Crime Life

Billy Gohl

When Billy Gohl became the delegate for the Sailors Union of the Pacific in 1903 in Aberdeen, Washington, he quickly found his circumstances tailor made for murder. The office Gohl manned as part of his duties was where seamen looked for work, checked for letters, and most importantly for Gohl, kept money and valuables after arriving from long stretches out at sea. Even better, the office building had a chute leading directly to the Wishkah River, which in turn flowed into the harbor and the ocean. Gohl would simply wait for a lone sailor to come to him and after the clueless man handed his cash over for safe-keeping, Gohl would shoot him in the head. It was then a simple matter of sliding the victim down the convenient chute.

At least 41 men were found floating in those waters until Gohl was finally apprehended. His final victim had last been seen entering the Union office. Gohl further incriminated himself when he falsely identified his own victim after the corpse had been found washed ashore nearby. Before dumping the man, who's name was Fred Nielssen, Gohl had seen the name August Schleuter engraved on the back of Nielssen's watch and assumed it was his correct name. He then replaced the watch before disposing of the body and exclaimed the man's name was Schleuter when the watch and body were found. Police knew the name on the watch was actually the watch-maker's and not the dead man's and they surmised that only the killer would have seen the engraved name. They quckly arrested Gohl for murder.

Billy Gohl was found guilty on just two counts of murder in 1913 and died in prison in 1928. He never revealed the total number of his kills.