On July 22, 1874, tragedy fell on the Julius Voelcker family in New Braunfels when their 12-year-old daughter, Emma, was viciously murdered with an ax, supposedly by Wilhelm Faust. Wilhelm Faust was a pharmacist who worked in both Seguin and New Braunfels. On the morning of July 22, Wilhelm told his wife Helene that he had to go out of town on business and asked her to go spend the night with the Voelcker family as she had done many times before. Julius Voelcker was also a pharmacist with his pharmacy located on the north side of the plaza next to their home.
On the way to the Voelckers, Helene met Mrs. Carl Mueller who invited her to spend the night in their home. Helene declined, saying she would be staying with the Voelcker family. If she had accepted the invitation, a tragedy may have been avoided.
That night, Helene made her bed on the floor and the daughter, Emma, went to sleep in her bed. After midnight, an assailant, supposedly Wilhelm Faust, entered the house with the intention of killing his wife with an ax.
Thinking his wife was in the bed, he swung the ax, killing the 12-year-old girl instantly. Mrs. Faust was awakened by the noise and screamed. Faust swung the ax again, striking Helene between her eyes, blinding her for life.
Several people were arrested but there was no clue at that time who the killer could be. However, Faust was suspected immediately because of his disinterest in who could have attacked his wife and his refusal to participate in searching for the assailant.
It wasn’t until October 1875 that he was arrested for the murder of Emma and the attack on his wife.
The prosecution was represented by John Ireland from Seguin, and Faust was defended by attorneys William Rust and Washington Goodrich, also from Seguin. During the trial, witness Isom Taylor stated that on the night of July 22, he was riding a horse approached swiftly in the dark. He recognized the horse, a dark roan, belonging to Mr. Joseph Johnson in Seguin. “He was without a hat and I saw his bald head.”
Wilhelm was arrested as the murderer of Emma and the attempted murderer of his wife. During the trial, Faust supposedly admitted to other murders. However, this information may be distorted by historical revisionists and cannot be confirmed.
Crowds in New Braunfels were enraged about the murder and there were several attempts to get Faust out of jail and lynch him. To protect him, the police moved him several times and finally placed him in the Comal County Courthouse. (Present location of the Chase National Bank.) During the night, an unknown person shot through the window, killing Faust. He was 35 years old. Emma’s father was suspected of being the shooter but no one was ever charged.
On July 25, 1874, Emma’s funeral was held in New Braunfels and burial was in the Comal Cemetery. The funeral procession was reported to have been more than three miles long for the 12-year-old girl.
Five years later on page 3 of the Austin Weekly Statesman newspaper, dated June 26, 1879, the following article appeared which had been translated from a New Braunfels newspaper.
“Five years ago, while Mrs. Faust and Miss Voelcker were sleeping, an assassin stole in with an ax and killed Miss Voelcker and dangerously wounded Mrs. Faust. Mr. Faust was arrested and sentenced to life in prison. While lying in jail, someone shot through a window and killed him. Last week a man named M. P. Delwors died in Bandera County and just before his death he confessed to the murder of Miss Voelcker. Delwors was an itinerant musician teacher, and taught vocal music in Gonzales at the time of the murder. He confesses the deed was committed with the intention of robbing the house. The man who shot poor Mr. Faust will now admit that he was a better man than they were and should begin the work of repentance as soon as possible.”
Wilhelm Faust was buried in the Rhodius family cemetery in Schertz.
In a strange twist to change true history, one story about the murder was that Faust was in love with his wife’s sister and wanted Helene out of the way so he could marry the sister. However, Helene (Rhodius) had no sister, only three brothers, Edward, Otto and Hugo.
Helene Faust died in New Braunfels in 1906 at the age of 55 and was buried in Schertz. Emma’s father Julius was elected mayor in 1875 but died six weeks before his term expired in 1877, not knowing someone other than Faust had killed his daughter. Emma’s mother Louise lived more than 40 years longer that her daughter and died in 1916.