On January 30, 1876 some boys were playing near a pile of lumber at the John Englis shipyard at the foot of Milton Street when they made a horrible discovery. There wrapped in a German newspaper was a human head and a blood stained bag. Detectives would later discover that the head belonged to a laborer named William Simmons who had been killed three days earlier. The case would become one of the most infamous Brooklyn murder trials of the nineteenth century.
The details of the killing were as gruesome as anything ever imagined by Edgar Allen Poe. The head was identified as that of William Simmons an innocuous mechanic who lived in Wiliamsburg. The police were totally at a loss when they began to investigate for they had no motive. They went to home of Andreas Fuchs at 98 North Third Street where Simmons was a boarder. Fuchs was at first very reluctant to talk to the police, but he told the police a story that Fuchs was involved with a married Greenpoint woman with a jealous husband who had vowed to revenge himself on Simmons. While investigating in Greenpoint they found a witness who described a nervous man who was carrying the bag found near the head. Officer Short realized that the description of the man matched that of Fuchs.
Inspector Waddy of the Bedford Avenue Station apparently did not believe that Fuchs could be the murderer. He told Detective Short of the Precinct to look for other clues, but Short was sure it was Fuchs and he disobeyed a direct order from Waddy and forced his way into the Fuchs home where he made an even more grizzly discovery. There on the stove was Simmons Heart and liver being boiled away. A search of the house revealed pieces Simmons’ torso, which were in a tub that was full of quick lime. Fuchs had hoped to destroy the body. They arrested Fuchs and he confessed to the crime, but claimed he was an outraged husband who was being cuckolded by Simmons.
Fuchs claimed that he had caught Simmons in the act of seducing his wife and had killed him in rage, but his wife contradicted his claim. She testified that they had all been drinking together and that she got drunk and went to bed. She was awakened in the middle of the night by noise and when she arose she witnessed her husband strike and kill Simmons with an axe. Fuchs then severed the head and brought it down to Greenpoint.
Fuchs was tried and convicted. At first he was going to be hanged, but his sentence was changed to life in prison. Fuchs died in Auburn State prison for the criminally insane in August of 1882.