|Death: ||Dec. 8, 1909|
Alma Katherine Kellner was the daughter of Frederick and Florence Kellner, the granddaughter of John F. Kellner and niece of Frank Fehr, wealthy brewers in Louisville, Kentucky.
She was a third grade student at St. Mary's Academy, on East Broadway. A bright, venturesome, precocious child, she was was a model student and a "child of great promise" according to one of the Catholic sisters at the school she attended. She was not only a diligent and gifted child in her school work but was known as a child of the most amiable and loving disposition. According to Sister Mary Genevieve, "Alma would often steal away from the other children and go to the chapel to spend a moment in prayer. Her devotion to the Child Jesus was amazing."
On December 8, 1909, Alma disappeared. She was last seen on her way to attend morning mass at St. John's Roman Catholic Church and Parochial School on Walnut and Clay Streets, not far from her home. It was initially thought that she was kidnapped and held for ransom. Yet no ransom demands were ever made. A little over six months from her disappearance, on May 30, 1910, her dismembered body was discovered in the cellar of the church.
The story made national headlines. Joseph Wendling, a native of France, who had worked as a janitor at the church, also disappeared about a month after Alma's disappearance. When Alma's body had been found, he was the prime suspect and a nationwide manhunt began. He was later apprehended in San Francisco, California. He was sent back to Louisville where he was tried, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for Alma's murder. He was paroled nearly 24 years later and he returned to France.
Although Joseph Wendling was tried and convicted of her murder (largely on circumstantial evidence) there was speculation that she may have been a victim of Fr Hans B. Schmidt, the Killer Priest. He was visiting another church in Louisville from August 1909 to March 1910. However, before his death, he denied any connection with Alma Kellner's murder.
Frederick F. Kellner (1872 - 1942)
Florence G. Weitzel Kellner (1875 - 1961)
Saint Louis Cemetery
Created by: Phantasm
Record added: Aug 10, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 95108249