I've told this story on several previous occasions but decided to briefly rehash it solely for those who haven't heard it.
Ironically, I'm related to the murder victim and the murderer.
Katalin Gordon was the eldest sister of my maternal grandmother Anna Gordon Knoll. She was murdered by her uncle Frederick Lang, who was twenty-one years old at the time.
Lang was passionately in love with Kate. He lived in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and came to New Jersey to spend Easter week with the Gordon family. His main intention was to propose to Kate. When she rejected his proposal, he became enraged and shot her through the neck - severing the carotid artery. She bled to death immediately.
Lang escaped into the woods and wasn't arrested until over two months later. The trial took place in July, 1906 and he was found guilty. After numerous appeals and a sanity hearing, he was finally executed in March, 1909. Lang was twenty-four years old, and was the last man in New Jersey to be executed by hanging.
I wrote an article about this, which appeared in The New Jersey Monthly in 1996. That was before I had a computer or access to the Internet. It took several years of research to compile sufficient information and to locate the trial transcripts and attorney briefs.
I now have enough information to write a book - which would be a rather interesting project to pursue.
This photo was taken only about a week before she was murdered. The white Easter dress that she's wearing is also the dress that she was buried in.
Kate was the eldest of twelve children. She and one other sibling were born in Hungary. The rest of the children were born in the U.S.
My grandmother Anna, who was ten at the time of the murder, was born in Pennsylvania.
Frederick Lang was the illegitimate brother of my great-grandmother Justinia Schmidt Gordon (Kate's mother). He was the black sheep of the family - wild, tempestuous, with a quick Hungarian temper. He was described as being short and slight, with reddish (auburn) hair.
Lang maintained that if he couldn't have Kate, nobody else would, either. He later expressed remorse for killing her and said that he deserved to die. He attempted suicide on two occasions: by setting fire to his jail cell, and by trying to hang himself.
After Lang was executed, he was quickly buried - at midnight during a storm - in an unmarked grave.
Our family had refused to claim his body.
John Gordon (Janos Gurdon), who was Kate's father and my maternal great-grandfather.
Gordon was of royal blood but was disinherited when he married a peasant girl (Justinia Schmidt, the sister of Frederick Lang).