About a hundred years before Toledo priest Rev. Gerald Robinson was charged with the murder of a nun, another Toledo priest also faced a charge of murder. The year was 1903 and Father Ferdinand Walser, at the time was the assistant pastor at the Scared Heart parish in Toledo. But while staying at the home of another Catholic priest in Lorain, he became caught up in the bold headlines of a murder case that rocked the country. It was alleged that Walser had murdered the sister of the priest he was staying with. On May 2nd of 1903 Ferdinand Walser of Toledo was arrested and taken to jail in Lorain County charged with brutally murdering 34-year old Agatha Reichlin, the sister of Father Charles Reichlin, pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Chuch in Lorain. Walser had been staying at the home while Rev. Reichlin was assigned temporarily to Kelley’s Island. Police say Walser entered the bedroom of the young woman and crushed her head with a paving stone. No motive was ever offered. The wire service accounts of the crime say that bloodhounds were brought to the scene in an effort to find the trail of the killer and the dogs kept returning to room of the home where Father Walser was staying. They also reportedly took police to the nearby hospital where Walser had spent the previous night. Walser was arrested and taken to the county jail in Elyria on what even investigators described as mostly circumstantial evidence. As the Toledo priest was being taken to jail a reporter asked him if he was guilty and Waslser was quoted as saying.
“All I have to say is that I am not guilty of any crime. I am innocent and I say that with a clear conscience.” He went on to say that the charges against him were “a disgrace” and that he would prove his innocence.
Father Walser, however, was quizzed about two events some saw as adding to his possible guilt. He apparently sent the brother of the murder victim out to get some liquor early in the morning. He admitted that he had done so and explained that he needed “the stimulant” to help calm him after the murder. It was also revealed that Father Walser had a previous run-in with the law on a kidnapping charge in Clinton Missouri several years before. He and another priest were charged with abducting a young boy, however Walser said they were cleared of any wrongdoing in the case when it was learned that the two men had adopted the boy and had not broken the law. Walser spent two more days in the county jail and then on the 6th of May, at the conclusion of a coroner’s inquest, the priest was set free. During that proceeding, both the Rev. Reichlin and another brother, Casimer Reichlin swore to the court that it couldn’t have been Walser who killed their sister. Events were described that indicated it was perhaps a burglar who had gotten into the home through an attic window, or that it might have been the work of a “jilted” lover. As Rev. Walser left the inquest hearing he told the Mayor and prosecutor that he had been “hurt a great deal” by the accusations and that he couldn’t kill anyone. He said “I couldn’t even kill a chicken”.
The crime was never solved as to this day, no one knows who in fact did so brutally kill Agatha Reichlin.