British Executions

Johann Schnieder

Age: 36

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 3 Jan 1899

Crime Location: 82 William Street, Hampstead Road, Regents Park

Execution Place: Newgate

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown


Johann Schnieder was convicted of the murder of 19-year-old Conrad Berndt and sentenced to death.

They had a quarrel and Johann Schnieder hit Conrad Berndt over the head with a chopper and then put his body in a heated baker's oven. Johann Schnieder also attacked the baker who owned the bakehouse when he came down early in the morning.

The police later found Conrad Berndt's roasted body in the oven after searching for him and noticing a strange smell.

Johann Schnieder was also known as Richard Maudelkow and Richard Montague and had been from East Prussia.

He was said to have gone to the scaffold in a state of collapse and had to be assisted from the cell and held in position by two warders until the trap door was open. His final words were 'Jesus Christ, forgive me for all my wickedness and sins'.

Conrad Berndt's Aunt

Conrad Berndt's aunt who lived in Chippenham Road, Paddington, said that he had come to England about two and a half years earlier. She said that she had been unable to identify his remains, but believed it to have been him base on what she had been told. However, she identified a watch as having belonged to him.

She said that she last saw him alive on 6 November 1899 at which time he was quite well. She said that he worked for the baker at 82 William Street and resided on the premises. She described him as a quiet, well behaved young man.

She said that she heard on 11 November 1899 that he had been found dead in the bakehouse oven.


The baker whose bakehouse the murder took place said that he had occupied the house for five years with his wife and family and didn’t let apartments.

He said that Conrad Berndt had been employed by him for about six months and had done his work regularly and had been a quiet and well behaved young man.

He said that Johann Schnieder, who he knew as Richard Montague, had previously worked for him for about six months but had left him nine or twelve months earlier on account of ill-health, or an over strain in lifting a sack, noting that he had had no quarrel with him.

He said that he didn't see him again until 4 November when he called on him in search of work, however he told him that he had none. The baker noted that Johann Schnieder was pleasant and told him that he wasn't hard up and that he had only been out of work for six weeks. He said that he gave him two loaves for his children and he went away.

However, he said that Johann Schnieder came back on 10 November 1899. He said there was a knock at the door and that when he opened it he found Johann Schnieder and that Johann Schnieder said to him, 'I am sorry to disturb you. I have been after a place in Oxford Street and I must see the foreman at 6 tomorrow morning, so if you will allow me to stop in the bakehouse I shall be in good time'. The baker said that he told them that he might remain and Johann Schnieder went down to the bakehouse.

He said that he then went upstairs and called Conrad Berndt and told him about Johann Schnieder being in the bakehouse, and then went to bed, it being about then 11.30pm, his bed being on the first floor.

He said that he got up each morning at 3am and was in the habit of being called by Conrad Berndt. He said that he was not disturbed during the night until 3am when he was awake and heard someone come up the stairs and knock at his door. He said that it was rather a quick knock, and quicker than that given by Conrad Berndt. He said that he answered but didn't get a reply and that he then got up, dressed and with a candle in his hand proceeded downstairs.

He said that he then went into the shop and looked at the clock there and saw that it was then 3.15am. He said that he then went to the bakehouse by the steps leading from the shop through a trap door. He said there was a light on in the bakehouse and that he heard a noise on the opposite side of the bakehouse, but saw no one and called out, 'Conrad'. He said that he then heard someone coming down the stairs into the bakehouse, noting that they were not the same stairs that he had come down.

He said that he then looked round and saw Johann Schnieder and he asked him, 'Where is Conrad?' and that Johann Schnieder replied, 'he has been sick and gone upstairs'.

The baker then said, 'It is a good job you are here'. He said that he then turned towards the oven, with his back to Johann Schnieder, and walked towards it and that when he had advanced about three steps that he received a blow on his head.

He said that he then turned round and saw Johann Schnieder with something in his hand, a cord with something tied up in a lump at the end, later identifying the weapon as an improvised life preserver at the trial.

He said that he stood for a moment and then rushed by Johann Schnieder and up the staircase opposite the one he had entered the bakehouse which led up into the parlour.

He said that when halfway up the stairs he felt weak and shouted 'Police', and that he then felt an arm round his waist and a sharp stab in his chest as with a knife. He said that he then seized hold of the knife and cut his hand and then pushed back the person behind him with his arm. He said that Johann Schnieder didn't speak.

He said that his wife then came down and the man, noting that he said he had no doubt that it had been Johann Schnieder, went back down the stairs and didn't return.

He said that he then went up and opened the shop door and shouted, 'Police' and that whilst he was stood outside he saw Johann Schnieder push open the grating in the street, get through, and then run across the road and down the street.

He noted that Johann Schnieder had had no hat on when he went away and that he didn't see anything in his hand.

He said that a policeman then came along and they went back into the shop after which a police inspector came along.

He said that he told the police about Conrad Berndt and a search was made for him and he was afterwards informed that a body was found in the oven. He said that he saw it in a shell and believed it to be that of Conrad Berndt.

The baker then identified a piece of cloth as a portion of Conrad Berndt's trousers, as well as the buckles from his belt and a watch chain and seal.

He also identified a chopper as belonging to him, which was ordinarily kept in the bakehouse under a trough, noting that that the handle had never been washed by him.

He also identified a book as his which had a page torn out of it, noting that the missing page would have contained the address of Conrad Berndt.

He also identified a hat as that which Conrad Berndt had worn when Conrad Berndt had come to his house on the Thursday at 11pm.

He noted that none of his property was missing.

The baker said that the fire for the oven would have been lighted at 2am and that Conrad Berndt would have had his supper at 12 midnight. He noted that he didn't think that Conrad Berndt would have been in the habit of lying down to rest on the kneading board, although he knew that bakers sometimes did.

Inspector of Police

An inspector of police said that on Friday 11 November 1898 at 3.15am he heard cries and went to 82 William Street where he saw the baker standing outside with wounds on his head. He said that he then went into the house and sent for a doctor. He said there was a sergeant with him by then and that from what the baker told him he started to search for Conrad Berndt and that after looking in the oven, after the baker had asked, 'Have you looked in the oven', he saw the body of a human being.

He said that when he opened the oven door that he found it to be very hot, and saw that the head of the body was towards the oven door, about two and a half feet from the entrance to the oven. He said that the heat of the oven was very great and he couldn't touch the iron of the door with his hands.

He said that he saw the bare skull and saw that it was broken.

He said that the oven was then cooled and that after the doctor had seen the body in the oven it was taken out. He said that the body had been lying in the oven face downwards with one arm across the breast and the other arm detached and that there were fragments of clothing adhering to the body.

He said that on kneading through in the bakehouse he noticed some faint marks of blood and signs that part of the trough had recently been washed. He added that on the wall there were splashes of blood in all directions and that an attempt had been made at washing it off. He said that there was also a quantity of blood on a stone in an ashpit under the oven.

The inspector also later found a hat on a ledge in the bakehouse.

He also found the hatchet, which had hair on it, on the stairs leading from the bakehouse to the parlour and that on the bakehouse floor he found a piece of lead covered with rag and a cord attached. It was later noted that when the police went to Johann Schnieder's home they found a bedstead with only two brass knobs, the other two being missing, and found that the lead fitted the top part of one of the brass knobs.

He said that when he later went to Conrad Berndt's room that he found the contents of a box in disorder with the lid open and that on the bed there was a suit of clothes and a shirt and that in the pocket of the trousers he found a purse containing £5. 5. 0 and in the breast pocket of the coat some letters in German and a receipt for a watch. He noted that the number of the watch, 5632/14 on the receipt was later found to correspond with the number of a silver watch that was found on Johann Schnieder at the police station.

Police Constable

A police constable that had been on duty in George Street, now North Gower Street, on Friday 11 November at about 3.30am said that he saw a man coming down from Tolmer's Square and Hampstead Road. He said that he had been walking rather quickly and appeared to be agitated. He said that he had no hat on and appeared excited and so he called to him, 'Hold on, what’s your game', but the man didn't reply, but turned towards Euston Road and ran onwards.

He said that he followed him and after he had gone about 15 yards the man threw something away, but he didn't see what it was, but heard something drop on the ground. He said that he continued after the man and overtook him outside Gower Street Railway Station and said to him, 'What have you been doing', to which the man replied 'Nothing'.

He said that another police constable then came up and he said to him, 'Hold him tight. I will go up and see what he has dropped'. He said that the man made no reply and that when he went up the street to where he had seen the man drop something he found an open clasp knife and that he noticed a wet red mark on the blade.

He said the other constable then brought the man over to him and he said to the man, 'What have you been doing with this?', but the man replied, 'That is not my knife'.

He said that they then took him back to Tolmer's Square where he had been ten minutes earlier and seen a door open and inquired if anything was amiss there, but found all was all right. He said that he noted that the man's hand was wet with blood and that when he asked him 'What have you done to your hand?', the man replied ‘I was drunk last night and must have cut it'.

He said that they then took him to the police station and that on the way he asked him where he had been going at that time of the morning and the man replied, 'I was going to work to the meat market in Farrington Street'.

He said that after they arrived at the police station he remained with the man and after about 15 to 20 minutes a sergeant came in and informed him that a violent assault had been committed at 82 William Street and gave him the description of a man corresponding to the man that he had with him in custody.

He said that the inspector then came in and gave him information regarding the murder and he charged the man, Johann Schnieder, and Johann Schnieder replied, 'I know nothing about it, I do not know the shop'.

He said that he then saw Johann Schnieder searched and saw the watch chain taken from him from a side pocket in his coat. They also found a slip of paper with an address and name written on it, '141 Bartholemew Buildings, Goswell Road, E6, R Mandelkow', which was determined to be his correct address and name. He noted that at the police station Johann Schnieder gave his name as Johann Schnieder, 150 Regent's Park Road.

It was noted that a disclaimer was later made by a furrier and fur cleaner who carried on his business at 150 Regent's Street, stating that he had held the lease there for 21 years and that Johann Schnieder had never lived there. The furrier added that he hoped that publicity might be given to his notice, else his business might be seriously affected by Johann Schnieder's claim.


Johann Schnieder was convicted at the Old Bailey on Monday 21 December 1898 and sentenced to death. It was noted that Johann Schnieder sat the whole of the time at the trial sitting there chewing, with no apparent interest in the evidence, it being noted that that was partly for a very good reason, that being that he didn't understand English. He was even said to have gone to sleep for an hour.

At the trial it was noted that there had been no doubt that Conrad Berndt had been alive, but unconscious, when he had been thrust into the oven.

It was noted that the only time Johann Schnieder evinced even the slightest interest in the proceedings was when the judge examined the hatchet and the metal buckle and two trouser buttons that had been found in the oven. He was said to have then leaned over the dock and closely watched the judge at which point a smile, which broadened to a grin, stole over his face.

The prosecution claimed that Johann Schnieder had lured the baker down at 3am with the intention of killing him in the same way he had done Conrad Berndt, by hitting him on the head and then burning his body.

The defence was that Johann Schnieder had been insane at the time of the crime. However, amongst the evidence it was heard that no trace of insanity had been found about him whilst he had been serving a recent prison sentence.

Johann Schnieder was executed at Newgate at 9am on Tuesday 3 January 1899.

William Street has since been mostly redeveloped and is now called William Road.

see National Archives - CRIM 1/54/5, HO 144/275/A60672

see Monmouthshire Beacon - Friday 06 January 1899

see St. Pancras Gazette - Saturday 07 January 1899

see The People - Sunday 13 November 1898

see Weekly Dispatch (London) - Sunday 18 December 1898

see Dungannon News - Thursday 22 December 1898

see Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 04 January 1899

see Penny Illustrated Paper - Saturday 19 November 1898

see Weekly Dispatch (London) - Sunday 20 November 1898

see National Library of Scotland