Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Arsenic Anna :The True Story of Anna Marie Hahn

Early Years

Through continuing interviews with the suspected thief and possible murderer, investigators learned that Anna was a German native, born in 1906, and had immigrated to Cincinnati in 1929, at the age of 23.  Before coming to the United States, she had married a doctor from Vienna, and the couple had a child, Oskar.  Not long after the birth of their son, the family immigrated together, but the doctor died shortly after their arrival in the states.

Both the Cincinnati Post and The Cincinnati Inquirer obtained several transcripts of Annas police interviews, which they both published several times during the course of the investigation.  According to those accounts, Anna had an aunt and uncle in Cincinnatis German district, so she decided to stay in the country and make a new start.  During a community dance at the Hotel Alms, Anna met a telegraph operator named Philip Hahn.  The couple quickly fell in love and eventually wed.  Philip desperately wanted to leave his job, so the couple saved their money and eventually opened two delicatessens.  Shortly thereafter, Annas aunt and uncle died and left her their home on 2970 Colerain Avenue. 

Investigators soon learned that while Annas marriage to Philip may have appeared solid to outsiders, the young couple had their share of problems, most of which seemed to have revolved around Annas hunger for money.  Anna seemed to tire quickly of her duties operating one of the couples delicatessens, and opted to work on various moneymaking schemes.  Arson was apparently Annas first choice, as there were three suspicious fires on the books; the first of which occurred at one of the delicatessens, located at 3007 Colerain Avenue.  While the fire caused minimal damage, Anna still managed to collect $300 from the insurance company.  The other two fires both took place at the Hahn residence -- the first on June 2, 1935 and the second on May 20, 1936.  Anna collected just over $2000 for both fires. 

Regardless of her suspected taste for fire, one of Annas presumed schemes might have required the death of her husband, albeit by mere accident or brutal intent.  On two separate occasions Anna tried to secure a $25,000 life insurance policy on her husband, but each time she met resistance from him.  Whether it was a simple superstition or the fear of losing his life is unknown.  Regardless, what is known is that shortly thereafter Philip Hahn became desperately ill and, against Annas wishes, was taken to the hospital by his mother.  Although Philip survived his mysterious illness, the marriage continued to suffer and the couple eventually separated. 

After the falling out with her husband, and despite her lack of training or experience in the field, Anna began working as a visiting nurse for elderly patients.  It was perhaps this revelation that made investigators decide to follow up with several of her previous patients.

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