Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Joseph Kallinger, the Enigmatic Cobbler


The Philadelphia skyline
The Philadelphia skyline

The police converged on the home at 100 East Sterner Street, near North Front Street, around 9:45 that evening to arrest Joseph Kallinger, 39, and his 12-year-old son.  Joseph had seen them coming and had crawled through a hole that led to his mother's house to phone his lawyer.  He told the arresting officers that he would make no statements until his lawyer arrived.  He merely offered that he was innocent.

According to reports in The Philadelphia Inquirer, the two were accused of kidnapping, tying the four women in a home in Susquehanna County on December 3, wounding one, and removing $20,000 in cash and jewelry.  They were brought in for questioning by not only the local detectives but also Detective Roseman and the detectives from the other jurisdictions.  It wasn't long before Kallinger was charged with the murder of Maria Fasching.

Ring found at Kallinger home
Ring found at Kallinger home

First, however, he was going to trial for the crimes near Harrisburg, and when he could not post bail he was taken to a jail in Dauphin County.  Both Kallinger and his son were suspects in a seven-week, three-state crime spree, including robbery and rape.  The son was sent to the Dauphin County juvenile detention center to await his fate. His fingerprints, along with his fathers, were matched to those found in the Harrisburg suburb home.  Police suspected that Kallinger may have taken his other son on at least one of the expeditions, but prosecutors did not move to place him into custody.

Fingerprints compared with the unknowns
Fingerprints compared with the unknowns

Kallinger's wife, Elizabeth, protested all of this, saying that too much tragedy had been visited on her family.   Her son had died a year before, her sister right afterward, her mother faced surgery, and now this.  It was all a terrible mistake.  Her husband had not done these things.  "I can't take much more," the paper reported her as saying.  She had an 18-month old daughter living there with her, along with her daughter, now 16, and her stepson, 21, and the youngest son, now 11.

The police searched the home and his mother's home next door found valuables connected to several of the homes that had been burglarized during the seven-week spree.  These pieces they removed for evidence. 

Reporters from The Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed neighbors and shop owners in the area, all of whom knew the reclusive cobbler.  In chorus, they said they were certain that Kallinger was innocent.  He was no murderer. 

A 14-year-old boy who had known the deceased Joey talked to a reporter about his death, claiming he had seen Joey get into a green sedan with a gay older man, and it was his opinion that the man had murdered Joey.   But he had no reservations about Kallinger's guilt.  "I think he did it," he said, referring to the crimes.  "He was a mean old man."

At the police station, detectives continued to talk to Kallinger.   They had plenty of evidence, from witnesses to physical evidence, and they felt sure they had their man.  Now they had to work on motive.  What had seemed obvious at first—self-enrichment—was anything but.  Kallinger was to present a very odd and puzzling portrait.


We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'