On April 22, 2005, a strange series of events led to the discovery of a body in a freezer.
Philip Schuth lived in a run-down house on French Island. No one knew him, some saw him walking around, and others thought it was an abandoned house. That all changed one Friday night in April when a run in with a neighbor leads to the confession that his mother’s body was in the basement freezer.
On Friday, April 22nd two neighborhood boys were playing in the yard of what they thought was an abandoned home. It was rundown, and no one ever saw the resident. Philip Schuth was a recluse who lived in the home, which leaked water everywhere and only had electricity in the basement and two outlets in the central part of the house. When he saw the boys in his yard, he hit one of the boys in the right ear and stole his bike.
The boy, ten at the time, went home and told his parents what had happened. The parents went to confront Schuth, who was still in the yard. Schuth admitted to hitting the boy and then pulled out a gun and fired five shots. The father was hit in the shoulder and arm while another bullet grazed his face. The mother had a bullet graze her leg.
Schuth retreated into his home and police arrived around 5:30 pm. There were on-going negotiations into Saturday morning. At 7:25 am Schuth came out without incident.
He had confessed his Mother’s body was in the basement freezer.
Edith Schuth last appeared in the LaCrosse city directory as retired in 2001. From 2002 to 2004 only Philip was listed as a resident of the home. Neighbors had assumed she was in a nursing home. He told a friend she was too ill or was watching her favorite TV show JAG and didn’t want to be bothered.
According to Schuth, his mother passed away on August 15, 2000. Philip claimed he had hidden her for four and a half years because her social security was needed to keep the house. Philip also thought the police would assume he had murdered her. He said they would find his writing and think him daft. Schuth said a cat had scratched his mother and bled in the house and he thought they would see the blood and assume he murdered her.
Who was Edith Schuth?
Edith Schuth was born in England. She met Philip’s step-dad during world war II and moved to French Island. Edith never fit in and distrusted Americans. She never sought out American citizenship. At one point she left French Island and went back to England. She met a man, got pregnant, and then he died. Edith’s mother was slowly losing her mind, and Edith did not want to be alone, so she went back to French Island and asked Philip’s stepfather to pretend he was Philip’s father.
According to Philip, the man was quite abusive toward him and his mother. He allegedly sexually abused Philip and often called him “my little bastard.” Later, Philip found a letter Edith had sent explaining her situation and asking him to be Philip’s father. He realized he meant it when he called him “my little bastard.”
Edith was also reclusive and had many health problems. She would often collapse on her bed and talk about how the room would spin. She would tell Philip her death would be just like that, spinning, surrounded by strangers that didn’t care if you lived or died.
The autopsy report would show she died of kidney and liver failure.
When police searched the home after the confession, they indeed found a body in the freezer. They also found homemade explosives and a sawed-off shotgun. Philip Schuth was facing up to 143 years in prison with all of the charges against him. Schuth was convicted of attempted homicide, reckless endangerment, and concealment of a corpse. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and spent most of it in solitary confinement (or trying to be put “in the hole”). He was released in April 2012 at age 59 and will serve ten years of extended supervision by state and federal agents.
I remember vividly when this happened. It was such a strange case and made national news. It’s not every day a man confesses to having his mother in a freezer. It was such a big deal a local business started selling bumper stickers with “What’s in your freezer” and “My mom’s cooler than yours” on them. And if you’d like your own bumper sticker (or magnet) you can still get them: My Mom is Cooler or What’s in Your Freezer
What is the strangest case from your hometown?