Writer uncovers mystery in 'famous' unsolved murder

July 21, 2010

This month marks the 85th anniversary of one of the few unsolved murders committed in Wauwatosa: the killing of 8-year-old Arthur "Buddy" Schumacher Jr., son of a pharmaceutical supply salesman and grandson of one of the city's key leaders in the early 20th century.

For seven weeks, the community and state searched desperately to find the boy before his badly decomposed body was found just a mile from his house.

The entire case played out intensely in local and state radio and newspapers, sometimes in a fairly sensationalistic manner in the Milwaukee papers.

But shortly after the top suspect was let go because witnesses changed their minds about key pieces of evidence against him and two separate confessions to the killing by mentally challenged men were seen by police as not credible, the story faded away.

The case, and story, go cold

In fact, the story started fading away for Wauwatosa's weekly newspaper even before the second confession as the News, after covering the case in some fashion in each week's paper throughout, inexplicably stopped publishing stories about the case.

There is no police file on the case as the Wauwatosa Police Department, which would have had the files, has no records prior to 1934.

After a short time, Buddy's parents, Art and Florence Schumacher, reportedly never even mentioned it, except perhaps in private.

"Grandmother (Florence) and Grandfather (Art) never said anything to me. It was as if it had never happened," Keith Egloff said.

Egloff and his brother, Brian Egloff, are Buddy's closest surviving relatives. Keith and Brian's mother, Jeanette, was Buddy's older sister and only sibling.

Jeanette and her husband, Lee Egloff, told their sons very little about Buddy's murder.

"Buddy or the case was never a topic of discussion in our family," Keith Egloff said, adding that all he was told about it over many years probably took no more than a few minutes.

Keith did say that his father mentioned to him in the late 1950s or early 1960s having read a newspaper article about the most famous unsolved police cases in Wisconsin, and Buddy's murder was one of them.

"Mother and Dad both said to me separately, when I was young, that he (Buddy) was suffocated by a handkerchief forced down his throat and that the murder case was unsolved," Keith said.

Unsolved may be a matter of debate. Nevertheless, nobody was ever charged with the crime.

How this series came to be

Information in this series came from interviews with descendants of those involved in the case; U.S. Census records; the Wauwatosa Historical Society; and old newspaper reports, mainly from the Milwaukee Sentinel, The Milwaukee Journal and the Wauwatosa News. However, the first information I ever received about the killing came roughly 35 years ago from Art and Florence Schumacher's longtime neighbors.

James and Lillian Harwood lived next door to the Schumachers on the 8100 block of Hillcrest Drive for about 40 years when Art moved into a retirement home in 1969. My family bought the house from Art when I was 5 years old.

A few times, Mrs. Harwood told me that police knew who killed "the Schumacher boy" and that it happened near the Menomonee River around Hoyt Park.

A little over a year ago, I finally found out that at least some of what she told me was true.

Paul Hoffman is a former Wauwatosa resident and a 1981 Wauwatosa East High School graduate. Hoffman is currently special publications editor at the Daily Journal in Franklin, Ind.


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