Posted on Jan 23, 2021
1SG Steven Imerman
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An odd circumstance happened in early 1990s. At Readiness Group Snelling in Minneapolis, I was acting Sergeant Major at the holidays and helped handle an admin request from a retiree to get paperwork done, but he wanted to inform the commander of a particular circumstance in case it popped up. He seemed like a nice guy. He was the Beast of Bayreuth, released from German psychiatric care and 100% medically retired from the Army. He had chopped up his German girlfriend and chucked the pieces out his car window as he drove down the autobahn. This is from a 2nd Cav website-

On March 13, 1964, 27 year old 1st Lieutenant Gerald M. Werner from St. Paul, Minnesota assigned to the 1st Recon Sqdn 2nd Armored Cav, Bindlach, Germany killed his 18 year old German girlfriend Ursula Schamel by choking and drowning her in a bathtub in his off base Bachelor Officers' Quarters. He then cut up her body into small pieces with a razor blade and then tried to flush the pieces down the toilet. After this failed he put the pieces in his car, got on the Autobahn and threw the pieces out the window. Three days later on March 16 the pieces were found. On March 17 Werner arrested and turned over to US military authorities. Werner became known as the “Beast of Bayreuth” in the German press. In accordance with the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) the German’s elected to prosecute him undoubtedly spurred on by the general German people outrage at the crime.

On November 14, 1964 the criminal court of Bayreuth, Germany Werner was indicted for the first degree murder of Ursula Schamel.

On October 18, 1966 Werner was a quitted of the murder by reason of insanity. The court said he was not responsible for his actions and should be committed to a German mental institution. On April 26, 1967 Werner was transferred from the U.S. Army stockade in Fuerth to a German mental institution.

On December 1, 1966, an Army medical board determined that plaintiff was suffering from "schizophrenic reaction, paranoid type, chronic to severe; manifested by depersonalization, disturbance of affect, delusions of persecution, autistic thinking, looseness of associations, and auditory hallucinations." In other words, he was basically nuts.

On September 9, 1970, an Army physical evaluation board determined that plaintiff's condition was "paranoid schizophrenic, chronic" and that this condition was permanent.

Werner continued to be confinement in a German mental institution until December 2, 1971. He was released from German confinement on that date and returned to the control of U.S. military. On December 3, 1971, he was granted a permanent disability retirement from the Army and was placed on the retired list effective December 6, 1971, with a 100-percent disability.

On December 8, 1971, after returning to his home state of Minnesota, Werner was declared incompetent and mentally ill the Minnesota state court after which he was committed for psychiatric care to two hospitals.

On September 26, 1972, Werner’s father petitioned for a review from the Army Board for Correction of Military Records. The requested correction was that plaintiff's records be changed to reflect (a) that his March 17, 1964-December 3, 1971, absence from duty was excused as unavoidable (eg: he was in custody for the murder of his girlfriend) and (b) that he was in a full pay status for the period November 30, 1964-December 3, 1971.

On January 6, 1976, a Minnesota state court adjudged plaintiff to be of sound mind and capable of taking care of himself and his property. As of the same date, it restored him to “capacity” (my quotes) and his guardianship was terminated.

And finally, are you ready for this, on January 4, 1979, Werner was judged to be “entitled to recover military pay and allowances for the period December 1, 1964 December 3, 1971, and to have his military records corrected to reflect that his March 17, 1964-December 3, 1971, absence from duty was excused as unavoidable. His motion for summary judgment is granted to this extent.” Werner was awarded 7 years of back pay.
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Responses: 12
Lt Col Charlie Brown
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I remember reading about this. There was another similiar case where an Army guy chopped up his Turkish wife (they were living in Germany and it went to German court) and the sentence was pretty light. Enraged the Turks.
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1SG Steven Imerman
1SG Steven Imerman
1 mo
See my answer to Steve Ditto, below. This was a tragic case.
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LTC Stephen C.
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The story is beyond extraordinary, 1SG Steven Imerman.
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1SG Steven Imerman
1SG Steven Imerman
1 mo
...and he was a mild mannered, seemingly nice guy hoping to get his paperwork done with a minimum of fuss. Of course he has to warn people, you don't want some poor secretary finding this in the records and feeling the hair go up on the back of her neck.
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PO1 Steve Ditto
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So I guess, all I have to do is take someone to Germany to kill them and then I can get off with it? No thank you, there is enough of it already.
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1SG Steven Imerman
1SG Steven Imerman
1 mo
Actually, it was a German girl. As I remember from the time, he had been abandon by his parents, got a wonderful adoptive Mom in grade school, and seemed fine through high school. He went to college and became a LT. His longtime girlfriend sent a Dear John letter when he was in Germany, which seemed to set him off balance. He got a local girl friend, then his adoptive Mom died suddenly, and he went off the deep end. He was truly mentally ill, it is a sad story all around when you get into it. He may have led a normal life without the double whammy of losing the old girlfriend and Mom, back to back.
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