1954 Death by Pesticide Epidemic

These three articles about the use of the insecticide E-605 in a string of German and Austrian murders, accidental deaths, and suicides all appeared in the March 21, 1954 issue of The Stars and Stripes.

Farm Maid, 17, Admits Killing Boss by E-605
     LUDWIGSHAFEN, March 20 (UP)- A teen-age girl, who wanted a younger farmhand to work and play beside, murdered her employer by mistake by placing E-605 plant poison in his wine, police announced today.
     Her deed raised the four-week, murder-suicide-accident toll of the potent mixture to 47 men, women, and children in Germany and Austria.
    Police said that 49-year-old farmer Johann Hege dropped dead in his fields at nearby Eppstein-Pfalz yesterday after drinking a flask of wine laced with E-605.
     An investigation showed that the wine was poisoned by a 17-year-old maid on Hege’s farm.
‘Younger Man’
     Police said that the girl, whose name was not released, confessed she was trying to poison one of the older farmhands ‘so that we’d get a younger man on the farm.” Hege took the flask by mistake.
     She said she was ‘talked into’ the project by her 15-year-old girl friend who also wanted a younger farmhand about.
     Earlier today, police found the bodies of a 63-year-old man and his 45-year-old wife in a Munich hotel. They had laid down on the hotel bed, swallowed ampules of E-605 poison and were dead within minutes.
     In the four weeks since a woman of Worms killed her husband, father-in-law and a woman friend with E-605, 44 other Germans and Austrians have killed themselves with the mixture, been murdered through its use or swallowed it by accident.”

Woman Held for Killing Lover With Poison
     LUDWIGSHAFEN, March 20 (AP)-Police reported that a 39-year-old German woman has confessed to having killed her lover here last month with the same insecticide, E-605, which was widely publicized in the West German press after a recent triple murder.
     Police said Johanna Schneewels admitted she baked the bug-poison into a pancake and fed it to Friedrich Muchow, 52-year-old postal employe*, because she feared he would leave her. She was arrested Thursday.”
Triple-Slayer Slated For Mental Checkup
MAINZ, March 20 (UP)-Confessed triple murderess Mrs. Christa Lehmann-who set off a poison suicide epidemic which has claimed more than 40 victims in four weeks-will be committed to an asylum for observation, Mainz police announced.
     The mother of Mrs. Lehmann was put into the same mental home 30 years ago for attempting to kill her children. She is still there. Authorities stressed that mother and daughter will not be allowed to meet. 
     Mrs. Lehmann, 30, has admitted poisoning her husband, father-in-law, best woman friend, and two pet dogs with E-605, a previously obscure insecticide.”