He wasn’t quite Sweeny Todd, but he did murder two people.
For Frances Josten, September 21st, 1932, seemed like a great day to get out and enjoy the horse races at La Crosse Interstate Fairgrounds. She had recently filed for divorce from her husband, barber Paul Josten, and moved into her own place.
She may or may not have known that Paul had been following her all around town. He also happened to be at the fairgrounds that fateful Wednesday. Paul observed her in the company of two out of town jockeys.
Later that evening, Frances walked out of her apartment on North 4th Street and got into a car with jockeys Billy Smith, George Stewart, and George’s wife. She eventually noticed that Paul was following and asked Billy to lose him.
Unfortunately, Billy was not familiar with LaCrosse streets.
The car ended up in a dead-end at 9th and Grove, where Paul was able to corner them. Paul sprang from his vehicle and shot Billy in the chest. He died instantly. Paul then shot Frances. George attempted to stop him and was shot as well.
Paul left the scene and went to his barbershop, where he sat down and wrote two letters, one to his mother and the other to the LaCrosse Fire and Police Commission. Paul then picked up the phone, dialed the police, and asked for the Sargent. He explained he had killed a man, shot another man and his wife. He then stated that he would be in his barbershop when police arrived.
As the sirens neared, Paul put his gun to his head and shot himself.
Paul died two hours later while George died two weeks later. Frances survived her injuries and left LaCrosse. There is no additional information on what happened to her after she left.
Paul Josten’s barbershop became the Casino bar, which is still operating on Pearl Street. Supposedly his ghost haunts the bar. I can’t say I ever encountered anything when at the Casino, but I only went in a handful of times.
Now, the Rivoli? I am pretty sure the woman’s bathroom is haunted!
Dark LaCrosse https://youtu.be/fAK-TK4WfO8