Edward Schmidt

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

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 Thursday, January 13, 1972.

Mahaska County in Iowa
Mahaska County in Iowa
Oskaloosa in Mahaska CountyOskaloosa in Mahaska County

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 © 2024  Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


27 Responses to Edward Schmidt

  1. Linda Kay Lanphier says:

    It is encouraging to see the comments and how many people are interested in seeing this mystery resolved. Has any DNA testing been done? Is evidence still being stored that could be tested and evaluated? I know there are more current cases and obviously, detectives are spending their valuable time on those. But Ed Schmidt’s case is still waiting….. waiting for justice. It is 2020 and time is running out.

  2. Carole A Kelderman says:

    Jody, can you contact the person who wrote this and see if they will speak with me off of Facebook? “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.” It looks like we have the same suspect. When this happened, I was doing an undergrad degree in Psychology (graduated Feb. 1972). I wanted to be a Psychologist at the time, but got steered into another career. Now that I have been retired for a few years, I am starting another career, that of a Forensics Psychologist. I have just begun working on the degree in Clinical/Forensics Psychology. I will be getting an Iowa PI license and a Certified Forensics Interviewer certifications concurrently. The firm that sponsors the CFI did a number of motions and amicus briefs for the Steve Avery/Brennen Dassey case (Making A Murderer.) I am looking forward to an exciting career for the rest of my life or as long as I can work. If anyone has information on Ed Schmidt case, please contact me by IM on my personal FB page.

    • Steve Edwards says:

      Carole: I have asked Tom Neuleib to contact you, since in 2016 he had two names of likely suspects. I continue to try to get Dateline interested in doing a segment on this.

      • Carole A Kelderman says:

        Thank you. I wonder who wrote “most of us thought it was a Penn student who left school right after the murder and lived next door.” If I could talk to them, I think we could get a lot closer to solving it.

  3. Carole A Kelderman says:

    Jody or anyone: Was the FBI ever involved? Thank you.

  4. Tom Neuleib says:

    Just revisiting. There is more and I have a name. There are more Glasglow connections popping up. I was surprised to see the recent date on the post.The killer is one of two people. They both fit. You will get nothing locally unless it is forced by a FOIA, Better hurry, the two people who have the answers are dying. If you have connections, please have them get in touch with the Tom Reily Law Firm in Cedar Rapids, Peter Reily, We have most of the answers, its just no one who speak up out of fear of reprisal. See me an email if you have national media contacts and we will give them names. Tom

  5. Steve says:

    National media will soon be investigating this case. The key to solving this case is identifying the individual who commited this crime on behalf of an influential person in the community The local authorities know who this is but refuse to do anything.

  6. Steve says:

    I think it’s safe to say the DCI/Mahaska County/Oskaloosa authorities have no desire to solve this case. Why? Because someone at an influential level has stifled it all these years. It was probably a murder for hire done by either a relative or someone close to Ed. The altered will should be the first clue- and maybe closer scrutiny of the executor. This case should have been solved a long, long time ago

  7. Steve says:

    Sounds like a good idea. I also sent a request to Dateline on NBC to do a followup investigation

    • Tom Neuleib says:

      There are some people talking about this again as coins form the estate showed up recently. Since coins aren’t labeled, the man at the coin shop has info. Send me your email Steve.

      • Steve says:

        Tom- You can reach me at sedwa0@aol.card. I purchased some of his office post cards at an Oskaloosa flea market over 40 years ago. Never had a response from Dateline

      • Tom Neuleib says:

        I am currently curing title requirements on a section of land in which your late great-uncle owned a mineral interest at the time of his death. I have been researching Mr. Schmidt today and became aware of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding his death, and the subsequent legal action that took place regarding the estate. Through my research, I have noted that an ancillary probate was completed in Oklahoma. I have requested a copy of the final decree from the Logan County Court Clerk, but this will take several days to retrieve. My purpose in reaching out to you is that I hope you might be able to shine a little light on something for me. In the County Clerk’s records of Kingfisher County, Oklahoma, there is a Corrective Mineral Deed from a Gary F. Glasgow, Trustee regarding the Estate of Edward A. Schmidt. The deed states that it was the intent of the heirs-at-law, being Wilmer Breeden, Eva Schmidt Greiner, and Mabel Smith Collins to convey through Gary F. Glasgow, Trustee, to John O. Vaughn, all of the minerals and other interests inherited from the Edward A. Schmidt Estate. My main issue is that I am unable to locate an original Mineral Deed, and therefore, unable to ascertain why a Corrective Deed was necessary as well as the relation of Gary F. Glasgow to the Estate. I realize this was many years ago, but would you happen to recall a transaction regarding the mineral estate in Oklahoma?

        I have attached the Corrective Mineral Deed.

        • Tom Neuleib says:

          So John O. Vaughn was to get the money. Or got the money. It would be very helpful if the heirs above shared why they left all their money to John O. Vaughn and what the relationship is. Hopefully its all good, but there are a lot of unanswered questions. There are deed issues and a lot of unanswered questions. Relatives? Is John a son, an heir, a friend? Or is this deed problematic? Hope the Schmidt heirs chose to share and clear this up!

  8. Steve says:

    I am amazed that DCI is unwilling to investigate your leads Tom. It would appear to me that someone at a high level is controlling this investigation. Maybe it’s time to bring in the national media to push the authorities to reopen this case.

  9. Tom says:

    Tom says: If you go to Des Moines, email and I will come out there and give you more information. What is your connection to Oskaloosa? Do you live there? Your interest in the murder? Do you know me? Do you know CK? Did you know Ed? Please let me know. Also, let me know when you are here. Thanks. TomNeuleib1@gmail.com

  10. Steve says:

    Carole: Some very interesting information in this case. I was a student at Drake when this happened, and ironically acquired some of Ed’s business post cards at a sidewalk flea market in Oskaloosa a year after his death. My theory is the motivation for his death was financial, and they hired someone to do it. That seems to match the information you have. I’ll be in Des Moines in April and might do some more investigating.

  11. That is brutal and personal…someone who knew him, most probably. Sad.

  12. So sad this man who never bothered anyone was killed, wish they could solve this case.

  13. 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?

    • Tom says:

      Hello Steve, I have not visited here for some time. It may not have been a smart move to post my name, but I stand behind anything I say, hard as that can be at times. Well, here it is a year later and the plot thickens, as they say. Just a few weeks ago I was contacted by someone with the following story. They relayed that some coins from the Ed Schmidt estate appeared recently at the local coin shop. They thought famliy members of someone who went to a nursing home may have sold them there. He will not give me names or may not have names. Anyone I have ever spoken to has routinley feared speaking out over any of this for fear of reprisal or worse. He and I spoke of our theories of who killed Ed and we agreed it was not Joe Washaba (?) aka Injun Joe. This man had given a ride to a person who was in Oskaloosa investigating some development project financing, I believe. He said they were “high up” with “the justice department in another state” and that they had had investigated their own brother-in-law in a multi million dollar bank embezellment which resulted in a prison sentence of 15 years about 15 years ago. He said that she, the investigator, had the Ed Schmidt file from the Oskaloosa Police Station in her possession and that during the transport, she received a call from the Oskaloosa PD demanding she return it immediately. I told him it annoyed me that she ever got it in her possession because when I requested it, the told me it couldn’t be found or didn’t exist. Since then I have asked the DCI, etc. and was told to file a FOIA to get it, which I will do. In a bizarre coincidence, I ran into someone last week that is known to be close to a lot of this. I spoke of my suspect, unnamed, as a Penn student at the time who left town. What emerged from that meeting was he indicated he knew who killed Ed. He was very clear it was not Injun Joe and that he knew who it was, a Penn student who is in business here in town. It unnerved me, as I knew he knew, so I moved the conversation back to the financial investigation principals. I knew I had sensitive information. I immediately emailed the Iowa DCI and received no response. I am posting this so Jody reads it also and draws the attention of the new Cold Case people with my contact information. As far as notfying the Oregon authorities, I tabled that as I felt they didnt have enough to go to a door on what is virturally hearsey from a case few care about from 40 years ago. However, the apartment still exists, there may be DNA, an evidence file is being withheld, coins from the estate have emerged, and person still living “fingered” the killer just a few days ago. I notifed the DCI and they have not responded. I hope this generates some inforamation.

  14. 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.

Comment Policy

We encourage thoughtful discussion here but ask that comments remain civilized and constructive … i.e. without personal attacks or name-calling. Be respectful of others and remember that victims' family members visit these pages, too. If you'd like to provide us with information regarding a suspect or have other sensitive details to relay, please email us directly. Thank you in advance.

Share Your Thoughts