Edward A. Schmidt (Courtesy The Des Moines Register)

Edward Arthur Schmidt


Edward Arthur Schmidt
85 YOA
506 High Avenue East
Oskaloosa, IA
Mahaska County
January 13, 1972

Case Summary compiled by Jody Ewing, with special thanks to Linda Lanphier

Mahaska County in Iowa
Oskaloosa in Mahaska County
Oskaloosa in Mahaska Count

Edward Arthur Schmidt, an 85-year-old Oskaloosa attorney, was beaten about the head and face and then stabbed to death in his Spartan-like basement law office on January 13, 1972.

Schmidt had been stabbed in the chest four times in what officials believed was an attempted robbery, though police found $166.41 under a pile of papers on Schmidt’s desk and about $21,000 in cash in a safe in the next room.

The lifelong introverted and frugal bachelor, who practiced law in Oskaloosa for most of his life, left an estate valued at approximately $1.5 million. Few knew about the wealth he accumulated over the years by investments in stock, real estate holdings and savings, and even oil rights in 33 Oklahoma counties.

A Missing Will

According to a Des Moines Register article written by Gene Raffensperger dated March 31, 1975, Schmidt’s closest blood relatives were a nephew and niece, and the only will officials were able to locate was one dated from 1917 where Schmidt, a Drake college of law graduate, had bequeathed $10,000 to Drake University College.

Glenn Upton, who claimed to be Schmidt’s only close friend, claimed otherwise and filed an affidavit after Schmidt’s death stating he’d witnessed a new will Schmidt had drawn up in 1962. Upton said Schmidt intended to leave the bulk of his estate to Drake University for a scholarship program.

Raffensperger wrote that since the 1962 will couldn’t be found, and since its existence invalidated the 1917 will, Schmidt died “intestate” — having no will.

That didn’t sit well with Drake University. Reported the Register:

Drake University filed a court challenge on the basis of a “lost-will” petition. The Drake action asked the court to declare valid the missing 1962 will and declare the University the principal beneficiary of Schmidt’s estate.

The Mahaska County District Court appointed Oskaloosa attorney Joe P. Crookham as administrator for Schmidt’s estate, and after three years Crookham filed the final report for court approval “in the matter of the estate of Edward A. Schmidt, deceased.” The Register listed the family heirs and the amounts each were to receive as follows:

  • Wilmer Breeden, a nephew, San Diego, Calif., $117,387;
  • Mabel Smith Denham, a niece, Oklahoma City, Okla., $201,440;
  • Eva Schmidt Greiner, a niece, Keota, Ia., $201,440;
  • Peter C. Neu, a grandnephew, Boston, Mass., $42,027;
  • Nancy Louise Neu Deets, a grandniece, Florissant, Mo., $42,027;
  • Drake University, on the basis of a court-approved compromise in its claim for the entire estate, $250,000;
  • Glenn Upton, Oskaloosa, $37,500 (a court-approved compromise of Upton’s claim for $150,000 for his services to Schmidt)
Register article on Edward SchmidtCourtesy Des Moines Register
On March 31, 1975, Des Moines Register reporter Gene Raffensperger published a detailed accounting of Edward Schmidt’s disputed estate. Full Story

Along with his claim seeking the original $150,000, Upton also entered into court records a 46-page journal where he’d documented every errand and service he’d performed for Schmidt for more than 28 years. Upton began documenting his “services” to Schmidt beginning in August 1934 and kept records up until Schmidt’s murder, according to the Register.

Expenses involved in closing the estate — which included federal and state taxes, bills, legal and administrator’s fees — already had taken about $644,000, according to Crookham’s report.

The Register also reported that Crookham was awarded $60,000 by the court as his fee for administrator, and the law firm of Garold Heslinga and Harold Heslinga was awarded $60,000 by the court for its service as attorneys for the estate.

The same Register article included a final note by Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Wayne L. Sheston, who said of Schmidt’s death:

“I’m sorry to say it is still an unsolved murder. I will work on it and I still follow up leads.”

More About Schmidt — A Community Remembers

Edward Schmidt may have basically been friendless, but the community in which he lived hasn’t forgotten him.

On March 18, 2011, Linda Lanphier contacted Iowa Cold Cases to say that while doing family genealogy, she’d looked up information regarding Ed Schmidt’s murder and then posted comments to some of her relatives (including a cousin who is an attorney) and friends on Facebook to get their input.

The question had been raised, Linda said, as to whether DNA had been done on the evidence or even kept.

Linda forwarded to Iowa Cold Cases the responses people posted about Schmidt, though said she didn’t include their names because she hadn’t asked permission to do so.

Linda’s e-mail with the comments follows:

One person wrote: “I remember him. Mr. Schmidt was an elderly frail gentleman, but I don’t remember him being small, per se, but I didn’t really know him. I didn’t think he had any family as it seemed there was little pressure to ever solve the murder. He lived by the Congregational Church and was murdered for his coin collection. The murder was never solved and the police questioned many of us who were teens at the time. It wasn’t the 60’s. It was more like 1972 and most of us thought it was a Penn student who left school right after the murder and lived next door.”

“The Chief of Police refused to retire at the time and the Sheriff had little, if any training. None of the rare gold coins were ever seen again as far as I know, which should have made the case solvable, in my opinion. I have always wondered if anyone has ever gone back and checked the evidence for DNA since it was before DNA testing was around.”

“Unfortunately, the crime scene was trampled by almost everyone remotely connected with law enforcement, so the contamination at the scene would add confusion.”

Another person wrote: “There was a rumor going around at the time that it was someone who was prominent in the community. I don’t remember this person’s name, though. Not sure if there was an obituary or not. Take a look at one of the old newspapers from the time. There may not have been one.”

(And from Linda): I have just a few notes from the local genealogical library to try to make a connection with the Schmidts in my own family. My maiden name was Linda Kay Crile (now Lanphier). I was born to Bernard E. and Norma H. Campbell Crile. My father’s father was Adam E. Crile and Adam’s mother’s maiden name was Etta Barbara Schmidt. Her father was Solomon Schmidt who was a German immigrant from Rucheim, Germany.

I couldn’t make a connection with Barbara (as she was called) Schmidt. There is always the possibility of a connection in Germany, but I could not find any mention of the place in Germany where Ed Schmidt’s parent’s immigrated from. I noticed on the small paragraph of Ed Schmidt’s obituary, he did not have a Lutheran or Catholic funeral service. This was a bit unusual for a first generation German-American. It would have been helpful for me to know which religion they might have been, also?

“It’s been interesting,” Linda told Iowa Cold Cases, stating she would continue to search for additional information.

edward-schmidt-gravestoneCourtesy photo Sharon Welch, findagrave.com
Edward Schmidt’s impressive stone in Oskaloosa’s Forest Cemetery.
About Edward Schmidt

Edward Arthur Schmidt was born September 12, 1886 to Henrietta (Mehlin) Schmidt and Henry David Schmidt in Nira, Iowa, Washington County. He had two sisters, Julia Schmidt Breeden and Tilla Schmidt, and two brothers, William and Alexander.

Schmidt was buried in Oskaloosa’s Forest Cemetery in the family plot.

Information Needed

If you have any information concerning Edward Schmidt’s unsolved murder please contact the Oskaloosa Police Department at 641-673-3201.

Copyright © 2015 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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2 Responses to Edward Schmidt

  1. Carole Kelderman says:

    A number of parties occurred during the weekend of the murder, which my friends and I attended. Most of us heard about the murder in the following days. We were unaware of the controversy surrounding the estate and the wills. However, “my suspect” and his roommate made a point of telling us repeatedly that a robbery had occurred in their apartment, on the third floor, on the night of the murder also. Why say that? They were persistent in saying “my suspect’s” paycheck from Clow was stolen along with coins from the dresser. It seemed implausible to us party attendees. After we heard of the murder, that statement continued to perplex and mildly annoy us, as it seemed so incongruous to the situation, was unsolicited, and a bit offensive in its implications.
    I was at a party in the building on what we believe was the night of the murder. Some accounts state Schmidt was murdered on Thursday the 13th, which is possible, but there are reasons to believe it was actually Friday the 14th. His body was not discovered until Sunday or Monday. The suspect at the time was described as a lanky, dark-haired man, wearing a grey hoodie. I will call “my suspect” WPS, for William Penn Student, who fits the description perfectly and was at the party. He was never seen in anything but blue jeans, a t-shirt, and a gray hoodie sweatshirt, his trademark forty years ago. William Penn records show WPS dropped out of school just days after the murder. WPS, whom I knew personally, was an introverted, often surly, loaner, and known substance abuser. I recall specifically at the party watching him and wondering why he was never involved and thinking how he never participated, just seemed to be constantly stoned. I even recall where he was sitting that night, just leaning back, and getting stoned. We used to go back and forth between the Schmidt building and the Penn Apartments across the street (which was the boyhood home of the Crookhams). WPS had numerous William Penn friends that resided in both places. I am fairly certain WPS lived in the apartment in the building in which Schmidt was murdered, and I am certain that he was at the apartment on a regular and ongoing basis and on the night of the murder. That can be easily verified as the guy who was the tenant, and I think his roommate, is still living.
    Local rumors were that a man referred to as Injun Joe committed the crime
    He was a Native American whose name was Joe Washabaugh, presumably from an Indian reservation in Tama.
    It was said that he and his girlfriend Kathy were “constantly drunk” and transient.
    An officer (Walter Shot? Short? Sharp?) who is still alive and was on the scene, now in his late eighties, stated on 1/11/2011 “ Injun Joe was given a lie detector test and passed and they never talked to him again.” I did find some records of a Joe Washabaugh and a Kathy.
    Rumor has it that he left town immediately after the murder.
    Some of Schmidts’ checks surfaced in Arizona and California. While writing this, something just struck me for the first time. WPS was from the East coast, and when I tried to find him, I could find no traces of him in his home state. When I did locate him, I was struck by how little of a trail he left. He is in Oregon. Could he have taken off for Oregon with stops in Arizona and California cashing checks way back then? If those checks still exist, they could be scrutinized for DNA and even have the handwriting analyzed. Not so far-fetched nowadays. Money was left at the murder scene, which would have been taken in a robbery. However, if a young man’s attempts at grabbing a will went badly, it makes sense he might panic, grab a checkbook, drop out of school, and take off for as far away from home or the murder scene as he could. Dick Crook, who is still alive and was the detective at the time, said the PD should still have an evidence file, but I asked them and they were not helpful.
    Schmidt carried his will in his pocket. Who would anyone know that and why would they pay attention to that? Who would want it or why? There are only a few reasons to take a will. You could want someone to be cut out of it, you could want it re written to include you or benefit you, or you might want it to appear there was no will and you died intestate. Why? So if someone wanted that will to disappear, they could have had WPS could do it from the inside, literally. He could leave the party, go down the back inside stairs, grab the will, and come back to the party unnoticed. One has to have the means, motive, and opportunity to commit a crime. There were no signs of forced entry. Did WPS go to get it and things went wrong? There could still be DNA, both on the scene and in the evidence files. There was a note on the door of Schmidt’s office when they found his body and I think they have the note. There have only been two or three tenants at most in the apartment since the murder and it has never been remolded, or even thoroughly cleaned out, and is empty now. In fact some of the furniture is still there. Perhaps there is DNA there yet?
    The facts are all here about Glen Upton and what his involvement may or may not have been, but I went to the courthouse to see if I could find anything out about him or the will.
    Mahaska County Courthouse records show that his name, a lifelong friend, witness to, and executor of the original will (Schmidt had two) lined out and replaced with the name Joe Crookham. This is significant in that it was deliberate change, from the logical person to administer the estate, Schmidt’s lifelong friend and caretaker, to Joe Crookham. It did not seem to be a natural or expected occurrence or outcome to me. The “bonding entity” of Glen Upton is also lined out with pen and replaced with the “bonding entity” of Joe Crookham. What caused the change? Did a judge appoint Crookham to be the administrator of the estate based on his opinion or a ruling that Schmidt died intestate because the will, which was known to exist previously and to be carried on Schmidt’s person, disappeared the night of the murder? Did Crookham petition the court for the change? I don’t get any of that, but many believe that the true intention of the break-in was to obtain the will. Also a number of properties in Schmidts’ name went to tax certificates, which were on the same page of the same book in the courthouse, and were purchased by Joe Crookham. So I am perplexed about all the legalities and how and why they all came about. What I do know is the motive was to take the will, and I do believe that I am right about the suspect. I don’t know when or how it all came about, or why, but I believe WPS is the man they were looking for. So why did they not question any of us who were in the apartment the night of the party? From what I read here it looks like they questioned everyone but us.

  2. Steve Edwards says:

    Carole: Since the Oskaloosa/Mahaska County authorities don’t seem interested in pursuing your lead, could you provide this information to the authorities in Oregon, so they could at least do a background check on WPS?

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