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Anna Wiese Part 2 the investigation

July 29, 2012
Sue Eckhoff - Grundy County Heritage Museum , Reinbeck Courier

On August 30, 1893, the day of Anna's funeral, Albert "Bert" Isenhart, a 23 year old barber who previously worked in nearby Gladbrook and was known to admire Anna, was arrested for her murder. From the night of the murder on, the neighborhood buzzed about Isenhart. Everyone knew he was enamored by Anna. A letter from him was found in her possession, stating his affection and begging her not to laugh at his declarations of love. Anna had first met Isenhart during the spring of 1892. Anna's brother said Isenhart called on her several times, but she was not interested in him. On the Sunday before the murder, Isenhart gave Anna a ride home from church and she rejected his suit. Isenhart bought a train ticket for Dubuque where he worked for a haying crew. Despite his alibi many continued to blame him.

With Isenhart out of the picture, the investigation began again, much of it concentrating on the 160 acre Bennett farm just east of the murder scene. Blood stains were left near a fence there, and foot prints led from the scene towards their house. Inside the Bennett house investigators found blood on the frame of the kitchen door and more blood on a porcelain screen door knob. They also discovered a blue blood stained blouse in a trunk under some papers. All of the buttons matched except the bottom one, which was metal and looked to be from a man's trousers. Earlier a button similar to the matched ones on the blouse was found midway between the murder scene and the Bennett house.

A large reward was offered by the governor, creating even more agitation in the area, motivating detectives and wannabes. Every "detective" was allowed to investigate in any way they chose. Unfortunately that included exhuming the body, which was done at least twice in two months.

Article Photos

Gravestone of Anna Wiese in the Vienna Twp Cemetery south of Beaman.
Photo submitted by Kevin Williams

In October the Marshall County Sheriff went to Chicago and hired Pinkerton Detective, Barney Shultz, who came to Iowa and spent four weeks studying the murder. During his investigation a prime suspect emerged. Shultz believed the crime was committed by a woman, specifically Emily Bennett. On November 9, a Marshall County grand jury returned an indictment against Bennett for the murder of Anna Wiese, and she was arrested that afternoon.

Emily was placed in a cell with Maud Stover, who later testified against her. Her testimony indicated that if she (Emily) suffered, others would also, and if she had to go to the pen, she had to go.

After her arrest, Emily was sullen, morose, and refused to talk. The Bennets hired father-son legal team Oliver and Ernest Burford, and their colleague Obed Caswell. At a bail hearing in November the gathered crowd was disappointed when Emily Bennett was not there. Her attorneys pled not guilty in her absence. Judge Weaver ordered her held on a $10,000 bond, which most of the community felt the Bennetts could not make. However, Emily Bennett posted bond after 23 people (including Anna's employer Henry Russie), put up the money.

(Next week the Trial)



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