Alchemy of Bones: Chicago's Luetgert Murder Case of 1897 (Hardcover)

Alchemy of Bones: Chicago's Luetgert Murder Case of 1897 By Robert Loerzel Cover Image
Email or call for price
Out of Print


On May 1, 1897, Louise Luetgert disappeared. Although no body was found, Chicago police arrested her husband, Adolph, the owner of a large sausage factory, and charged him with murder. The eyes of the world were still on Chicago following the success of the World's Columbian Exposition, and the Luetgert case, with its missing victim, once-prosperous suspect, and all manner of gruesome theories regarding the disposal of the corpse, turned into one of the first media-fueled celebrity trials in American history.

Newspapers fought one another for scoops, people across the country claimed to have seen the missing woman alive, and each new clue led to fresh rounds of speculation about the crime. Meanwhile, sausage sales plummeted nationwide as rumors circulated that Luetgert had destroyed his wife's body in one of his factory's meat grinders.

Weaving in strange-but-true subplots involving hypnotists, palmreaders, English con artists, bullied witnesses, and insane-asylum bodysnatchers, Alchemy of Bones is more than just a true crime narrative; it is a grand, sprawling portrait of 1890s Chicago--and a nation--getting an early taste of the dark, chaotic twentieth century.

About the Author

Robert Loerzel is an associate editor at Pioneer Press, which publishes newspapers in the suburbs of Chicago. He has received many awards for investigative reporting and feature stories from the Illinois Press Association, the Chicago Headline Club, and the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association.

Praise For…

"Thanks to Robert Loerzel this fascinating case comes to life to show forensic scientists and investigators how much has changed (and hasn't changed) in the one hundred years since it captured the nation's attention."--Journal of Forensic Science

"Loerzel has done an impeccable research job and tells the story as if he were a fly on the wall."--CBA Records

"Alchemy of Bones is an exceptional example of the true-crime genre."--Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

Product Details
ISBN: 9780252028588
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication Date: August 12th, 2003
Pages: 352
Language: English