06 October 2020

Spooky SLC: Revered Frances Hermans, a Serial Killer

Scandinavian Methodist Episcopal Church in 1906
at 158 S 200 E SLC. From UDSH.
In 1896 human bones were found in a SLC church furnace and the gruesome killings of a serial killer were uncovered, Part 1.

“Sanctuary of God Defiled with Blood” was the front-page headline on May 23 1896 of the SL Herald.

Charred and dismembered human remains had been found in the basement furnace of the SLC Scandinavian Methodist Episcopal Church located at 158 S. 200 East (now Liberty Crest Apts).

While the Reverend of the Scandinavian Church, Francis Hermans, was in Chicago on business, John M. Hanson who resided in the second story apartment of the Church and was member of the Scandinavian M. E. Church’s Board of Trustees, learned of an unusual fire in the furnace that had occurred the previous autumn. 

It was odd because the furnace was never used after it had nearly burned the church down several years previous and this fire occurred the day after his friend, a young Swedish immigrant woman, had disappeared. There was also an awful stench relating to that fire which the Reverend had dismissed as burning garbage.

It was Mr. Hanson who found two straight razors, a knife blade, a garter buckle, corset steel, a belt buckle, and several human bones in the Church’s furnace ash grate.

Hanson and his wife had always been suspicious of the disappearance of their friend, Miss Henrietta Clausen, the previous September. The last time Miss Clausen was seen alive was in the company of Reverend Hermans and she had been known to be madly in love with him and had been sleeping in his study.

The Reverend denied any improper behavior on his part and said that Miss Clausen had propositioned him, which he sternly rebuked. The Reverend further said that she had then left the state and became a dancing girl and a prostitute. At the time, the Reverend’s explanation for the disappearance of Miss Clausen was accepted as he was an upstanding member of the community and well-liked.

Continues next post

Illustration of the basement of the Church, from SL Herald 1896-05-23

Reverend Francis Hermans, SL Trib 1945-12-16

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