George E. Meier

John Peter Schafer, 60, was well-known and well-regarded in his Mt. Oliver neighborhood, where he worked as a broom and brush maker despite having lost his vision. His brother-in-law, George Meier, had a very different reputation, as friendless and disturbed. Both were German immigrants.

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Arlington Avenue, 1907

Meier had loaned Schafer some money to assist him in his business. He brooded over the unpaid debt until shooting Schafer twice and killing him at Schafer’s Arlington Avenue home on October 27, 1902. The shooting, witnessed by Schafer’s brother and neighbors, occurred in Schafer’s yard after the two men had spoken, apparently peacefully. Meier had told associates that he was going to see Schafer to collect the debt. He was arrested at the scene.

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Pittsburgh Press, October 28, 1902

At trial, Meier’s defense was insanity. Though his testimony was said to be incoherent, he was convicted of first-degree murder on April 28, 1903, and sentenced to death a month later, on May 28.

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Pittsburgh Press, April 28, 1903

After a lunacy commission was appointed to consider his case, Meier was declared insane on December 8, 1903. His custody was transferred to Dixmont State Hospital on December 11, 1903.

George Meier died at Woodville State Hospital on June 10, 1912. The cause of death is listed as terminal dementia.

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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