Welcome to the Spooky Sconnie podcast, the show that talks about the spooky, paranormal, criminal, and just plain odd Badger State. While we're known for sportsball and food, there's a lot more to learn about Wisconsin if you know where to look.
An Interview with Josh Armstrong
Grayson shares updates and interviews filmmaker Josh Armstrong. Visit spookysconnie.podbean.com for links and more!
Lake View Sanitorium
Check out This Podcast Will Kill You's TB episode
Tuberculosis is a chronic bacterial infection, that passes through the air, and attacks the lungs (sometimes, it will attack other internal organs, as well). Patients with an "active" form of tuberculosis, may feel: weak, loss of appetite, fever, chest pains, night sweats, a persistent cough and may even cough up blood. It is possible to be a carrier for the bacteria without displaying symptoms (asymptomatic carrier).
TB in WI
By the late 1870s, concerns that cases of tuberculosis, often referred to as consumption, were increasing in Wisconsin were expressed. Physicians identified the need to gather information about the number of cases, their locations, patient ages, and fatalities, in order to better understand the effects of the disease in Wisconsin. The information could then be used to help determine how to reduce the spread of infection and to develop viable treatments.
The cause of tuberculosis was unknown until 1882, and speculation regarding the possible causes of the disease was widespread. Reports were intermixed with discussions of supposed sources including “soil moisture,” “climate change” and “insufficient clothing.” A large component of health professionals strongly believed the origin to be genetic. In 1882, when Robert Koch discovered that the cause of tuberculosis was a bacteria called tubercle bacillus, the medical community could finally begin to address controlling the spread of the disease based on limiting exposure to contamination. However, not everyone was convinced by Koch’s work, and even those who endorsed it included individuals who felt it unwise to accept the bacteria as the only source of the disease. Also, no treatment was known. Therefore, movements to develop appropriate treatments based on the bacterial nature of the disease were not pursued in earnest immediately. The Wisconsin State Board of Health continued to support treatment through “purity of air and removal from all special causes of irritation to the lungs... and the general upbuilding of the system by nutritious diet, with relief from overwork and from depressing anxieties...”
The first statistical report on the prevalence of tuberculosis in Wisconsin was presented in 1894 stating:
For the year ending September 30, 1893, according to the reports received from 593 localities in the state 622 deaths occurred from Consumption; and for the year ending September 30, 1894, from 648 localities 903 deaths are reported. It is impossible to estimate the exact number of death that occur from this disease in the state at the present time. Statistics in relation to these are of the most vital importance as it is now recognized that this is one of the preventable diseases with which we have to contend.
Collection of additional statistics, as well as intense advocacy efforts made by individuals and organizations, eventually led, in 1902, to the Wisconsin State Board of Health recommending the establishment of a state sanatorium for the care and treatment of patients with tuberculosis.7 In 1904, the Milwaukee county committee on tuberculosis was organized to “...address the question of the establishment of sanatoria for the treatment of consumption...” and to organize a campaign for the education of the public regarding the contagiousness of the disease and of the curability of consumption in the early stages.
Reports were prepared and, by 1908, there were three small sanatoriums in Wisconsin accommodating a total of 100 patients. The oldest was River Pines, a private hospital that opened in August 1906, located on the Wisconsin River near Stevens Point. The second to open was Blue Mound, located on the outskirts of Milwaukee, which operated as a philanthropic institution. The third placed into operation w
Content note: murder, police brutality
With everything going on, I wanted to cover a murder-by-cop from 2015 that happened here in Madison. Tony Robinson was murdered by Madison PD Officer Matt Kenny - who murdered once before and is still on the force.
I lose my voice a little towards the end of this episode because it's a long one (that and I used my slightly-deeper-from-testosterone voice). Please listen with an open mind and without judgment going in.
There are resources below about racism, police brutality, and more. If you want to sign the petition to get Matt Kenny fired, you can do so here.
PS: right after I posted this, our mayor posted a thank you to police showing she lied through her teeth.
Required reading on anti-racism, white privilege, and being an ally:
On defunding and abolishing police - and their qualified immunity:
How to support black folx:
Check out the following pods and spooky series
Buzzfeed Unsolved (find on YouTube, Buzzfeed app, Amazon Prime)
Mirths and Monsters
Nothing Rhymes with Murder
3 Spooked Girls
Two Scared Siblings
So, today's episode is close to home for me - literally. While I've spent nearly all my lockdown time at my partner's apartment in Middleton, our story is set in Westport - a tiny town between the north side of Madison and Waunakee. The apartment I'm in the middle of moving out of just so happens to be there on Westport Road.
Florence Peters and her husband John farmed together in the late 1930s. Their marriage wasn't in great shape. While John hadn't cheated, Florence had engaged in multiple affairs. So, when 23-year-old farmhand Edward Harvey came along in 1938, it didn't take long for the 38-year-old Florence to fall for him.
By July of that year, Florence had also grown tired of John. He was oblivious to the affair, but was cramping the couple's style. She sent Harvey out to the barn to grab some arsenic, something they had around for pest control. He was excited and ready to have Florence all to himself, and picked up the poison without saying a word.
While John was out milking the cows, Florence mixed him a drink. He fell ill that night and was confined to the bed. Meanwhile, Florence tried to play concerned wife. She was there to nurse him back to health, helping him with whatever he needed. One day, he asked her to fix him up a drink to help him feel better. She couldn't help but mix some more arsenic into milk. He got sicker and there were concerns from the townsfolk, especially the police.
See, as much as John hadn't noticed the affair, neither Florence nor Harvey were being discrete at all about their feelings for each other. Police brought Henry in for questioning, but he wasn't cooperative at all. He was released, despite being charged with resisting arrest, if he left the state.
Meanwhile, John had gotten so sick that he was moved to a hospital in Madison. Florence and her children moved to an apartment at 1335 Rutledge Street in Madison to be closer to John. That's only two blocks in from Lake Monona in what is now a pretty on-demand neighborhood. Harvey moved in with them secretly... or not so secretly.
By the end of September, the home was raided and both Florence & Harvey were arrested for committing 'lewd and lascivious' behavior for living together. Harvey explained that the two were engaged to be married once Florence divorced John. Nonetheless, the two were being held in jail.
In the meantime, John's family recalled a similar illness of someone in the community just a few years before. Henry Kessenich fell ill in 1930 in a similar manner. John's family asked the police to revisit the investigation and they performed an exhumation. The state toxicologist at the time, Dr. F.L. Kozelka, indeed found arsenic in the victim's hair roots and tissues.
Henry's wife had apparently wanted a divorce as she had fallen in love with a younger farmhand, but Henry had refused. As fall came on, the wife had gotten poison from the barn and put a small amount in Henry's tea. Within two days, he fell incredibly ill and began vomiting. Henry died quickly thereafter, and his death was attributed to pneumonia. Doctors were interested in doing an autopsy, but the widow didn't want it so they passed. While people in the community clearly were suspicious, there was no further investigation. The wife collected $1000 in life insurance, which would be just over $15k today.
In case you hadn't guessed, this was clearly Florence. Three years after his death, she married John Peters. Between 1933 and 1938, the two had two of their own children in addition to the two children from
Content note: abuse, incest, animal torture, bestiality, sexual assault, murder
Rough transcript (will upload full one later this week)
Hello spooky friends!
I apologize for the long delay in new episodes. Life has been intense between moving, divorce stuff, and hockey. That's right - ya boy started playing hockey! I've continued the strong Wisconsin tradition of learning how to do a tough sport on a slippery surface.
The subject for this episode is one Peter Kurten. To those of you who think you recognize this name, you may be wondering why I'm covering him here. After all, this guy is a German serial killer. I won't spoil this yet, but there is a major Wisconsin connection at the end of the story.
Peter Kurten was born in Mülheim am Rhein in Germany on May 26, 1883. He was the third of 13 children, although two of his siblings would die early on. His family lived in a one-bedroom apartment and his father routinely beat everyone in the family. Even worse, Peter's dad would often force the children to watch him and his wife have sex when he was drunk. In 1894, the father would be found guilty of committing incest with his oldest daughter, aged 13 at the time. Peter's mother was able to use this as a basis for separation and moved to Düsseldorf.
Throughout his childhood, Kurten would endure a number of hardships - and begin on the path to becoming a serial killer.
Because of his fathers' abuse, Peter's academic performance suffered. Additionally, he would run away frequently or try to stay at school as long as possible, avoiding returning home. He learned how to commit some petty crimes in order to keep himself fed while living on the streets.
At the age of 9, Peter claims to have committed his first murder. He pushed a school friend into the water, knowing this kid couldn't swim. Another kid jumped in to try to save the first and Peter claims he held both of their heads underwater, drowning them. Police wrote these off as accidental.
At the age of 13, Peter had a girlfriend. They were sexually active but she would not allow them to have PiV sex. Instead of just jerking it like the rest of us would do, Peter resorted to bestiality. Soon, he found he could not orgasm without stabbing these animals during the act. He swore that he stopped this after being discovered doing this with a pig. Of course, this followed a time when he befriended a local dog catcher who let him sidekick it up during work. Together, they would abuse the animals they caught. Around this time, he also tried to rape the sister who had already suffered sexual abuse at the hands of their father.
An FBI profile of Kürten's criminal behavior later concluded his compulsion to abuse and torture animals and to commit arson were a manifestation of his need to feel a sense of control in response to his chronically abusive upbringing.
The arrests begin
In total, Kürten would serve 17 separate sentences of imprisonment between 1899 and his arrest, the combined total of which equals 27 years of his life. Let's dig into why...
He was arrested in 1899 after stealing money from his boss and skipping town, serving a month. In November of that year, he claims to have committed his first adult murder. He stated that he picked up an 18-year-old girl and persuaded her to accompany him. He claimed to have engaged in sex with the her before strangling her to death with his bare hands. In 1900, he would be arrested again for fraud and attempted murder by gun of a young girl. He served four years in Derendorf, a borough of Düsseldorf.
Upon being released, he was drafted into the 98th Infantry Regiment of the German army. He quickly defected and began committing acts of arson. He was arrested on New Year's Eve, admitting to 24 counts of arson. He also stated that he gained sexual excitemen
The Disappearance of Georgia Jean Weckler
Content note: murder, sexual assault
Everyone and their BFFs confessed to the abduction and murder of Georgia Jean, but her disappearance remains unsolved over 70 years later. If that wasn't enough to bring out the feels, I'm in the middle of a surprise divorce!
Also! The True Crime Podcast festival is this Saturday, July 13, at the Marriott Downtown, right on the magnificent mile. There are over 80 true crime podcasters coming - including True Crime Obsessed and even me!
This is a full-day event, and gives you a chance to meet your favourite podcasters in a large-scale meet-and-greet, with several panel discussions and live episodes too. Come hang out! To find out more and join the almost 400 people who have bought tickets, head to tcpf2019.com or look for it on social media. I can't wait to see you there!!
Family weebly site
WTMJ4 story from 2017
Charley project page
Missing children from Wisconsin
Missing children nationally
Please note this is a rough transcript due to time limitations. I'll come back and fix it!
Welcome to the most belated episode of the Spooky Sconnie podcast thus far. This is the podcast that seeks to dive into everything from Wisconsin, from the true crime and paranormal stuff to cryptids and just wonderfully weird Wisconsin history. And I'm your host, Kirsten Schultz.
It's been a minute, a couple minutes, several weeks. Um, I owe y'all an explanation. If you don't already follow the social media channels for the podcast, then you probably haven't heard because I'm shit at posting on the Pod Bean, a app on its own, like updates. Um, but I am in the middle of getting a divorce and it's not necessarily a hundred percent amicable on my side, but it's kind of a surprise divorce for me at least. So it's been a rough couple of weeks and I needed to take some space, stepped back from a couple of things to take care of myself and, um, you know, dive in with all of my energy to finding a new place, which I have found one. Um, I signed the lease today and I move in, um, in about two weeks, a little less. Um, and my goal is hopefully by the beginning of August to be fully moved into that new place and, um, hopefully be putting out some more regular episodes, between now and then. It might be a little funky. Yeah. Not sure schedule wise, what's going to work. so far I've gotten basically almost everything that I own in our apartment up into our loft space, which was like my office anyway. Um, and I'm sleeping on a Futon, which is not great for my chronic illnesses and my back and so many things. Um, but you know, have to do what we can do till we can do better I guess.
Um, yeah, so like I said, episodes will probably be infrequent until, mm, Probably middle of August or something like that. Um, so this will be the kind of the last episode for a couple of weeks again, but, uh, I'm hoping to kind of like plunge into late summer slash fall, um, deeply and really be able to have more time set aside to doing research too. Um, you know, finding new things to talk about and um, being a lot more present for all of you. So I appreciate you guys sticking in there with me and hanging in there. Um, and you know, things will get better and it'll be good. It'll be fine. I'm, I'm going to be fine. Um, I'm just going to keep repeating that until it's the thing. So, um, part of why I'm releasing this episode on a day different than what I normally would do, um, is because the Saturday is the true crime podcast festival in Chicago, um, at the Marriott downtown on magnificent mile.
So please make sure you come. I will be there. I have goodies to give away and to sell, um, including buttons and bottle openers or jars. Oh gold. I keep using mine. It's amazing. It's also magnetic, which I discovered by accident, but like in a good way. Um, I also
Well researched WI podcast
Thanks for starting this podcast, Kirsten! You’ve covered interesting cases, and I love your storytelling style. I hope to say hi at TCPF next month!