Marie Volfová – allegedly the worst murderer of the First Republic

In Prague, everything screamed fast and everything was overturned. His heinous act broke out on October 11, 1929. At that time, the tenants of the Smíchov house noticed a terrible stench on the second floor. He walked away from the apartment of 57-year-old blacksmith and widower Antonin Neumann.

At half past six in the evening, one of them could not bear it and called the police. She broke into the apartment with the locksmith and found a creepy corpse.

He wanted to get married, but he got a hammer

The room looked incredibly devastated. Neumann lay at the window, strewn with quilts and pillows. The bruised face was unrecognizable, the killer covered it with a green paper, plus a sink.

The victim had a rope around his neck, a pool of blood under him. There were two hammers by the stove – blacksmith and stonemason…

Neumann threw green paper at the killer and covered him with a sink

A police investigation has begun. Murdered brother František, who had been murdered, testified that three booklets had disappeared from the apartment. The police then discovered that someone had taken 14,000, 10,000 and another 10,000 crowns from them.

Other witnesses also appeared who said Neumann paid for an ad in National Politics. He was going to meet a woman he could really date and then get married. He felt alone and empty, he had few opportunities for conventional encounters.

There was a terrible mess in Neumann’s apartment in Smíchov.

Photo: Repro Major Criminal Cases, Jiří Plachý, Ivo Pejčoch, Academia 2016

Even an extra crown would help.

The advertisement came out on September 8, 1929: “A lone widower of 57 would marry a business or a trade, or seek a widow, or a young elderly woman who rules over a property. I have 40,000 crowns and my flat. The Prague XVI brand.” The somewhat naive offer could have triggered a kitsch drama.

woman in felt hat

Neumann had about ten bridesmaids, but he loved the only one, Miss Helena Budínská, 31. He met her on September 17.

And the witnesses, Mr. and Mrs. Marchal from Jinonice, return. They were reportedly visited on October 4 by a married couple. Blacksmith Neumann and a slender blue-eyed woman with two gold teeth, in a long coat and a little felt hat.

They were interested in buying a house with a store owned by the Marchals. The police were able to publish a portrait of the suspect in the newspaper.

The whole thing was completed by the statement of a Mr. Macánek at the police station, who said he recognized a photograph of an unknown woman.

Antonin Neumann longed for a reliable wife and it did not bear fruit.

Photo: Repro Major Criminal Cases, Jiří Plachý, Ivo Pejčoch, Academia 2016

This is his sister Marie Volfová. She stopped by her daughter and her husband the day after the murder, all in a “new car”. This seemed suspicious to Macek, as Marie was still looking for money.

Vaňásek’s council also heard her

The investigator was surprised when Marie Volfová herself showed up to the commission after Macánek with her husband and child. Legendary police chief Josef Vaňásek heard it. Volf said she noticed her striking resemblance to a “press person” and so asked to feature a criminals album because she wanted to help the police.

At the same time, she claimed that 14 days ago a “portrait woman” sat next to her in Charles Square, still covering her mouth with her hand. But the police board ignored the strange story. He already knew that Volf had repaid some of his debts in recent days, including the District Economic Savings Bank of 10,000 in Smíchov. In addition, the couple rented a cooperative apartment in Žižkov.

Remains of a brown hat were found in the wolf’s cauldron, which the assassin was about to burn.

Counsel found a record of her in court records. Arrests followed. Wolf had a varied background.

From knitting to crime

She was born into a family of masons on February 2, 1897 in Úholičky (district of Prague-West) under the name of Marie Macánková. She had thirteen siblings, except one. She finished school at fourteen, then helped in the fields and worked as a weaver.

In 1919, she married an employee of the J. Crow foundry in Prague-Holešovice, Jan Wolf. Six years later, the couple built a house in Úholičky. They had to borrow up to 11,000 crowns for this.

After the birth of her daughter, Marie went into business, bought a knitting machine and knitted stockings at home. She did not succeed, in 1928 she increased her debt by another 7,000 and changed jobs. She went from house to house offering shorn products. She wasn’t earning much and had to start paying off her debts.

Marie referred to him as “Mrs. Čermáková”, owner of a farm with 130 corks in Kralupy nad Vltavou

She changed her livelihood again, this time opening a dairy and borrowing 15,000 crowns. But it was as if she had been unlucky on her heels, her milk had frozen twice in winter, the draft horse had gone, the bathers had not rushed. At this time, the carefree Marie goes to war. Marriage scams sounded the most appealing to her.

She went to him with pepper

In National Politics she discovered an ad by Václav Žák from Újezd ​​​​​​near Vodňany, who was looking for a woman with capital. She wrote to him as “Mrs. Čermáková”, owner of a farm with 130 corks in Kralupy nad Vltavou. It is said that she is looking for a loving man, she would like to manage Žák on her own, but she needs 80,000 crowns for this.

She has to pay her brother… And she immediately had an appointment with Václav in Prague. The second followed on April 4, 1929. The two actors agreed that she would go to the Čermáková farm the next day and then conclude a contract with a notary. The student took 50,000 crowns for the trip as a loan to pay for the farm. Marie was carrying a bag in which she claimed to contain 30,000 crowns. She would have ‘put’ the student’s money in it next to hers.” Then they took a taxi to Kralupy.

Councilor Josef Vaňásek must have uncovered Wolf’s false statements.

Photo: Repro Major Criminal Cases, Jiří Plachý, Ivo Pejčoch, Academia 2016

In Velvar, the supposed bride ordered the driver to stop and asked him to wait – she would go and open the door of the building. And she came forward… The careful South Bohemian didn’t like it, he also went out and immediately asked a passer-by if he knew this person, the owner of the farm, that is, Čermáková.

He ran to his chosen one for her cautious “no”, snatched her briefcase and shouted at the inhabitants to call the police. He detained his fiancee until the appearance of the summoned gendarmes. In addition to the money, they also found a pepper and a hammer in the offending bag.

The accused should have used both objects in case the student beat her.

Maria was arrested and the whole case ended up in the Regional Criminal Court, which sentenced her unconditionally to seven months in prison for fraud. The pain has not yet begun, but the husband had to sell the dairy and then the house for 22,000 crowns. They paid at least part of the debt. They moved to Smíchov in Prague, where Volf started working in the Kohout foundry.

He had a salary of 1000 crowns, which was a very decent amount. But the couple still lacked the money to repay 14,000 crowns of debt.

At this time, Maria had an idea. Thus began the affair with Neumann and ended his
murder. Rada Vaňásek not only got to know his file, but also obtained other information. Especially about Neumann’s murder, Wolf lied and lied.

Dust old, you are not ashamed!

She reportedly had a six-year relationship with Neumann, who promised to marry her. But he didn’t keep his promise because of Maria’s poverty. The disgraced woman decided to commit suicide. However, no such thing has been proven.

About his own murder, Wolf said that the blacksmith sexually assaulted her – he exposed himself and grabbed her. She shouted at him, “Old man, you are not ashamed!

But the evidence clearly testified against her. A forensic autopsy showed Neumann had been hammered in the face and was sleeping, then apparently passed out. The face completely shattered and lost its shape. The killer immediately started squeezing the throttle cord around his neck, at which point he was still alive…

The married blacksmith’s skull was shattered.

Photo: Repro Major Criminal Cases, Jiří Plachý, Ivo Pejčoch, Academia 2016

Doctors said Wolf was in perfect mental health and responsible for his actions. On December 18, 1929, she was sentenced to death.

However, she did not stop defending the court’s decision.

Her daughter prayed for her

As early as 1930, Marie filed a request for the reopening of the legal proceedings, the murder was allegedly committed by a trio – some Jiřina Lichtenbergová, Antonie Rážová and František Šrámek. It was so fabricated that Wolf herself eventually withdrew her request. Even so, the Supreme Court eventually pardoned her because she wanted to improve her family’s financial situation and did not intend to scatter the spoils like other criminals.

President T. G. Masaryk granted her pardon on December 12, 1930. She was sentenced to life imprisonment with quarterly fasting and a stay in the darkroom every October 4.

Nevertheless, Volfová again revealed Lichtenberg, who allegedly sent the murderess to prison. However, Mary wrote them herself.

His life still fell apart. Her husband divorced, only her daughter visited her.

Maria Wolf was paroled under an amnesty on May 4, 1953

She repeatedly asked for her release. For example, in the application in 1952 according to historians Jiří Plachý and Ivo Pejčoch (Major Criminal Cases, Academia 2016) she said that “her mother committed the act under the influence of the bourgeois regime of the time and that she wants to do her best to participate in the construction of a new socialist society after her return from prison”.

Wolf was conditionally released under an amnesty on May 4, 1953. She remarried and lived as Marie Dittrichová in Přestavlky near Chrudim until her death in March 1977.

Wolf was also suspected of another murder

  • In January 1928, the body of an unknown person was discovered in the forest near Přední Kopanina.
  • It was confectioner Alexandr Pekelský who withdrew 10,000 crowns from his bank account before his death. You were never found.
  • A police autopsy showed he died after being injured with a blunt object in the back of his head and asleep.
  • Someone must have lured him into the woods under the guise of doing business.
  • Due to the modus operandi, Wolf was suspected.
  • But she never managed to prove it.

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