Marinette Graft

Born in Germany, Albert E. Schwittay emigrated with his parents to the United States and settled in Marinette County, Wisconsin. Schwittay worked in the lumber business and was a farmer. He went to University of Wisconsin Law School, received his law degree in 1901, and practiced law in Marinette. Schwittay also started a weekly newspaper, The Searchlight.

March 1904, a move was made by the Marinette Bar Association to disbar Schwittay on eight counts of unprofessional conduct. In June, he was disbarred for three years.

In November 1908, Schwittay was elected district attorney of Marinette County. His campaign was “anti-graft,” alleging political corruption. Upon entering office, he had great difficulty getting along with rival political factions. In January 1909, he arrested a member of the county board (C.R. Johnston) who was also an insurance agent. Statutes forbid a county officer having a financial interest in county buildings, but the man had issued the insurance policy on the county jail.

On March 16, 1909, he was arrested for perjury, criminal libel and forgery. The governor also suspended him pending the outcome of the case. Assistant attorney general Frank Tucker was handling the investigation. The case began on May 19, and the grand jury declined to indict him. Schwittay spoke publicly that until he was reinstated, he would spend his time looking into grafters. The governor reinstated him in June.

March 1910, he published a political cartoon attacking opponents. Shortly after, someone shot into the front window of his home. No one was injured.

July 1910, Schwittay was sued by attorney P.A. Martineau for $50,000 over libel concerning articles printed in Schwittay’s newspaper. Schwittay claimed he printed the facts as he knew them, and said he felt it was “justice” to let the people know what kind of attorneys were in Marinette. He claimed no malice.

In 1910, thirteen charges – apparently including those not prosecuted the prior year – were filed against Schwittay by the state bar association. He was accused of forging a lease, for example, that claimed heat was included in his monthly rent (a provision that was not in the original lease). He forged a summons return. He embezzled $200 from client Otto Schulz, and he wrote bad checks. He continued to practice law after being disbarred. While district attorney, he wrote unflattering articles about defendants he was to face at trial. He held a man in jail without charges. In August, Judge E. Ray Stevens found him guilty on 10 of the 13 counts. He was barred from ever being an attorney in Wisconsin again.

Schwittay ran for sheriff of Marinette County as a Republican in September 1910. He made clear that he would continue to operate his newspaper, and would rarely be in the office – he wanted the sheriff job as extra income to challenge his disbarment and would leave the police work to a deputy. He won.

Probably the biggest case of his sheriff career was Anna Marlow. She was born in Lena, Oconto County in 1884 to a French-Canadian family. She married Joseph Marlow on August 4, 1902 in Oconto Falls; he was also from a French-Canadian family. It’s unclear to me what Joseph’s line of work was. In the only census I could find for this period, he declined to give any occupation at all. Around November 1910, Anna Marlow separated from her husband, who moved to Wausaukee

Then on June 18, 1911, young Anna (27 years old) was found in the yard of Garfield School in Marinette by Patrolman Frank Bruce. Her throat was slit from ear to ear. Other cuts around the neck suggested the killer was unsuccessful on the first couple tries. She also had defensive cuts on her hands. Robbery was not suspected because she still had three rings on her fingers.

Sheriff Schwittay was soon on the scene and quickly learned that the night before, around midnight, Marlow was with 38-year old Charles F. Raue at a restaurant. He was a German-born house painter and paper hanger. Raue had previously been married to Effie Forbes, who passed away in 1908 at 39 years old – they had no children.

Schwittay went looking for Raue, but did not have to look far, because the man walked into the McLain funeral parlor that same morning and said he had heard the news. Raue was immediately placed under arrest. He denied killing Marlow, saying they went separate ways after drinking and he went home – he knew nothing of the crime until told the next day. Raue admitted the two were “intimate.” When police searched the house he shared with his mother, they found clothes stained with blood, which Raue insisted were stains from painting. They also confiscated razor blades, although they were clean. Raue’s mother said he had slept downstairs the night before, apparently covering for him – he admitted to sleeping upstairs, where the clothes were found. Police did not know why Raue would have done it – they had no public fight and there was no clear motive.

The district attorney also ordered the arrest of Joseph Marlow based on rumors that he had been verbally abusive to to his estranged wife the last time they were together. He was found a week later, having been in Hermansville, Michigan. Marlow said he had an alibi.

Raue appeared before Judge L. M. Evert, who had him held without bond for first-degree murder. The prosecutor was not around, so no plea was taken and the matter was adjourned until June 26. Raue immediately retained an attorney and declined to talk about the case publicly.

Investigators sent the bloody clothes out to see if they could find whether the stains were paint or blood, and if blood, was it animal or human? They said paint was unlikely – why would he have been wearing stained clothes if he was meeting a woman for a late night date? But tests would done to be sure.

The Uhlenhuth test, or the antigen–antibody precipitin test for species, was invented by Paul Uhlenhuth in 1901 and could distinguish human blood from animal blood, based on the discovery that the blood of different species had one or more characteristic proteins. The test would continue to be refined up through the 1960s, so in 1911 it was still fairly new.

Dr. Ludvig Hektoen of Chicago received the samples and by July 12, he sent back his results… the stains were human blood. There was no firm way to tell if two blood samples came from the same person, but Hektoen did what he could to see if the blood matched that of Anna Marlow. (Hektoen, originally from Westby, Wisconsin, was a leading expert and pioneer on such things as blood typing and the Marinette court could not have asked for a better scientist.)

While in jail, Raue was visited by his barber, George W. Malmstadt. The barber was not allowed to shave him, and Malmstadt told the press that Raue’s face was looking awful. Raue also made news in September 1911, when it was reported that he was “nursing” his cellmate, Edward Martin, who had a throat infection. Martin was an alderman who had purposely derailed a train.

The case went to trial in October 1911. Unfortunately, because the Marinette newspapers are not online, the coverage I could find was not as good as I’d like.

Raue took the stand and said he thought Anna was divorced (she wasn’t), they weren’t enaged contrary to rumors, and he was with her only a few times. The claim he was jealous was silly, as he did not have that strong of an emotional link to her. He also testified that the food in the county jail was “doped” and affected the prisoners’ braisn and eyes, with it sometimes feeling lik their faces were falling off. They determined the “dope” was in the coffee and tea and stopped drinking it. Sheriff Schwittay denied this.

Joseph Marlow testified, and his alibi was strong enough that he could not have been the killer. However, it was shown he apparently had no strong feelings for his wife – he had married Irene Poquette one month after Anna’s murder. Joseph insisted he had met and married the woman within that one month, and had not killed his wife to run off with his mistress.

October 16, 1911, after deliberating two hours, a jury found Raue guilty of murder in the first degree. The defense filed a motion for a new trial, and Raue said the reason was, “I don’t seem to find myself guilty.” The judge said the jury disagreed and the conviction stood.

In November, after the Raue trial was over, William Ira Tyrrell went to the press and said he had known Anna Marlow and she told him she was engaged to a man named “Charlie.” Tyrrell suspected Raue killed her because she showed affection towards another man, Wesley Rose. The newspaper reported this would have been helpful information before the trial, if Tyrrell had been willing to testify.

July 1912, charged were filed against Schwittay for improper conduct while sheriff. Specifically, he was said to have submitted bills for services that had actually been done by Marinette Chief of Police John Cook. The false bills were said to total $193 (or $6,000 in 2024 money). Also growing out of this investigation, Chief Cook had charges filed against him for twice pulling a revolver on Schwittay – once when they had a dispute over funds, and once when Schwittay kicked in a locked door at the city jail.

More charges came down in November, with Schwittay alleged to submit bills to reimburse matron fees for transporting female prisoners. He had not used a matron and pocketed the money. He bribed Ethel Austin of Detroit to say she had acted as a matron, and this bribery charge was tacked on, too. At the time of these November charges, Schwittay had just been elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly as a Republican.

In January 1913, shortly after taking office, Schwittay died suddenly in Madison from pneumonia at age 39. It was reported he entered the hospital with a cold and had a nervous breakdown, the cold turning to pneumonia. The latest batch of charges against him never went to trial.

October 1915, efforts began to get Raue paroled after only four years in prison. It’s unclear to me if he ever got out, because twenty years later on November 7, 1938, Raue passed at age 65. He was buried in Waupun – an unusual place for a man from Marinette.

Kathryn Schwittay was around 6 years old when her father passed. She eventually married Carl Behnke, an Appleton attorney. What became of her I do not know.

(The state historical society has multiple boxes of the governor’s investigations into Schwittay and I think it would make a fascination subject, exploring the politics and media of Marinette.)

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