Martin Weinberger

In a remarkable reprise of the Frecke and Marschall, Myers and Murray, and Linkner cases, all recent felony murders of recent German immigrants by their countrymen, Martin Weinberger killed Louis Gotfreund on June 16, 1882. His nude and decomposing body was found in the bushes on the side of the road two days later.

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Weinberger and Gotfreund, German Jewish immigrants working as peddlers or “roving junk dealers,” as was common among German immigrants at the time, were traveling in a remote area near Sewickley when Weinberger robbed and shot Gotfreund and fled with his horse and wagon, goods, and cash. Gotfreund, newly arrived and unmarried, was not identified until ten days later, when an uncle living in East Liverpool, Ohio, responded to a newspaper description of the victim and was able to identify his exhumed body.

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Pittsburgh Daily Post, June 30, 1882

Based on descriptions provided by witnesses, Weinberger was arrested on July 1, 1882. By that time, the stolen goods had been sold and the money deposited in a bank account in Youngstown. He claimed that Gotfreund had committed suicide and that he tried to conceal the act by removing Gotfreund’s clothes and hiding his body.

With a strong evidentiary case against Weinberger and an “exceedingly weak” (Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, January 6, 1883) and implausible defense, Weinberger was convicted of first-degree murder on January 6, 1883.

After a lengthy delay caused by the efforts of Hungarian authorities, friends, and family to prevent Weinberger’s execution, he was hanged on September 2, 1884, after having confessed from the gallows.

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Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, September 3, 1884

Martin Weinberger is believed to be the first Jewish person executed in Pennsylvania.

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Pittsburgh Press, September 2, 1884

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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