The Kaukauna Sun called him “a fiend incarnate” who committed “one of the blackest crimes ever committed by a human being.” The Neenah Times said he was “certainly a degenerate”, “a scamp on general principles”, and he “would steal candy from a child, the molasses from a sick man’s ginger cake, or his grandfather’s coffin to ride down hill.” The Appleton Crescent said his actions were “the most horrible crime in the history of Wisconsin.” Judge John Goodland declared, “A more heinous crime cannot be found in the history of criminality.”
Wenzel E. Kabat was born in Reedsville in roughly 1878. Kabat’s father Julius (sometimes listed as Joseph or Albert — actual name unknown) was a wealthy and well-to-do farmer in the Manitowoc area of Bohemian descent.
Joseph Shimek of Appleton Junction was a childhood acquaintance of Wenzel Kabat and gave the following account: “During his school career he was not recognized as an especially docile scholar, but much of his time was taken up at scheming and in devising tricks to play on his fellow schoolmates. The environment in which this boy was reared is not responsible for the way in which he appears to have turned out, for his parents were both honest and conscientious people who always had to work for all they acquired.”
The wife of a Kaukauna business man (name unknown), who attended school with Kabat, had a different story, saying Wenzel “was a bright scholar, the teacher’s pet, and always appeared as if he just came out of a bandbox”.
At age 17, Wenzel attended business college in Chilton. One day his father came to town and reported the loss of $2000 in gold which he kept in an old kettle in his cellar. Upon further investigation, it was found that Wenzel had taken the money and used it to buy a ticket to go to Milwaukee and attend the state fair.
At age 19, Kabat and a man named McGorrow of Green Bay (sometimes referred to as Garrow from Appleton) tried to swindle people, claiming they had perfected a patent on a new cheese vat. Both were arrested but released without trial.
In November 1898, Wenzel ran for the assembly as a Republican in Manitowoc County. He lost to Canadian-born Democrat Jonas Gagnon, a former alderman, supervisor and school commissioner from Two Rivers. (Gagnon received 1881 votes, Kabat 1404, and Social Democrat Arnold Zander 46.) The newspaper would later report that Kabat “was very active in Republican local party matters, always attending caucuses and conventions of his party and taking much interest in Manitowoc County politics.”
On May 20, 1899, Wenzel was arrested for alleged false pretenses.
Sometime around 1901, Kabat was studying for the priesthood and was to be ordained, but it was soon discovered that he had broken several rules of the church.
Kabat, with the help of Sheboygan native Herman Bornefeldt, forged the names of several Manitowoc and Calumet County farmers in Rockland, Kossuth, Maple Grove, Franklin and Cato to get money around July 1901. The Manitowoc Pilot called this “a slick trick”. (Herman Bornefeldt lived in Reedsville in 1891, and may have been the son of Julius Bornefeldt. His middle initial is variously given as C or O.)
These signatures were gathered under the pretense that Bornefeldt was an agent of the German Stock Food Company of Chicago, but were instead forged on to promissory notes ranging from $50-800, totaling $20,000. Bornefeldt collected the signatures after giving out free samples — he claimed that he needed the signatures to collect his commission. The farmers became understandably upset when asked to pay on the promissory notes that they had not authorized and entered complaint against Kabat on September 13, 1901. At least thirty of the notes had landed in the hands of a Brillion attorney.
Bornefeldt and Kabat went before the circuit court the Saturday prior to February 6, 1902. District Attorney Albert L. Hougen presented his case until Tuesday, the evidence largely consisting of testimony from the farmers. Defending the men were G. G. Sedgwick for Kabat and Voight for Bornefeldt. The jury consisted of: William Oelrich, John Jarr, Charles Pries, David Croll, Mat Watzel, Emil Kunze, Charles Schultz, Herman Wernecke, David Lorefeldt, Louis Geisler, Patrick Kelley and Charles Kiel.
Both men were found guilty of forgery. Their attorneys asked for a new trial, but were turned down by Judge Michael Kirwan. The Friday before February 20, Kabat was sentenced to four years in prison and Bornefeldt was sentenced to two. The judge believed that Bornefeldt was a “tool” of Kabat’s and not the brains of the operation.
Kabat was sent to the Green Bay reformatory, but made two escape attempts and was forced to serve the rest of his sentence in Waupun at the state penitentiary. One attempt involved him taking the steel shank from his shoe, sharpening it, and using it as a knife to carve a wooden key. These things were discovered while an employee there was making a routine cleaning. Warden Charles W. Bowron was impressed enough by this that he kept the items as a souvenir. (Bowron was from Oshkosh and relatively new on the job — James Edmund Heg resigned as warden in early 1901.)
On June 27 or 28, 1905, Kabat was released from the state penitentiary at Waupun after serving three years for forgery.
In July 1905, Kabat hired Chester Wallen of Green Bay to work for him. Kabat claimed to be an insurance agent with an office in St. Paul. He also said he had been born in Mexico. After consulting with his current employer, who told him to go for it, Wallen accepted the non-existent position. Wallen was not the first young man approached by Kabat with the promise of a large salary. Wallen only stayed working a few days when he became suspicious of Kabat and left him at Reedsville to work in Manitowoc. Wallen claimed that another young man, Bert Hutto, was asked to be a private detective for Kabat. Hutto, a clerk from Manitowoc, declined, and went on to work at the Beaumont Hotel in Green Bay (located on the northeast corner of Main and Washington Streets).
At some point in July, during harvest, Kabat was noticed on the McCarthy farm for the first time by 14-year old farmhand Julius Heimke. How Kabat came to meet McCarthy, a man of average build (155-160 pounds), and born in 1864 (making him roughly 41) is unclear. The farm had been in Michael’s possession since June of 1899, when he had purchased it from Harriet Mead.
The Sheboygan County News would later report (October 21, 1905) that the land had a dark history. Michael’s sister had previously fallen off a load of hay and broke her neck, dying instantly. In front of the farm is McCarthy Crossing, which was home to several deaths due to passing engines. The first to die was John Yeunger, followed by an Oneida Indian named Peter Smith. An unidentified tramp was killed later, and then Henry Haas on a Sunday evening in 1905. Between this crossing and Wrightstown had been a number of holdups along the “sand cut”, and people feared to travel it at night. Furthermore, William Cogan, watchman of the government dredge, was murdered and burned just down the river from the farm.
In late August 1905, Michael McCarthy was at Soakup’s Saloon in Menasha, where he met auctioneer and real estate dealer John Denhardt of Winnebago County. They were introduced by a mutual friend, a police officer named Henry A. Bando of Neenah. McCarthy told Denhardt that he was hoping to get rid of his farm within six days so he could use the money to get his eyes fixed in Milwaukee and then visit relatives in Kansas and Nebraska. Michael wrote a description of the Kaukauna farm on the back of a blank milk sheet. What became of Denhardt is unknown.
At some point around September 6, Kabat went to attorney G. A. Trayser of Kaukauna and offered him $500 to acknowledge a deed. Kabat told him, “I have a friend down in Manitowoc County who has gotten into some trouble with a woman and wants to get away and I am trying to help him.” Trayser told him to bring in the friend. “Oh, he won’t come,” said Kabat. “He does not want to appear in the matter at all. But there will be no trouble about it whatever, for he wants to get out of the country and will never come back.” Trayser turned the offer down, but did provide Kabat with a list of other attorneys in the area.
Other attorneys were approached around this time, though the exact dates are unclear. Claude Cannon of Appleton was asked to help look up records of the McCarthy house, and such information was given. Other statements Kabat made aroused Cannon’s suspicion and he refused to work with him any further. Casper Miller of Appleton was approached on the pretext of buying an automobile. During the conversation, Kabat asked Miller if he wanted to make $8,000 or $9,000, and Miller suspected some sort of fraud. He asked how, and Kabat said, “I am going to get some property from a dead man and I want you to help me in the matter. It will be an easy job and no danger of detection. If anyone gets caught at the game it will be myself and you will run absolutely no risk.”
Next, Kabat tried to have McCarthy arrested under false pretenses so he could take over the farm. He approached two Green Bay women and asked them to allege assault. Then an acquaintance of Kabat’s, Louis Root of Green Bay, would appear with a fake badge and a forged warrant and have McCarthy taken from Ashland, where the women lived, to jail. Root was offered $5,000, but turned it down.
Mrs. George Puehler was allegedly assaulted by Michael McCarthy on September 9 in her home on Thirteenth Avenue in Green Bay between 7 and 8pm, and would later testify to this. She also claimed that Michael had paid her $200 to keep the assault quiet. The whole incident is questionable, because Puehler was a known associate of Kabat and also at the time of the alleged assault, at least four witnesses saw Michael at another location in Green Bay. Could they have been mistaken on the exact time? Mrs. Puehler, by the way, was the niece of attorney Fitzgibbons.
A Mrs. Elworth, who lived on Lawe Street north of Holy Cross Cemetery, kept house for McCarthy from time to time. Around Monday, September 11, she was on the farm and agreed to come back on Saturday to help Michael with digging his potatoes.
On Wednesday, September 13, Kabat and Mrs. George Puehler visited the McCarthy farm, and departed with Kabat getting off in Wrightstown and Puehler continuing on to Green Bay. The conductor of this car was Julius Sloth. Michael McCarthy later put on his best suit of clothes, and told a 14-year old farmhand named Julius Heimke he would be going to Wrightstown. Heimke left the farm at 7:30pm, and McCarthy was still getting ready. He would never make it to Wrightstown, as Kabat returned and shot him with his pistol.
On Thursday, September 14, Kabat was seen by Heimke that morning at 7am when he arrived. The man was inside washing the milk and cream separator. He then took McCarthy’s clothes, underwear, stockings and shoes, and moved them in to the wood shed. Kabat was later burning brush shortly after 8am. As Heimke approached the fire, Kabat sent him away. That morning, a neighbor boy saw Kabat bring brush to a pile, and other neighbors saw him bring old boards and fence posts to the brush pile, which was “burning furiously”. Charles Quigley of Lawrence was riding the interrurban car from Green Bay to Kaukauna and also saw the fire between 7 and 8am.
Heimke further saw Kabat take a pearl-handled revolver out of a drawer that he had never seen before, and was then offered a gold watch that he knew to be McCarthy’s.
A bill of sale was also dated September 14 was made up in the office of attorney (and former judge) L. A. Calkins of Green Bay, but not signed there, and Calkins claimed no knowledge of any plot.
On Friday, September 15, Anthony Reith, a 14-year old boy, was rabbit hunting with his dog when he found a pool of blood in a secluded place near the river on McCarthy’s farm. The dog smelled the blood and became frightened and ran home. There was a saw there covered in blood and human hair, and Reith hid it in a hollow tree, thinking it might be useful sometime. Walking over a hill, he saw Kabat burning brush, but didn’t trust him, so Reith returned home. The next day he came down with smallpox. The fire was estimated to have burned seven oak trees and multiple cans of kerosene.
Also witnessing the fire on September 15 were John Krull and Joseph Diers of Kaukauna, two boys who were gathering hickory nuts. When they saw the fire, it was about 4 feet high.
On the afternoon of September 15, Kaukauna junk dealer Isaac Gingsberg was at the farm and purchased some scrap iron from Kabat. He also helped load up some cattle, which they brought to butcher Frank Ehnerd and sold. Kabat told both men conflicting stories about McCarthy — Gingsberg was told that Michael had moved to a farm up north, while Ehnerd was told that Michael was merely away at the State Fair in Milwaukee.
Mrs. Elworth returned on Saturday, September 16 to dig potatoes, but found Kabat on the farm rather than McCarthy. She noticed he had scrubbed the kitchen floor. Kabat did not take a liking to her, and instructed Julius Heimke to shoot her with a rifle if she ever returned to the property.
About this same time, Edward and William Terry, along with Frank C— (last name hard to read) were picking hickory nuts when they found a lantern on McCarthy’s farm and put it in the hickory bag. They also saw Kabat on the property talking to other men they did not know, presumably about selling off the stock. Frank had been employed by McCarthy in 1903.
Kabat sold more cattle on September 20, this time to Robert Ehnerd. He also sold two colts, which Ehnerd immediately sold to another person and made a $5 profit.
On Sunday, September 24, Kabat took an interurban car from Kaukauna to Green Bay with Richard McCarthy, and they talked at length. At some point, Charles McCarthy went to Green Bay to talk to Mrs. Lizzie Merritt (wife of William Merritt) of 220 South Quincy Street, who may have had some information, but he received little satisfaction when she told him that Michael had just left. In fact, Merritt had never met Michael at all, but was instructed by Kabat to say he “just left” if anyone ever inquired about his whereabouts.
Charles McCarthy was intercepted by Kabat, who told him that Michael had gotten into trouble by following a woman to her home, throwing her down, and choking her. He was hiding out in a boarding house, and Kabat took Charles there, but the doors were locked. Kabat next took Charles to the fair and treated him royally, claiming they may find the woman there or Michael in disguise. Kabat then accompanied Charles back to the car to Kaukauna. Apparently this same day, Kabat sold twenty head of cattle to a Wrightstown butcher. The McCarthy relatives doubted Kabat’s story of Michael assaulting a woman and had him turned in to authorities when it became clear that Michael was not coming back.
District attorney Albert H. Krugmeier and Attorney T. H. Ryan had Kabat in the “sweat box” for nearly four hours, but he refused to give the assaulted woman’s name or divulge McCarthy’s whereabouts.
[Krugmeier was born in Minnesota, June 1, 1873. He was a son of William and Dora Krugmeier, who moved to Dodge county, Wisconsin, soon after his birth. Krugmeier was given a high school education at Horicon, and after graduating there entered the Law School of the University of Wisconsin, graduating from there in 1898. He located at Appleton for the practice of his profession. At this time he married Jessie Griswold, of Horicon, Wisconsin. Krugmeier, by dint of hard study and labor, began to enjoy a good practice. In 1905 he was elected to the office of District Attorney for Outagamie County. Krugmeier was of German descent, speaks and understands his mother tongue. Whatever time he could spare from his law practice he devoted to a dairy farm located just outside of the city of Appleton, which was a model of cleanliness. Krugmeier, politically, was a Republican, and served two terms as Chairman of the Republican County Committee.]
On Monday, September 25, Marshal Conlon, who had known Michael for twenty-five years, went to Green Bay and played the role of detective, talking to the woman. She admitted Michael McCarthy had been there but she had no part in his disappearance. Conlon took up lodging for the night in a private boarding house, claiming to be a collector from Chicago.
Conlon called on Kabat’s sister claiming to be a man disposing of real estate on his way to the Pacific coast. She informed him that Kabat was not there and she did not know where he was.
He next wrote a “decoy telegram”, telling the delivery boy to strike a match if Kabat was home so the officers could swoop in and make an arrest. The lady answering the door said he had been there for supper, but had left to go to the theater. Conlon then scanned the local theater, as well as a vaudeville theater, and did not find Kabat. He continued his search in Green Bay at various saloons.
Tuesday, September 26, 1905, at about 6:00 in the morning, Kabat was arrested by Marshal Richard Conlon. Conlon and an unidentified former Kaukauna man went to the house where Kabat was staying, with the man guarding the back door to prevent Kabat’s feeling. Without even knocking, Kabat came out and was surprised to find Conlon in front of him. Kabat asked if Conlon had a warrant — he did not. After some insistence, Kabat was taken back to Kaukauna regardless. He was allowed to take with him a roll of bills, including several hundred dollars.
Conlon and Richard McCarthy had a long interview with Kabat, approximately four hours, but failed to get anything out of him. He repeatedly contradicted himself, or would change the subject on a whim. That same Tuesday afternoon, September 26, Kabat was arraigned before Justice N. D. Schwin on the charge of kidnapping. The Kaukauna Times reported that the proceedings “were the strangest ever recorded in this part of the state.” His examination was postponed until the following Monday and he was committed to the county jail in Appleton due to his failure to pay the $1200 bond.
The Times reported that at his arraignment Kabat was “apparently about 30 years of age and rather tall and slim.” He secured Albert M. Spencer of Appleton as his attorney.
[Spencer was born July 26, 1856, in Bovina township, Outagamie county, Wisconsin, and is a son of Blanchard and Emily (Curtis) Spencer. Blanchard Spencer came from New York to Wisconsin in 1850, where he engaged in lumbering, and the rest of his life was spent in this locality. After attending the public schools, Albert M. Spencer went to, the Ryan High School, and then read law under Judge Harriman and Sloan & Bottenscher, being admitted to the bar in 1883. During the next year he was elected to the office of district attorney and was re-elected in 1886, but retired from that office in 1887 and went to Superior, Wisconsin, where he remained eight years. In April, 1896, he returned to Appleton, after having taken a trip through Colorado and Arizona, and he has been here to this time, having served in the office of city attorney for three terms. He has a large and lucrative practice, and is well and favorably known both in his profession and as a public-spirited citizen and official. In November, 1887, Mr. Spencer was united in marriage with Helene Sherwood, of Green Lake county, Wisconsin, and she died in 1896, having been the mother of two children: Harold, a mid-shipman of Annapolis, Maryland, connected with the United States Diplomatic Service in Africa; and Loraine, who is attending the University and residing at home. Mr. Spencer is a Republican in his political views.]
The young Julius Heimke, who worked on McCarthy’s farm, was questioned in connection to the case, as he possessed McCarthy’s gold watch and rifle. He claimed the items were gifts from McCarthy and knew nothing of the disappearance.
Thursday, September 28, 1905: A woman went to the county jail asking to hold an interview with Kabat. She was accompanied by a Kaukauna girl who was stopping with her brother on the McCarthy farm. The interview was granted, and after it was over, the woman took the girl to Kamps and Sacksteder’s drug store where they purchased an ice cream soda. Together, they took a car to the North Western depot, where they separated.
Marshal Conlon and Sheriff Koch followed the woman to Green Bay and again to the outskirts of the city. They waited across the street while she was in a restaurant, and then trailed her to the house where Kabat had been arrested and still further to the boarding house where Conlon had boarded the night of Kabat’s arrest. They secured the woman’s name from the Kaukauna girl and returned to investigate further September 29.
At some point, Marshal Conlon was able to interview the mysterious woman. She claimed to have met Kabat five years prior (in 1900) in Milwaukee and known him ever since. She was not aware that McCarthy was missing and was informed of this. She then said, “I wonder if Kabat killed him.” She further admitted having had trouble with McCarthy but said it was some time ago and amounted to nothing. She visited the McCarthy farm in Kabat’s company on one occasion, but made no demands of the owner. She was about 24 years old and married.
The woman and her husband joined Marshal Conlon to the district attorney’s office in Appleton where she was interviewed by the DA and attorney T. H. Ryan. Apparently, much valuable information was secured, and a grip (a suitcase or satchel) containing papers and other property belonging to Kabat was handed over to authorities by his sister. The grip contained “much incriminating evidence”, including a bottle of carbolic acid (phenol) and some “knock-out drops”. Several packets of McCarthy’s papers were found, including letters, receipts, cancelled notes and the deed to the Kaukauna farm. Also inside were a revolver, a pair of handcuffs, poker chips, “a stick of dope”, pocket knife and a Pinkerton detective star.
Not found in the grip was a deed to a 640-acre farm that McCarthy had owned in Mirage, Nebraska since roughly 1889. A letter was found, though, that placed the value of the land at $50 per acre, or $32,000. Investigators suspected that Kabat may have already sold that property. (The exact location of the Nebraska farm is unclear. It was reportedly in Sheridan County, in the north of Nebraska. However, no Mirage is in Sheridan County. There is a Mirage in the southern part of the state, in Kearney Courney. This town, as of 2000, had only about a thousand residents.)
District Attorney A. H. Krugmeier visited Milwaukee with the bill of sale and several examples of McCarthy’s penmanship. After consulting handwriting expert John F. Tyrrell of Milwaukee, it was quickly determined to be a forgery.
Saturday, September 30, there was a rumor going around that McCarthy’s head had been found in some bushes near a river bank in Wrightstown. Police found no foundation for these claims.
Sunday, October 1, approximately fifty people met at the McCarthy farm to search for Michael’s body. A pair of sleeve garters were found some distance from the house, partially burned. The name “M. M. McCarthy” was found written on the side of the house several times, as though someone was practicing the signature. Inside the house, a bottle of ink and a pen were found that matched the color of the ink used on the bill of sale.
On Monday, October 2, Kabat appeared before Justice Schwin at 10 a.m. and his bond was raised from $1200 to $2000, which he could not pay. The examination was postponed until Wednesday, October 11, because Kabat’s attorney, A.M. Spencer of Appleton, had been called to Grand Rapids on business. A large crowd had gathered in the court and outside, and rumblings of people calling for a lynching were evident. Kabat feared violence when he was escorted back to the interurban car by Sheriff Koch, Patrolman Kuehn and Patrolman Hamilton. He made it back to the county jail without incident.
In the jail, he was granted few privileges and every precaution was taken to prevent his escape. He was not granted newspapers, though he was able to purchase delicacies with his own money, including chicken lunches. He was said to purchase apple pie every night and also loved chocolate. When candy was not provided, “he was very much disappointed”, according to the Appleton Crescent. He also sat in fear of retribution from McCarthy’s friends, many of whom he knew personally.
Over the next several days, rumors circulated in McCarthy’s neighborhood that Kabat was a member of an organized band that may be swooping in, killing off people and taking their land. Says the newspaper, “Every home has been converted into an arsenal that bristles with firearms.” There was also a rumor that Marshal Conlon was being followed. One night around 11 when his son John came home, he saw a stranger near the window, wearing a brown overcoat and soft hat. They grappled, but the man escaped and met up with a companion. The marshal was not home at the time.
Tuesday, October 3, Frank Berens was looking around the McCarthy farm in the afternoon and came across the two spots where Kabat had been burning brush. Berens found what he believed to be a bone in the ashes.
Around Wednesday, October 4, a representative of the Kaukauna Sun examined the bill of sale and compared the signature(“M. M. Mc.Carthy”) to that of other samples from McCarthy (“M M McCarthy”). He quickly judged it a forgery, as the M’s were different, there were periods after the M’s (which Michael did not use), and there was even a period after the Mc, which no person whose name starts with Mc would ever do.
On Friday, October 6, Frank Berens returned to the McCarthy farm, this time with Kaukauna saloonkeeper Peter Eimmerman. The pair were in a boat around 3pm and when they reached the McCarthy farm, decided to go ashore. They were not able to find much, as Kabat had apparently swept the ashes into a wheelbarrow and dumped them somewhere. They did find a partially burned rib bone nearby, though, that was ejected from the fire. They also found a spot where fresh sod was placed on top of black muck. With sticks, they moved the sod and found a cache of bones. They fetched Marshal Conlon. Altogether, they found part of a skull, pieces of ribs, finger joints, teeth, suspender buckles and shirt buttons. Dr. W. N. Nolan of Kaukauna confirmed the bones as human, and Dr. O. E. Siekman of Appleton identified the teeth as human, and from the upper part of the mouth.
By Saturday, October 7, the prosecution was able to discover that Kabat had sold McCarthy’s horses and cattle to a man in Wrightstown for $400, some of the money in cash and the rest in a check from the Wrightstown bank. Kabat had cashed the check in Green Bay.
Charles McCarthy, Michael’s father, had become under so much stress that he fainted and fell in his home. Until the mystery of his son was solved, he gave up his home in the country and moved into Kaukauna where he could attend to any business that might arise.
On Monday, October 9, Marshal Richard Conlon and Attorney T. H. Ryan visited the McCarthy farm and retrieved the axe and saw that allegedly killed and dismembered McCarthy before his body was burned. They were accompanied by Anthony Reith, who had hidden the saw in a tree. The axe was found nearby in a stump. Reith had just recovered from smallpox and was unable to take them sooner. This same day, George Bombard and Frank Smith of Kaukauna found a 3-foot long pine club with oil and blood stains on the farm, but this did not seem to be connected to the case.
A few days before Kabat’s hearing, Peter Eimmerman received a threatening letter in the mail, the envelope bearing the stamp of the railroad post office of the Wisconsin-Michigan division at Ishpeming. The letter advised Eimmerman not to testify at the hearing and “discontinue to play the role of a Pinkerton”. He should “stop meddling in other people’s affairs” and “keep his mouth shut or else (the writer would) close it forever.” Eimmerman put the letter in a book, but it was later taken by someone prior to October 26. The letter was written in a “running hand”, was not dated and was signed with a skull and crossbones.
Kabat’s preliminary hearing was on October 11, and he was brought in to Justice Schwin’s court by officers Conlon, Kuehn and Hamilton. District Attorney Krugmeier asked the judge to drop the charge of kidnapping, which he did, and then filed a complaint of murder against Kabat. Kabat refused to plead guilty or not guilty, but once Charles McCarthy and Julius Heimke testified, the charges were set. Several boys sat outside and charged people five cents to glimpse Kabat through the window.
Friday, October 13, Henry Gloudemans, the former owner of the interurban saloon in Little Chute, moved his family to the McCarthy farm. He hoped to buy the 200 acres from Michael’s estate for $12,000 cash.
Mrs. D. F. Pech, the sister of Wenzel Kabat, spoke with a reporter at her home on North Broadway in Green Bay on the morning of October 14, and declared her belief that Wenzel was innocent. “He is as tender-hearted a person as I ever knew andI know he did not kill Mr. McCarthy. Why, the relationship between them was too friendly for one thing, and he could not be cruel enough to do such a horrible deed as the papers try to make people think him guilty of. Once, since he has been living with us, we had a sick cat and I asked him to kill it, and if he could not kill an animal, he surely could not kill a human being. Yes, Mr. McCarthy was a frequent visitor at our home, and it appeared to me, at least, that he and my brother were on very friendly terms. His last call was on the ‘big’ day of the fair, and as he walked up onto the porch of our house, he drew a paper out of his inside coat pocket which looked to me like a deed. Mr. McCarthy and Wenzel went into the parlor and there talked about something, the deed I suppose. When they came out there was no sign of any ill feeling.” Pech suggested that McCarthy might be visiting some relatives out west. Living in the same home as Pech was Mrs. John Balis.
Monday, October 16, the Terry Brothers came forward and told Marshal Conlon about the lantern they had found. He followed them to the farm and they pointed out the spot where it was discovered.
By October 27, 1905, a certain Professor Ewell came forward to say that medical science could do very little with blood evidence. “According to the present state of our knowledge, it appears to be settled that the blood corpuscles, even in the fresh state, of man, dog, rabbit, guinea pig, musk-rat, monkey, elephant, lion, whale, seal, otter, kangaroo, wombat and porpoise cannot be distinguished from each other by micrometric measurement… It would be extremely perilous to undertake, by micrometric measurements alone, to distinguish the blood of man from that of another animal.”
Michael McCarthy’s will was admitted to probate on November 2. The handwritten will had been drawn up on December 12, 1894 in Mankato, Jewell County, Kansas. Being outdated, it put the value of the Kaukauna farm at $4000, and it was now said to be worth $17,000. Likewise, Michael valued his Nebraska farm at $3000, which was quite low. The will asked that money be given to “the poorest priest” so that they may “say mass for the holy souls in purgatory.” To his family, he gave Timothy $700, Dennis $600, Florence $500 and brother Charles $400. He asked that $1000 “be judiciously distributed amongst the very poor of some large city.” Money was also allocated to move his brother Dan’s remains from Eston graveyard to Sniderville. Witnesses to the will were William O’Reilly and J. D. Lynn.
As of November 4, 1905, there were only five prisoners in the Outagamie County jail, a place the Appleton Crescent dubbed the Hotel Koch. During the greater part of the day, the prisoners are allowed to be together and walk around in one of the corridors enclosed by steel bars. Kabat was “rather sour looking and is as ‘mum as an oyster.’ He speaks to no one entering the building. His expression is not pleasant.” The other four prisoners were:
- Thomas “Sleepy Tom” Cahill, a member of the notorious “boo gang” in Appleton’s Third Ward. He was held on a charge of burglary, and was an Irishman by blood.
- Elias Cornelius, an Oneida Indian charged with assaulting a squaw on the reservation. Cornelius has been known to cry in the jail, being homesick and missing his wife and 19-month old baby in Oneida. He spends his days whistling and moving about. Cornelius was “good looking” and “well built”.
- Jacob Palm, a German serving sixty days for assault and battery. He had been sentenced by Justice J. H. Cook. Since leaving the jail in June, Palm had been making his home with relatives in the Fourth Ward and it was during a quarrel with them that he is said to have made the assault. He was the oldest of the five and said little, his face “practically expressionless”. Of the five, Palm was Kabat’s least favorite, as he had the habit of “moving the rotary, inch at a time by means of a board” and “the creaking noise almost drove Kabat mad”.
- Lai Quen, a Chinaman found guilty of violating the Chinese Exclusion Act, was awaiting deportation. His face was “constantly beaming in smiles while visitors are in the building” and appeared “to be greatly pleased to see people with whom he is acquainted”.
The Outagamie County jail was declared “unsanitary as well as unsafe”, and those imprisoned there would have to be moved. Sheriff Simpson of Winnebago County consented to take Kabat. An unnamed member of the Outagamie County board also appreciated this option, as it cost them $28 dollars week to house Kabat in Appleton, due to the extra guards, but it would only cost $4.50 in Oshkosh. In all, the savings was said to $448. On Thursday, November 23, 1905, the Kaukauna Sun wrote an editorial pleading with Outagamie County not to send Kabat to Oshkosh while the jail was being rebuilt. They preferred he stayed there or was sent to Waupun. “By sending a prisoner to another jail, sympathy is apt to take the place of justice and schemes may be hatched to thwart the law rather than to enforce it.” They asked Judge Goodland to overrule the County Board if they decided to send Kabat away. (The vote for circuit judge in 1903 was as follows: Goodland (Democrat): 2,831; Bottensek (Republican): 1,243.
Around December 9, Kaukauna police went to Manitowoc to interview Chester Wallen, a former employee of Kabat’s who was now working at the Williams House hotel, on the corner of 8th and Franklin, owned by G. A. Alexander. They were not able to come up with anything related to the McCarthy case.
Tuesday, December 12, Outagamie County Judge Kreiss declared Michael McCarthy legally dead and his will was allowed to enter probate. Testimony was taken from Charles McCarthy, Julius Heimke, Thomas H. Ryan and Marshal Conlon. Depositions were taken from William O’Reilly and J. D. Lynn, the men who witnessed the will. Charles McCarthy and Charles Jr. were appointed co-executors of the will.
On Thursday, December 21, August Niennemann arrived at the Outagamie County jail after failing to pay the $500 bond for threatening to kill his wife. Kabat took “much amusement” at hearing Niennemann complain about his situation. After three days, he told Kabat and a guard that he wished to hang himself. The guard told him to cheer up, as he only had 177 days left to serve. “What, me stay here 177 days?” he asked. “Sure, you have been here three days and that only leaves you 177 more to serve,” replied the guard. He was not cheered by this and eyed up a clothes line for hanging himself in the corridor. Kabat informed him that line was not heavy enough and directed him to another one. Niennemann spent much time fretting about his life insurance, despite being only $150, because it would go to his wife. He preferred to sign it over to Kabat, the sheriff or a guard. Kabat was said to be “enjoying life” now due to Niennemann’s “entertainment”.
Wenzel’s parents visited him in the county jail on Tuesday, December 26. He refused to kiss his mother and when she asked if he was innocent, he told her to go home if she was going to talk about his troubles. He was not full of joy to see them. Kabat’s father told the Kaukauna Sun that Wenzel “was the black sheep of the family and I cannot do anything with him or for him.” He further told the Manitowoc Daily Herald, “Instead of getting better he seems to be going from bad to worse. The other five children are all good, but Wenzel has been bad for years. I will not contribute any money toward the defense of my son. I have none too much and I will refuse to squander it in a cause that may net nothing. My son should have profited by his former arrest and imprisonment, and now be as good a boy as when he was 13 years old, but he has gone from bad to worse. No one can feel the horror of the affair like my wife and myself.”
Wenzel had claimed he received 53 boxes of candy for Christmas, but the newspaper says this is a lie and he received only one — from his sister, Mrs. Pech.
An experiment was conducted on January 23, 1906, by Dr. John Golden, second assistant to Dr. John Murphy of Chicago. Along with witnesses Krugmeier, Conlon, Dr. Nolan, Ryan and Eimmerman, Murphy burned a human corpse comparable to Michael McCarthy’s body on the McCarthy property in the open air, in order to test for the time it would take to destroy such a body. The man had died of peritonitis, and his body was not embalmed or packed in ice, to ensure the maximum natural state. Using wood from a maple tree, the corpse was destroyed in four and a half hours. The fire was six feet by five feet, and three feet high. No odor was noticeable at a distance of 20 feet, and the remains were small enough to fit inside a cigar box. The odor diminished quickly once the bodily fluids were burned. The smaller bones ironically last longer because they fall into ashes where they are protected — the larger bones are subjected to heat and live coals for much longer.
A day or two before January 27, 1906, the Neenah Times editorialized that “whether guilty or not”, Wenzel Kabat was “certainly a degenerate”. He “repulsed” even his own mother. Calling him “a scamp on general principles”, the newspaper alleged that Kabat “would steal candy from a child, the molasses from a sick man’s ginger cake, or his grandfather’s coffin to ride down hill.”
The Sun reported on February 1 that Kabat’s physician said he has the “white scourge” of consumption and incorrectly predicted he would not live more than two or three years at the most. Furthermore, Kabat allegedly began “committing slow suicide” by eating soap, but the physician says he sees no evidence of this.
Saturday preceding February 17: Kabat lost his last friend in the jail, a large brown cat. He would play with the cat on his shoulder, sometimes several hours a day, “as though it was a child.” How a cat got into the jail or where it went is unknown.
On, February 24, 1906, the Appleton Crescent says that Wenzel E. Kabat has on more than one occasion threatened to kill Sheriff A. G. Koch for depriving him of “some little liberty which was given to other prisoners.”
Kabat was transported to Oshkosh on March 17 about the 7:52am train. He was accompanied by Sheriff Koch, Deputy Sheriff Thomas Mitchell and a Kaukauna officer. Kabat was handcuffed to Mitchell, and the latter said, “Kabat was very sensitive during the trip to Oshkosh about being handcuffed, and he kept his hand in my pocket so that people would not notice the handcuff.” When they reached the Oshkosh jail, Kabat was so well-dressed that the Oshkosh jailer actually mistook him for Mitchell and tried to have the deputy sheriff locked up.
The departure of Kabat left two prisoners in Appleton: Kaufmann, a young man from Shiocton who had stolen a large quantity of hides in his hometown; and Herman Havemeister, who was serving thirty days for assaulting his wife. These two prisoners were put to work building the new jail with contractor Nick Gmeiner, saving the county some expense. Three cells were left intact from the current jail to house these men and one more, should it be needed. Already on March 17, the crew was hard at work, disconnecting steam and water pipes and tearing down telephone wires.
Gmeiner visited Kabat in Oshkosh in early April and reported that he had become gravely ill, despite the earlier claim that Oshkosh was a more healthful jail than Appleton. The papers reported that “Kabat has been under a physician’s care a great deal of the time”.
The large brown cat returned to the Outagamie County Jail on April 20, but could not find Kabat and “left in disgust” that same afternoon.
Kabat almost escaped from the Oshkosh jail in May. He had secured a drill from two workmen and drilled at the bars of his cell. He also acquired a file under the pretext that he wanted to make some playing cards better that he had created himself. He was successful in removing two bars and could get into the corridor, but got no further. He next decided to hit his jailer on the head on the evening of Sunday, June 3. Typically, Deputy Sheriff Saru would bring him his food, but on this evening both Saru and Sheriff Simpson appeared, and Kabat did not feel confident enough to fight off both men. Later, three saws were found in a magazine underneath his bunk.
On Tuesday, June 5, 1906, Kabat was brought from Oshkosh to Appleton by Sheriff Koch. Once in Appleton, he was placed in a wing of the old building where he was especially guarded. That afternoon at 2 o’clock, the court began drawing the jury from a pool of 136 people (see Appendix I). By 3 o’clock, the jury was reduced to 11 people, with the state having two strikes and the defendant eight strikes. Judge Goodland ordered Sheriff Koch to find 40 more potential jurors by 2 o’clock Wednesday.
The pool on Wednesday consisted of 156 men, and within an hour the jury of twelve was secured. The jury was:
- William Siebert, Seymour
- H. Lehrman, Liberty
- A. Dexter, Liberty
- R. L. Davidson, Liberty
- Chris Schroeder, Center
- Henry Draphal, Cicero
- William Gough, Maple Creek
- L. H. Hurlburt, Maine
- Anton Koehne, Appleton
- H. Jones, Shiocton
- George Brown, Ellington
- Rudolph Kirchner, Ellington
The jury was brought to Kaukauna by interurban car that same afternoon and were shown McCarthy’s farm and other palces of interest that would come up during the trial. A. M. Spencer of Appleton and Earl P. Finch were appointed to the defense, while District Attorney Krugmeier was assisted by Thomas H. Ryan for the state.
Finch had previously been a part of the defense in the 1898 Oshkosh Woodworkers Strike. With him on the defense team was Harry I. Weed, a local attorney, and the legendary Clarence Darrow of Chicago. The trial occupied about three weeks, and resulted in an acquittal of the defendants on November 2, 1898.
Testimony began Thursday morning, June 7, with John Sullivan, who lived 1.5 miles north of the McCarthy farm, and was Michael’s cousin. Sullivan testified that Michael “always lived an exemplary life” and seemed “jovial” on the day of his disappearance. Sullivan further said that while it was not unusual for Michael to go on trips, he would often write to Sullivan when he did. Next up was George MCCabe, who lived three miles north of the McCarthy farm. He was to tell of Michael’s general habits, and said that two or three years prior Michael had “a widow with five children living with him in his house.” He further said that Michael was “a trifle peculiar.”
Following them was Charles McCarthy, Michael’s father. He was followed by Julius Heimke, the farmhand, who was questioned well into the afternoon. Both retold information that we are now well-acquainted with.
At one point, John Driscoli testified, merely stating how he had assisted in searching the farm and had found “a large number of nails in the earth and ashes buried under sod.” Another person on the stand was Barney Nitchke, but it is unclear as to what he knew. Dr. Dorsey, head of a department at Field Museum, Chicago, testified that the bones found were human and that of an adult male, and recently exposed to intense heat. Dorsey was considered an expert witness, his expertise being comparative anatomy, and having previously been involved in the Luetgert and Becker murder trials in Chicago.
In court on Monday, June 11, Kabat was seen shifting his feet, biting his fingernails and clenching his hands. That night, he was unable to sleep. Guards Peter Desotell and Frank Karweich reported that he would cry and groan in his sleep, waking himself up on multiple occasions.
The jury was out only 92 minutes when they returned with a verdict of guilty to murder in the first degree. Allegedly, one of the jurors (not named) offered an acquital vote during their informal voting as a joke, but they were unanamously in favor of guilty on the formal vote.
The next morning, when asked by the press about the verdict, Kabat said, “Well, I suppose that young Heimke and the two Merritts are satisfied now that I am doomed to the pen. All I feel sorry for in the whole case is for my mother.”
On Thursday, June 14, at 2:30pm, Mrs. Kabat entered F. and R. Radtke shoe store at 901 College Avenue and asked for a “kaneef”. F. Radtke did not understand her and gave her some shoe buttons. She handed those back and again said “kaneef, kaneef”. Radtke now understood and took out a sharp repair knife. She asked that it be wrapped up so she could take it with her, but since she was recognized by Radtke, he refused and contacted the sheriff. This caused Mrs. Kabat to be more closely watched when around her son.
The defense presented a motion to Judge John Goodland on Saturday, June 16, at 10am to have a new trial. Attorney Finch offered six reasons: because justice has not been done; because the verdict was contrary to the evidence; because the verdict was contrary to law; because the court erred in ruling out certain evidence; because the court erred in overruling the defendant’s challenges of certain jurors; and because the court erred in the defendant’s challenge to the array of jurors.
This motion was rejected, with Goodland declaring that, “A more heinous crime cannot be found in the history of criminality.” He further called Kabat “a danger to the community”. He was still further ordered to spend each January 1 in solitary confinement. Kabat’s mother wept uncontrollably, and although she did not understand English, she clearly gathered the general intent of Goodland’s speech. Kabat was ushered out of the courtroom and back to his jail cell, with his mother and others following him. When he was locked up, his mother sat in a chair, wept more, and spoke with her son. A representative of the Appleton Post was the first to speak, saying, “Goodbye Kabat. I hope you’ll be a better boy i nthe future than you appear to have been in the past.” Kabat replied, sincerely, “I’ll try.” Shortly thereafter, Undersheriff Mitchell handcuffed himself to Kabat and took him to the Northwestern Depot. Kabat was sent to Waupun on the 12:30 train, accompanied by Officer Mitchell and Officer Bloomer, where he was made convict #9684 and assigned to make vests in the tailoring department.
On Saturday, August 11, George Altmeyer, a guard at the Outagamie County jail, visited Kabat in Waupun. Altmeyer claimed that Kabat had confessed and he was having the confession copyrighted. The Kaukauna Sun doubted this.
The court of Brown County made a judgment around September 27, 1906 that those who bought items from Kabat would have to pay a second time — now to the estate of Michael McCarthy. One person who had to pay again was Andrew Keating, who had purchased some calves. Also paying again was Robert Ehnerd.
Around December 13, 1906, the McCarthy estate and Robert Ehnerd of Wrightstown settled a lawsuit out of court concerning cattle Ehnerd had purchased from Wenzel Kabat for several hundred dollars. The positions were clear: the McCarthys felt they were robbed of property, while Ehnerd had little desire to pay for property that he had already paid for once. The Kaukauna Sun editorialized that, “Things would be in a pretty condition in this country if any thief or murderer could forge a bill of sale, take the life of the owner or send him away, and then sell the property to those who should know better than buy questionable holdings.”
On Friday morning, December 21, 1906, Timothy McCarthy (Michael’s brother) was given a preliminary examination in the justice court at Wrightstown. He was charged with intent to kill Frank Ehnerd, the Wrightstown butcher who had purchased cattle from Wenzel Kabat. He was bound over in the sum of $1000 to appear in the municipal court at Green Bay, Thursday, January 3, 1907. The Kaukauna Sun speculated that McCarthy might be sent to “an asylum” because he was “a nervous wreck.”
March 6, 1907: A hearing on descent in the estate of Mrs. Katherine McCarthy, the deceased mother of Michael M. McCarthy, who was murdered by Wenzel E. Kabat, was held in county court yesterday. The deceased woman gave the homestead in the town of Kaukauna to her sons, all of whom quit claimed their share to Michael M. McCarthy. In view of the demise of Michael McCarthy it was necessary that a judgment determinging the descent of the property should be entered of record and filed in county court so that his property could be properly disposed of according to the will made by the murdered man.
The Appleton Post published a confession in early June 1907 allegedly told to a prisoner at the Oshkosh jail by Kabat while he was there. He confessed to not only killing McCarthy, but also a man in Chicago and another in Texas. The Kaukauna Sun says it was “preposterous” that “a close-mouthed criminal” like Kabat would talk, and they “put no stock in the report.”
On Thursday, November 26, 1908, the Kaukauna Sun reported that, “Wenzel Kabat is a model prisoner at the state penitentiary and is ‘trusty’ in the tailoring department.” This tailoring skill would come in handy later.
Henry Gloudemans apparently did not stay on the McCarthy farm long. Charles McCarthy, through Michael’s estate, sold the farm to Martin VanZeeland on February 25, 1909 for $10,800.
June 28, 1909: Though dead, a former Appleton man, named Garrow, mixed up with Wenzel Kabat in a law suit shortly before the latter killed Michael McCarthy, has helped the police of Manitowoc and Sterling, Colorado, to clear up the mystery of Edward Huebner, of Manitowoc, who was given up for lost or dead because no letters had been received from him for a long time. Garrow’s body was found in Sterling several weeks ago, lifeless by his own hand or through murder. On the body were found several letters addressed to Huebner, and it is the theory of the police that the former Appletonian had intercepted the letters sent from Manitowoc to Huebner in the west. It is possible that a photograph of the dead man will be sent to the penitentiary, so the Kabat can say whether or not it is that of Garrow.
February 5, 1910: Dennis McCarthy, Michael McCarthy’s uncle, died Friday morning at 2 o’clock, at the age of ninety years, general debility causing the end. He has been confined to his home on Taylor street since Monday. Mr. McCarthy was born at Cork, Ireland, and has resided in Kaukauna forty-seven years. Daughters Mrs. Margaret Corcoran and Misses Mayme and Katharine of Kaukauna, and son Richard of Kaukauna. One brother, Charles, father of Michael McCarthy who was murdered by Wenzel Kabat, resides at Mankato, Kansas.
In early October 1911, Julius Heimke wrote to a prominent College Avenue business man from Waupun state prison asking for his assistance in securing parole. He said he had “turned over a new leaf” and wanted to support his “girl wife” who would “be only half cared for” that coming winter. He wanted to work as a driver for a livery barn or on a grocery wagon, as he believed this was the kind of work he would like.
Around September 1914, Kabat began telling a prison official that he was going to escape. The official is not named, but he was an Irishman and Kabat called him “mean” and “a real ‘flannel-mouth’”.
Kabat escaped from Waupun on October 3, 1914. Kabat says he escaped prison by sawing through the bars with a saw he found in the prison workshop, opened a door with a key he had fashioned from a piece of hickory, and then scaled the walls and went to an automobile that was waiting outside. While in the halls, he entered the tailor shop and took a suit of civilian clothes. The Appleton Crescent alleged he escaped with the help of jewelers files “that had been smuggled to him in some manner.” The automobile may have been furnished by a man whose prison term had expired one day before, according to Warden Daniel Woodward. Or, perhaps more likely, there never was an automobile. Later tellings of the story omit this part entirely.
Once over the wall, Kabat hid in the shadows as a couple walked by, and even an off-duty prison guard walked by, to whom Kabat said hello. The guard, not recognizing Kabat said hello back and continued walking. Kabat went a friend’s house and sat on his porch, applying a sweet-scented liquid used for brushing teeth on his shoes. He figured this way the bloodhounds would think his friend was harboring him and be thrown off the track. He next left town and slept in a school house. Upon waking he went to Green Lake and then Portage, before joining up with some boys who helped him flee the state — he did not cross the border for two weeks.
Upon his escape, Kabat assumed the name of the deputy warden at Waupun. Kabat had claimed he began a search for Michael McCarthy, who he said was still alive. He allegedly searched Mexico, South America and throughout the United States. This was certainly false.
Wednesday, November 10, 1915, the board of supervisors of Outagamie County adopted a resolution offering a reward of $1000 for the capture of Wenzel Kabat. A committee consisting of Supervisors Lueck, Ryan and Zocholl was appointed to act with the district attorney in this matter.
Kabat settled in Austin, Minnesota in 1915 and became employed at a packing plant, at one point being a foreman with 72 men under him. As William Coles (sometimes written Kohls), Kabat had twice been nominated to be a candidate for the Minnesota State Legislature. He was a personal friend of the police chief and sheriff in Austin. He moved to Ellsworth, Minnesota and set up a successful tailoring establishment. He worked this job for a time and then sold the business “to a Jew” for a profit and returned to Austin.
circa January 21, 1917: The son of the owner of the packing plant was looking at an old pamphlet called “Men Wanted” and recognized Coles as Kabat. The prison had received a tip from one of their convicts that Kabat could be found along the “main line” in Minnesota, so they had sent photos in that direction.
When the sheriff entered Kabat’s home tailoring shop on Tuesday, January 23, he said, “Say Coles, they want you in Wisconsin.” Kabat replied with a laugh, “I guess not.”The sheriff showed him the photo and asked, “Well, whose photo is this?” Kabat was caught and said, That’s me, I guess. I have a skirt here which I promised that I would have ready tonight for the lady. I have not finished cleaning it, will you permit me to do so?” They allowed this, and when he was done, Kabat put on his coat. “Well, I’m ready now.” He was then taken to jail.
The local newspaper was quite fooled by Kabat, calling him “a respected business man” with “a two year record of thorough integrity”. When he was captured and admitted he was the right man, they swallowed his claim of innocense — Kabat claimed that the McCarthy house had burned down and bones were found inside, making him a suspect without any real evidence. We know, of course, this was not the reality.
The sheriff in Austin who took Kabat into custody was awarded only $100, as the Wisconsin attorney general declared the $1000 offered by Outagamie County was illegal. The sheriff planned to share the money with the boy who saw Kabat’s picture.
On Thursday, January 25, 1917, Kabat arrived at the Waupun prison at 7:30pm, and was given a red suit — the color of escapees.
The Manitowoc Herald reported in June 1917 that Kabat was “completely paralyzed on one side of his body and prison physicians say that he has but a short time to live.” They received the information from a Waupun man who was a delegate of the Knights of Pythias and a personal friend of the warden at Waupun. Kabat was reported to be aware he was near death, and the prison allowed him “greater liberty and more privileges” than he had prior to escaping.
1930s: Dan McCarthy, Michael McCarthy’s nephew, was a lawyer and at one time was a Kansas State Senator. He married Katherine O’Loughlin, one of the first women from Kansas to serve in Congress. She served in FDR’s first term.
On January 2, 1941, Kabat was pardoned by Republican Governor Julius P. Heil over the decision of the pardon board to deny his request. Heil issued a message: “I am today pardoning Wenzel E. Kabat, who was sentenced to life imprisonment and committed to state prison at Waupun on June 15, 1906. Mr. Kabat is now and has been for a number of years eligible for parole. The parole authorities are willing to parole him. I am pardoning Mr. Kabat because I too believe that he is now ready and able to be a good, law-abiding upright member of society. Mr. Kabat’s record of work and industry in responsible prison positions over the last 34 years and his general good conduct in prison have substantially helped merit the consideration I have given him. Arrangements have been made to aid Mr. Kabat in stabilizing and adjusting himself in private life to which he is returning. Mr. Kabat’s representatives and the persons in closest contact with him at prison believe he is ready and able to take his place in society. I am accepting this belief.”
A few days after his release, on a Thursday afternoon, the white-haired Kabat returned to Appleton with Mark Catlin, Jr. wearing his prison-issued gray suit of clothes, overcoat and cap. He visited with Mark Catlin Sr. and met Thomas Ryan, Jr. — the son of Thomas H. Ryan, the prosecutor in 1906 who had since become a judge. Kabat told the younger Ryan that he had no ill will towards his father, and if he had, he would have “pulled his whiskers” in 1914 when he escaped. While there, a fire truck went by with sirens blaring. “That’s a fire,” Catlin Sr explained. “Oh, that’s the way they do it now. I thought it was the police after me,” Kabat laughed.
Newly released, Kabat figured he would take up tailoring, as this was his most practiced trade. Though the Depression was hardly over, Kabat did not worry. “There isn’t any depression for a man with an imagination,” he said. “A man can always go into business for himself and make it go.”
In January 1946, Martin VanZeeland sold the McCarthy farm to his son, Norbert VanZeeland.
Kabat ended up leaving the state for a while, but eventually returned and took up residence at the McCormick home in Green Bay from December 14, 1961 to January 11, 1962. He would later live at 215 1/2 Pine Street in Green Bay.
March 20, 1966: Kabat dies.
He was buried from the St. Phillip Catholic Church in Green Bay, with Rev. Msgr. Theodore Verbeten officiating.
The farm was kept in the VanZeeland family for many more years, being sold from Norbert to his son Terry on February 1, 1974.
As of June 4, 1906, there were 100 men whose names were drawn for a possible position on the jury. While the following men listed did not make it to the actual trial, it may be of historical interest to know that they were chosen:
J. M. Wissmann, Appleton; J. E. Leach, Hortonia; Jacob Kober, Appleton; Myron Greeley, Ellington; Joseph Stadler, Seymour; Joseph Moyer, Dale; R. E. Rohan, Buchanan; John A. Kilsdonk, Little Chute; Edward Maurer, Appleton; Ernest Gruel, Grand Chute; J. O. Berhhauring, Hortonville; Joseph Dietzler Jr, Kaukauna; Otto Wolter, Appleton; W. S. Halliday, Appleton; H. E. Thompson, Kaukauna; L. H. Hurlburt, Maine; H. J. Prosser, Seymour; I. B. Johnson, Kaukauna; William Leiby, Dale; William Detter, Kaukauna; Edward Jacquot, Hortonville; James Griffin, Bovina; John Flanagan, Maple Creek; Clark Wilcox, Ellington; John Taggart, Kaukauna; Herman Greinke, Appleton; James F. Driessen, Kaukauna; D. G. Stowe, Appleton; A. G. McKee, Black Creek; E. D. Bacon, Dale; Herman Schiegel, Appleton; Charles Reinich, New London; J. W. Cotter, Appleton; C. A. Pardee, Appleton; John Dilday, Center; Edward J. Cance, Bovina; August Klitze, Grand Chute; Matthew Schmidt, Appleton; P. M. Coffey, Freedom; P. J. Sorenson, Appleton; James G. Pfell, Appleton; Fred Reinke, Welcome; Henry Wendt, Osborn; Peter Green, Freedom; Allen Barker, Ellington; A. E. Davis, Appleton; T. W. Armstrong, Kaukauna; E. C. Smith, Deer Creek; John Moriarty, Deer Creek; Frank Solar, Kaukauna; John Tennessen, Buchanan; Conrad Milhaupt, Appleton; A. S. Galpin, Appleton; Henry Lamers, Vandenbroek; Fred Stacker, Center; Ira Merritt, Appleton; W. R. Bates, Appleton; Jacob Friend, Seymour; Arnold Vanderloop, Vandenbroek; Mike Magaurn, Black Creek; John Pieper, New London; Chris Schroeder, Center; Henry VanZeeland, Buchanan; D. M. Gardner, Appleton; Melvin Raught, Kaukauna; John Ralph, Kaukauna; E. N. Johnson, Appleton; Thomas McNish, Black Creek; R. T. Davison, Liberty; Adoplh Lockschmidt, Greenville; F. C. Witte, Seymour; George Larkins, Seymour; Henry Drephal, Cicero; L. F. Sanborn, Appleton; John C. Ryan, Appleton; A. L. Hamblin, Appleton; Steve Wolfram, Appleton; Anton Stringle, Appleton; George Weyenberg, Vandenbroek; J. G. Fechter, Kaukauna; H. A. Shannon, Appleton; H. L. Mills, Greenville; William Gough, Maple Creek; A. P. Bayorgeon, Kaukauna; Anton Koenke, Appleton; Fred Schultz, Hortonia; Peter Schug, Appleton; Fred Jepson, Deer Creek; J. C. Mitchell, Kaukauna; Nick Dorr, Appleton; Anton Zickler, Appleton; Jerry Callahan, Appleton; John Segeling, Buchanan; John F. Rose, Appleton; S. A. Poole, Maine; Albert Vandenberg, Little Chute; John Schuh, Hortonia; Alfred Mueller, Seymour; W. F. Montgomery, Appleton.
Interestingly, not a single man was picked from Kimberly or Combined Locks.