Friday, October 12, 2018

Harry Powers: Born Herman Drenth Murder

Harry F. Powers was born Herman Drenth in 1892 in the Netherland to Wilko Karssrens Drenth (1862-1933) and Jennie Janthe Woltje (1863-1927). 

He had 3 siblings he was child #3
The youngest child died at child birth in 1903.

Herman Drenth married Luella Strother (1886-1957) 1 Jun 1927 he was her 2nd husband, they had no children.

She was owner of a farm and grocery store after responding to her lonely hearts ad. Though now married, Powers took out his own lonely hearts ads. Many women wrote in response to his advertisement. "Postal records later indicated that replies to Powers' advertisement poured in at a rate of 10 to 20 letters per day." Powers constructed a garage and basement at his home in Quiet Dell, W.V.

His ad read: Civil Engineer-College Grad worth $150,000 or more, income $400-$3,000 month.
"My business enterprises prevent me from making many social contacts. I am therefore unable to make the acquaintance of the right kind of women." "As my properties are located through the middle west, I believe I will settle there when married. Am an Elk and Mason. Own a beautiful 10 room home completely furnished. My wife would have her own car and plenty of spending money.
Cornelius O. Pierson
Box 277
Clarksburg, W.V.

He began writing letters to Asta Eicher, a widowed mother of three residing in Park Ridge, IL
He went to visit Eicher and her children—Greta, Harry, and Annabel—on June 23, 1931
and soon left with Eicher for several days. Elizabeth Abernathy cared for the children until she received a letter saying that "Pierson" was going to come pick up the children to join him and their mother. When he arrived, he sent a child to the bank to withdraw money from Eicher's account. 

 The child returned empty-handed because the signature on the cheque was forged. Powers and the children then hastily departed; he told neighbors concerned about their disappearance that they were on a trip to Europe.

Asta Eicher (50) and her children Greta (14), Harry (12), and Annabel (9).

Some time later, Powers courted Dorothy Pressler Lemke from Northborough, Massachusetts, who was also looking for love through lonely hearts ads. He brought her to Iowa to marry her and persuaded her to withdraw $4,000 from her bank account. Lemke did not notice that instead of sending her trunks to Iowa, where Powers claimed to be living, he sent them to the address of "Cornelius O. Pierson" of Fairmont, West Virginia. Asta Eicher, her children, and Dorothy Lemke had disappeared with no explanation.

In August 1931, police began investigating the disappearances of Asta Eicher and her children, beginning with "Pierson", who was discovered emptying Eicher's house. They found love letters, which led them to Quiet Dell, where "Pierson" lived under the name Harry Powers with his wife. Powers was arrested and his house in Quiet Dell was searched.

Police found the crime scene in four rooms located under Pierson's garage. Bloody clothing, hair, a burned bankbook and a small bloody footprint of a child were discovered. Citizens of the town began to arrive at the scene to watch the unraveling of the crimes Powers had committed. Police began to dig up a freshly filled-in ditch found on Powers' property, and the bodies of Asta Eicher, her children and Dorothy Lemke (50 yrs old) were uncovered. Evidence and autopsy results showed that the two girls and their mother were strangled to death while the young boy's head was beaten in with a hammer. Lemke was uncovered with a belt wrapped around her neck, with which she was strangled. Love letters were found in the trunk of Powers' automobile. He had written back to many women with the intention of stealing their money and killing them, just as with his most recent victims. 

Here's some newspaper clippings:

After his arrest

Harry F. Powers "Bluebeard" with Clarksburg, West Virginia when he confessed to killing Mrs. Asta Eicher

The following photo's of Harry F Powers from: 

Jones, Leslie, 1886-1967
August 30, 1931
Glass negatives
Boston Public Library
Print Department
Collection (local):
Leslie Jones Collection
Crime/Police: Miscellaneous 
1 negative : glass, black & white ; 4 x 5 in.
Terms of Use:
Copyright (c) Leslie Jones.
All rights reserved.

The execution of Harry F Powers 18 Mar 1932

In 1933 his father killed himself


Fires Shot into Chest at Home of Son-in-Law in Leroy Township Friday

Wilko Drenth, 71, who has made his home with his son-in-law, Everett Schroeder in Leroy township for the past four years, committed suicide Friday afternoon by discharging a .38 caliber rifle bullet through his chest. First intimation that he had taken 
is own life was gained about 3:15 when Everett Schroeder Jr., who was returning home from a field, noticed smoke coming from one of the up- stairs windows. He rushed upstairs and found the body of his grandfather slumped on the floor and clothing surrounding the wound smoldering from being ignited from the shot, which apparently fired at close range. Coroner F. C. Koch of Waverly was called, but considered there was no need for an inquest, the circumstances being clearly that of suicide. The aged man came in for some notoriety about two years ago when his name was connected with that of Harry Powers of West Virginia, who was accused of numerous killings of wives whose bodies Powers is said to have buried under the floor of his garage. It was quite definitely established at the time that Powers was Mr. Drenth's son who he had not seen for a number of years after running way from home. While Mr. Drenth is said to have brooded somewhat over the waywardness of his son, relatives do not believe that this had any connection with his suicide. He had been enjoying good health and had experienced no financial difficulties. He and his son-in-law had been planing a trip to Michigan for several days with the expectation of leaving Saturday. Drenth had been a widower for five years, living in the vicinity of Oran until he moved to the Schroeder home about four years ago. Surviving are his son-in-law, two grandchildren, Wilko and Everett Schroeder, and a granddaughter, Jenny Schroeder. His daughter, Mrs. Everett Schroeder preceded her father in death. Funeral services were held Monday afternoon from the Schroeder home, with Rev. A. W. Gable of Frederika officiating. Interment was made in Mentor cemetery.

Sumner Gazette - 12 Oct 1933

PINHOOK—The Wilko Drenth funeral which was held Monday at the home of his son-in-law, Evert Schroeder Sr. was quite largely attended. Rev. Gable of Frederika officiated at the services at the house and at the grave in Mentor cemetery. Casket bearers were Louie Zell, Roy Waternan, Martin Schwan, John Marsh, Watson Lewis and Leslie Fay.

Sumner Gazette - 12 Oct 1933

Harry F Powers was executed by hanging 18 Mar 1932. at the Moundsville State Prison.

A year later this article came out.

Greed is a dirty word.

They made movie about his craziness 

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