Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Edward D. Gingerich: The Only Amish Man Convicted of Murder

Brutal Madness

After a brief nap, Ed stumbled back into the kitchen. I have to go to the wedding, he yelled. Its the only way I can save my soul. Katie had heard about all she could take from Ed and stood firm.

No, she shouted back at Ed. Youre too sick. You wont even take your medicine.

Because youre trying to poison meI have the devil in me and youre trying to kill the devil! Ed screamed.

Were trying to help you, Danny replied.

Realizing he was fighting a losing battle, Ed walked over to his cot and lay down. Danny had to finish his chores and promised Katie he would return as soon as they were finished.

As the children played on the floor, Katie stood in front of the sink and began to wash the dishes. She was startled suddenly when she turned around and Ed was right there towering over her. Whats wrong? she said. Ed ignored Katies question, took two steps back, and slammed his fist directly into the middle of her face. Katie was instantly knocked to the floor, and her face began bleeding profusely. Still conscious, Katie asked, Why did you do this?

I am the devil! Ed shrieked.

Ed and Katies young daughter, Mary, began crying, and their son, Danny, stood motionless.

Danny, Katie said, go get Uncle Dan; tell him Daddy is sick. Hurry!

Danny quickly ran out the front door, leaving his mother bleeding on the floor at his fathers feet. Mary and Enos, too scared to run, were left behind to witness what was still to come.

Danny ran as fast as he could through the snow to his Uncle Dannys house. He burst in the front door and gasped, Daddy isnt feeing good. The boys uncle did not even bother to question the seriousness of the situation. The fact that his little nephew had run a half-mile through the snow barefoot was enough to suggest that something was terribly wrong. He quickly ran out of the house, grabbed a mare from the barn and, riding her bareback style, was soon galloping down the rode.

When Danny went inside his brothers house, he was nearly overwhelmed with terror. Katie was lying stretched out and motionless on the floor. Ed had her pinned down with his knees, and was madly pounding her face with his fists.

What are you doing? Dan screamed. Get off of her!

Ed stood up and coolly replied, This is what she deserves.

He then lifted up his right foot and stomped it down on Katies face as hard as he could. Blood splattered all over the room and Ed only paused momentarily before dropping back down and resuming the blows to her face. Danny lunged at Ed and knocked him off of Katie. The two men wrestled on the floor briefly before they both jumped up. The look on Eds face told Danny that he would be next if he did not get out of the house. Leaving behind the children, Danny ran out of the house and mounted his mare once again. He quickly rode her to the closest English farm, just minutes away.

As the English man opened his door, he could tell that Dan was in a desperate state of shock. Theres been an accident at my brothers, Dan managed to say. Can I use your telephone? Sensing the seriousness of the situation, the English man led Dan to his phone. Dan dialed 911, and within seconds an operator was on the other end of the line.

What is your emergency? the operator asked.

A murder is being occurredmy brother is killing his wife! Dan replied.

Where is the emergency taking place?

Rockdale Township, the home of Edward D. Gingerich, an Amish house next to the sawmill at the Frisbeetown and Sturgis Road intersection.

Before ending the call, Dan told the operator that he would meet the police at the Sturgis and Frisbeetown intersection.

Following his brief scuffle with Danny, Ed pulled on his work boots, walked back over to Katie, and began crushing his foot down on her head. His two young children looked on in horror. The right side of Katies face had caved in and her brains began to spill out onto the floor. After a few minutes, Ed dropped to his knees and undressed Katies body. Once all of her clothes were removed, he took a steak knife from the kitchen drawer and used it to make a seven-inch incision in her lower abdomen. Through the incision, Ed reached his hand up inside Katies body cavity, and removed her lungs, kidneys, stomach, liver, spleen, bladder, uterus and heart. He stacked all of her organs in a pile next to her body, and stuck the knife into the top of them. Satisfied with his work, Ed washed himself up in the sink, threw his Bible into the fireplace, and told the children to put on their coats on. Im taking you to Granddads, he said, then Im coming back to burn down the house.

Murder weapon (POLICE)
Murder weapon (POLICE)

Following Dan Gingerichs 911 call, officers of the Pennsylvania State Polices Meadville barracks (some 20 minutes away), and members of the Mill Village Volunteer Fire Department were dispatched. Paramedics were told to wait at the intersection and not to enter Eds house until the state police arrived. As the sun began to set, and paramedics desperately waited, Ed Gingerich was spotted walking down the road towards them. He was carrying a little girl and leading a small boy by the hand. As Ed approached, one of the paramedics spoke up. Where are you heading?

Im going to my dads house, Ed replied.

Where is your wife? the medic inquired.

You wouldnt understand. Ed said.

Since Ed was no longer in his house, the paramedics decided that one of them would follow Ed, while the others went up to his house.

The paramedics were immediately struck by the somber odor of death as they stepped inside Eds house. Upon entering the kitchen, they stood speechless. Katies nude body was sprawled out on the floor, one-fourth of her face was gone and her organs were lying in a pile next to her corpse. There was nothing they could do. Katie Gingerich was dead.  

Crawford County Sheriff's vehicle
Crawford County Sheriff's vehicle

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Robert Rowles was the first officer to arrive at the intersection. As Dan explained to the officer what had happened, Ed walked over and spoke up. Im the bad man youre looking for. He said. Trooper Rowles took Ed by the arm and placed him into the backseat of his patrol car. After the officer called in for backup, he asked Ed to step out of the car and remove his boots and coat. As Ed took off his coat, a bloody chunk of flesh fell out of his sleeve and landed at the officers feet. Get back into the car! the officer commanded.

Within an hour of Katies murder, homicide detectives, crime scene investigators and members of the media were swarming all over the Brownhill settlement.

Nearly all of the Amish families and visitors were still at the wedding reception and were unaware of the events unfolding around them. After giving his statement to investigators, Eds brother walked slowly to the home where the reception was being held. As he walked inside, it became apparent that something tragic had happened. Can I have your attention? Dan announced. Ed Gingerich just killed Katie. He killed his wife.