Women and a Two Babes Brutally Murdered
And One Young Lady
Struck Senseless by a Drunken Fiend
From Our Regular Correspondent,
Batesville, O., Nov. 8, 1880
The most fearful tragedy that ever paralyzed this
community was enacted last Saturday night [6 Nov 1880] about two
miles south of Calais, Monroe county, near the Noble county
line. A wealthy
young German, Frank Biedenbach in a fit of insanity or
drunkenness committed the horrible deed.
About three years ago Biedenbach was married to Miss
Jeffers, daughter of John Jeffers, the well known surveyor, the
fruit of the marriage was a boy baby, a lovely child.
Last night Biedenbach returned home, it is said under the
influence of strong drink.
He entered the house without arousing the inmates, who
were his wife and babe, Betsey Stephens and child who were
guests of Mrs. B. and a servant girl.
Mrs. B. and her child occupied one room, Mrs. Stephens
her child and the young lady occupied an adjoining room.
The fiend, it is supposed, entered the room where his
wife and child slept first taking with him an ax, with which he
began his inhuman work. With one blow, the skull of his wife was crushed, and then
the little boy received a blow across the throat from the ax
wielded by his unnatural father.
This was done with the sharp edge of the instrument and
almost severed the head from the body.
This did not satisfy the monster, but blow after blow was
administered to both mother and child until their heads were
beated into an almost unrecognizable mass of quivering flesh.
After becoming satisfied with his hellish work in this
apartment the murderer passed into that occupied by Mrs.
Stephens and her child and the servant girl.
From appearances it would seem that both were killed by
receiving one blow each, as there is but the mark of one wound
upon the unfortunate woman and one upon her child. The awakening of the servant girl at this time no doubt
prevented the victims from being as horribly mutilated as the
first two victims of the murderer, who lay weltering in their
life-blood in the adjoining room.
Upon awakening the servant girl sprang from her bed and
ran toward the door, but was knocked senseless and left for dead
by the murderer. She lay upon the floor sometime in this condition, when she
recovered and gave the alarm.
As soon as notified by the girl, several neighbors ran to
the scene of the tragedy, and were almost paralyzed with terror
at the sight which met their gaze.
In one room upon the bed lay Mrs. Biedenbach, with her
head pounded into a jelly and almost beyond recognition, and by
her side the lifeless body of her child, with the head almost
severed from the trunk. Mrs.
Stephens and child were found in bed in an adjoining bedroom
with their skulls crushed in.
The blood of the four victims had dropped from the
bed-clothing and had settled in pools upon the floor.
Search was at once made for the fiend incarnate, but it
was not until morning that he was found.
He was discovered in a tobacco house with his throat cut,
but not sufficiently deep to prove fatal.
He was taken into custody and the ugly gap in his throat
sowed up, after which he was taken to Woodsfield and placed in
the county jail.
Different theories are advanced as to the cause of the
horrible tragedy, some claiming that it was jealousy, while
other say the murderer is insane, but the generally accepted
theory is that whisky is the responsible agent of the
blood-curdling affair. Heretofore
Biedenbach has borne a fair reputation, and is a man well known
in this county.
Mrs. Biedenbach and child were interred in St. Mary’s cemetery
on Monday. Betsy Stephens and child were interred in the
cemetery near Calais.
Mrs. Stephens was a daughter of Washington Stephens and was born
in the neighborhood of Point Pleasant, Guernsey county. We
did not learn the name of the hired girl, who escaped.
LATER – The murderer died from his self-inflicted wounds on
Sunday, the hired girl died on Monday. Instead of being
killed in the house with the other victims, the wife was found
dead some distance from the house, where she had gone to milk
the cows. It is said that the poor woman was near her
confinement. The murders were committed in the evening as
indicated by milking time, but was not discovered till his
brother, who had been at a husking bee, returned sometime in the