Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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

English Laws

Following the crime scene investigation, detectives began interviewing Ed back at state police headquarters. After being read his Miranda rights, Ed signed a waiver form Lord Willing. This initial session was unrecorded and afterwards Ed was driven to Cambridge Springs and arraigned. By one oclock in the morning, the men were back in the interrogation room and a tape recorder was placed in front of Ed. The recorder was turned on and one of the investigators began speaking, Ed, do you know what a tape recorder is?

Pennsylvania State Police Headquarters where Ed Gingerich was questioned (David Lohr)
Pennsylvania State Police Headquarters
where Ed Gingerich was questioned
(David Lohr)

Uh-huh, Ed replied.

I explained to you and I read you that form that says you have the right to remain silent, and whatnot. You remember that? Do you understand?

Ed stared at the investigator momentarily before shaking his head no.

You do not? the investigator asked.

You understand that stuff you say can be held against youabout what went on today. Do you understand that?

How do you mean? Well, things that you say could be held against you in a court of law. You understand that?

Yeah, and religion, Ed responded.

law and religion. And you have the right to an attorney. You understand what an attorney is?

Yeah. so you understand that?

Yeah, but in our religion we will not have done that. Ed said.

We have to go by the law and the law says I have to tell you this. Do you understand?

No.

You have the right to an attorney; you understand that?

Yeah. What Im thinking, my mind is confused, Im going to tell you that right now, but the reason we dont use the number, the Social Security numberbecause of the beat, the beats somewhere, the computerin fact, we feel we can track our minds. Ed was obviously confused and was having a hard time focusing his mind as the interrogation continued.

Ok, but lets get back on track and back on track is that you understand what I have explained to you on that piece of paper.

Yeah.

I explained that you do not have to talk to me if you dont want toand you understand that?

Yeah.

OkI want to try and understand thisexactly what happened, why you killed Katie

for some reason, I think we could still save her, Ed said.

No, we cannot save her. Katie is dead and you know Katie is dead. The investigator replied.

Yeah, I know. Why did I kill her? I felt it was a gain.

A gain for who?

A gain for us people, Ed replied.

All the people?

Yeah, not just my religion.

Why? Because, if I can get back on track, it will come yet.

Maybe you can explain to me why you felt that you had to remove Katies brain and work your way from the brain down. Explain that to me.

You know how we, the human being were made?

Yes, the investigator replied. From the top down.

Thats right. I had it in my mind that if I worked from the top down Ed paused and then said, Im so lost, I dont know what to say.

The remainder of the interrogation lasted for approximately an hour, during which Ed tried his best to describe the murder and his problems prior to the murder. Most of his statements were bizarre and incomprehensible. Regardless of how it turned out, the investigators were happy and considered the case closed. Ed was taken to the Crawford County Jail around two in the morning and placed in a holding cell.

Meadville jail building (David Lohr)
Meadville jail building (David Lohr)

Following an autopsy, Katies remains were delivered to Eds fathers house. Normally an Amish wake is held at the deceaseds residence, however due to the circumstances surrounding Katies death, it was decided that her wake would be held at Eds fathers house.

While the men saw to the digging of Katies grave, her mother and sisters took it upon themselves to wash and prepare Katies body. Rather than dress her in her wedding gown, Katies body was wrapped in black linen and placed in a pine coffin. The coffin was then bridged across two chairs for the eventual viewing the following day.

As preparations for Katies funeral were taking place, Ed was moved from the jail to a state mental hospital in North Warren, Pennsylvania, for a psychiatric evaluation. During the move, Ed suspected that the officers were taking him to the woods to shoot him, and argued with them briefly before finally agreeing to cooperate.

Just 41 hours after Katies death, Amish mourners from Ontario, eastern Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and Indiana, began to arrive at the elder Gingerichs farm. Over 200 friends and family members gathered to offer their condolences and pay their respects.

The sermon at Eds fathers, led by Bishop Shetler, lasted for approximately 45 minutes. There were no flowers. The tone was hopeful, yet full of admonition for the living. There was no eulogy and respect for Katie, not praise, was expressed. Following the sermon, Katies casket was loaded into an Amish buggy and transported to the Grabhof (Amish cemetery), down the road from the Gingerich farm. After her coffin was lowered into the ground by felt straps, a hymn was spoken but not sung, prior to filling in the burial hole by hand. In the end, fresh dirt and a simple tombstone1 marked her grave.

Following the burial, everyone gathered back at the elder Gingerichs farm for a funeral dinner. That evening, at the request of Danny Gingerich, Katie and Eds families gathered in the living room at Eds house. The horror which Danny had witnessed was eating him up inside and he had to get it off his chest. As everyone gathered around, Danny recounted the events that had transpired in the house just days earlier. Danny felt terrible about leaving Katie and the children behind to seek help and he wanted everyone to understand why. Danny told those in attendance that just prior to running out of the house, he saw a figure next to Ed, which terrified him.

What did you see? someone asked.

He was standing right next to Ed, Danny replied. In the flesh. I saw himSatan. The devil himself, standing right there next to Ed. He came out of Ed and stood there. I was scared. I ran for my life.

Following Dannys statement, no one spoke and everyone remained quite for a long period before finally leaving Eds house.

****

1 In death as in life, the Amish are all considered equal and all tombstones resemble one another.

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