Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Hell Comes to Bath

"The World's Worst Demon"

Andrew Kehoe
Andrew Kehoe
(The State Journal)

His name was Andrew Kehoe. He was born in Tecumseh, Michigan on February 1, 1872, making him 55 years old in 1927. Andrew was one of thirteen children. Kehoe's parents were originally from western New York State. His mother passed away when Andrew was very young. Over time, his father re-married. But Andrew didn't get along with the stepmother and they often fought. One day, she attempted to light an oil stove in their kitchen. The stove exploded and set her afire, covered with oil. Andrew watched his stepmother burn without trying to help her. After a few minutes, he dumped a bucket of water on her and doused the flames. But the damage was done. She later died. Although Andrew was only 14 years old, neighbors speculated that Andrew had something to do with the malfunction of the stove.

He was educated at Tecumseh High School and attended Michigan State College in East Lansing where he met his future wife, Nellie Price. Later, Andrew moved out west for several years. He spent time in Missouri where he suffered a severe head injury during a fall in St. Louis in 1911. He was attending an electrical school at the time of the accident. Kehoe drifted in and out of a coma for two months. Whether or not this injury contributed to Kehoe's madness will never be known, but head injuries have been known to cause erratic behavior, even after recovery.

When Kehoe returned to Michigan, he eventually married Nellie. She came from a rather wealthy family who owned several pieces of property in Clinton township. Eventually, Andrew and Nellie bought an 185 acre farm from an uncle's estate that was located just outside the village of Bath. Andrew was a strange sort, everyone agreed. He was quick to help people but also quick to criticize when he didn't get his way. He was an intelligent man and able to articulate his points but often grew impatient of opposing points of view. Andrew was habitually neat and his sanitary habits were well known. He often changed his shirt in mid-day or whenever the slightest hint of dirt appeared on his shirt. Anyone who ever worked with him knew that if Andrew got dirty, he would immediately clean up and emerge from the washroom neat as a pin. He was meticulous in his dress and manner.

Andrew liked to tinker with machinery, especially with electricity. He was happiest when he was repairing or adjusting the workings of farm machinery. New ways of doing old chores intrigued him and he was constantly seeking improvement. But some neighbors reported that Kehoe was cruel to his farm animals and once beat a horse to death.

Over time, Kehoe gained a reputation in the town for thriftiness. That trait helped get him elected to the school board in Bath in 1926.On the board, Kehoe campaigned endlessly for lower taxes which, he claimed, were causing him financial hardship. His creditors tried to work out an agreement with Kehoe but were unsuccessful. Soon, he stopped paying his mortgage altogether. To complicate matters, his wife Nellie was chronically ill with an undiagnosed illness. She required frequent hospital stays, which depleted the family savings further. Kehoe envisioned losing his farm and plunging into debt. In his mind, he blamed higher taxes for all his financial woes. He couldn't understand the need for bigger and better schools. He saw many of the town expenditures as wasteful and ill conceived. But above all and without respite, without any valid reason or logic, he blamed the Bath Consolidated School for his troubles.

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