a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The murders killed our reputation

Welcome to nowhere, chapter 2

By Scott Beveridge

Old man Schultzie lived in the biggest black house in Webster, one perched at the edge of a steep cliff with a view of the entire village.

His dark clothes, small stature and long nose made him every bit as creepy as his mansion that was stained dark by emissions from coal furnaces and the sprawling steel and zinc mills across the river.

Everyone for miles would become convinced that George L. Schultz was off his rocker when, on Christmas Day in 1961, he shot and killed his lover and her husband.

A former garbage collector, Schultz fell hard for Mary Evich after she began keeping house for him upon the death of his wife. But to her misfortune, she refused to leave her husband, Steve, a steelworker who toiled at a Monessen wire mill.

As the love triangle continued, Schultz became obsessed with the woman he would never have to himself. He watched her with binoculars from Webster’s hillsides. He paid local boys to keep tabs on her, too. They took his money but did little if any spying.

As his jealousy deepened, he began to pop NoDoz to stay awake. In fact, his addiction to the over-the-counter caffeine pill grew so strong that there wasn’t a drugstore in the area that had any left on its shelves. The 62-year-old Shultz had bought them all.

By that fateful Christmas, he had had it with 46-year-old Mary because she refused to accompany him to deliver Christmas gifts to his grandchildren.

He marched up the steps to the Evich apartment above Naylor’s Grocery in Webster and blasted Mary with a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with pumpkin balls while she was standing between her dresser and bed.

A minute later, and with the same weapon, he killed her 62-year-old husband in his bed at dinnertime. Police had Schultz in custody within two hours, and he soon pleaded guilty to the murders.

(The Eviches lived in the second floor apartment of this building as it looked in the 1950s)

Schultz later recanted his guilty plea in the slaying of Steve Evich and would face a quick trial in Westmoreland County. It took the jury three hours to reach a guilty verdict and just minutes to sentence him to life in prison. The old man eventually won an early release because of his declining health and was placed into the custody of a son.

But, his legacy would not be easy to shake in town, long after he was taken away in handcuffs. Some parents tried to scare their kids straight by yelling, “Schultzie is going to get you if you don’t wise up.”

Our babysitter, Delbert Kolodziej, used to lead kids from the neighborhood on field trips to Schultz’s abandoned Victorian with a Queen Ann turret and tell them stories about how the murderer had also killed his four wives there. (My two brothers and I were so rotten that our parents couldn’t find any local girls with the courage to sit for them).

His stories went something like this: Schultz choked his first wife in this room in the attic where the window faced west and overlooked the Monongahela River. He hung the second, shot the third and poisoned the fourth, consecutively, in the adjoining rooms. One by one, the women were tossed out the windows that were three stories above the bare ground.

Of course, Schultz never had four wives, or faced any other murder charges. Even so, Delbert was convincing enough to make some of the kids piss their pants and run home in tears.

Those brave enough to stay behind in the house pretended they were the part of the Three Musketeers engaged in sword fights with spindles they yanked from the ornate, curved stairway that connected the foyer to the upstairs hall. That fun didn’t last long because an arsonist soon took a torch to the house, creating an inferno that lit up the night sky.

By that time, most out-of-towners were turning their noses up at the people from Webster.

In many ways, it was no wonder they thought we were white trash.

Our town laid in ruin with so many derelict houses that had taken a beating from six decades of air pollution.

The town actually had developed a bad reputation since at least the 1940s as the kids from Webster who attended Rostraver High School then were not even permitted to join some of its civics club.

The arrogant children from the better neighborhoods were just showing their stupidity because a Webster boy who graduated from the school in 1947 - Ernest P. Kline - went on to become lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania from 1971 to 1979 under Gov. Milton Shapp. The snooty students at Rostraver might have learned a thing or two from Kline about civic responsibility, had they let him into their club.

The people in Donora seemed to hate us the most. The kids over there would jump us and try to steal our bicycles if we rode them across the Donora-Webster Bridge.

The good Donora housewives - the ones who wore Jacqueline Kennedy bouffants – must have shuddered at the shocking news of the Schultz murders.

But, those women were about to create a scandal of their own in 1962 when they tried to save their husbands’ jobs at the U.S. Steel Corp. American Steel and Wire Works.

Introduction

Chapter 3

Charleroi Area Historical Society assisted in researching the Schultz murders

6 comments:

Marti Naylor said...

I am wondering if the Naylor Grocery you refer to was my grandfathers, Alfred Naylor or my Uncles, Walter Naylor?

Scott Beveridge said...

Walt Naylor owned the store

Marti said...

Okay, sorry to bother you again, but I made a mistake, did Ray Naylor, Walters father own it?

Also, is this book in stores - if not how can I get it?

Scott Beveridge said...

My mistake. It was Ray Naylor's store. This story is only available here, online unless a publisher offers me a book deal.

Stephanie Bialas said...

Interesting late night read for me especially because my Dad's name was Stephen Evich, his mom was Mary Evich (my late Grandmother who I never met heard only stories of how she abandoned the 6 kids from a 2nd story apartment in Detroit, MI and how the father also disappeared).

Very interesting. The location of my father and his siblings childhood was in Detroit, MI very poor and the kids had to make their own way after the parents took off. (My Dad was born in Dec 1938)

Stephanie Bialas said...

The man in the picture looks EXACTLY like my late Grandfather who we never knew until he was like 90 something years old. My Dad was Steve Evich and he had told me his parents abandoned him in his apartment as a kid (my dad is Steve Evich! born Dec 1939).