Butcher beheads daughter and wife, then kills himself.

In November of 1909, Pine Grove was the scene of one of the most horrific crimes in Pennsylvania history, committed by a butcher named Daniel Schoke. The following is an account of the ghastly crime, as reported by the Harrisburg Daily Independent on November 2, 1909.

One of the worst crimes that has ever shocked this county occurred at Pine Grove last night, when Daniel Schoke, a butcher, of that place, cut off the heads of his wife and twelve-year-old daughter and then committed suicide by shooting himself.

The ghastly discovery was made this morning when neighbors who became suspicious that something was wrong, then there was no sign of life about the house, broke open the front door. They found Schoke lying at the door downstairs in a pool of blood and up in the bedroom, in a bed saturated with blood, were the bodies of the wofe and little girl.

Head Rolled Away From Body

The daughter's head was entirely severed and had rolled away from the body, but his wife's head hung simply by the vertebrae. A large butcher knife lying on the floor showed how the horrible crime had been committed. After the murder Schoke covered the bodies up with the bed clothing and, after writing a note telling of the crime, he went downstairs and shot himself through the head. Death in his case was instantaneous.
Schoke was fifty-five years of age and conducted a butcher shop at Pine Grove. He was of a rather peculiar and unsteady disposition and several times failed in business but his relatives came to his assistance each time and started him in business again.

A Premeditated Murder

Last evening he took his lodge books to the home of a relative along with other possessions, indicating that he premeditated the murder in impassioned moments. After his family had gone to bed he went to their room, fully attired, and his clothing was fairly saturated with the blood of his victims, which also spurted over the floor.

It was at first thought that the family had been murdered as it was known he had a large sum of money in the house, but the money, together with the note, were afterwards found. Schoke has several other children, but they are all married and live in different parts of the county. This was his second wife. It is believed that worry drove him insane.

Left a Note

In his note he said that he was not being treated fairly and that he did not want to leave his wife and daughter to their own resources after he was dead. About a week ago he got up from his bed during the night and went downstairs and sharpened a butcher knife with the intention of killing himself, but his nerve failed him. When he told his wife of it the next day she exclaimed: "What would I do then?" It is this remark that is supposed to have inspired the double murder in addition to the suicide.


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