The Shooting of Rosie Schmidt

photo by Daryl_Mitchell on Flickr

It was close to 5:00PM on Tuesday, Dec 28, 1926 that Rosie Schmidt and her friends, Katie Tiesenbach and Agnes Fenske, stepped off the streetcar and began walking up the sidewalk towards the parliament building in Regina, Saskatchewan where they worked as charwomen (cleaners). Rosie had been lamenting her financial situation on the ride over, telling her friends: “I am so poor.”

At 42, Rosie hadn’t had a particularly easy life, especially in the past few months. She’d come to Canada from Russia with her husband, Valentine, twenty years ago and in August had finally managed to break free of him and move out on her own. Valentine was an abusive drunk, who, according to her brother-in-law refused to work, expecting his wife to earn a living for both of them.

They were approaching the pavement that led to the west entrance of the parliament building on 20th Avenue, Rosie on the inside of the group with Agnes in the middle and Katie on the outside nearest the road, when Valentine stepped out from behind a parked car about twenty feet away from them.

“Rosie, I shoot you!” he cried, pulling a 12 gauge, double-barrelled shot gun from under his coat. Katie began screaming, Rosie turning to run as Valentine pulled the trigger, the shot catching her in the left side of her back. Agnes fainted, Katie rushing to Rosie’s side as Valentine took off running, fleeing across Wascana Lake. The whole thing was over in seconds, Rosie dying almost instantly.

Dec 29, 1926 – Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

The police were called and Detective Pete Cleland headed for Wascana Park. He saw a man running and managed to sneak around and catch him, arresting Valentine Schmidt without a struggle. When questioned, he admitted to the officer that he had shot his wife. After taking him to police headquarters, Detective Cleland went back with another officer and they found the shot gun in two pieces in some bushes in Wascana Park. There were eight shells found on Valentine, as well as a stout rope with a noose and slip knot. The police believed Valentine’s plan was to take his own life after the shooting and he was placed on suicide watch in the jail.

A Dangerous Man

There were plenty of signs that Valentine Schmidt was not going to let Rosie go. Her landlord, Mrs. W. M. Morrison told reporters that Rosie repeatedly expressed her fear of Valentine. She’d told her that on one occasion Valentine had shown her a gun and threatened to shoot her, saying “he is quite capable of doing so, as he shot at my father in Russia.”

Valentine had tried to force his way into the house multiple times and needed to be ordered out. On Christmas Day, just three days before the murder, Mrs. Morrison had been at home with her husband and other tenants. They’d heard the door open and someone go up the stairs and thought it was Rosie. Rosie came home a short time later and went to her room. She’d started screaming and ran downstairs, saying, “he’s in my room.” They all went upstairs and found Valentine, very drunk and half dressed, getting out from under her bed. The room was in complete disarray. Mr. Morrison ordered him out and threatened to call the police. Valentine just laughed and said, “she my wife”, although he did leave.

The day after Christmas he’d tried again to get inside, but the doors were locked. One of Rosie’s housemates reported seeing Valentine peer in through the front window and that he’d fled when he’d been seen.

In the months leading up to Rosie moving out, there were also court records indicating that Valentine was dangerous. In April, Rosie had Valentine summoned to appear in police court because of his mistreatment, but later withdrew the charge. On May 31st, he went to jail for 3 months when he couldn’t put up the sureties required when Rosie had him summoned for threatening to kill her.

On Dec 29, 1926 a Coroner’s Inquest found Valentine responsible for the death of his wife. On December 31st, Rosie’s funeral was held at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic church and she was laid to rest in the Regina Cemetery. On the same day, Valentine was committed to stand trial for her murder.

The Trial

The trial opened on April 13, 1927. Dr Leon Beaudoin had done the autopsy and told of the ragged two inch long wound in Rosie’s back. There were numerous holes puncturing her internal organs, a laceration of the left kidney and hemorrhage in the abdominal cavity.

Throughout the inquest and the trial, Valentine remained calm. At no point did he show any remorse for his actions.

His defense pushed hard for insanity. He’d been examined by Dr. Campbell, an alienist from the Weyburn Mental Hospital, but Dr. Campbell found him to be sane. So they’d had blood samples taken and sent to Dr. Frances McGill, the provincial pathologist, to check for any signs of disease that might have affected his sanity. There were none. Finally, they called upon Dr. A. L. Roy, a doctor who had treated Valentine in May of 1926, when he’d gone to see him twice with stomach pains, complaining that he thought his wife had tried to poison him. Dr. Roy had found no signs of poison, pointing to a possible delusion.

April 14, 1927 – Saskatoon Daily Star

It was a feeble defense at best and on the evening of April 14, 1927, the jury found Valentine guilty. He was sentenced to hang on July 15, 1927.

A series of appeals followed, which resulted in a short reprieve but ultimately failed to save Valentine’s life. He was hung on Aug 26, 1927 at 6:00AM. At no point did he apologize or express any grief over the murder of Rosie Schmidt.

April 15, 1927 – Regina Leader-Post

Thank you for reading! Information for this post came from the following editions of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, the Saskatoon Daily Star and the Regina Leader-Post: Dec 29, 1926, Dec 30, 1926, Dec 31, 1926, Jan 1, 1927, Jan 7, 1927, Jan 10, 1927, Jan 14, 1927, Jan 19, 1927, Jan 26, 1927, Jan 27, 1927, April 14, 1927, April 15, 1927, April 16, 1927, July 6, 1927, July 8, 1927, Aug 18, 1927, Aug 19, 1927, Aug 23, 1927, Aug 25, 1927, Aug 26, 1927, Aug 27, 1927

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