Farmhouse Murder Pt. 2: A Minnesota True Crime Story

In the Spring of 1907, Katherine McCart agreed to keep house for her sister, Lizzie Kadelbach and brother-in-law, George Kadelbach in Long Lake, Minnesota. It was a convenient arrangement for everyone, Lizzie didn’t have to worry about her house while she was away visiting her family in California. And Katherine was able to attend to business in town without the long commute from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

However, the arrangement didn’t last long. Katherine went missing the same night she arrived. After a days long search, her body was found in the bottom of a well on George’s property and he became the prime suspect of her murder.

Read part one to get the full story.

Short on time? Skip ahead to the TL;DR.

Husband Under Suspicion

While Katherine’s autopsy was taking place, George was enjoying breakfast with his friend M.E. Chance’s family in Delano. Then shortly after, he got on a train for Minneapolis. (1)

That afternoon, the police arrested Katherine’s husband Herbert McCart. They were investigating a theory that he might have conspired with George to kill her in order to obtain the land that he had signed over to her a few years earlier.

Herbert admitted to visiting George’s farm on May 27th, three days after Katherine had gone missing. He claimed that he knew Katherine had been staying at George’s farm, but still her name never came up in their conversations. Even with this admission he insisted that he had nothing to do with her murder.

However, several neighbors actually saw him at George’s farm on May 25th, one day after Katherine supposedly went missing. (2)

The confession

While the police were interrogating Herbert, an urgent message came through. Katherine’s brother, Henry Clasen had received a letter from George. It was dated the day before.

In the letter, George confessed to killing Katherine, but put all the blame on her stating, “she has been wanting me to kill her and then myself ever since last fall, so I killed her and changed my mind about myself. Now I’m sorry that I done it.”

He went on to explain that for the last 10 years, he’d been unhappy with his life and was planning to end it. He wrote, “so in less than an hour I’ll be on my way to hell.” He said he planned to jump in the Crow River and they could find his body there. He also mentioned he had enough money in his pants pocket to pay for a burial.

Police immediately called his bluff.

Knowing he had a reputation for being cunning and somewhat of a storyteller, they figured he was lying. Just trying to throw them off his trail.

Following this theory, they sent one team to search the Crow River area and one team to track down any other leads around town in Delano.

The team in town learned George had not committed suicide the day before. Instead, he had been seen by several credible witnesses both the night before and that same morning. (3)

Katherine McCart

A town divided

As the news spread throughout Long Lake and the surrounding area, some people weren’t surprised. George had gotten a reputation around town for causing trouble and being hot-headed. Some people thought it was just a matter of time before he seriously injured someone. They said he’d never be taken without a fight. (4)

Like Herbert, George was an active member of the Lake Minnetonka Spiritualist Association and had a reputation of being very superstitious. A fortune teller once told him that he would “commit a grave crime and then kill himself”. According to his neighbors, this was something he talked about often. (4) (5)

Others, like Livingston Lydiard, who knew both Katherine and George well, were somewhat surprised. Livingston even implied George had a strong conscience. He told the Star Tribune that if George really did kill Katherine then he believed he wouldn’t be able to live with himself and that he’d commit suicide because, “he was just that sort of fellow.”

Katherine’s brothers had never liked the idea of their sister staying with George. They were both hot headed and were known to get into heated arguments. To them, this was a recipe for disaster. However, while they did think he might be dangerous they never imagined he was capable of murder. (3)

As authorities intensified their search for George, Katherine’s family held a short memorial service at her brother, August’s home. Nearly everyone in the area showed up, many wanted to pay their respects, while others, no doubt, showed up to satisfy some morbid curiosity.

She was laid to rest at the Holy Name Cemetery, presumably in an unmarked grave. (6)

Motive?

With a firm suspect and a confession letter in hand the police still needed one thing: a clear motive.

Herbert was very talkative while in jail. He was willing to discuss the case with anyone and everyone that showed interest and had a theory of his own to offer.

He said it was possible that George confessed to Katherine about killing her older brother, Mathias after the two of them moved to California in their early 20s. He suggested maybe Katherine had blackmailed George and in a fit of rage he killed her. (7)

Police had a few theories of their own. In the letter, George said Katherine had wanted him to kill her and then himself. Implying there might have been a romantic relationship between the two. But since George had already lied about jumping into the Crow River, the police weren’t inclined to believe this either.

They also tossed around the possibility that George had acted out of anger. They figured he and Katherine got into one of their explosive arguments. She said something that angered him and he snapped.

And of course there was the idea that Herbert had conspired with George. Police thought he might have wanted her dead so he could finally get his family land back from her. But ultimately, they dropped that theory and Herbert was released from police custody and no longer considered a suspect. (8)

Instead, they figured it was George who wanted a portion of that land. When Katherine wouldn’t give it to him, his temper got the better of him and he killed her. How they arrived at this theory is unclear. (9)

George Kadelbach

Will the real George Kadelbach please stand up?

Virtually the entire town warned the police that George was incredibly dangerous. Herbert had even said that George was likely carrying a loaded gun and if he was cornered, he wasn’t going to be taken without a fight. (10)

The next few days, people in Long Lake, Delano and Minneapolis were on high alert, any stranger that bore any vague resemblance to George was reported to the police. Several arrests were made, but none of them were George.

There were also a lot of sightings that didn’t result in arrests.

Anyone who spotted him, or at least thought they spotted him, knew how dangerous he was and weren’t willing to approach him. By time they got the police, whoever it was they spotted, was long gone never being able to be positively or negatively identified. (11)

With credible leads drying up, the police issued a reward. They were offering $250 for any information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of George Kadelbach. (12)

George in Anoka, Minnesota?

About a week after George went missing, he was indicted on first degree murder charges. (13)

The next day, a man fitting George’s description was found dead in Anoka, Minnesota, about 35 miles from Long Lake. The man was thought to have either jumped or fallen off a train. He was described as “fairly well dressed” wearing clothes from a shop in Minneapolis. He had $165 in his pants pocket and a meal ticket from a hotel in Minneapolis called the Wilbur House.

Detectives rushed to the scene hoping they finally had a break in the case. But after examining the body, it was determined the man wasn’t George. (14)

About a week later, authorities had the man’s body exhumed. Since the man so closely resembled George, investigators wanted Lizzie to identify the man herself in case the detectives had gotten it wrong.

With her sister in-law, Blanche, by her side she closely examined the man’s body. She noted there were many similarities to George. The dead man had deformed toes that were similar to George’s as well as a mole on his back. But after she examined his face and teeth more closely she determined the dead man wasn’t her husband.

Lizzie had actually hoped that the dead man was George. Afterward, she told the Star Tribune, “it would be a relief to know that he is really dead for he loved me and his children and I cannot bear the thought that he may be wandering about, still suffering the agony which I know he must suffer.” (15)

The police eventually got several credible leads indicating George had fled to California, possibly being kept out of sight with the help of his family. (16) However, they didn’t have the resources to go there to investigate. (9)

Kadelbach Farmhouse (Photo from the W.H.C.P.A. Collection)

Time goes on

As the months passed, authorities in both Minnesota and California stayed on high alert. But nothing definite ever arose.

The families stayed close and Lizzie even had Herbert and other family members over to her farm — the scene of the murder — in Long Lake on at least one occasion. (17)

Since they hadn’t been together for two years, Herbert had been left out of Katherine’s will. But they were still legally married and Herbert felt entitled to at least part of her estate. In December 1907, seven months after her murder, he took it up with a judge.

The judge sided with him and he was awarded ⅓ of her estate. Splitting it with their two daughters May and Louise. He now had part of the land he had originally transferred to Katherine before their divorce case in 1905. (18)

Lizzie wants a divorce

Through it all, Lizzie always maintained she didn’t think George had anything to do with the murder. To the surprise of the press and police, in June 1908, she sued George for divorce citing desertion. (19) She asked the court for permission to take back her maiden name of Clasen and sought custody of their two children. (20)

The divorce suit was highly anticipated. Authorities hoped it would shed some new light on the whereabouts of George. (20)

But after a couple of delays when Lizzie failed to appear in court (21), she was finally granted the divorce in October. No new information was gained. (22)

Around that same time, a man returning to Minnesota from California claimed to know George was living in Southern California.

The man claimed to have talked to another man from Minneapolis who had been in constant contact with George. The second man said that George carried a gun and was always on edge. He said George, if cornered, wasn’t going to go down without a fight. Ultimately, nothing came of this sighting and George was still at large. (23)

The last potential break in the case came in 1913, six years after the murder. A man fitting George’s description was seen in Fullerton, California. Officers, expecting a fight, rushed to the scene. However, they were caught off guard when the man went without incident.

When they got the man to the police station, it was determined he wasn’t George. Instead, he was Peter Clasen, Katherine and Lizzie’s brother. He was in town to bury his 18 month old son who had recently died. (24)

Aftermath: The McCarts

From there, the murder fell out of the public eye. And all the major players went on with their lives.

Through the years, Herbert’s interest in spiritualism and astrology grew. In 1909, Herbert along with Astrologer and fortune teller, Fred White formed the National Astrological Society. (25) They aimed to, among other things, “publish books and periodicals pertaining to astronomy, astrology and various occult subjects”. The reason for this formation was to help distinguish between real astrologers and fake astrologers. (26)

The organization even had plans to open a school and an affiliated church to “be teachers” of Fred’s “philosophies”. However, funding for the project never came through. (26)

A year later, with his daughters ready to move on with their lives, Herbert purchased the remaining ⅔ of Katherine’s land from them. The land he had originally given Katherine several years before. He finally had what he had wanted since their divorce suit in 1905. (27)

On May 16, 1943 Herbert suffered a heart attack while walking home. He wandered into an open field near his house and was found dead the next morning by neighbors. He was 77 years old. (28)

His coveted family land is now part of the Baker Regional Park Reserve. (29) (30)

For several years after their mother’s murder, May and Louisa McCart lived together in the same home they had shared with Katherine. (31) May, worked as a clerk at a doctor’s office. Louisa, affectionately known as Lulu, worked in a dry goods store. They lived together until May was married in 1915. (32)

May’s new husband was Harry Lang, a druggist. The couple divorced in 1923. (33) And she resumed working in the medical field. (34)

In 1931, she married widower and successful salesman, Carl Wollthen. (35) The couple remained married until his death in 1947. (36) May never remarried and spent her final days in a retirement home. (x) She died on Christmas Day 1979 at the age of 90. (38)

Lulu, got married in 1916 to a banker from South Dakota named Joseph Simmer. (39) The couple had one daughter, Mary who was born in 1923. (40) The family spent time in Colorado where Joseph worked as a salesman. The couple eventually retired to Utah where Lulu died in 1961 at the age of 69. (41)

Aftermath: Lizzie

Lizzie never remarried.

She continued to run the farm in Long Lake and spent a lot of her time in California with her children Alexander and Benjamin Christlieb and Albert and Clara Kadelbach. (42)

By 1917, the family moved to California permanently where Alexander and Benjamin had built their father’s orange groves into a profitable business. (43) (44)

Through her three sons, she had 10 grandchildren who remembered her for her tight silver top knot, speaking German when she didn’t want the kids to know what she was talking about and baking some of the best apple pies around. (45) (46)

She passed away in 1944 at the age of 85. (47)

Angus Baxter?

Authorities were always certain George was alive and had fled to California. They just never had the resources to prove it. It wasn’t until the late 1980s when his granddaughter shared a family tree with The Western Hennepin County Pioneer Association that some light was shone on his possible whereabouts.

On the family tree, in the spot for her grandfather it said, “George Kadelbach aka Angus Baxter”. Apparently, he had changed his name and assumed a new identity. (48)

We were able to locate Angus Baxter’s death certificate where Albert Kadelbach, Lizzie and George’s son, was listed as the informant. Angus died at the Orange County Hospital in California on November 23, 1930 at the age of 71. (49)

While several records for an Angus Baxter in California exist, there’s no way to prove whether they’re George or an actual person named Angus Baxter.

It may never be known exactly what sort of life George lived after escaping to California. Was he constantly on edge until the day he died waiting for authorities to take him in? Or did he kick back and relax knowing he’d never be caught? How close did he stay with the rest of his family? We’ll never know.

What we do know is, after a full life, he died in the comfort of a hospital and was given enough respect to have a proper burial. But Katherine — the woman he admitted to killing — died in a moment of fear before her body was dumped in a well with the hopes of it never being found.

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TL;DR

After Katherine McCart’s lifeless body was found in the bottom of a well on George Kadelbach’s property he wrote a fake suicide note saying he’d murdered her and that he didn’t deserve to live. He then escaped to California where he lived out the rest of his days.

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