Janis' Genealogy - Murder of Mabel Bechtel in Allentown, PA

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Mabel Bechtel - Murder Victim

Pottstown Daily News, Wednesday, October 28, 1903


Miss Mabel Bechtel Was Killed and Then Brought to Her Home


Alfred R. Eckstein, Who Was Engaged to Be Married to the Murdered Girl, Is Detained Pending an Investigation. Another Man Suspected.

Allentown, Oct. 27 - To the long list of tragedies that has given this city and its vicinity a dark record during the past few years another was added last night. Mabel H. Bechtel, a beautiful girl of 18 years, possessed of many admirers, was the victim. Some one - and the police frankly admit their ignorance of his identity - murdered her by crushing her head with the blunt end of an axe or a club, besides firing a revolver bullet into her skull. The case appears to have many points in common with the murder of Jennie Bosscheiter, in Paterson, N.J., several years ago. Her brother, John Bechtel, and fiance, Alfred R. Eckstein, have been detained by the police in connection with their investigation of the affair.

The circumstances attending the discovery of the crime are particularly mysterious, the body having been brought to the girl's home late last night and unceremoniously dumped in an underground alley-way leading to it. It is known that two men and a carriage figured in this part of the crime.

Miss Bechtel was the daughter of Mrs. George R. Bechtel, and lived with her mother at No. 627 Cedar street. The family moved here from Pottstown a number of years ago. The girl's father was George R. Bechtel, who was born in Pottstown, but removed to Allentown at an early age. Miss Bechtel had been employed at the Palace Ribbon Mills here, but recently was thrown out of work. She had many men friends and was engaged to marry a young man named Alfred R. Eckstein. It is said, however, that her heart was really given to David Weisenberger, a salesman for a firm of Allentown cigar manufacturers.

Weisenberger lives in South Bethlehem and was in the habit of making frequent visits on the girl. Her mother protested against this, saying that so long as she was engaged to Eckstein she had no right to either receive or encourage Weisenberger's attentions.

To these admonitions Mabel, however, paid little attention. She seemed to be thoroughly infatuated with young Wiesenberger.

Sunday she spent the evening at home with her fiance, but early yesterday morning she dressed herself carefully and informed her mother she was going for a drive in the country with Weisenberger. About 9 a.m. Weisenberger called with a carriage and they drove away together. This was the last her mother looked upon her until her dead body was found to-day in the alley-way.

About 1 o'clock this morning Mrs. Bechtel was awakened from sleep by the barking of dogs, and at the same time she heard a carriage drive up near the house. Thinking that it might be her daughter returning, Mrs. Bechtel arose and looked out of the window. A short distance away she saw a carriage a and two men pulling something out of it. It was a long and dark object, and Mrs. Bechtel couldn't see well enough to decide what it could be. The men carried it to a vacant lot nearby, and Mrs. Bechtel, not knowing that it was her daughter's dead body, went to bed again.

At 6 o'clock this morning she arose as usual and went downstairs. In the parlor she found her daughter's hat, coat and shoes. Amazed beyond words she suddenly remembered the carrige and the men and their burden. She went outside the house toward the lot where she had seen the strangers lay the object they carried, but had hardly gone two steps along the underground alleyway than she stumbled across the body.

Kneeling down she instantly saw that her daughter was dead. The body was cold. Death had come hours before. The unfortunate girl had apparently been shot and clubbed to death. The forehead was entirely crushed in and the face badly disfigured. What appeared to be a bullet hole was found in the side of the head.

Mrs. Bechtel, half mad with grief and fright, summoned assistance. The police were notified, and the first patrolman who responded saw that the case was one of murder. Mrs. Bechtel accounted for the shoes, hat and coat of her daughter being in the parlor by saying that they never locked the door of the house at night and that it was an easy matter for anyone to enter.

Coroner Schriver, District Attorney Lichtenwalner and Chief of Police Eastman are making every effort to locate the murders. It was said this morning that Weisenberger was not at his home in South Bethlehem, the police having sent there to see him in order to get his story of the drive with Miss Bechtel, as he was the last person seen with the girl.

Weisenberger is believed to have gone to Newark, N.J., on business, but the police are making an effort to get in touch with him. The movements of the two yesterday have not been traced.

[Note that Mabel's brother Thomas was arrested for her murder a couple of days later. He committed suicide in jail shortly after his arrest.]

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