Gail Lee Schultz and Paul G. Schultz Jr., two siblings, were murdered on March 7, 1953. They were bludgeoned to death with a blunt instrument. Their cases are officially labelled cold by the authorities.
The chance that we will ever find out who killed Gail and Paul Schultz and why they had to die, are very slim. Absent a confession, there is little to go on.
However, Gail and Paul Schultz should not be forgotten. There is a chance someone will finally speak up. There is a chance of finding one more detail. As long as there is that chance we cannot give up.
Gail and Paul Schultz’s murders are the Case of the Month for August.
Gail Lee Schultz and Paul G. Schultz Jr. were bludgeoned to death in the middle of the day on March 7, 1953. They were found close to their home on 28 Mitchell Avenue, Nazareth, Pennsylvania. They were in sight of many homes yet nobody saw or heard anything.
Gail Lee Schultz (Nov 19, 1934 – March 7, 1953) was 18 years old when she died. She graduated from Nazareth High School in 1952. Many said she was happy to stay at home, didn’t appear to have a boyfriend, and didn’t have a job. Well, she was only eighteen years old. We do not know what she envisioned for her near future. We do know that she loved to write poetry, played the ukulele, loved portrait sketching, and making watercolor paintings. But above all, she loved her little brother Paul. After graduating, she spend her days with him, trying to educate him.
Paul G. Schultz Jr. (Jan 15, 1941 – March 7, 1953) was only 12 years old when he died. Paul had special needs. It is not exactly clear what type of challenges he faced but it was suggested here that it was autism. Paul never spoke and according to the papers he would just ”moan and groan” to express himself. In the 50s, we didn’t have as many opportunity for special needs children as we do now. We now have special education possibilities at schools and can tailor academic courses. Not so in the 50s. Paul never had the chance to go to school, never had a speech pathologist work with him or, a special education instructor teach him sign language to better express himself.
After graduating, Gail took it upon herself to help Paul and possibly make him more independent. I read that she liked to take him on walks near the creek that would become their place of death. At the creek, they would search for rocks. Her parents moved to that subdivision so Paul could enjoy the open area.
Gail’s mother died when her daughter was very young. Gail’s father, Paul G. Schultz (Dec 29, 1909 – Sept 2, 1954), remarried. Stepmother Claire raised Gail and gave birth to Paul Jr.
Paul Sr. worked as draftsman at Binney & Smith. They are the inventors of the crayon and are based in Easton, see here.
There are some details online about Claire that I have not been able to verify. In the papers, it said Claire’s maiden name was Burke. It was also printed that after her husband died, she sold the house and went to live near New York with a son from a previous marriage.
I found the following:
- On Claire’s grave her name is Claire H. Schultz (Dec 4, 1906 – Aug 7, 1970). No mention of the name Burke. This article does use the name Burke.
- Claire is buried in the same cemetery and on the same plot as husband Paul and children Paul and Gail. They all have the same type of grave stones. If she moved to New York, then her body was brought back to be buried with Paul and the children.
- There is no mention of a previous marriage or children from another marriage.
Why does this matter? Because online, I saw that people see the parents as suspects in the deaths of the children. For example, on this website you can see this:
- “There were a few suspects but nobody really know who killed them still today. One of the suspects is the parents. It is very suspicious how the parents both died at the same time when they moved after their children died.”
This is not correct. Paul Sr. died in 1954 and Claire died in 1970.
- “The dad also tried to preform mouth to mouth resuscitation.”
Of course, he did. He thought his children had drowned and was trying to revive them. After the fire department arrived they did too. This doesn’t hint at guilt.
- “Paul and Gail’s mom had died when they were young. So by the time they were older they had a step mom named Claire Burke.”
This too is not correct. Claire is biologically only Paul Jr.’s mother. Gail’s mom passed away.
- “Some say that they were walking to the store. Others say they were going to a friends house. But other people say they were walking home from their friends house. So nobody knows exactly were they were coming from or going.”
Actually, we do know where they were going. Gail and Paul left their home around 2pm after they ate lunch. According to the papers, they put on boots. On March 7, 1953 there was snow on the ground and it was very cold outside. They went to see “Chubby.”
In this article it is explained that a man called Brace (alas, no further details) lived on Mitchell Avenue. Brace had a son called ”Chubby” who would often walk with Gail and Paul. But Chubby couldn’t join his friends that day because his father had told him to clean the basement, a job he was at when Gail and Paul briefly visited.
Because Chubby couldn’t come along, the siblings went to Black Rock Creek alone. That creek is now called Schoeneck Creek. Several people later testified they saw them there. The stream ran behind their neighborhood. That’s where they were found dead.
Parents cleared as suspects
Paul and Claire Schultz were cleared by police as suspects in their children’s murders. In this article it is mentioned that “investigators said the Schultz parents were questioned extensively and took lie detector tests. Police cleared the parents of any involvement in the attacks.” That was on March 16, 1953.
Ask yourself, what could Claire’s motive have been? Nowhere is there any mention of life insurances on the children or, the possibility that she felt shame for having a boy with special needs. Some point at her behavior at the double funeral. Apparently, Claire Schultz collapsed at Paul’s side near the freshly dug graves and exclaimed ”Oh, goodbye, my kids.” I see nothing else in this statement but grief.
Finding Gail and Paul
The children left after lunch according to various newspapers (links below) around 2pm. Remember that it was cold and there was snow on the ground. I checked the weather for March 7, 1953 and it was cold indeed. Around 430pm, Claire was worried that the children had not returned home yet. She called to Paul to go and check.
When not working at the crayon factory, Paul repaired TV sets. Now here is another interesting detail that doesn’t seem correct. In this article it says that he had a basement shop. I googled the house on 28 Mitchell Avenue and unless I found outdated information, the house has no basement. It does have a detached garage and that is visible on google maps. Paul worked there with a man called Robert Howells. I have not been able to find whether Howells was cleared. Not accusing but details matter.
When Paul Sr. didn’t see the children in the yard he walked towards the creek. That’s where he saw his two children, both face down in about 10 inches of water. Apparently the creek was not frozen or maybe not all parts were. The water was described as icy here.
The distance to the place where they were found was apparently such that Claire could see from the kitchen window that Paul was dragging something out of that creek. That’s when it sank in.
Howells heard Paul Sr. scream and called the family’s doctor, John Fraunfelder. Then he called the Nazareth ambulance. At this point everyone thought the children had been in an accident and needed medical care. Nobody understood they were murdered.
From accident to murder
According to the autopsies the children died around 230pm. This means that after leaving Chubby, they went to the creek, and met the one who would take their lives. Their bodies were discovered around 430pm. Police wasn’t called until late as everyone thought this was an accident which set all medical networks in action. Gail had a visible gash on her head but everyone though she hit her head on a rock when she must have slipped and fell into the creek.
From medical to criminal
The man who changed the course of action from medical to criminal was funeral director John C. Katinis from the Katinis Funeral Chapel. It is now the Strunk Funeral Home. When he was preparing the children’s bodies for embalming he found head wounds. After closer inspection he concluded those head wounds were too severe to have been caused by slipping on a rock and falling into a creek. It is because of Katinis’ integrity as a professional that police came into the picture.
I tried to find information online about John C. Katinis. From his obituary, I got this: “John C. Katinis was 93 years old when he passed away on July 14, 2006. Katinis was a licensed funeral director and owner of the former Katinis Funeral Chapel, Wilson, until 1984.” I was hoping to learn what else he noted, if he kept notes, if those notes were preserved, etc.
The autopsies showed that Gail was struck seven times in her head with a blunt object such as a hammer. Paul was struck three times in his head. His autopsy showed that one of those three blows was so strong that it penetrated his skull. Another interesting detail came from Gail’s autopsy: she had a compound fracture on one of her thumbs.
A compound fracture is an injury in which a broken bone pierces through the skin. The papers do not mention whether that was on the left of the right thumb. Authorities thought that maybe this was a defensive wound. She may have tried to protect either herself or Paul.
If we knew on which hand and on which side of the thumb she had the compound fracture we might be able to reconstruct whether her palm faced the killer or not. It could be that if it faced the killer it hints at self-defense. Maybe if the palm was turned outwards she might have shielded Paul. I am not an expert so if you are and can give more information about compound fractures, contact me. Gail also had a deep cut on her right hand.
Forensics and the scene
Police never had a chance. They were unintentionally called in late. By the time they visited the crime scene it had been compromised by everyone. Neighbors came out to see what was going on, people who drove by stopped to check things out, the family doctor and the fire department walked around the scene, and fresh snow-covered everything.
The blunt object, possibly a hammer, was never found. Gail’s glasses were found nine days later about 40 feet from where she was found. Authorities found her scarf near her body. They also found a chisel with a plastic handle however, the shank was clean of rust and the shape didn’t match the head wounds.
I wonder if preserved, we could use the M-Vac to search the scarf for touch DNA. For the glasses, my friend Jared Bradley from M-Vac Systems recommended using the Bardole DNA Collection Method. This method was developed by Francine Bardole of the West Jordan Utah Police Department with support from M-Vac Systems. It is a method of separating and isolating DNA material from small evidence items. The application could include many items that are now difficult to sample like shell casings, fingernail clippings, rings, gun parts, keys, bomb fragments and other small items.
The investigation and suspects
Many hours after the bodies were found reality sank in. No accidental drowning but murder. At last, State Police and the District Attorney Ellis W. Spengler were contacted.
If you just read some of the articles listed below you can see there were many suspects, many people interviewed, but nobody became someone with a motive, nobody was caught in a lie, and no further clues were found. Police rounded up the usual suspects even in neighboring counties but to no avail. Even the possibility that the children were sex crime victims was explored. There was no evidence for that theory. Neither Gail nor Paul’s clothes were in disarray when they were found and their autopsies showed no evidence of sexual assault.
One man was considered a good suspect according to this article. Willis R. Keck (38) was a single man who lived with the father (73) on Mitchell Avenue. His father was semi-invalid but the paper doesn’t specify what that means. Willis returned home from work that Saturday afternoon and was inside the house until after 830pm. This was thought strange with all the activity after the children’s bodies were found. Some were suspicious when he didn’t know the children’s names and could only say they lived down the street. Keck was held for 48 hours. According to the papers, he took a lie detector test and an examination by the superintendent of Allentown State Hospital. Two days later, police accepted his innocence and let him go.
On this site it is mentioned “Another suspect is some guy named Keck. In the articles it says that Keck was a butcher.” I have not been able to find a reference to Keck working as a butcher. The article continues with “It is also suspicious that both of the kids got hit in the head with a hammer.” It is indeed not an obvious weapon to have with you while strolling along the creek in the snow. Maybe it wasn’t a hammer after all. We do not know for sure. It could have been the handle of a knife. Remember that Gail had a cut in her hand?
Alumni of Gail’s Nazareth Area High School Class of 1952 honored the siblings with a memorial stone, a book filled with Gail’s artwork, and her ukulele music on a DVD. They wish to ensure that Gail is not forgotten and hope that future students will enjoy looking at her paintings and read her poetry. The materials all come from Barry Ihle and his wife Judy. Barry is a first cousin to Gail and Paul.
According to Barry, Gail and Paul were inseparable and often went for a walk near the creek. He often came along too. He was just nine years old when this cousins were murdered. “What Gail liked to do was get quartz stone and go along the creek to see who got the shiniest stone,” Ihle said.
Barry thinks that someone got irritated by Paul’s way of expressing himself. Paul did not speak but moaned. “He was probably screaming and moaning. This guy didn’t like it, so attacked them,” said Barry. He thinks the killer might have been the homeless man he saw a week before. The papers mention a man in tweed as a person to talk to (see picture) but nothing led to new clues. Barry fears the murders will remain unsolved unless we get a confession. Gail’s former classmates think along the same line.
With little to go on, the story disappeared from the front pages. Poilice Capt. Cook died unexpectedly in 1954. Six weeks later, Paul Schultz Sr. had a heart attack and died at home. The Schultz investigation was then spearheaded by Harold Schaffer of the state police. Claire died in 1970.
According to this article, it isn’t likely that the Schultz Murders will come before a Grand Jury “because it’s a waste of resources, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said. There’s been absolutely no information on the case whatsoever in recent years.” I understand what he is saying but I wish that he had not used the word “waste” when talking about victims’ cases.
Anyway, “Morganelli said police never brought the case to his attention during the last grand jury session in 1999. It wasn’t until Barry Ihle sent a letter to the district attorney’s office that prosecutors had even heard of the Upper Nazareth killings. The odds are that the suspect is dead, Morganelli said.”
Trooper Raymond Judge, the cold case investigator at the Bethlehem State Police was quoted saying that “No matter how old, all homicide cases remain open until they are solved.” I cannot thank him enough for softening Morganelli’s remarks.
A reward was offered by county commissioners, Binney & Smith, and the Easton Express. The newspaper apparently paid for a private investigator and a prominent criminologist from Chicago to review the case. I do not know who they are. If you have information about them, please let me know. I am also not sure if there still is a reward in this case.
If you have information, call Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers Toll Free at 1-800-4PA-TIPS. All calls remain anonymous.
In the series “Case of the Month” I highlight old cold cases. These posts are not an in-depth analysis and often more information can be found online and in newspaper archives. The goal of these posts is to get the cases back in the spotlights, to get people talking again, and to make sure that we do not forget the victims. Just because their cases are cold does not mean that we can forget about them.
If you have any thoughts about the Gail Lee Schultz and Paul G. Schultz Jr. case I urge you to post them on your own social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pintrest, etc. Every time we mention their names online we enhance their digital footprints.
We must make sure that Gail Lee Schultz and Paul G. Schultz Jr. keeps their web presence if we ever wish to find answers in their murders. You can help by linking to or sharing this post. If you do, the post will show up in new news feeds, reach new people, and networks with new connections. And who knows, we just may reach that one person who can help advance the case. And that is the goal.
Thank you for remembering Gail Lee Schultz and Paul G. Schultz Jr. with us.