Birth name: Joseph Lee Brenner III
A.K.A.: "The shoemaker"
Characteristics: Child abuse - Serial rapist - Mutilation
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: 1974 - 1975
Date of arrest: January 17, 1975
Date of birth: December 11, 1936
Victims profile: Jose Collazo, a Puerto Rican youth / Joseph, Jr., his son / Maria Fasching, 21-year-old nurse
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife / Drowning
Location: Pennsylvania/New Jersey, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on October 14, 1976. Died in prison March 26, 1996
Joseph Kallinger (December 11, 1935 – March 26, 1996) was an American serial killer who murdered three people and tortured four families. He committed these crimes with his 13-year-old son Michael.
Kallinger was born Joseph Lee Brenner III at the Northern Liberties Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Joseph Lee Brenner, Jr. and his wife Judith. In December 1937, the child was placed in a foster home, after his father had abandoned his mother.
On October 15, 1939, he was adopted by Stephen and Anna Kallinger. He was abused by both his foster parents so severely that, at age six, he suffered a hernia inflicted by his foster father. The punishments Kallinger endured included kneeling on jagged rocks, being locked inside closets, consuming excrement, committing self-injury, being burned with irons, being whipped with belts, and being starved. When he was nine, he was sexually assaulted by a group of neighborhood boys.
As a child, Kallinger often rebelled against his teachers and his foster parents. He dreamed of becoming a playwright, and had directed his school's performance of A Christmas Carol in the ninth grade. When Kallinger was 15, he began a sexual relationship with a schoolmate named Hilda Bergman. His parents told him not to see her, but he married her and had two children with her. She later left him because of the domestic violence she suffered at his hands. Kallinger remarried in 1958, after he was released from a mental hospital, and had five children with his second wife. He was extremely abusive towards his wife and his children, and often inflicted the same punishments on them that he had suffered from his foster parents.
Throughout the next decade, Kallinger would spend time in and out of mental institutions for attempting suicide and committing arson, after setting his house on fire three times.
He was arrested and imprisoned in 1972 on child abuse charges after three of his children went to the police. While in jail, he had scored 82 on an IQ test and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and state psychiatrists recommended that he be supervised with his family. The children later recanted their allegations, however. Two years later, Kallinger's son Joseph, Jr. was drowned by Joseph Sr. and Michael.
Beginning in July 1974, Kallinger and his 13-year-old son Michael went on a crime spree spanning Philadelphia; Baltimore, Maryland; and New Jersey. Over the next six weeks, they robbed, assaulted, and sexually abused four families and murdered three people, gaining entrance to each house by pretending to be salesmen. On January 8, 1975, they committed another robbery/assault in Leonia, New Jersey, killing 21-year-old nurse Maria Fasching who entered the house to check on a bed-ridden family member.
Arrest and imprisonment
Police began investigating Kallinger after gathering physical evidence (a blood-stained t-shirt) and eyewitness testimony that he and his son had been seen in the area. They soon found out about Kallinger's history of domestic violence, Joseph Jr.'s unsolved death, and a series of arsons targeted against buildings he owned.
Kallinger and his son were arrested on kidnapping and rape charges, and eventually charged with three counts of murder in New Jersey state courts. Kallinger pleaded insanity, claiming God had told him to kill.
He was found sane, however, and sentenced to life in prison on October 14, 1976. Michael Kallinger, meanwhile, was judged to be under his father's control. He was sentenced to a reformatory. Upon his release at 21, he moved out of the state and changed his name.
While in prison, Kallinger made several suicide attempts, including attempting to set himself on fire. Because of his suicidal and violent behavior, Kallinger was transferred to a mental hospital in Trenton, New Jersey. He was transferred to a mental hospital in Philadelphia on May 18, 1979.
Joseph Kallinger died of an epileptic seizure on March 26, 1996. He spent the last 11 years of his life on suicide watch.
Joseph Kallinger, a cobbler by trade, led a life steeped in madness and crime. As an adopted child he grew up under the constant abuse from his parents. It is no surprise that when he became a father he was abusive too. On January 23, 1972 he branded his oldest daughter for running away. He was arrested for child abuse and found incompetent to stand trial.
By mid-1974 he was constantly hearing voices from a floating head that followed him around. God also spoke to him and told him to kill young boys and sever their penises. Eager to comply, Joe enlisted his 13-year-old son, Michael, and proceeded to torture and murder a nine-year-old Puerto Rican youth.
Their next victim was one of his own children, Joe Jr., who had previously accused him of abuse. For such a transgression the hapless youngster was found drowned in an abandoned building.
On Jan. 8, 1975, Kallinger and Mike gained entrance to a house in Leonia, N.J., by posing as salesmen. For the next several hours, they beat, robbed and terrorized the eight people inside. One of the eight, a 21-year-old nurse named Maria Fasching, who had stopped at the house to aid an elderly neighbor and friend, was taken to the basement, tied up, sexually assaulted, and killed. A bloodstained shirt left by one of the intruders was traced by a laundry mark to Kallinger, who lived with his family in a cramped apartment above his shoe repair shop in Philadelphia.
Michael, a juvenile, was placed on probation until his twenty-fifth birthday. He is now free and is believed to have changed his name. After his capture Joseph was pronounced paranoid and schizophrenic by psychiatrists. During his New Jersey trial, he sometimes moaned and babbled incoherently. Nevertheless, the jury concluded that he had known right from wrong and convicted him of murder.
Joe was given 40 years in jail in Pennsylvania for a series of robberies followed by a life sentence in New Jersey for the murder of Maria Fasching. In jail Joe has expressed repeatedly his desire to kill every person on earth. Once he slashed a fellow inmate's throat and poured lighter fluid on himself, torched up, and tried to fry an egg on his head.
After that he was moved to the Farview State Hospital for the criminally insane where he would talk to God whom he said he'll become after death. In recent years, Kallinger has expressed remorse, refused to eat and attempted suicide. On March 26, 1996 the cobbler-turned-killer who terrorized New Jersey suburbs two decades ago died of a seizure. He was 59 years old. Now we can only wonder if indeed he his assuming the responsibilities of the Man above.
Where do we start with this guy?
Well, Joe lived in a 20 foot pit in the cellar of his house.
He also wore wedges in his shoes to adjust the 'list' in his body to harmonize with his brain.
And to top it off -
He was constantly in touch with both God and Satan. It seems that both of Them wanted Joseph to bring about Armageddon and annihilate all of mankind. A pretty tall order for one man you might think. Well Joseph didn't. He decided to follow Their orders.
In preparation for his assault on mankind Kallinger and his 12-year-old son went on a year long robbery spree basically stealing anything that wasn't bolted down. From mid 1973 till the time of their first abduction in '74 they were never caught in the act.
On July 7, 1974, Kallinger decided to move onto bigger and better things. He came across a young boy playing in a Philadelphia playground alone. Not long after the boy was found dead - badly sexually mutilated. Challenger's mission was in operation.
Also in July of '74, Kallinger took a large insurance policy out on his second son. It seems that the boy had out lived his usefulness and on the 28th on July 'tragically' drowned. But of course that had nothing to do with the insurance money - did it?
The Kallingers decided to kick off 1975 with a big robbery. They held a few hostages when one must have taken Kallinger's eye. She ended up dead. The Kallinger's fled, but didn't do a great job of covering their tracks. the were caught easily and charged with kidnapping, robbery and assault.
Kallinger was found guilty of the the lesser charges so police could have him safely locked up while they gathered evidence of more serious charges. And that they did. But by the time the trial came around Kallinger had totally lost it. He was speaking to his 'Lords' every day, and had now developed a second personality - Charlie - who he now said was the person behind the murders. It became obvious to anyone who spend a few minutes with the man that he was a complete nutjob, but the State was really after 'justice', so he was found sane enough to distinguish right from wrong.
He was found guilty of murder on October 14, 1976, and sentenced to life in prison, but Kallinger wasn't too interested in being a caged animal.
On March 15, 1977, Kallinger set fire to his prison cell, fighting off the guards as they were trying to save him. Unfortunately for Kallinger he didn't die. Apparently he was attempting to fry an egg on his head by covering himself in lighter fluid cracking the egg on his head, then lighting himself up.
He was moved to a more appropriate place - A psychiatric Hospital in Trenton, New Jersey. But this place was not to be to his liking either. He stripped the plastic cover from his mattress and attempted to suffocate himself with it. But once again he was not to be in luck. He was saved again to be forced to live a life he obviously didn't want. After another suicide attempt in this facility it became obvious that Kallinger needed to be moved to a more strict Asylum.
On May 18, 1978, he was moved to Pennsylvania's Fairview State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. The place he should have been sent to in the first place. While here he slashed the throat of a fellow inmate, seriously injuring him. Also while here it was reported that Kallinger still had regular conversations with his invisible friends, and decided that he was going to replace God when he died. He also showed remorse for the murders during this time.
I have been reliably informed that he died of a seizure on March 26, 1996. It is unknown whether or not Kallinger had replaced God, but I bet that if he did the world would become a pretty interesting place.
In case you were wondering -
Michael Kallinger, his accomplice and son, was placed on probation until his twenty-fifth birthday. He is now free and is believed to have changed his name.
Born December 11, 1936, in Philadelphia, Kallinger was surrendered for adoption as an infant, finding a home with Austrian immigrants Stephen and Anna Kallinger in October 1938.
His childhood was bizarre, to say the least, marked by parental abuse in the form of floggings with a cat-o'-nine-tails, beatings with a hammer, and repeated threats of emasculation. In the summer of 1944, Kallinger was sexually abused at knifepoint by a gang of older boys, prompting subsequent episodes in which he masturbated while clenching a knife in his fist.
Kallinger married his first wife at age 17, the stormy relationship producing ten children before she abandoned their home for another man in September 1956. A year later, Joseph was hospitalized with a suspected brain lesion, but tests revealed only a "psychopathological nervous disorder."
Married a second time in April 1958, Kallinger soon torched his own home for amusement, reaping the fringe benefit of $1,600 from fire insurance. Committed to a state hospital in July 1959, following a suicide attempt, Kallinger would set fire to the family's second home on four separate occasions -- twice in May 1963, once in August 1965, and once in October 1967.
By 1972, the Kallingers had six children at home, including two from his failed first marriage. On January 23 of that year, Joseph branded his oldest daughter's thigh with a hot iron, as punishment for running away. Arrested a week later, he was found incompetent for trial and held for 60 days psychological examination, ultimately ruled fit for trial in June. Conviction on child abuse charges earned him four years probation, with a provision for mandatory psychiatric treatment.
By mid-1974, Kallinger was reportedly hallucinating constantly, holding animated discussions with a disembodied head (dubbed "Charlie") and receiving personal "orders from God." The divine orders included demands that Kallinger murder young boys and sever their genitals, an urge that he confided to his son, 13-year-old Michael, on June 26. When Joe requested Michael's help, the boy responded with enthusiasm: "Glad to do it, Dad!" Eleven days later, they murdered Jose Collazo, a Puerto Rican youth, in Philadelphia, first torturing their victim and cutting off his penis.
Kallinger next set his sights on one of his own children, Joseph, Jr. In his first attempt, Joe tried to make the boy back off a cliff, cartoon-style, while posing for photographs. Failing in that, he took both boys along on a July 25 arson run, bungling an attempt to trap Joe Junior in a burning trailer. Finally, three days later, Kallinger and Michael drowned their victim at a demolition site, the body recovered by authorities on August 9, 1974. Questioned as a suspect in the murder, Kallinger was not arrested due to lack of evidence.
That autumn, the father-son team began ranging farther afield in their search for victims. On November 22, they burglarized a house in Lindenwold, New Jersey, but no one was home. At their second stop, victim Joan Carty was tied to her bed and sexually abused by Joe Kallinger. Eleven days later, in Susquehanna Township, Pennsylvania, five hostages were bound and robbed at knifepoint, the Kallingers making off with $20,000 in cash and jewelry after slashing one victim's breast. Striking in Homeland, Maryland -- a Baltimore suburb -- father and son held Pamela Jaske captive in her home, forcing her to fellate Joseph at gunpoint. On January 6, the ritual was repeated in Dumont, New Jersey, with victim Mary Rudolph.
Two days later, on January 8, Kallinger and son invaded a home at Leonia, New Jersey, holding eight captives at gunpoint while they ransacked the house. Nurse Maria Fasching was stabbed to death for refusing Joe's order to bite off a male victim's penis, but Kallinger got careless during the getaway, discarding a bloody shirt near the scene. Officers traced the shirt to its owner, and the Kallingers were arrested on January 17 by a joint raiding party of federal and state authorities. (Two months later, Michael Kallinger was ruled delinquent but "salvageable," with murder charges dismissed in return for his guilty plea on two counts of robbery. He was placed on probation until his twenty-fifth birthday, in December 1982.)
Joe Kallinger's first trial, in Pennsylvania, ended with a hung jury in June 1975. Three months later, at his retrial, he was convicted on nine felony counts, sentenced to prison for 30 to 80 years by a judge who called him "an evil man... utterly vile and depraved." Convicted of the New Jersey murder in October 1976, Kallinger received a mandatory life sentence, to run consecutively with his time in Pennsylvania.
Kallinger's violent outbursts have continued in prison, with Joseph setting himself on fire in March 1977. A month later, he assaulted a fellow inmate before lighting a fire on his cell block. In March 1978, he slashed another convict's throat in an unprovoked attack, but his victim managed to survive.
Ten years later, in televised interviews, Kallinger expressed his continuing desire to slaughter every person on hearth, after which he hoped to commit suicide and "become God".
By that time, Kallinger had been tried and convicted (en enero de 1984) of murdering Jose Collazo and his own son Joseph Jr., drawing two more consecutive life sentences. Briefly transferred to Pennsylvania's Fairview State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in 1990, after a new spate of suicide attempts and "religious" hunger strikes, Kalliger was back in state prison on March 26, 1996, when he choked to death on his own vomit in the prison infirmary.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers
Kallinger, Joseph & Michael
Joseph Kallinger, a cobbler by trade, led a life steeped in madness and crime. As an adopted child he grew up under the constant abuse from his parents. It is no surprise that when he became a father he was abusive too. On January 23, 1972 he branded his oldest daughter for running away. He was arrested for child abuse and found incompetent to stand trial.
By mid-1974 he was constantly hearing voices from a floating head that followed him around. God also spoke to him and told him to kill young boys and sever their penises. Eager to comply, Joe enlisted his 12-year-old son, Michael, and proceeded to torture and murder a nine-year-old Puerto Rican youth. Their next victim was one of his own children, Joe Jr. who had previously accused him of abuse. He was found drowned in an abandoned building. By the third murder they were caught.
On Jan. 8, 1975, Kallinger and his son gained entrance to a house in Leonia, N.J., by posing as salesmen. For the next several hours, they beat, robbed and terrorized the eight people inside. One of the eight, a 21-year-old nurse named Maria Fasching, who had stopped at the house to aid an elderly neighbor and friend, was taken to the basement, tied up, sexually assaulted, and killed. A bloodstained shirt left by one of the intruders was traced by a laundry mark to Kallinger, who lived with his family in a cramped apartment above his shoe repair shop in Philadelphia.
Michael, who was still a minor, was placed on probation until his twenty-fifth birthday. He is now free and is believed to have changed his name. After his capture Joseph was pronounced paranoid and schizophrenic by psychiatrists. During his New Jersey trial, he sometimes moaned and babbled incoherently and would foam at the mouth. Nevertheless, the jury concluded that he had known right from wrong and convicted him of murder.
Joe was given 40 years in jail in Pennsylvania for a series of robberies followed by a life sentence in New Jersey for the murder of Maria Fasching. In jail Joe has expressed repeatedly his desire to kill every person on earth including himself. He set fire to his own cell in an attempt to kill himself and also tried to suffocate himself. After that he was moved to the Farview State Hospital for the criminally insane where he would talk to God whom he said he'll become after death.
In recent years, Kallinger expressed remorse, refused to eat and attempted suicide yet again. On March 26, 1996 the cobbler-turned-killer who terrorized New Jersey suburbs two decades ago died of a seizure. He was 59 years old.
Joseph and Michael Kallinger
There is nothing unusual about an American father taking his son out hunting. But late in the morning of January 8, 1975, when Joseph Kallinger took his thirteen-year-old son out on a hunting expedition, they didn’t go out into the woods, as they weren’t after conventional game. The quarry they sought was human. Their preference was young, attractive women, especially those who were at home looking after small children.
Their devious quest began early the same day when they left their home in suburban Philadelphia and took a bus to New York. From there they traveled to Fort Lee, New Jersey. Not finding anything to their particular liking, they walked on into the neighboring town of Leonia.
With only 9,000 residents, Leonia was a classic small town complete with small town values. People kept to themselves and generally minded their own business, but, when strangers entered their midst the well-meaning residents usually took careful note. Perhaps in a larger, busier community, the sight of a man and his school-age son walking along a suburban street in the middle of a week day may have gone unnoticed but not in Leonia.
A local postman, Salvatore Tufo, was doing his normal round when he saw them walking south along Reldes Avenue just before eleven o’clock. He noted that they walked casually and without purpose and seemed to be scanning the houses as they went. What was also unusual to Tufo was the way the man and boy related to each other. As he watched them walk by, he noted that they were holding hands and occasionally cuddled each other. He considered this behavior strange, almost effeminate.
Lucy Bevacqua, another local, saw the strange couple at five minutes past twelve. While she was talking on the telephone, she glanced out the window and noticed them walking south along Glenwood Avenue. She may have forgotten the sighting had it not been for the boy’s actions, which she later described as “offensively effeminate.”
Ten minutes later Lucy left the house. The man and the boy were still strolling south along Glenwood. At three twenty, Lucy returned home to wait for her daughter to arrive home from school. Her daughter Andrea arrived home ten minutes later. Shortly after, Lucy went out to check her mailbox. As she glanced across the street her neighbor, Edwina Romaine, hopped out of the front door of her house at number 124 Glenwood. She was screaming.
As Lucy approached, she heard Edwina babbling something about a killing. Lucy, knowing that Edwina’s husband DeWitt was in hospital following a severe heart attack, thought that he must have died.
It was then that Edwina collapsed on the edge of her porch and asked Lucy to untie her feet, which appeared to be bound together with a thin cord. Instead Lucy ran home and called the police.
Four hours earlier, at about the time that Salvatore Tufo witnessed the strangers walking up Reldes Avenue, Didi Romaine Wiseman and her four-year-old son Robert arrived at her parent’s house. Didi, at twenty-eight, was the eldest of the Romaine’s three children and the only one married. She was also blond, pretty and well built. Her sisters, twenty-one-year-old twins Randi and Retta, still lived at home.
Didi was at the house to spend the morning looking after her ailing grandmother while her mother, sister Retta and Retta’s boyfriend were visiting an elderly relative. Randi was visiting her father in hospital.
When they had gone, Didi went down to the basement to catch up on some washing. At midday, her seven-year-old daughter Wendy came home from school for lunch. At 12:45 Didi left the house to drive Wendy back to school. As she drove away, she noticed a man and a boy walking along Glenwood Avenue. They also noticed her.
She returned to the house shortly after, checked on her grandmother and began tidying the house. While she worked, she looked out the window and saw the man and boy approaching the house. She met them at the front door where the man identified himself as a “John Hancock” salesman. He then asked if there was anyone else in the house. Spooked by his demeanor, Didi told him to go away. Joseph Kallinger then grabbed Didi and forced his way into the house while his son Michael stood passively on the porch. She would later recall that the man was swarthy with dark, penetrating eyes and had a strange body odor.
Didi fought back and during the struggle the man produced a chrome-plated revolver. Hearing the disturbance, Didi’s son Robert entered the room and, seeing his mother struggling with a stranger, began to scream. Kallinger Sr. then turned Robert and pointed the gun at his head. “This is a robbery,” he said, grabbing her by the hair. “Do as I say and you won’t get hurt.”
He then placed the gun in his pocket and drew out a long knife. “Don’t look at me,” he ordered Didi. “Keep your eyes shut.” When he asked again if there was anyone else in the house, Didi told him about her invalid grandmother. Forcing her to walk in front of him, he pushed Didi up the stairs to the grandmother’s bedroom with Robert clinging desperately to his mother. Kallinger then ordered Michael, who had quietly entered the house during the ruckus, to check the old woman to see if she really was an invalid. The boy did so and in a high squeaky voice confirmed that she was.
Satisfied, Kallinger pushed Didi into a vacant bedroom and asked for scissors. After she told him that she didn’t know where they were he gagged her and wrapped tape around her face, covering her eyes and mouth. “Take off your clothes,” he ordered.
She shook her head. Unperturbed, he undressed her. He asked if anyone else would be coming home. Didi nodded again. He then removed her jewelry and tied her hands behind her back.
Kallinger asked what time her daughter was due home. She held up her hand indicating five. He then tied her elbows and ankles before binding them together with electrical cord. She then heard him yell out to his son to check that the front door was locked. Kallinger then stripped Robert naked and laid him on the bed next to his mother.
Returning to Didi, Kallinger rolled her onto her back and forced her legs apart. Alarmed that she was menstruating, he removed her Tampon and threw it on the floor in disgust. Shortly after, the doorbell rang. It was Didi’s sister Randi, home from the hospital.
Randi was surprised to find the door locked. As she was trying to unlock it a strange man opened it and dragged her inside. Putting a gun to her head, Kallinger told her it was a robbery and to do as she was told. As before, he told her to keep her eyes shut and pushed her up the stairs. When he demanded money she gave him five dollars.
He pushed her along the hall and entered the bedroom where Didi and Robert lay naked on the bed. Randi opened her eyes and, seeing Didi and Robert lying naked on the bed began to panic, thinking they were dead. To settle her, Kallinger allowed her to check if they were breathing. Again he asked for money. She told him that there was some in a box on the dresser. While the boy checked the box the man ordered Randi to strip.
As she complied Kallinger took out his knife. When he asked if there were any more people coming home she told him that there would be lots of people coming home. He ignored her and bound her as he had done with her sister. When he rolled her over he saw that she was also menstruating and cried, “What’s this?” before leaving the room. As Randi wondered what would happen next, the doorbell rang again.
Family at Risk
Edwina Romaine returned home to find her door locked. Retta and her boyfriend, Frank Welby were with her. She was reaching forward to ring the bell when a swarthy stranger with a gun opened the door and ordered them inside. The instructions were the same as before “Do as you’re told and you won’t get hurt.”
He ordered them into the living room and forced them to lie down, Edwina and Retta on one side of the room and Frank on the other. Kallinger then removed their jewelry and watches and bound the women’s feet with venetian blind cord. Michael then held a gun to Frank’s head while his father bound Frank’s hands with his own belt. Satisfied, he ordered Michael to bind the women’s feet with the cord from a vacuum cleaner. He tied Retta as he was told but had trouble tying Edwina’s hands. “Don’t bother with her,” his father told him, “She’s too old to do anything anyway.”
The man and boy then left the room to look for valuables. The phone rang but Kallinger ignored it and eventually it stopped. Not long after there was a knock at the door and again Kallinger Sr. went to open it. From the living room Edwina recognized the voice at the door. It was her twenty-one year-old neighbor, Maria Fasching. She then heard raised voices before Maria was also herded into the living room and forced to lie down.
Possibly seeing Frank – the only male hostage – as a threat to his plans, Kallinger produced a handkerchief and gagged Frank before binding tape around his face and hog-tying his hands to his feet. Barely able to move, Frank was then ordered down to the basement where his pants and underwear were pulled down to his knees. Kallinger then took out his knife and held the blade against the base of Frank’s penis. “If you move, this goes,” Kallinger warned him.
A short while later Frank heard Maria’s voice protesting as she was led down into the basement. Bound as he was he couldn’t see anything but he heard enough to assume that Maria was being raped. While the attack continued the blower of the furnace he was laying next to started up and drowned out most of the noise but Frank was sure he could still hear Maria screaming.
While Frank wasn’t sure what he had heard, everyone else in the house heard Maria’s screams clearly and trembled in fear. “Help me!” she cried, “He’s hurting me, I’m drowning!” This was followed by a gurgling sound.
Fearing that she or her daughters would be next, Edwina jumped to her feet and hobbled towards the front door screaming and made it out the front door as Michael Kallinger screamed, “Somebody’s loose!” In the living room Retta rolled herself behind a sofa to hide. Randi, still in the upstairs bedroom, pulled her feet free of her bindings and ran to a window to try and see why her mother was outside screaming.
When police Sergeant Robert R. MacDougall and his partner Sergeant Henry Alston received a radio call directing them to attend to a screaming woman complaint at 124 Glenwood Avenue, they didn’t know what to expect. When they pulled up outside the Romaine house, MacDougall, a twenty-three year veteran, knew instinctively that it was serious.
He was met by Lucy Bevacqua who told him she had called on behalf of her neighbor Edwina who was screaming and hysterical. As he and Alston approached the house, they saw Edwina on the porch, her legs still tied. Seeing the police she screamed that two men with guns and knives were killing her family and begged them to go in and save them. Hearing the mention of weapons, MacDougall ran back to his car and called for backup.
Returning to the house he drew his service revolver and gingerly entered the house while his partner tended to Edwina. Inside the door he stopped and listened before walking quietly down a hallway that led to the kitchen. Passing the living room he saw the mess that had been left. Smashed vases and other items littered the floor. Lamps and appliances, their cords missing, lay strewn about the room. Hearing a noise from the other side of the room he pointed his revolver towards it and called, “Come out with your hands up.”
A terrified Retta Romaine crawled out from behind the sofa. MacDougall asked who else was in the house but she couldn’t speak. Eventually, with great effort, she stuttered a single word – “Upstairs.” MacDougall untied her and told her to get out of the house before proceeding up the stairs.
Reaching the top of the stairs he heard moaning and whimpering noises from a bedroom to his left. Scanning the hallway ahead he stepped forward and peered into the room. Randi Romaine sat naked on the floor, her hands still bound, her head swathed in adhesive tape.
Her sister Didi and her nephew Robert lay on the bed, also naked but unharmed. MacDougall untied them. At that time Detective Roger Quinton had arrived at the house and was informed by Edwina that there were others in the basement. He and two other officers quickly found the stairs to the basement and descended. It was in pitch darkness. Fumbling for the light switch, Quinton turned it on to reveal the body of a young woman slumped in a corner. She was still dressed but her white clothes were bathed in blood. As Quinton stepped closer he saw that her throat had been slashed from ear to ear. As she feared, Maria Fasching had indeed drowned – in her own blood.
Hearing moans from the other end of the basement, the police soon discovered Frank Welby, bound and blinded by adhesive tape, huddled next to a furnace. He was unharmed.
It didn’t take the police long to search the rest of the house and realize that the assailants had fled. With the exception of Maria, everyone in the house was unharmed. The police were puzzled. Most of the occupants had either been stripped naked or partially naked and taunted sexually. Yet Maria had not been stripped or sexually molested in any way prior to her murder.
Descriptions of the Kallingers were circulated and the entire Leonia police department placed on alert.
While the police searched, another resident of Leonia was calling them. Eva Rumi lived only a few streets away from the Romaines. She told the police that she had been walking her dog in nearby Sylvan Park, when she saw a man and a teenage boy run into the park – they were hand in hand. As she watched, they stopped near a basketball court where another teenager was playing basketball. The man took off his dark overcoat and handed it to the boy while he removed his shirt and tie and threw it on the ground. He then bent forward and did something on the ground. The pair then ran out of the park. After they had gone, she walked over to where the clothes had been left near a puddle and realized that the man had been washing his hands in it.
The clothes were streaked with mud and what looked like patches of blood. Eva returned home, stopping just long enough to talk to the boy in the basketball court about the couple’s strange behavior.
Soon after Eva placed her call, Sergeant MacDougall arrived at her house and, after hearing her story, drove her to the park to examine the discarded shirt and tie. The boy was no longer at the basketball court but later confirmed Eva’s story and provided the police with an accurate description of Michael and Joseph Kallinger.
Although the blood-spattered shirt and tie weren’t immediately connected to the Fasching murder, they were retained and examined for further clues. The details from a laundry mark and a manufacturers label on the shirt were circulated in an attempt to trace its owner. The Romaine house was also closely examined for fingerprints and other trace evidence. In one of the upstairs rooms, detectives found a typewriter case full of property belonging to the occupants of the house – the attackers had obviously left in hurry.
In the days following the attack, with news of Maria Fasching’s murder spreading rapidly throughout the small community, the police were flooded with reports of alleged sightings of the two strangers. One such sighting was reported by a man who told police how a dark-eyed stranger in a dark topcoat and a teenage boy with long blond hair and a ski cap had come to his house on that same morning. When his stepdaughter answered the door, the boy asked her if the Joneses lived there. When the man went to the door to see who his stepdaughter was talking to, the man and boy left in an obvious hurry.
The most important sighting of all was from the local bus driver who reported a man and boy getting on his bus during the afternoon of January 8. The bus was heading out of Leonia to George Washington Bridge via Fort Lee. The driver remembered the pair clearly, describing them in detail. He also told detectives that they seemed to be in a hurry and looked as if they had been running.
With sightings confirming the pair’s arrival and departure in and from Leonia, the police began piecing together a map of the route Kallinger and son had used both in and out of town. The assistant prosecutor for Bergen County, Larry J. McClure, took over the investigation and ordered a full search of the streets used as an escape by the strangers. He reasoned that if they went to the trouble of discarding a shirt and tie, the couple might have dumped other items as well.
His hunch paid off. Lieutenant Paul Dittmar of the Leonia police was searching Park Avenue, part of the escape route, when he found a man’s watch with a distinctive blue face. It was hidden in shrubbery. Two blocks further on he found a brown leather knife sheath. Ten minutes later he found a knife. It had a round, black handle and a four-and-a-half inch blade, which was razor sharp and stained with blood. (An autopsy conducted the day after the murder revealed that Maria Fasching had died from multiple stab wounds to the chest and deep slashing wounds to the neck. The wounds in her chest were later matched with the blade dimensions of the knife found by the detective.)
An hour later, the same detective found a chrome plated .32-caliber revolver dumped in a hedge. It was fully loaded. Nearby he found Edwina Romaine’s Timex watch and a garnet ring belonging to her daughter Didi. As the search wound up for the day other jewelry was found in the same area.
Any hopes the police had of tracing the assailant via the gun or the knife disappeared when they were examined. The knife had no obvious markings or brand name and the serial number on the gun had been filed off. They also drew a blank with the shirt. They had ascertained that it had been manufactured in Philadelphia and bore the laundry mark “KAL,” they had no way of tracing it’s ownership.
Working on the premise that the same pair had committed similar offences in other areas, Prosecutor McClure sent out notices to police departments along the east coast, requesting any information on any incidences involving a man and boy.
Within days he received a response. A man and boy answering the same description had been suspected of four similar events in the previous six weeks. The first report was in Lindenwold, New Jersey on November 22, 1974. This was followed by attacks in Harrisburg Pennsylvania on December 3, Baltimore, December 10 and Dumont New Jersey on January 6. The reports all agreed on two distinct details. The suspects had approached residents using the ruse “Do the Joneses live here?” and the victims had all described the man’s unusual smell.
No murders had been committed in the previous attacks but a woman in Harrisburg had received a deep cut to her breast. All were attacked at their front door before being forced inside. They were then tied up and robbed. Out of all the attacks, only two victims were sexually assaulted. This consisted of Joseph Kallinger forcing the women to perform fellatio on him. On one occasion he ordered one of his victims to “let the boy do whatever he wants,” and left his son alone with her. According to the woman, the boy undressed and tried to have sex with her but was unable to sustain an erection.
In all, fifty-three matching fingerprints were taken from the Romaine house and the homes of the other victims and sent to the FBI for identification. No matches were found. Further examination of the search yielded a complete name – “KALINGER.” A search of criminal records in the surrounding police districts and FBI files was made for the name but again no match was found.
Finally, a detective attempting to trace the shirt got a break. The entire production run of the company that made the shirt was sold through one retail outlet, Berg Brothers department store in Philadelphia. After interviewing the staff, the detective learned that the shirt had been sold during the autumn of 1973 to an unknown customer. Assuming the purchaser of the shirt was a resident of Philadelphia, the detective, Robert Roseman rang the Philadelphia police and asked if they had any record of a guy with the name KALINGER or similar. Unknown to Roseman, the Philadelphia computer had already drawn a blank on the name search because it was looking for a different spelling but the officer Roseman spoke to recognized the sound of the name, not the way it was spelled. His correct name was Joseph M. Kallinger, a resident of Philadelphia; he also had a police record.
The file that the Philadelphia police had on Kallinger included his current address and photographs, which matched the descriptions the victims had provided. With their quarry pinpointed, the police set about compiling evidence against him. Knowing that Kallinger lived at 2723 North Front Street in the Kensington district of Philadelphia, just a few blocks from the department store where he had bought the shirt, they began canvassing the laundries and dry-cleaners in the district to confirm that the shirt belonged to him.
They found what they were looking for when they approached Joseph Felcher, the owner of “Bright Sun Cleaners” located just up the block from Kallinger’s house. As soon as he was shown the bloodstained shirt he told them – “That’s Joe Kallinger’s, he runs the shoe repair place down the block!” When asked how he could be so sure it was his without even looking at the laundry mark he replied, “The smell, his shirts always smell like that.” (The smell was later found to be from a pungent glue that Kallinger used to repair shoes.) Felcher also explained why Kallinger’s name was misspelled on the laundry mark. The marking machine was only capable of printing eight letters so he had left one letter off.
With the shirt identified they sought to learn more about their suspect. From the file they learned that Kallinger was a self-employed shoe repairman who worked out of his own shop at the same address as his house in Front Street. He had learned his trade from his adoptive father Stephen Kallinger, an Austrian immigrant who had died in 1965 aged seventy-two. Joseph’s adoptive mother, Anna, still lived nearby. Joseph was born on December 11, 1936 and was just eighteen months old when Anna and Stephen adopted him.
At the age of sixteen Joseph married for the first time to a woman named Hilda. They had two children; Stephen and Anna. When he was twenty the couple divorced. As grounds, Joseph cited his wife’s promiscuity. Hilda cited his sexual incapacity. In 1958 Joseph married twenty-three-year-old Elizabeth (Betty) Baumgard. They had five children; Joseph Jr., Mary Jo, Michael, James and Bonnie Sue.
It was through Joseph Jr. that Joseph Kallinger first came to the attention of the police. At 9.30 in the evening of January 30, 1972, Joseph Jr., who was known as Joey, Mary Jo and Michael went to the nearest police station to report that their father had been abusing them. They were accompanied by a nineteen-year-old neighbor who confirmed their claims telling police that, the previous Sunday, Kallinger had arrived at his house where the children were playing, threatened him with a pistol and ordered the children home. (He later described the gun as being shiny with black handles.)
Mary Jo told the police that her father threatened her with a knife; beat her regularly, often tying her up and burning her on the buttocks with a hot spatula. She described how on one occasion she had been punished for being fifteen minutes late by having to strip from the waist down and to be whipped in front of her family. Joey and Michael told how their father had tied them to a radiator and beat them with hammer handles and strips of leather taken from his workshop.
After taking statements, the police sent the children to a local hospital for a physical examination, which showed injuries consistent with their claims. They then went to confront Kallinger at home, which they reported as being “dirty and squalid.” Kallinger denied the allegations, as did his wife who suggested the children had received their injuries after they ran away.
Kallinger was later charged and brought before the Family Court where a judge ordered that he be sent to the State Maximum Security Forensic Diagnostic Hospital at Holmesburg Prison for a psychiatric evaluation. During his incarceration, it was discovered that he had a long history of “mental problems.” They started in 1952 when Joseph was fifteen. He was having difficulties at school and his adoptive parents had charged him with incorrigibility. He was examined and found to have a “subnormal intelligence quotient of 84. The report also stated that he was “defiant, disrespectful and undisciplined.”
In 1957 he was hospitalized for eleven days after complaining of severe headaches. He was examined and diagnosed as having a “psychophysiological nervous disorder.” He was later prescribed Thorazine.
On July 24, 1959 he was found sitting on the steps of a church in Pennsylvania in a confused state and suffering from apparent amnesia. He was given a series of tests and found to be suffering from a form of sexual anxiety that “projects hostility towards females.” (It was later established that his sexual anxiety was the direct result of a hernia operation he underwent when he was six. At that time he was told that his penis would stop growing. This led to the mistaken belief that his penis was abnormally small, even as an adult.)
The report also stated that: “He appears to be developing agitation and anxiety in the sexual area and, if this loading becomes strong, he will again repeat his sadistic response when he discharges this effect.”
In conclusion the report, compiled by Drs. Francis H. Hoffman and Alex von Schlichten found that: “Mr. Kallinger suffers from a major mental illness in the form of schizophrenia of the paranoid type.” They went on to recommend that he be committed to the Philadelphia State Hospital for – “an appropriate period of time.”
Despite the reports recommendations, he was re-examined, found to be fit to stand trial before a grand jury and was brought to trial on the child abuse charges in August 1972. He was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to eleven months’ imprisonment but, because he had already served seven months, he was given four months probation and released.
In February 1973 Joey, Michael and Mary Jo submitted signed affidavits to the court, which stated that their charges against their father had been fabricated and were completely false. The police, suspecting that they had been coerced, interviewed them at length but they refused to be swayed. As a result, the conviction against Kallinger was quashed, his record cleared and no further action, including the court-recommended psychological treatment, was ever taken.
Although his conviction was overturned, Joseph Kallinger Sr. came to the attention of the police again just two years later when he was questioned in relation to the untimely death of his son Joey.
Following Joey’s assertion that he had fabricated the charges against his father, he was sent to reform school. Joey, who had previously been in trouble for having homosexual relationships with older men, underwent a psychological examination while at the reformatory and found to be “seriously disturbed.”
Shortly after Joey entered the reformatory he escaped. The following morning he arrived at the offices of a local newspaper. He had bruises on his face and he was on crutches. He said that he had received his injuries from falling off a railway platform. He was later examined and found to have broken his leg in three places. While he was still at the newspaper office his father was summoned and, after a loud argument, Joey agreed to return to the reformatory.
In May 1974, Joey was released. In July Kallinger took out a $45,000 triple indemnity insurance policy on Joey’s life. Just weeks later, Joseph Kallinger went to the Philadelphia police to report Joey missing. Two weeks later Joey’s body was found in the basement of an abandoned building a short distance from the Kallinger home. As the building was in the process of being demolished, his body was partially crushed by machinery prior to it being recovered. Perhaps this was the reason why a later autopsy failed to find an official cause of death.
Even though the cause of Joey’s death was never established, the detectives of the Philadelphia homicide squad were convinced that Kallinger was involved in his son’s death and set out to prove it. The fact that Kallinger had taken out an insurance policy on Joey just weeks before his death was suspicious enough on its own but when they added the recanted charges of child abuse and Joey’s supposed railway injuries they became doubly inquisitive. They soon learned that Kallinger had tried to claim the insurance as soon as his son’s body had been found but the insurance company refused to honor it. Kallinger tried to counter their decision by telling them that he had also insured his other son Michael at the same time and, as nothing had happened to him, insisted they pay out. The insurance company refused.
When the detectives dug deeper they found that suspicious behavior and Joseph Kallinger were never far apart. On May 21, 1963, the basement of a building at 2039 East Fletcher Street, Philadelphia was gutted by fire. Joseph Kallinger owned the building. The insurance payout was $15,000.
Four days later another fire broke out on the second floor of the same building. The insurance company paid an additional $15,000.
On August 16, 1965 the first floor of 2039 East Fletcher Street caught fire. Incredibly, the insurance company again paid the claim – $11,000.
Finally, when the same building caught fire on October 3, 1967, the insurance company refused the claim and the Philadelphia fire department filed arson charges against Joseph Kallinger. They were later dismissed owing to lack of evidence.
Two months after Joey’s death, his brother Michael was found wandering the streets in a dazed condition. He was later examined and found to have multiple head injuries. His father told police his son must have fallen down. When Michael was questioned about his injuries he told the police that he couldn’t remember.
Believing that Kallinger had tried to kill Michael for the insurance money, the homicide squad doubled their efforts. Kallinger strongly resented their implications and filed suit against them in a federal court, citing their continued harassment of him and his family following Joey’s death. Although the police offered numerous examples of why they considered Kallinger a prime suspect, the court found that their interest in him was unwarranted and ordered the police to drop the case. They did so reluctantly but consoled themselves with the fact that someone like Kallinger would be sure to slip up eventually. They didn’t have to wait long.
With Joseph Kallinger confirmed as the owner of the shirt and his location confirmed, the Philadelphia police sent photographs of both Joseph and Michael to the other jurisdictions where the pair were alleged to have been operating. In all cases the photos of Kallinger Sr. returned positive identifications from the witnesses and victims but most were unsure in their identification of the boy as Michael and his brother James were both blond, slightly built and of a similar age.
With sufficient evidence collected, the Philadelphia homicide squad laid plans to arrest Joseph and Michael Kallinger at home at 9.30pm on January 17. Because police from the other jurisdictions wanted to be in on the arrest Prosecutor McClure allowed two detectives from each location to accompany him to Kallinger’s house.
At 9.30pm precisely, the contingent entered the house. They arrested Michael and James but did not find their father. After a brief search the police found a hole that had been cut through the wall connecting the house to Kallinger’s mother’s home next door. Fearing their suspect had fled, the police quickly entered the second house only to find Joseph Kallinger talking to his lawyer on the phone.
He surrendered to the police without further incident telling them that he would not talk without an attorney present. While Kallinger was being taken to police headquarters in Philadelphia, a search was conducted of his house, which uncovered numerous items that had been allegedly stolen from the homes of some of the victims.
Upon his arrival at the police station Kallinger was formally charged with the murder of Maria Fasching, armed robbery, wounding, kidnapping, theft and rape.
Satisfied that James wasn’t involved, the detectives turned their attention to Michael in the hope that he would “break” and implicate his father. However, while he was being led into an interview room for questioning, he passed his father in a hallway and was told, “If you tell them anything I’ll kill you.” Whether it was this threat or blind loyalty, Michael Kallinger never said an incriminating word relating to the charges against him or his father despite being questioned at length by police, psychiatrists and social workers.
Almost from the time Joseph Kallinger was taken into custody, his behavior began to change. Whether he was genuinely insane or playing the part to avoid going to jail for life is still undecided. He spoke of ordering his wife and daughter out of bed in the middle of the night to make him tea, sometimes as often as thirty or forty times! He also told police that he had built a bowling alley next to his bed and practiced bowling at night. Both of these claims were later dismissed.
The more he was questioned the more bizarre he became but one main theme began to take hold. He began telling psychologists that God had sent him to earth on “ a divine mission.” This consisted of helping people whose brains had malfunctioned because they wore badly designed shoes.
He also told them that he had been alive for a thousand years, mostly in the form of a butterfly, and had been constantly pursued by the devil. He began blocking up the toilet in his cell with books and papers to cause flooding and putting red fruit juice in samples of his urine in an attempt to prove that he had a medical condition.
As the date for his first trial in Harrisburg neared, his behavior grew more and more peculiar. At the trial itself, Kallinger read his bible and seemed to take very little interest in the proceedings. As the prosecution presented its case and the strong evidence that they had collected he seemed strangely calm. His defense attempted to counter by portraying him as a family man who was being unfairly accused but to no avail. On September 18, 1975, Joseph Kallinger was found guilty of robbery, kidnapping and burglary. Despite his “performances” for the psychologists he was found to be mentally capable and responsible for his actions and was sentenced to a term of thirty to eighty years imprisonment.
Prior to sentencing, Kallinger was obviously confident that his psychotic “ruse’ had worked and showed obvious shock at the outcome. Following the first trial, he was taken to Huntington State Correctional Institution to await extradition to New Jersey to face trial for the Leonia offences, which included the most heinous of all, the murder of Maria Fasching.
Back at Huntington, Kallinger’s behavior went ballistic. As well as blocking toilets, he began collecting cups of water and placing them under his bed. He threw excrement and cups of urine at the guards and spent much of his day rolling on the floor of his cell and howling. He told the prison psychologist that a severed head named “Charlie” floated around his cell, told him what to do and was generally responsible for his actions. At one time, when he was found sleeping on the floor of his cell, he told a guard that Charlie had taken over his cot and wouldn’t let him sleep on it.
He made several attempts to commit suicide, normally by making superficial cuts to his wrists and, on one occasion, trying to choke himself with a plastic mattress cover. He ranted, raved and continued to make a nuisance of himself night and day until his extradition to New Jersey on September 13, 1976. As he left the prison the guards, obviously relieved that he was going, yelled after him, “Don’t forget to take Charlie with you!”
His second trial began on September 23, 1976. Present were most of his Leonia victims and others who had seen him in and around Leonia on that fateful day. The evidence was compelling as was the testimony of the witnesses. In answer the defense produced two witnesses who gave testimony that a person similar to Kallinger had been seen in another district on the day of the offences. Throughout the trial, Kallinger was at his lunatic best. He rolled his eyes, shook his head, kicked his feet and threw his arms about while making an assortment of strange sounds. At times he became so disruptive that Judge Thomas Dalton had him removed from the court.
The evidence against him was overwhelming but the jury was still in a quandary regarding his sanity. The defense had produced documentary evidence that suggested Kallinger, having worked as a shoe repairer for may years, had been inhaling the fumes of a leather treatment that contained Toluene, a dangerous chemical substance that can numb the senses and damage the brain.
One after another, prominent mental health experts took the stand and gave their opinion. Some said he was completely sane while others diagnosed him as being a schizoid-paranoic.
Finally, on October 13, 1976, after two hours of deliberation, the jury found that Joseph Kallinger was responsible for his actions and guilty of the murder of Maria Fasching and all other charges. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Michael Kallinger, deemed by the court to have been under the control and influence of his father at the time of the offences, was sent to a reformatory, released into the care of foster parents and placed on probation until his twenty-fifth birthday. He later changed his name and moved to another state.
Following his last trial, Kallinger was returned to Huntington to serve out his sentence. He was incarcerated in the Behavioral Adjustment Unit in ‘B’ block, known in the prison as “the hole.” He was later transferred to general population at his own request where he was put to work in the prison shoe shop. He was stable for several months and was promoted to workshop supervisor. He spent his leisure time taking courses and writing poetry and seemed to be adjusting to life in prison.
Some months later his behavior became erratic which resulted in him stabbing and trying to strangle another inmate. Following the attack he went on a hunger strike and was eventually transferred to Philadelphia’s Farview Psychiatric Hospital. His behavior deteriorated including “speaking in a strange tongue,” and he was given a wide range of medications in an attempt to keep him stable. In 1981, two psychiatrists, Drs. Arieti and Robbins examined Kallinger. The latter wrote in his report, “I can only concur with Dr. Ariete’s finding and that of the Farview doctors that Mr. Joseph Kallinger chronically suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and that his criminal behavior is a manifestation of his illness.”
For six years after his transfer to Farview, Kallinger was visited and interviewed by author Flora Rheta Schreiber. During these interviews Kallinger told of “visions” that controlled him and made him perform evil tasks including the drowning of his son Joey and the mutilation murder of a child named Jose Collazo. Schreiber attempted to contact Michael Kallinger to confirm his father’s story but was told by his foster parents “Michael will never talk to you – ever.”
On March 26, 1996 Joseph Kallinger had a seizure and died – he was fifty-nine years old.