Arsenic Anna: Murder and Greed in 1930’s America

Roy Brown
5 min readSep 9, 2021

Like many serial killers or single hand murderers, Anna Marie Hahn had method and motive to her crimes but in the 1920’s and the 1930’s, it seemed the US was experiencing a high rate of female serial killers between those decades, before we introduce Anna Hahn, let’s introduce a couple of these killer women.

Mary Frances Creighton was a housewife and a convicted murderer, convicted of the killing of Ada Applegate and was suspected of a series of poisonings in Newark, New Jersey. Creighton was executed by the electric chair in Sing Sing Prison on July 16th, 1936.

Our next killer woman was Tillie Klimek aka the Spiritualist Poisoner, A Polish-American Serial Killer who would have dreams about her husband’s death, she poisoned and killed 7 men before being captured in 1921, she died on November 20th, 1936.

Unlike Creighton and Klimek, Hahn had killed at random and her crimes proved to be cold and calculated, Anna Marie Filser Hahn was born July 7th, 1906 in the Town of Fuessen, located in Bavaria, Germany. As a young girl, Hahn had suffered blood poisoning and thought she was going to die, after spending 5 months in the hospital, she went under an operation to remove her thyroid gland.

During the First World War, Her family lost three children, two of them being boys. As she was the youngest of 12 children and since she was the youngest, she was used to getting her way and was known to sneak out to parties. Hahn never completed her high school education and lied about graduating from “Teaching School”

Later sent to her sister’s house in Holland, this never straightened her out and on May 31st, 1925, her son Oscar was born and Hahn was shunned by her family, and her community. Anna Marie Hahn fled to America, and her son stayed with her mother for 3 years.

Anna Marie Hahn fell ill with scarlet fever for 3 weeks, by the time she arrived in America while she stayed with her step-uncle Max. By the End of 1929, She lied about being a nurse and staying with 71 year old Charles Oswald. With him fancying her, Charles told her that he would marry her one day but she never followed through and began to steal money from him.

Soon, Anna would resort to murder to support her gambling habit. This Gambling Habit was causing major financial problems for Hahn. Hahn was similar to another female serial killer, Hahn was like Nannie Doss, both women were murderers for greed but the only major difference was that Doss often killed family members, often wiping out several generations.

Anna Marie Hahn Mugshot (Source: Wikipedia)

While Hahn killed her clients for their money, in the spring of 1929, Anna Hahn got a job at the Hotel Alms as a Chambermaid. In the summer of the same year, Hahn met her future husband; Philip J. Hahn.

On May 5th, 1931, Anna and Philip both married and Anna Adopted the Last name of Hahn, in the summer of 1930, Oscar came to live with his mother in America. While in Cincinnati, Anna starts stealing and selling from Oswald, until 1931, in February, her uncle wrote a new will, leaving her everything.

Despite having no qualifications for being a live-in nurse, Anna Marie Hahn began to post ads offering her services to the elderly German-American population thus beginning her reign of terror.

The Hahn Family rented rooms from a man named Ernst Kohler, Anna would eventually buy illegal morphine under Mr. Kohler’s name. On May 6th, 1933, Ernst Kohler had died, the death was ruled from throat cancer, but Hahn denied any involvement in Kohler’s death.

Hahn would run a bakery/deli in 1935 and due to failure to make mortgage payments would eventually lose her home.

Hahn’s next victim was Albert Parker, which after having Anna’s services, died under questionable circumstances, before he died, Parker had signed a I.O.U, thus allowing Anna access to his money, another victim, Ernst Koch, had died in May of 1932 in Anna’s care as well

Her next victim was Jacob Wanger, who willed 15,000$ to his “Niece” Anna, but soon, Anna Maire Hahn would swindle another 15,000$ from George Gsellman, who also died under her care, within several years, Anna Marie Hahn had killed four elderly men. The last to die was George Obendoerfer, whom she lured to Colorado, Obendoerfer had died in his hotel room, after he died, Anna had looted his bank account of 5,000$

George Gsellman, Hahn’s last Victim (Source: murderpedia)

One Survivor, George Heiss, suspected Anna of trying to poison him, when she served him a mug of beer, when a couple of house flies took a drink and died on the spot, Heiss offered his drink to her, when she refused then Heiss kicked her out but never informed police of his suspicions.

With Multiple murders on her hands, Police began to look into her as she took the tab of George Obendoerfer’s funeral, soon evidence was uncovered of Anna’s access to Mr. Obendoerfer’s bank account and autopsy was performed, arsenic was found in his system.

With the court demanding the exhumation of Anna’s other clients, which came to the same conclusion, that Anna Marie Hahn is their killer.

Detectives had captured Anna Marie Hahn when she returned to Cincinnati.

Anna Marie Hahn, the housemaid Killer, was finally captured in 1937.

Anna Marie Hahn with her Lawyer; Joseph Hoodlin. Her Husband; Philip and Her Son; Oscar in the background (Source: Murderpedia)

Anna Marie Hahn was put on trial for the five murders, in the trial, evidence was presented to her deeds. By the end of the trial, Anna Marie Hahn’s destiny was sealed, she was sentenced to death by the electric chair.

On December 7th, 1938, Anna Marie Hahn, the Housemaid Killer, was finally put to death. After her death, her son; Oscar Hahn, had been put in a foster home and lived out the rest of his days.

Anna Marie Hahn’s legacy lives on today as many killers that mimicked her type of Crimes have been in recent memory.


Zara Astarita, Elizabeth West, Jenny Gentile, Anna Marie Hahn, Accessed February 26th, 2021

Juan Blanco, Anna Marie Hahn, Accessed February 26th, 2021

Jason Lucky Marrow, Serial Killer Anna Marie Hahn 1933–1938, Accessed February 26th, 2021

Jamie Bogart, Anna Marie Hahn: The First woman to die in Ohio’s Electric Chair, Published March 7th, 2016, Accessed February 26th, 2021