosevelt was preceded by Senator Dixon, who presided, by Oscar Straus, candidate for governor in New York, and by Governor Johnson of California."

"Col. Roosevelt's physicians went into his state room to see him soon after the train left Englewood. They found him contentedly reading:

"'Col. Roosevelt is resting well and is very comfortable.'

"So well, indeed, was the ex-President that the doctor said he did not bother to take his pulse and temperature."

Col. Roosevelt arrived at Sagamore Hill at 10 o'clock in the morning of October 22.

When the ex-President's physicians left him at dusk they gave out this bulletin, impressing their insistence that Roosevelt devote himself to solid rest:

"Col. Roosevelt has stood the journey well, but, of course, is tired. The wound is still open and oozing. Rest and quiet are essential to him to avoid possibilities of wound infection. He will be able to see no one tonight. While Col. Roosevelt is extremely anxious to take up the work of the campaign we are not willing to say at this time that that will be possible.

"JOS. A. BLAKE.

"GEORGE E. BREWER.

"ALEXANDER S. LAMBERT.

"SCURRY L. TERRELL."

The colonel was brought to Sagamore Hill in an auto from Syasset, L. I., without going to Oyster Bay, in order to avoid any crowd.

Flowers sent to Sagamore Hill by the school children of Nassau county were the only tokens of public welcome for the homecoming.

When he arrived at Sagamore Hill the colonel's wound was dressed and he went to bed at once, with instructions to remain quiet all day. The physicians said the wound showed no ill effects from the trip.

Col. Roosevelt and his secretaries were busy on the train until late in the night of October 21, looking for an old speech of the colonel's on the trusts. This speech had been the basis of recent criticism by William J. Bryan, and after a secretary had unearthed it and Col. Roosevelt had gone over it he said he intended to reply to Mr. Byran's criticism either in a statement or in a speech.

 

CHAPTER VIII.

ARREST, APPEARS IN COURT.

Within five minutes after he had fired the bullet into ex-President Roosevelt's right side, John Flammang Schrank was on his way in the auto police patrol to the central police station, Milwaukee.

Those who overpowered Schrank were Elbert E. Martin, Capt. A. O. Girard, Col. Cecil Lyon of Texas, Sergeant Albert Murray of the Milwaukee police department and Detectives Harry Ridenour, Louis Hartman and Valentine Skierawski of the Milwaukee police department.

The thousands who were in the vicinity of the shooting clamored for Schrank's life.

Capt. Girard and Sergeant Murray fought off the crowd and literally dragged Schrank into the Hotel Gilpatrick through the main entrance, through the lobby and into the hotel kitchen.

Here Schrank was left in charge of Capt. Girard and Herman Rollfink while Sergeant Murray telephoned the central police station for the auto patrol. Upon its arrival Schrank was hustled into it and taken to the central station.

Schrank having disappeared, the crowd about the hotel hurried to the Auditorium. This vast building was filled to capacity, 9,000, and at least 15,000 were outside unable to even get to the doors, which had been closed and locked by attendants at 8 o'clock.

When Schrank was first questioned at the central station he declined to give his name. Within a short time, however, under supervision of Chief John T. Janssen, he submitted to an examination, which appears in full in another chapter.

Schrank necessarily was roughly handled immediately after firing the shot. He clung to the revolver until it was wrenched from him, and at one time he was beneath a pile of struggling men in the street car tracks immediately in front of Hotel Gilpatrick.

One of the detectives, in his efforts to get hold of Schrank, was carried down with Schrank beneath this struggling mass of men.

When Schrank arrived at the central station he was little the worse for his rough handling, except that his clothing was badly soiled, his collar torn off and his hair disheveled. He looked as though he were glad he had been rescued from the crowd crying for his life.

Searched at the central station the following letter was found in a coat pocket:

"To the People of the United States:

"September 15, 1901—1:30 A.M.

"In a dream I saw President McKinley sit up in his coffin pointing at a man in a monk's attire in whom I recognized Theodore Roosevelt. The dead president said—This is my murderer—avenge my death.

"September 14, 1912—1:30 A.M.

"While writing a poem some one tapped me on the shoulder and said—let not a murderer take the presidential chair, avenge my death. I could clearly see Mr. McKinley's features. Before the Almighty God, I swear that the above written is nothing but the truth.

"So long as Japan could rise to be one of the greatest powers of the world despite her surviving a tradition more than 2,000 years old, as Gen. Nogi demonstrated, it is the duty of the United States of America to see that the third termer be regarded as a traitor to the American cause. Let it be the right and duty of every citizen to forcibly remove a third termer.

"Never let a third term party emblem appear on an official ballot. I am willing to die for my country. God has called me to be his instrument, so help me God.

"INNOCENT-GUILTY."

On a sheet of paper taken from the man when he was searched at the central station, the police found a list of nine hotels where he is supposed to have stopped recently.

The following is the list: Mosely hotel, Charleston, S. C.; Planters hotel, Augusta, Ga.; Childs' hotel, Atlanta, Ga.; Plaza hotel, Birmingham, Ala.; Redmon hotel, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Third Avenue hotel, Rome, Tenn.; Bismark hotel, Nashville, Tenn.; Station hotel, Evansville, Ind., and the Normandy hotel, Louisville, Ky.

At 10:35 o'clock on the morning of October 15 Schrank was taken to District court before Judge N. B. Neelen. He admitted that he had fired the bullet which hit ex-President Roosevelt, and he was bound over to the December term of Municipal court, with bail fixed at $7,500. Bail was later raised to $15,000.

Before Schrank appeared in court District Attorney Winifred C. Zabel said:

"So far as I have been able to determine from several examinations, John Schrank is legally sane," declared District Attorney W. C. Zabel, in discussing Theodore Roosevelt's would-be assassin, yesterday.

"He has a perfect knowledge of right and wrong and realizes that the act he committed was against the law. Medically he may have a slight aberration, but only experts could determine that.

"Schrank will have as fair a trial under the law as any other man. He has been given ample time in which to prepare his case, and, if he does not engage an attorney himself, one will be appointed to defend him."

Schrank expressed no desire to be tried in a hurry. The revolver from which the shot had been fired, together with the shirt and underwear worn by Col. Roosevelt were brought into court and exhibited by Detective Louis Hartman.

At the suggestion of others, Judge Neelen ordered the revolver and bullets taken to Dean R. E. W. Sommers, Marquette university, for chemical analysis to determine whether the bullets were poisoned.

Schrank seemed unconcerned over the crime he had committed.

"You are charged with assault with intent to kill and murder," said District Attorney Zabel. "What do you plead, guilty or not guilty?"

"I am guilty," answered Schrank quietly.

The court then explained to Schrank that he was charged with a serious offense, and had the right to ask for an adjournment and time in which to obtain legal counsel and prepare a defense.

"I understand that," said Schrank. "I plead guilty and waive examination."

"Then you are bound over to the municipal court under bonds of $5,000," said the court. Schrank was then asked if he wanted a speedy trial.

"No, I don't want one at once," was the reply. "I wish to have some time."

"We will give you plenty of time. You will be tried during the December term of the Municipal court."

As Schrank was being led back to the prisoners' "pen," one of the newspaper men standing, remembering that President McKinley died because of a poisoned bullet, reminded the court that it might be well to have the bullets in Schrank's revolver chemically analyzed.

"Oh, if that's the case, it makes it much more serious," said the court. "Infection might set in. I'll raise the bail from $5,000 to $7,500."

A crowd of not more than 200 was seated in the courtroom when Schrank's case was called, the general impression being that he would not be examined before October 16. When his name was called every one in the room pushed forward, and it was necessary for the deputies and policemen to use force to push them back of the railing.

When in the "bullpen" Schrank's fellow prisoners shrank away from him. They knew of his attempt to assassinate the former president, and he was an outcast, even among his own kind.

He was led from the courtroom by Sheriff Arnold and a special corps of deputies, the officials fearing violence, to the county jail, where he was lodged in a cell on the first floor.

Schrank on his arrival in Milwaukee registered at the Argyle hotel, 270 West Water street, and was assigned to room number 1. He paid for his room in advance and was very seldom seen at the hotel thereafter.

His meals, according to the clerk, he took outside. The clerk said the only time the man was seen about the hotel was when he walked in and out.

He was registered under the name of "Albert Ross," which name he has registered under in a number of hotels at which he stopped while following Col. Roosevelt about the country.

Without a tremor in his voice and talking willingly in the central station, Schrank unfolded the fact that he had at one time been engaged to be married to Miss Elsie Ziegler, New York, one of the victims of the General Slocum steamboat disaster, in which over a thousand lives were lost.

As he spoke of the girl his voice softened and his eyes sought the floor of his cell. His lips seemed to quiver slightly, the first evidence of remorse since his arrest.

Asked if the fact that the girl had lost her life during the disaster had anything to do with the act he clenched his hands and with an angry jerk of his head almost shouted his answer to the questioner.

"She had nothing to do with it," he exclaimed. "She was a beautiful girl and I want you to understand that her soul is cleared from any part of this act."

The five sets of finger prints were taken by the police at the request of police departments of other cities.

The warrant under which Schrank was arrested read as follows:

"John Schrank, being then and there armed with a dangerous weapon, to-wit, a loaded revolver, did then and there, unlawfully, wilfully and feloniously make an assault in and upon one, Theodore Roosevelt, with said loaded revolver, with intent, then and there, him, the said Theodore Roosevelt, unlawfully, willingly and feloniously and of his malice aforethought to kill and murder."

The crime with which Schrank still is charged reads as follows:

"Assault with intent to murder or rob. Section 4376. Any person being armed with a dangerous weapon who shall assault another with intent to rob or murder shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison not more than fifteen years nor less than one year."

 

CHAPTER IX.

APPEARS IN MUNICIPAL COURT.

November 13 Schrank appeared in Municipal court before Judge August C. Backus. Two sessions of court, lasting only a few minutes each, were necessary to dispose of Schrank's preliminary hearing. At 10 o'clock the court heard Schrank's plea of guilty, and took recess until 2 o'clock, when the following physicians were appointed to look into the prisoner's mental condition: Dr. F. C. Studley, Dr. W. F. Becker, Dr. Richard Dewey, Dr. W. F. Wegge, and Dr. D. W. Harrington, all of Milwaukee.

The court also appointed Attorney James G. Flanders to represent Schrank.

At both sessions of the court, Schrank appeared perfectly at ease, walking inside the bar with a jaunty air, chin up and a curious look on his face. His appearance had changed considerably since the night he shot the ex-President. Then his clothing was torn and bedraggled, his hair unkempt, face unshaven and his expression wild.

In Municipal court he was neatly dressed in a carefully pressed suit of blue serge, shoes shined, clean linen and spotless white tie, with a white handkerchief peeping out of a side coat pocket. He had been cleanly shaven and his hair was carefully pasted down, while in his hands he carried a new fedora hat and a raincoat.

As he was led to the front of the courtroom by Deputy Sheriff Albert Melms, everyone in the crowd stared at him, but the prisoner walked with a firm step, and looked neither to the right nor left. It was only when he was called before the bar and asked to plead, that he wavered, and then only for an instant. Judge Backus ordered him to stand and listen to the charge made against him, reciting that "John Schrank, on Oct. 14, with malice aforethought, did attempt to kill and murder Theodore Roosevelt."

"What do you plead to that, guilty or not guilty?" asked District Attorney W. C. Zabel.

"I plead guilty to the shooting," answered the prisoner in a voice that was slightly husky.

"Did you intend to kill Theodore Roosevelt?" asked Mr. Zabel.

Here the prisoner's voice became steady again, and he answered:

"I did not intend to kill the citizen Roosevelt."

"Did you intend to kill the candidate Roosevelt?"

"I intended to kill Theodore Roosevelt, the third termer," was the answer. "I did not want to kill the candidate of the Progressive party. I shot Roosevelt as a warning to other third termers."

"There we have it," broke in the court, and Schrank was told that he might take his seat.

District Attorney Zabel moved that the court either appoint a commission of alienists to examine Schrank or have him tried before a jury. Judge Backus announced that he would appoint a commission of five experts at 2 o'clock, and took a recess, ordering the deputies to take Schrank back to the county jail. As the prisoner arose to leave many of those in the courtroom rushed for the door, but all fell back when the court said:

"Let no man leave the courtroom until the prisoner has left the city hall."

At the afternoon session Schrank was simply brought in and allowed to sit at one of the tables. When the physicians who are to examine him arose to be sworn, he eyed them curiously, but evinced no outward signs of emotion.

The court allowed the alienists as much time as they desired to make the examination of the prisoner, and ordered the sheriff to allow them to see Schrank whenever they wished. The prisoner also was given an opportunity to confer with his attorney.

The decision which the alienists were to reach, as ordered by the court, was whether "the defendant, John Schrank, is sane at the present time."

District Attorney Zabel announced that the following had been subpoenaed as witnesses: Detectives Louis Hartman, and Valentine Skierawski; Dr. Robert G. Sayle and Dr. T. W. Williams, Emergency hospital, who attended Col. Roosevelt; Capt. A. O. Girard and John Campbell, Rescue Mission, an eyewitness.

Mr. Zabel received several letters and telegrams from New York asking for leniency, and commending Schrank's action.

Several were sent with the request that they be handed to the attorney who would defend the prisoner.

People all over the country sent letters to District Attorney W. C. Zabel advising him how to handle Schrank.

"Think of all the brains that are uniting with mine in trying to determine how to handle this case," said Mr. Zabel, with a laugh. "And the best part of it is that it's not costing the city or county a cent either. How do you like this one," handing over a letter which said:

"For God's sake, don't let any Catholic priest get near him."

Another said: "Hang him up by the thumbs. No punishment is too horrible for such a man."

A third man looked with suspicion upon the Socialist district attorney, and believed that he read something wrong in the statement that Schrank would not be placed on trial immediately.

"Probably Schrank is not so crazy after all," this man wrote. And then he insinuated that Schrank very carefully planned to commit the deed in a state where there is no capital punishment and in a county—the only one in the country—in which "there is a Socialist district attorney."

Still another advised the district attorney to look into the minutest details, as he saw some big rich and powerful influence back of Schrank which had urged him on to the crime.

"These are only a few of the letters I received from men who are probably in as bad a mental state as they seem to think Schrank is," said the district attorney.

 

CHAPTER X.

SCHRANK DECLARED INSANE.

On November 22 Schrank was declared insane by the five alienists who had examined him. He appeared in Municipal court and was committed to the Northern Hospital for the Insane at Oshkosh, Wis., by Judge August C. Backus in the following order:

"FINDINGS OF THE COURT:

"The court now finds that the defendant John Schrank is insane, and therefore incapacitated to act for himself.

"IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED AND ADJUDGED, that the defendant John Schrank be committed to the Northern Hospital for Insane, near Oshkosh, in the county of Winnebago, state of Wisconsin, until such time when he shall have recovered from such insanity, when he shall be returned to this court for further proceedings according to law.

"AND IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that all proceedings in this case be stayed indefinitely and until such recovery.

"IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that the sheriff of Milwaukee county is hereby ordered to convey the said John Schrank to the said Northern Hospital for Insane, near Oshkosh, in the county of Winnebago, state of Wisconsin, and there to deliver him to the superintendent thereof and the said superintendent is hereby ordered and directed to receive the said John Schrank as an inmate of said hospital and there to keep him until he has recovered from such insanity, when he shall be returned to this court for further proceedings as provided by law."

Schrank expressed the keenest disappointment both on the report of the insanity commission and also on the judgment of the court.

"Why didn't they give me my medicine right away, instead of making me wait," he exclaimed bitterly as he was led to the county jail. "I did it, and I am willing to stand the consequences of my act.

"I want to say now that I am sane, and know what I am doing all the time. I am not a lunatic, and never was one."

Schrank offered no defense. Before the judgment of the court was pronounced he was asked if he had any statement to make.

"I have nothing to say," he said clearly.

While Judge Backus was reading the judgment, Schrank sat with bowed head. His fingers twitched nervously, but otherwise he gave no outward sign. As the deputy sheriffs led him away, he stopped and insisted upon shaking hands with each one of the five alienists.

Although Schrank was not called to the witness stand during the inquisition yesterday afternoon, District Attorney W. C. Zabel introduced testimony to show Schrank's every movement in Milwaukee, from the time he arrived until the time he shot Col. Roosevelt.

This testimony tended to show that Schrank "filled up" on beer just before he committed the act, although each of the witnesses insisted that he was not intoxicated at the time he did the shooting. One policeman said that he was dazed, but was not intoxicated.

The testimony showed that Schrank spent the early part of the evening he shot Col. Roosevelt in the saloon of Herman Rollfink, 215 Third street, where he posed as a newspaper man "out on an investigating trip."

"Schrank came into the saloon at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and drank five or six beers," testified Paul Thume, a bartender. "He told me he was a newspaper man, and to prove it, he pointed to the newspapers in his pockets.

"We got to talking, and I told him I was going out west to earn some money. He advised me to go south to make money. He wanted a place to room, but when I recommended a room for $1 a day, he kicked. Said he was willing to pay 75 cents.

"He came in again at 7 o'clock in the evening and we talked some more. He then asked the bar musicians to play some song, something with stripes in it, and then he bought each one a drink."

For the first time during the hearing, Schrank smiled. It started in a broad smile, and then extended until it covered his entire face. It developed that he asked the musicians to play the "Star Spangled Banner," which the bartender described as a song having "stripes" in it.

Schrank left the saloon only a few minutes before he did the shooting, after having again treated all to drinks.

The testimony of the barkeeper was substantiated by two musicians, Frank Galk and James Crawford, who said that Schrank danced around while they were playing.

Herman Rollfink told how he jumped on Schrank after the shooting and blocked the door to the kitchen in the hotel after Schrank had been carried in there.

Capt. Alfred O. Girard said:

"I saw Schrank in the crowd just as I was getting into Col. Roosevelt's automobile. I saw him as he raised the gun up between two men. I saw the flash, and almost simultaneously, I sprang upon him. After taking him into the hotel, we searched him, but found no other weapons."

Three policemen were placed on the stand as witnesses, and each one insisted that he was not detailed to service there, but had been attracted to the spot by the crowd.

This tended to show that Col. Roosevelt had no police protection while he was in Milwaukee.

Robert M. Lenten, clerk at the Argyle hotel, recognized Schrank as the guest who signed his name as Albert Ross.

"He came to the hotel about 10:15 Sunday night and I assigned him to room No. 1," he said. "He did not act unusual, and we talked as I showed him to his room. The room is right above the Milwaukee river, so I told him he had better keep away from the window, if he didn't want to fall into the 'Wabash.' That's the name we give to the river."

This struck Schrank as funny and he laughed again.

The report of the alienists was filed with the court just before 10 o'clock in the morning. It included fifty pages of typewritten matter, and its reading consumed nearly two hours. After the report was read, the alienists were placed on the stand and questioned by the district attorney.

Schrank listened to the reading of the report without the slightest sign of interest, until the clerk read the findings pronouncing him insane.

Schrank was taken to the Northern Hospital for the Insane, Oshkosh, by Deputy Sheriff Richard Muldenhauer and Fred Becker, bookkeeper in the sheriffs office, on the morning of November 25, at 11 o'clock.

The three left the sheriffs office in an automobile shortly before 11 o'clock and arrived at the Chicago & Northwestern depot, Milwaukee, a few minutes before train time.

Before leaving the jail Schrank asked for the sheriff and thanked him for his kindness during his confinement in the county jail. He also shook hands with Jailer Adam Roth and deputies who have been with him during the trial.

Schrank's duties at the Northern Hospital for the Insane and are light and remain so until the physicians of the hospital have had ample time to observe him.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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