Sunday, June 12, 2016

Bat Man

Thanks Judith. Just when I think I have seen it all...you remind me there are crazier bitches than even my mother.
Dolly Oesterreich and her “Bat Man” were the sex scandal of 1930. The details of their affair are still bizarre enough to raise jaded modern eyebrows.
Walburga “Dolly” Korschel was born in Germany, but her family emigrated from there to America. She was raised on a poor midwestern farm, but her fortune changed when she married the wealthy owner of an apron factory named Fred Oesterreich. At last Obscura’s Addison Nugent combed through the old L.A. Times reporting on her case, and it sounds like the bloom was off the rose quickly:The couple settled in Milwaukee but marital bliss was elusive—Fred drank too much and Dolly was sexually unsatisfied. “Her eyes and her appetites would bring a long line of men into her life—and send one to his death,” wrote the LA Times.
In 1913, Oesterreich sent a 17-year-old factory worker named Otto Sanhuber to his house to help Dolly with her broken sewing machine, at her request. Dolly intended for Sanhuber to help her fix a few other things around the house, and answered the door in nothing but a robe and stockings. Their affair continued in hotels and the house, but eventually neighbors began to get suspicious about the guy Dolly called her “vagabond half-brother.”
Dolly had a solution: Sanhuber would quit his job and move into the Oesterreichs’ attic. Fred never went up there and the lovers could continue their tryst safely out of sight from prying eyes. The only caveat was that young Sanhuber would have to abandon all human interaction save for the tantric time he spent each day with Mrs. Oesterreich. Sanhuber didn’t mind. He had no family to speak of and, as the LA Times reported in 1930, he said he grew to love Dolly “as a boy loves his mother.”
Aside from having sex with Dolly and moving quietly, Sanhuber passed the time writing. He was apparently obsessed with pulp fiction magazines and even had some of his work published under a pen name. Presumably, being locked in an attic as someone’s sex slave feeds the pulp writer’s imagination.
By 1918, five years later, Oesterreich was becoming suspicious. Not of Dolly, but of his own mind:
He heard inexplicable noises coming from the attic, his cigars kept going missing, and he could swear that strange shadows passed outside his bedroom door some nights. He decided to move to Los Angeles that year, not knowing that the phantom haunting his Milwaukee mansion would follow him out West.
Dolly agreed to the move on the condition that the new house have an attic. She sent Sanhuber ahead and by the time the Oesterreichs arrived, the now 22-year-old was already settled in his new home.
 Once in Milwaukee, the relationship between Dolly and her husband deteriorated further. On August 22, 1922, a fight between them became violent and, fearing for her life, Sanhuber came out of his hidey-hole, grabbed one of Oesterreich’s .25 caliber rifles, and shot three rounds into his chest.
The couple decided to make the murder look like a home invasion, removing Oesterreich’s diamond watch and locking Dolly in the closet, where she screamed until a neighbor called the police. She inherited all her husband’s money and bought a new house with an even bigger attic.
Dolly continued with her life as a Merry Widow, and though she still had Sanhuber creeping around upstairs she started to date around. One of her lovers was her lawyer, Herman Shapiro. Nugent writes that that’s when she started to fuck up:
Her first[mistake] was to give Herman the diamond watch that had supposedly been stolen during the “robbery.” Herman recognized the watch as Frank’s but Dolly explained sweetly that she had found it under a seat cushion and saw no need to tell the police. According to the LA Times, which reported on the murder in 1923, that evening Dolly asked a third lover, Roy Klumb, to dispose of the murder weapons in the La Brea tar pits.
In 1923 the police found out about Frank’s watch and Klumb, following a volatile breakup with Dolly, confessed to disposing of the guns. They arrested Dolly but still unable to explain how she had locked herself in the closet, were forced to drop the charges and release her from custody. During the hearings she made another damning mistake when she asked Shapiro to bring food to her attic-dwelling “vagabond half-brother.” Sanhuber was happy to see Herman. He hadn’t spoken to another man in over a decade and regaled the lawyer with tales of his sexual exploits. Shapiro kicked Sanhuber out of the attic that very day and the terrified young man fled to Canada.
 Incredibly, it was years later that Shapiro and Dolly broke it off. In 1930, he angrily went to the police to reveal the existence of Sanhuber, who had also just moved back to Los Angeles. The lovers were arrested and Sanhuber was found guilty of manslaughter. However, the statute of limitations for his offense was seven years. It had been eight years since Sanhuber popped out of his attic to shoot Oesterreich. The charged had to be dropped.
After being dubbed “The Bat Man of Los Angeles” (and not in a cool Batman comics way), Sanhuber disappeared. Dolly was acquitted and met another man whom she eventually married and lived with for 30 years. I assume he checked the attic regularly.


15 comments:

Judith said...

This story really does remind me of your mother. She gas lighted her husband, got some idiot sec slave doing whatever she asked, slept with her lawyer... Bat shit crazy.

q1605 said...

The sky was the limit and she always took it to the hilt. I found my self reading that
and asking how stupid can these guys get. And then stop and think I know exactly how stupid a guy can get.

mulderfan said...

What an awesome story. Surprised someone didn't make a movie.

Joan S said...

I'm just trying to figure out how big our attic is. Just kidding. Fascinating story.

q1605 said...

Mulderfan I had aspirations of writing a book when I hit the wall.
Joan it's probably not big enough for your SIL's head

Five Hundred Pound Peep said...

Wow on that story, yeah a lot of guys can get very stupid. There seems to be a "kept man" trend out there getting stronger too that the unemployment crisis and lack of blue collar work in America has helped feed. They don't put them in the attic but make the newly unemployed disaffected men into their servants and houseboys and don't marry them. It does remind me of your mother too. Too bad you couldn't write a book, Q it would have sold. Even for a true crime novel, it would be a good one.

q1605 said...

When I look at my father. I just have to shake my head. But I lived in a time if a woman looked like she was cheating she was probably cheating. That might be the flip side to their racism and bigotry of the people that came of age in the 50's. They didn't think twice about lynching a black man but if their sweet sweet honey Barbara got caught in bed with a friend they just knew it had to be rape. That or it's the guys fault for waxing the floor and her slipping and falling on his penis.

mulderfan said...

I DO have a really nice basement Q!

Five Hundred Pound Peep said...

It's true they defnitely had a different view of women then, even in the 30s things were more realistic, after all they admitted someone like Bonnie with Bonnie and Clyde existed. Maybe they were put up on an extreme pedestal or something by then, it was kind of like the overcompensation before feminism and women's lib came down the pike?

q1605 said...

M-fan send me some pix.

q1605 said...

Hell if I know peep. My mother said she was raped my a half a dozen men in her life. Starting with her cousin all the way down to the guy they murdered. Sha! right! he was raping you so you had to kill him and stuff in his back seat and drive 20 miles in the country and park his stiffening corpse on the side of the road and drive to another state and not mention that you were having sex voluntarily with both of them and keeping it all a secret.

mulderfan said...

Pix of the basement, Q?

q1605 said...

Mulderfan or what ever else you got laying around.

Judith said...

Wait, what? Are we calling dibs on Q relocating? I've got a great basement too ;)

q1605 said...

I guess it's down to who has a wet bar. I can't drink but everyone else can.