Max Eglau

(1825 - *1896)

Highly respected Hudson-River School painter and teacher in New York City including grammar schools and Cooper Union, had his life ended by murder in his classroom at the School for Deaf Mutes in New York City in February 1896. The murder was never solved. Following is information about the murder, which appeared in newspapers and other online sources:

Max is Dead! On Monday, February 10, 1896 at 2:15 p.m., Max Eglau's art students waited for his arrival. When the professor did not appear after a few minutes the superintendent David Greene went to Mr Eglau's studio to look for him. The elderly artist was lying on the floor dead. It was a bloody mess. Messengers were dispatched to nearby Mount Sinai Hospital. The doctor arrived and declared that Mr Eglau had been dead for at least 45 minutes. He had been killed sometime between 12:05 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. The time of Mr Eglau's arrival at the school was confirmed by Dwight L. Elmendorf, the chemistry teacher whose classroom was located immediately under the painting room. Mr Elmendorf dismissed his class at 12:00 p.m. and was walking downstairs as Mr Eglau was walking up, they met on the stairs.

Sergeant Hussey along with detectives Keating and Collins arrived from the E. 67th Street police station located only half a block away. The investigation was under way. All the outer doors were locked and guarded and the entire building searched for some type of evidence which might lead the investigators to the murderer or murderers. The search continued until 8:30 p.m. when the day students went home. The Institute for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes is a residential school for boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 14, but anyone older than 14 can take classes as a day scholar.

Assisting with the investigation were Acting Captain Casey, Detective Sergeant Weller and Detective Sergeant McCarthy. Coroner Fitzpatrick, who arrived around 7 p.m. joined Captain Casey in the room where the murder took place and assisted with the investigation. He came out after 9 p.m. and described his findings.

The room where the murder was committed was on the fourth floor of the building on the 68th Street side. Here, on the top floor of an extension of the main building, are two large rooms which were used as studios by Mr Eglau. Each room is lighted from the top by skylights and by windows. There is only one entrance to these two rooms from the main hall of that floor. The room on the east side of the extension was used as a studio and a classroom for teaching modeling in clay. The room to the west was a studio and a classroom for painting. The first room which was for modelling had about five or six long tables where the pupils worked. At the other end of this room, beside the door was a box in which the clay was wet and mixed, and beside that was a sink. Between these and the tables, and opposite the door into the painting room, was a clear space. It was in this clear space the artist, Professor Max Eglau was found dead. Evidence showed that there was a struggle.

The body of Max Eglau, an artist, sixty-eight years old (*Note: 1825 + 68 = 1893, yet another conflicting report on year of death.), was found on the fourth floor of the Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf-Mutes, Sixty-Seventh Street and Lexington Avenue, at 2:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon. It was covered with blood, which had flowed from five wounds on the head and an ugly cut on the face. Near the body lay a blookd-stained iron shovel.

The police believe that a murder was committed. They arrested three mutes, scholars at the institution, about 9 o'clock last night. The names of the prisoners are Peter Wolfe, eighteen years old, of 414 East Sixty-sixth Street; Adolph Pfandler, eighteen years old, of 7 Extra Place, and Edward Eck, eighteen years old, of 15 West Twenty-fifth street.

Pflander, when arrested, was in a highly nervous state. His shirt was torn in two places, and his vest was also torn.

Coroner Fitzpatrick viewed the body last night, and his theory is that the professor was attacked by two persons and that the attack was made in the studio.

Artist Eglau was employed in the institute. He had a room on the fourth floor, but lived at 99 1/2 St. Mark's Place. He was last seen alive at noon. Superintendent David Green of the institute had business in the storeroom on the fourth floor at 2 o'clock, but to reach there was obliged to pass through Mr. Eglau's room. When Mr. Green knocked at the door he received no response, and after waiting a time, he entered the apartment and discovered the body. The room was in great disorder, and there was evicence of a struggle having taken place.

The police found that the artist's pockets contained four bank books, a gold watch and chain, and 60 cents in money. This gave rise to the conclusion that the old man had not been killed fo rthe sake of robbery.

Mr. Green said it seemed impossible to him that an outsider could have gotten into the institution without ringing a bell at the main entrance, and also a second bell before gaining admission to the part of the building where Artist Eglau was found.

The institution occupies the block on the west side of Lexington Avenue, from Sixty-seventh to Sixty-eighth Street. It is opposite the Seventh Regiment Armory, and around the corner from the East Sixty-seventh Street Police Station. Mr. Eglau wa an instructor in painting and drawing. He gave the deaf-mutes of the institute lessons once a week. He arrived at the institution at noon yesterday, and went immediately to his studio, on the fourth floor, on the Sixty-eighth Street side of the building.

Prof. Dwight L. Elmendorf, on hearing of Superintendent Green's discovery, hurried to the station house in East Sixty-seventh Street and told Sergt. Hussey what had occurred. Detectives Keating and Collins were sent to the institution to make an investigation. They gave orders to allow no one to leave the building. Acting Captain Casey soon reach the house, and he was joined by Central Office Detectives, McCarthy and Weller.

The Bank Books found in Mr. Eglau's pockets were on the Metropolitan Savings Bank, German Savings Bank, Bowery Bank, and Bank of Savings. They showed deposits in favor of the artist. His hat and overcoat were hanging on a hook in the wall. The body was warm when found.

A cursory examination revealed five wounds in the head. The had evidently been made with the shovel. The police have an idea that the old artist may have been killed by one of the inmates of the institution.

Eglau and his wife, Lena, who was six years his junior, lived on the second floor of the house 99 1/2 St. Mark's Place. For nine years they had occupied the same rooms and for nearly three times that period they had been in the same neighborhood, going out little and seeing few visitors. The few they did see were artists.

The Eglau's had only one child, a daughter, who has been long married and is living with her husband, John B. Zink, in Third Street.

Mrs. Eglau was at home when the news of her husband's death was received in the house. The news was broken not broken to her at once. She was told that he was very sick in an institution and would not be able to deliver a lecture at Cooper Union Institute, for which he was announced last evening. Even that statement prostrated her. With much trouble she was persuaded to go to the home of her daughter.

In looking into Eglau's life and recent acquaintances, the detectives found little to clear up his death. Ever since his arrival in this country he had been connected with Cooper Institute and with the teaching staff of the Board of Education as an instructor of drawing, and, so far as could be learned, he had not an enemy in the world.

Mr. Zink, son-in-law of Mr. Eglau, said last night that he met the artist in the Bowery yesterday morning about 11 o'clock. His father-in-law had told him he had been to the bank to get some checks cashed, and that he wanted to see Zink in the evening to give him some money to deposit in the Fourth Avenue Bank to-day. The artist took from his pocket a roll of bills, Mr. Zink says, and he thinks there was at least $100.

Acting Captain Casey says from the position of the body and the clothing when he visited the scene of the murder there was no evidence of robbery. He thinks if the money had been taken, the watch and chain would have been taken also.

Max Eglau's murder has not been discovered at midnight yesterday.

With the three boys arrested Monday, and two others take into custody yesterday afternoon, Acting Capt. Casey of the Twenty-fifth Precinct had not been able, in spite of evidence that appears to be important and to point to one of those in detention as the principal in the assassination, to so play on the conscience of the youths as to prompt a confession.

The first prisoners arrested in the case are Peter Wolfe, eighteen years old, of 414 East Sixty-sixth Street; Adolph P. Pfandler, sixteen years old, of 7 Exeter Place, and Edward Eck, eighteen years old, of 154 West Twenty-fifth Street.

The new prisoners are brothers William and James Fitzgerald, respectively twenty and eighteen years old, of 37 West Ninety-second Street.

The new evidence is that a pair of shirt cuffs and a handkerchief, both spotted with blood, and a pistol, were found Monday night in the coal bin of the blacksmith's shop of the institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf-Mutes, of which the murdered artist was teacher of oil painting in the same quarters where E. Schaaf was teacher of clay modeling.

These three articles, Acting Captain Casey said, late last night, had been "partly identified" as owned by William Fitzgerald. Sergt. Casey added that the Fitzgeralds were brought to the station house in the afternoon. Each made a statement, which was a contradiction of the other's story.

"In what respect?" Sergt. Casey was asked.

"I'd like to evade a direct answer to that," he replied. "The lads first in custody were remanded to-day in the Yorkville Police Court. All five will go there to-morrow, and I shall await developments. I cannot say that I have advanced far toward success."

Sergt. Casey had matters entirely under his control yesterday, as he had sealed up the Institution for the Imporvement and Instruction of Deaf Mutes. It would have been easier to obtain admission to the save vault of the Clearing House at midnight than to get into the institution. Even the Principal, David Greene, was instructed not to appear in response to any summons at the entrance.

Everybody outside the institution was also instructed not to talk, and when the result of the two days' work was made public by Sergt. Casey surprise was expressed that it was not satisfactory.

He admitted that he had not revealed all his case. The Fitzgeralds, he said were students at the Institution, and he had discovered nothing in their life history that was detrimental to their character. Like Eck, Pfandler, and Wolfe, they ere deaf but spoke just as well as the ordinary man, and understood what was said to them by the movement of the lips of the person who addressed them.

No direct charge had been made against any of the five; they were simply suspected and restrained of their liberty. Possibly the partial identification of the articles found in the cola bin may turn out to be useless or the articles may be traced to another than William Fitzgerald

The Fitzgeralds had made teir statementss in writing. They were at their studies at the institution both on Monday and yesterday.

Sergt. Casey would not say whether the arrest of the Fitzgeralds lessened the suspicion against the three lads first arrested.

In regard to the story that Artist Eglau had $100. when he went to his studio at the institution Monday. Sergt. Casey said the three bankbooks found in his pockets did not show that he had drawn any such sum or any money at all Monday, and that he was unable to prove that when he was assaulted he had any more than was found in his pockets after the discovery of the murder.

Against the story told by Sergt. Casey is the positive declaration of Mr. Eglau's son-in-law, John B. Zink, that the artist had between $140. and $150. when he entered the institution to die there. Of this Mr. Zink is positive.

Thus, Mr. Zink and a person connected with the institution furnish a motive for the murder.

Mr. Eglau was careless about his money, and often showed a roll of bills. He left in a bathroom in the Deaf-Mute Institution a roll of bills amounting to $80. two weeks ago. This was found by a deaf-mute and Mr. Eglau recovered the money. The loss and finding of the money were known to every lad who studied in the manual training and art departments of the institution.

That William Fitzgerald may be innocent is proved by the admission of one of those on the police side of the case. He said the clothes of one of the lads first arrested is under examination by an expert, because they were full of holes, cut with scissors, as if they had been spattered with blood and an effort had been made by cutting to remove every trace of it.

One of the visitors at the East Sixty-seventh Street Station last night was Dr. Samuel S. Purple of 36 West Twenty-second Street. He was closeted with Acting Captain Casey and three detectives half an hour. He refused to talk when he went away. It was admitted that he had been summoned as an expert.

The body of the murdered man was taken yesterday morning to his late home, 99 1/2 St. Mark's Place. In the presence of Coroner Fitzpatrick, Deputy Coroner Donlin made an autopsy. No fracture of the skull was found, and it was determined tha death was due to hemorrhage of the brain, due to violence, and produced by a clot.

There was no wound that could have been made with the shovel. In the opinion of Dr. Donlin, the wooden club or chair leg did not inflict any injury.

The evidences of the assassin's eagerness to dispose of his victim were a deep abrasion on the lower edge of the right eye, two above and near it, a cut an inch and a half long at the top of the forehead, five cuts on the top of the head, three cuts under the left ear, a large wound on the lower jaw, which was fractured; a cut across the bridge of the nose, three wounds on the left arm, and contusions on both hands.

These injuries and the crime brought to memory the end of Benjamin Nathan, who more than a quarter of a century ago was found slain in his mansion in Twenty-third Street opposite the Fifth Avenue Hotel. There were the same wounds made with other than what is considered a felonious weapon, the same evidence of an intense, unwavering, ferocious resolve to do to the death. The victims were of about the same age, there were the same imprints of a bloody hand and the bespattering of walls with gore. The difference in the present case was that the stains were not obliterated hastily. Chief Conlin had not the same interest in the case as had Superintendent Jordan in the case of Mr. Nathan.

After the autopsy, the parlor of the Eglau flat was draped in black, and made a chapelle ardente, and the body, in a silver-mounted coffin, was placed on horses and draped so that only the features, which were placid and but little marred, could be seen. Many called to look at the dead. The wailing of the bereaved family was pitiful. Many of the callers were eloquent in praise of the old artist and dwelt on his traits of amiability, kindness, good humor, and charity.

Edward Eck was well and favorably known at the offices of the Charity Organization Society, while his career at the Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf-Mutes was not learned until news of the murder of Max Eglau was published. Eck, a month ago, went to the Organization Society, having been referred to it by friends who saw a future for him as an artist. The lad had with him two sketches of remarkably excellence, which were yesterday shown by some of the officials of the society.

One was a spirited drawing of a Spanish donkey's head, with elaborate equipments and harness; the other, a full-length sketch of a New-York belle, in rich Winter costume. This sample of Eck's ability to sketch freely was in a style that Beardsley affects, and would pass as a production by an artist of repute. Both sketches were signed "Eck, seventeen years."

An agent of the society inquired into Eck's character and home life, and made a report that was entirely satisfactory, both in regard to the youth's character and his relations and home influences, and he was successful in an endeavor to be received into the art class at the Cooper Station.

The crime was committed in the heart of what is known as the centre of charities.

The Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes is flanked by the Armory of the Seventh Regiment and the Norman College. It faces Grammar School No. 76, and in its rear is the Baptist Home for the Aged.

The annex to the institution known as the Manual Training and Art Department, on the fourth floor of which Artist Eglau was killed, juts out so that it is much nearer to the Normal College than the rest of the building, so near in fact that had pupils or teachers in the college been interested in the room where the deed was done they could have see the murder committed from the windows of the college

The character of Peter Wolfe was vouched for by many reputable persons yesterday.

Pfandler was not so well spoken of.

Eck, it was predicted, would furnish an absolutely satisfactory alibi, as he could not have reached the institution, when he went on a visit before 3 P. M. Monday.

The Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf Mutes should not be confounded with Dr. Gallaudet's Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb, nor St. Joseph's Institution at Fordham. The institution with which Artist Eglau was connected receives pupils and wards sent to it by the Commissioners of Charities, or the Superintendent of Public Instruction. For those able to pay the charge is $400. per annum. Two hundred deaf mute -- boys and girls who are deaf, but all are taught to articulate -- can be accommodated. Marcus Goldman is the President.

As Written, 1896; Interesting to note reiteration, misnomers, contradictory content.

Published: February 11, 1896: Copyright © The New York Times div

Found in His Room in a School for Deaf-Mutes.
Max Eglau for Years Had Been Connected with Cooper Institute and Taught Drawing for Board of Education.
The body of Max Eglau, an artist, sixty-eight years old, was found on the fourth floor of the Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf-Mutes, Sixty-seventh Street and Lexington Avenue, at 2:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon. It was covered with blood, which had flowed from five wounds on the head and an ugly cut on the face.

Copyright © The New York Times: Published: February 11, 1896 div

Was Engaged in Teaching the Deaf Mutes, and Three of Them Have Been Arrested.
NEW YORK, N. Y., Feb. 10.
The dead body of Max Eglau, an artist *60 years of age, (*Note: 1825 + 60 = 1885, yet another conflicting report on year of death.), was found on the fourth floor of the Deaf and Dumb Institute this afternoon. He was 'covered with blood which had flowed from half a dozen wounds on his head area, an ugly cut on the face. Near the body lay a blood-stained iron shovel. He resided iat 99 St. Mark's Place, but bad a room in the institute, where he gave the deaf mutes painting and drawing lessons.

On the dead man were found a gold watch and chain, four bankbooks and 60 cents in money, which gave rise to the conclusion that Mr. Eglau had not been murdered for the sake of robbery.

Tbe police to-night arrested Peter Wolff, Adolph Phandler and Edward Eck on suspicion of being implicated in the murder. They are about 18 years old, mutes and scholars of the institute.

San Francisco Call, Volume 79, Number 73, 11 February 1896 div

Article type:Historical Obituary
Tuesday, February 11, 1896
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Paper: Philadelphia Inquirer
No Indictment for Deaf Mutes. The Grand Jury Holds the Fitzgerald Boys Guiltless of Professor Eglau's Murder.


Max Eglau's murderer had not been discovered at midnight yesterday.

With the three boys arrested Monday, and two others taken into custody yesterday afternoon. Acting Capt. Casey of the Twenty-fifth Precinct had not been able, in spite of evidence that appears to be important and to point to one of those in detention as the principal in the assassination, to so play on the conscience of the youths as to prompt a confession.

Copyright © The New York Times: Published: February 12, 1896

(*Max Eglau. The majority of sources referring to this individual list his birth/death; born 1825 - died 1900.)