Shortly after midnight November 26th, 1902, Aldrich L. “Al” Schissler, a Milwaukee saloon keeper turned bookmaker, shot and killed aspiring actor Frederick W. Ruel, twenty-three. Police gathered statements from eyewitnesses, recovered the murder weapon, and had the killer in custody within a few hours.
It seemed an open-and-shut case. But Schissler’s murder trial nearly spiraled out of control as prosecutors and defense attorneys sparred over allegations of underaged prostitution, concealed identity, jealousy, infidelity, and insanity. When jurors finished their deliberations and handed their verdict to the judge six months after the fatal shot, it was anyone’s guess what they had decided. Would Al Schissler escape a prison sentence for murder? (more…)