Has anyone ever heard of the Johanne Bertha Shippan murder?

In 1902, thirteen year old Bertha Schippan was home with her older sister, Mary, and her two older brothers. Her parents and three of the other children in the home were not home that evening.

Sometime in the late hours of January 1st, Mary awoke to feeling something heavy lay across her before she got up and ran away – when she arrived back at the house with her brothers and the Constable, 13 year old Bertha was dead.

So obviously they suspected Mary – certain things in her story don’t make sense. But she stood trial for the murder and was acquitted, and most people are generally sure that she didn’t do it, but rather their father (who was known to be quite strict, once shot a man in the leg during an argument) or Mary’s lover, Gustav, killed Bertha, however their father wasn’t in the city at the time of the murder, and Gustav was at work.

There is a great write up about the case here, where I learned a lot of stuff about the case:


If it wasn’t her father, sister, or Gustav, I suspect it was most likely a vagrant that left the area shortly after the murder, while they were still preoccupied with sentencing Mary for the murder. Some people suspect that Gustav slipped away while working to commit the murder, as Bertha found out about him and Mary being together and did not want their father to know.

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