Bio: Handke, Gust, Clark County, Wisconsin Murder
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----Source: Source: Marshfield News Herald  Thursday October 27, 1927  Page 9

Surnames: Bealer, Handke, Mallory, Olson, Rath, Schlingsog



Neillsville Woman Is Found Murdered




Gust Handke, Accused, Steadfastly Denies Any Implication In Crime




Neillsville, Sept. 30, 1927  With four deep wounds in her scalp which authorities believe were inflicted with some blunt instrument, Mrs. Paul Handke, 38, mother of three small children, was found murdered in her home eight miles northeast of Neillsville shortly before noon Thursday.


Gust Handke, a brother-in-law of the woman, is being held in the county jail at Neillsville and will be formally charge with the murder today, according to Victor Nehs, district attorney of Clark county in which the slaying occurred.


Handke steadfastly denies any implication in the crime, but according to Mr. R. Rath, Granton, Clark County Coroner, the man was found in the murdered woman's house in an exceedingly intoxicated condition when the Coroner's jury arrived to conduct an inquest.


Coroner's Jury Returns Verdict

A coroner's jury, composed of H. ?, Wilson Mallory, Fred ? , Ernest Schlingsog, Frank ?, and Herman Bealer, all residents of Granton, returned a verdict that death resulted from four deep wounds inflicted by some blunt instrument in the hands of an unknown assailant.


The crime was discovered by the murdered victim's husband upon his return home at noon from a neighboring farm where he filled silo during the morning.  Receiving no response when he called to Mrs. Handke from the doorway of their home, Handke rushed into the house where he found pools of blood forming a trail that led to a stairway where the body of Mrs. Handke was found.  The woman's head rested on a lower step.


Children In School


County officers were summoned to the home and among the first to arrive was Coroner Rath who ordered Gust Handke placed under arrest as a witness.  Belief was expressed by Coroner Rath that a chunk of wood was used to inflict the deep scalp wounds which caused Mrs. Handke's death.


Mrs. Handke's three children were in school when the murder occurred. Overturned furniture and disarrangement of other household furnishings led to the fact that a struggle had taken place before the woman was finally overpowered.


At the county jail, were the murder suspect is being held, officers have been unable to obtain a confession from him.  Handke is a bachelor and for years he has resided on a farm across the road from that of his brother.  Authorities say he is possessed of a retiring nature and seldom visited his brother's home.


Source: Marshfield News Herald  Friday Sept. 30, 1927 Page 1




Gust Handke, Suspected Murderer, Stoutly Avows Innocence


Gust Handke, who was arrested as the suspected murderer of Mrs. Paul Handke on September 29, has been kept behind three steel doors at the Clark county jail since her was taken into custody.


During this time, District Attorney V. W. Nehs, Sheriff H. M. Olson, and under sheriff Oluf Olson, have grilled, cross-questioned, and cross-examined this suspect, but to very little satisfaction as Gust Handke refuses to talk or answer any of the deeper questions.


He admits that he was in the Paul Handke home on Thursday morning between the hours of 10 and 11.  He says that he went there in response to screaming by Mrs. Paul Handke and that when he arrived at the house, he found Mrs. Handke murdered and inverted in the closed stairway that leads from the kitchen to the upstairs.


When asked why he was there so long without informing any neighbors or officers of the murder, he states that perhaps he fainted and that he cannot answer the question of what he was doing for the hour he was in the house with the dead body, until Paul Handke, the husband returned and found him there.


Thursday afternoon, Gust, knowing that his hearing was to be held at 10 a.m. Friday, asked for an attorney and Attorney A. L. Devos, former Clark county district attorney, was sent to him.  The hearing has been postponed until October 12 at 10 a.m.


V. W. Nehs, as attorney for the state, is building up a strong case.  He and Sheriff Olson spent one day this week at the homes of Paul and Gust Handke.  Some very valuable information was gathered, which will be of help to the state in the case.


Upon shifting the ashes in the cook stove at the Gust Handke home, Attorney Nehs found a full set of buttons and overall fasteners, as well as some overall material that laid on the grates, still unburned.  Mr. Nehs felt from the first that Gust Handke changed his overalls when he ran home after Paul had found him, for when he returned he had a clean pair on that still had a press in them.


Gust seemed much surprised to find that this set of overall fasteners and material had been found in his stove, but would not admit burning them.


Source: Marshfield News Herald   October 7, 1927  Page 2





Will Probably Be Held In Circuit Court Room Next Wednesday Morning


A large crowd gathered at the court house yesterday morning to see and attend the hearing of Gust Handke, but though the suspected murderer was brought over to the office of O. W. Schoengarth, county judge, the hearing was not held yesterday as the attorney for the defense, A. L. Devos, was out of town.

As the hearing had been set for 10 a.m. Friday, it was necessary to call the meeting, but it was adjourned at once, much to the disappointment of the large crowd of people who had gathered to witness it.

Sheriff Olson brought Handke through the crowded court house lobby into the side door of the office of the county judge and immediately the crowd broke through the front door of the judge's office hoping to be admitted.  The sheriff, however, waved them back telling them that there would be no hearing.

The crowd lingered, however, and would not disperse until after Handke had been returned to the jail and until they knew for sure just when the hearing would be held.  They were informed that the hearing would be held next Wednesday at 10 a.m., and owing to the fact that such a large crowd is expected, it will be held in the circuit court room instead of the county judge's office where it was first planned.

The suspect was very nervous as he sat in the judge's office and as he walked through the crowd.  His hands twitched and his eyes and head continually jumped.

Source: Marshfield News Herald  Saturday October 8, 1927  Page 2




Suspect Is Bound Over To Circuit Court By Judge Schoengarth


The hearing of Gust Handke, accused murderer of Mrs. Paul Handke, was held yesterday at the Clark county court house with O. W. Schoengarth, county judge, presiding, V. W. Nehs, attorney for the state, and A. L. Devos, attorney for the defendant.

At 10 a.m. the court house was filled to capacity with people who had come to take in the hearing and get a look at the suspected murderer.  Paul Handke, husband of the murdered woman, was placed on the witness stand first, and after an hour of testimony and cross examination, he was excused and Dr. R. Rath, Clark county coroner, was placed on the witness stand.  After testifying, he was placed under a heavy fire from the defense attorney in regard to some technicalities and at 12:15 court was adjourned until 2 p.m.

Under-Sheriff, Oluf Olson

At two o'clock, Oluf Olson, under-sheriff who had made the arrest, was placed on the witness stand and next came Frank Dobes, a neighbor, who had been filling silo and gave his testimony as to how things looked when he arrived.

This concluded the testimony and as the witness waived examination, the judge after a minute or two of deliberation, bound the suspect over to circuit court.  His case will be tried in about two weeks in the fall term of Clark county circuit court.

Marshfield News Herald  Thursday  October 13, 1927  Page 11





Circuit Court Adjourned Wednesday Afternoon at 2 O'clock


Circuit court adjourned Wednesday afternoon at 2 o'clock, with the instruction that the jury should return next Monday, October 31, at 2 p.m., at which time Gust Handke will go on trial, charged with the murder of Mrs. Laura Handke on September 9. V.W. Nehs, district attorney, is the prosecuting attorney for the state and A.L. Devos of Neillsville is the attorney for the defense.


The case of Bragstad vs Zelm, both of Longwood, over the refuse of the Zelm cheese factory emptying onto the Bragstad property, was decided in favor of Mr. Zelm and no damage was granted Mr. Bragstad.



The case of Frank Anysewski vs Casper Skrypinski, both of Thorp, over a $325 bill which the former claimed the latter owed him, was decided in favor of the latter and the bill was cancelled.  The jury found that the bill had been paid and therefore the former received nothing in the case.


At the completion of this case, the court adjourned until next Monday at 2 p.m.


Source: Marshfield News Herald  Monday October 31, 1927  Page 1







Refuses To Make Statement Concerning Details Of Crime




Neillsville, Oct. 31---Three hours before the beginning of his trial in circuit court here, Gust Handke, recluse, pleaded guilty to murder in the first degree before Circuit Judge E. W. Crosby, and today he stands in the eyes of the law as the murderer of Mrs. Laura Handke, a sister-in-law, whom he clubbed to death in her home in the Town of York, seven miles northeast of here on September 29.  Judge Crosby sentenced Handke to life imprisonment in Waupun penitentiary.


The prisoner's iron nerve which had stood steadfastly by him through the grilling days of preliminary examinations, deserted him a few hours before the trial was to begin. Through his counsel, Attorney A. L. Devos, Handke requested an audience with Judge Crosby.  His request was granted immediately.  Without displaying any emotion, Handke appeared before Judge Crosby and declared his desire of pleading guilty to the crime with which he was charged.


Makes No Statement


Imprisonment for life at hard labor in the state penitentiary was the sentence meted out to Handke by Judge Crosby.  The sentence also provided that on the day of September 29 of each year, the anniversary of the clubbing to death of Mrs. Handke, the prisoner shall be kept in solitary confinement.  Handke's attoprney was in court with him when the sentence was imposed.


Handke made no statement other than that he had intended to change his plea before his case came to trial.  He steadfastly refused to discuss the killing or recount any of the details of the crime.  During the period of his confinement in the Clark county jail he constantly maintained that he had not killed Mrs. Handke.  District Attorney Victor Nehs planned to seek a conviction on circumstantial evidence which he alleged tended to prove Handke guilty.


Dastardly Crime


Handke's admission of guilt and his sentence to Waupun penitentiary furnishes the final chapter of the most dastardly crime which has visited Clark county in years.  The crime occurred on September 29, in the Handke home in the Town of York.  Mrs Handke was attacked and brutally clubbed to death by her brother-in-law.  The top of her head had been completely crushed by an iron bar, and the lifeless body was inverted in a closed stairway where it was found by the victim's husband who was assisting a neighbor in the filling of a silo at the time the murder occurred.


When Handke returned to his home he found his brother Gust in the house. Gust steadfastly denied any knowledge of the crime and tried to account for his presence in the home with the explanation that he had responded to screams for help which he said he heard at his home across the road from that of his brother.  Authorities arrested him on circumstantial evidence and ordered that he stand trial for the murder.



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