Michael McCarty Murder Overview
On the early evening of September 13, 1905, Michael McCarty, 41, told teenage farmhand Julius Heimke, that he was going to Wrightstown, and he may not return the next day. Heimke arrived at the farm the next morning, and only Wenzel Kabat was there. Kabat allegedly said that he (Kabat) was now the boss of the farm, and that McCarty had gone away. Kabat was seen building a large fire in the woods on McCarty’s property as well as hauling something away from a depression in the ground.
Authorities believe that Wenzel Kabat was determined to steal McCarty’s farm, and when other attempts at fraud failed, Kabat resorted to murder. On the late evening of September 13, 1905, Kabat was lying in wait on or near McCarty’s farm in Kaukauna. Kabat shot McCarty, and disposed of his body by first dismembering it with a saw and an axe, and then burning it in a fire on McCarty’s farm.
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Michael McCarty & Wenzel Kabat
During the harvest, sometime in July 1905, Wenzel Kabat was first noticed on Michael McCarty’s farm in Kaukauna. How Kabat came to meet McCarty is unclear
In late August 1905, Michael McCarty wanted to sell his farm 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.
Kabat was determined to steal McCarty’s farm.
Wenzel Kabat’s Criminal History
Well before meeting Michael McCarty, Kabat had engaged in many acts of fraud and deceit. Some examples:
- At age 17, Kabat’s father alleged that Kabat stole $2,000 in gold from his father. Kabat used the stolen money to attend the state fair in Milwaukee.
- At age 18 or 19, Kabat was involved in “cheese swindling” by claiming to have perfected a patent for a cheese vat. He was arrested but released.
- Kabat was involved in a “stock food swindle” along with Herman Barnefeldt. They gave stock food samples to wealthy farmers, and had the farmers sign receipts. Kabat used those signatures as references when forging $20,000 worth of promissory notes.
- 1902: Kabat was convicted of forgery in Outagamie County related to forging farmers’ signatures on loan paperwork. He was sent to the state reformatory.
Kabat’s Suspicious Actions
On Friday, September 15, Anthony Reith, a fourteen-year-old boy, was rabbit hunting with his dog when he found a pool of blood in a secluded place near the river on McCarty’s farm. Walking over a hill, he saw Kabat burning brush but didn’t trust him, so Reith returned home. 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 four feet high.
Also on the 15th, Kabat sold some of McCarty’s cattle, and told conflicting stories to the buyers about McCarty’s whereabouts. More cattle were sold in the following days.
On the 24th, Kabat told McCarty’s father, Charles, that Michael had gotten into trouble by following a woman to her home, throwing her down and strangling her. He went on to say that McCarty was hiding out in a boardinghouse. Kabat took Charles to the boardinghouse, but the door were locked. As the interaction continued, it was evident to the McCarty family that Kabat was not being truthful, so they turned him in to authorities.
Kabat was arrested on September 26, 1905 by Marshal Conlon. He was arraigned that afternoon on the charge of kidnapping Michael McCarthy. Unable to pay the $1,200 bond, Kabat was committed to the Outagamie County jail in Appleton.
Kabat’s preliminary hearing was held on October 11. The charge against him was changed from kidnapping to murder. His murder trial began on June 7, 1906.
Julius Heimke’s Testimony
Hemke saw Kabat holding a revolver with a pearl handle in the McCarty home, and he fired two shots at the barn. Kabat kept the revolver in a drawer at the McCarty home. Hemke also testified that Kabat gave him a gold watch that had belonged to Michael McCarty. Kabat had told Hemke that he bought it from McCarty for $10.
Some of the Evidence
- Pieces of a human skull and other human bones were found near the site of the fire.
- Human bones were found in the McCarty farmhouse cellar.
- Human teeth were found in ashes on the McCarty farm.
- An axe, saw, and lantern were found
- Michael McCarty’s signature on bill of sale appeared to be forged. It was dated September 14, and was made up in the office of attorney Lafayette A. Calkins of Green Bay but not signed there.
- Kabat had McCarty’s documents, such as letters, receipts, canceled notes, and the deed to the McCarty farm in Kaukauna.
On June 11, the jury was out only ninety-two minutes when it returned with a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree. Kabat was sentenced to life imprisonment at the prison in Waupun.
Judge John Goodland stated that “A more heinous crime cannot be found in the history of criminality.” He further called Kabat “a danger to the community.”
Fox Cities Murder & Mayhem
This post is a very condensed version of events, and the story, unfortunately, does not stop here. For more in-depth information, check out Gavin Schmitt’s book Fox Cities Murder & Mayhem. (affiliate link)