Lucile and Henry Bacher

Lucile and Henry Bacher

Lucile Lenore Bacher


Lucile Lenore Bacher
43 YOA
Lincoln Avenue Pharmacy
SE corner of S. Lincoln Ave. & Redwood Ave.
Davenport, IA
Scott County
November 29, 1955

Note: Many thanks to Bill Weichman for providing the recent dry cleaning shop and drugstore photos for use on the Iowa Cold Cases website.

Case Summary compiled by Jody Ewing

On Tuesday afternoon, November 29, 1955, Lucile Bacher (aka Lucille Bacher), 43, was killed in the prescription room of the Lincoln Avenue Pharmacy she and her 58-year-old pharmacist husband, Henry Charles Bacher, operated in Davenport, Iowa.

Mrs. Bacher was struck with a hammer or hatchet and her throat was slashed.

dry-cleaning-shop-bacherCourtesy photo Bill Weichman, July 2010
Doris Rehder owned this dry cleaning shop across the street from the pharmacy, and telephoned Davenport police after seeing Mr. Bacher’s bloody body in the pharmacy’s doorway.

Henry Bacher told authorities he’d gone to the couple’s upstairs apartment — located just above the pharmacy — for lunch and was returning to the store to tell his wife he was going to take their car to a garage for repairs when he surprised the killer at the store’s back door. He said the bandit was armed with a revolver and a knife.

Mr. Bacher received several severe head injuries during the encounter and said the robber bound him with tape before fleeing the store.

After Mr. Bacher freed himself, he managed to make it to the pharmacy’s front door, where Doris Rehder — the owner of a dry cleaning shop across the street — spotted his bloody body and telephoned the Davenport Police Department.

In an Associated press story published Nov. 30, 1955 in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, police said Mr. Bacher would be asked to view the suspects as soon as his condition permitted — possibly later that day. The article said Mr. Bacher was beaten and cut on the throat, hands and face.

The Gazette reported the following timeline of events:

[Mr.] Bacher had gone to lunch in their apartment above the drugstore about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, leaving his wife alone to tend the store.

Around 1:30 p.m., George Conklin stopped in the place for some tobacco. As he left he noticed an old car parked nearby and saw a man walking toward the store.

About 2 p.m., [Mr.] Bacher returned from lunch and heard his wife moaning in the prescription room at the rear of the store.

As he hurried back to find out what was wrong the bandit emerged from behind the prescription counter.

“He pulled a gun on me and ordered me to open the cash register,” Bacher told police from his hospital bed. “After I opened the cash register he ordered me to crawl on my hands and knees to the rear of the store and made me get some adhesive tape.

The Lincoln PharmacyCourtesy photo Bill Weichman, July 2010
Lucile and Henry Bacher owned and operated the Lincoln Avenue Pharmacy on the ground floor of this Davenport building and lived in the upstairs apartment.

“I got some tape and he tied my hands behind my back. Then he beat me with the gun and slashed me with the knife,” Bacher is quoted as saying in the Nov. 30 story.

The man stole $40 from the cash register and $54 from Bacher’s wallet before leaving. Bacher said he then managed to free himself and stumbled to the door to call for help.

Police arrived within minutes and found Mrs. Bacher dead, lying face down in a pool of blood. Officers said a hole in her right temple appeared to have been inflicted with a hammer or hatchet. Her hands had been tied with a sash cord and her feet bound with twine — believed to have been taken from the store. A head scarf around her neck had apparently been used to gag her.

The Gazette also reported:

Mrs. Bacher’s jugular vein had been severed by an eight-inch knife cut from under her right ear across the bottom of her throat. She lay in a pool of blood.

In the store police found signs of a terrific struggle. One of the display counters had been pushed about two feet and merchandise was spilled on the floor. Bacher’s broken glasses and his hat were in the center of the floor.

In the light snow outside the store there was a trail of bloody footprints for about a block.

The killer had cut Mrs. Bacher’s throat with such deliberation her tongue had been severed from the inside. The killer also inflicted several blows to the back of her head as she lay face down on the floor.

henry-bacher-on-stretcherAssociated Press Wirephoto / Davenport Democrat
In this Nov. 30, 1955 photo, Henry Bacher receives a blood transfusion at Mercy Hospital. The student nurse with him asked that her identity not be revealed as the holdup man was still at large.

Police set up roadblocks, checked train and bus depots and also covered area taverns. Several suspects were questioned and released when the men provided alibis.

A Davenport physician reported that about two hours after the robbery and slaying, a man had appeared at his downtown office and requested a “pep pill” prescription. The physician said he refused, but the man had disappeared by the time officers arrived.

The man, the physician said, told him he’d arrived Tuesday in Davenport from Wyoming and was looking for work.

While Davenport police searched for fingerprints and began taking blood samples from the Bacher crime scene, the FBI began checking out possible narcotics angles in the case. Police Chief Harvey Smith said the person who killed Lucile Bacher and attacked her husband may have planned to rob the pharmacy and also may have been in search of narcotics.

lucille-bacher-suspectCourtesy Davenport police
Davenport police developed this suspect sketch based on Henry Bacher’s description of his wife’s killer.

On Wednesday, Henry Bacher described the assailant as being about 50 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall, about 170 pounds, grey or light hair and having a medium complexion. He said the killer wore a hunting type cap, a Navy pea coat, khaki trousers and a shirt.

Police developed a composite sketch based on Mr. Bacher’s description and released it to the public with hopes someone would recognize the killer and come forward with information.

Davenport police and officials in Lebanon, Ill., considered the possibility that the “roughly dressed” bandit who attacked the Bachers might be the same man who’d made a brutal assault on a Lebanon carpenter and his wife the previous Sunday night.

Harold Smith 30, and his wife, Arlene, 35, had been reported missing from their blood-spattered Lebanon home, and authorities believed the slayer may have carried away their bodies in his car.

“It could be the same man who turned up in Davenport and the bodies of the Smiths could still be in his car,” Chief Office Deputy Leo McCoy of East St. Louis, near Lebanon, told Davenport police the day after Lucile Bacher’s slaying.

Iowa and Illinois police followed up on thousands of leads — going so far as to bringing suspects to Henry Bacher’s hospital room — but the man he described and identified as the killer was never found.

After he recovered, Henry Bacher went to work for another drugstore in Ottumwa, Iowa.

More information about this unsolved crime may be found in linked articles in the below “Sources” section.

About Lucile Bacher

Lucile Lenore (Haddix) Bacher was born Oct. 13, 1912, in Burlington, Iowa, to Minnie S. (Seeley) and Edward Guy Haddix.

She married Henry Charles Bacher in Freeport, Ill., on Oct. 4, 1936, and the couple — who had no children — owned and operated the Lincoln Avenue Pharmacy on Davenport’s west side.

Lucille Bacher tombstoneCourtesy photo pmfrench,
Lucile Bacher is buried at the Aspen Grove Cemetery in Burlington, Iowa.

Memorial services were held at the McGinnis Funeral Home in Davenport on Thursday, Dec. 1, 1955, and at Wallen’s Chapel in Burlington on Friday, Dec. 2.

Lucile was laid to rest in the Aspen Grove Cemetery.

In addition to her husband, Lucile was survived by her mother and a sister, Edna L. Haddix Wenicke.

She was preceded in death by her father and a brother, Willis R. Haddix.

Henry Bacher died January 20, 1971 at age 73.

Information Needed

Anyone with information about Lucile Bacher’s unsolved murder is urged to contact the Davenport Police Department at 563-326-7979.

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6 Responses to Lucile Bacher

  1. Michelle Sidhu says:

    Is the evidence for this case still available? Anything that could be tested for dna, even after all this time? Although, from the articles with numerous photos, it looks like the crime scene was grand central station within a short time. Even that the evidence was flown out of state. No telling whose dna is mixed up with it now.

    The Quad City newspapers reported a blood covered hat was found. If it’s still around blood could be matched to the Bachers, maybe skin or hair from the person who wore it.

  2. Margaret Wolgast says:

    There are two people interviewed who have an idea of who it was. One person stated that a former classmate confessed years later, saying it was an uncle and that the whole family knew and covered it up. I am perplexed. Was this reported? Any kind of follow up? Why would you keep that to yourself?

  3. Margaret Wolgast says:

    Whatever happened to the Smiths?

  4. Don’t know why, but unable to pull up stories

  5. Diana Wilson says:

    Wow! Who can do these things????

  6. Margaret says:

    He lived a 4-hour drive away, in Plainfield, WI, but I wonder if Ed Gein could have been the killer?

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