I recently received an email from a man who grew up in Wauwatosa who in his youth discussed with pals theories regarding who might have killed Buddy Schumacher. One of those theories was that a female relative might have committed the crime. There’s no evidence that lends any credence to this theory, but it is interesting to know what townspeople were saying about this case “way back when.”
Russell Ritter is now 71 years old. Here is a portion of what he had to say (and thank to Russell for letting me post this):
I am certain that the Buddy Schumacher story was known to us kids because some of our older relatives–my parents, my uncle, my aunt included–lived through the ‘twenties in Wauwatosa. Both of my parents, as well as uncle and aunt, graduated from Tosa, and a number of us kids–I am 71, and they are about the same age–had parents or other relatives who also went to Tosa. The theory that intrigued us was that Buddy might have been killed by a female relative–it was never clear which one–and that (William) Brandt was considered the killer partly because, as you imply, he was already in prison and would have provided closure to a major case, because authorities were preoccupied with the problem of “degenerates,” but also because it would have been highly controversial to bruit (spread news) about the idea that a woman had done the deed.
I’m pretty sure this line of thought comes from one of our parents. At our age, we weren’t able to consider in any mature way the way in which an investigation of female suspects might have affected a community in 1925. The theory was kept suitably vague, and we had an idea only that our parents or other relatives knew–or thought they knew–something that they didn’t quite want to tell us. I know that neither my parents nor my aunt or uncle told me of this theory, but because of the adult mentality that lies behind it, I have to believe that someone’s parents mentioned it and thus endowed us with a capital mystery, all the more capital because we swam at Hoyt Pool and knew that once Buddy had swum there too.
One of the people who came to our school, perhaps Tosa but maybe Hawthorne Junior High School, was an officer named Louis Wrasse. As I recall, he told us about the dangers of walking near the railroad tracks [we did this] and going near the “hobo jungles” [we did this]. Our response was, “What’s the big deal?” Your reference to Officer Louis Wrasse in connection with something that occurred in 1925 jumped out at me. My recollection is that Officer Wrasse was pretty important when he talked to us in 1955 or so.