|Click on this wanted poster to see it in larger and more legible form.
Although the identity of the Haymarket bomb-thrower has never been established, Rudolph Schnaubelt has long been considered the most likely suspect. Schnaubelt, pictured here in a wanted poster signed by Police Superintendent Frederick Ebersold, was a machinist. His sister Maria was married to Michael Schwab, and he was a militant member of the North Side Group of anarchists. Born in Bohemia in 1863, Schnaubelt had emigrated to America only two years before Haymarket, but he became active in the anarchist movement immediately.
Like William Seliger, Schnaubelt was eventually indicted with the eight men who stood trial for the murder of Matthias Degan. Seliger avoided prosecution by testifying for the state; Schnaubelt fled Chicago forever. He was arrested on May 7 and questioned in the central station in City Hall by the same Lieutenant Shea who signed the police report by Michael Marks included earlier in this section. The police let Schnaubelt go, even though he told them that he had been on the speakers' wagon during the Haymarket rally.
Once released, Schnaubelt left America, crossing into Canada. The Chicago police meanwhile pursued a number of blind leads and issued this broadside. Schnaubelt eventually made his way to England, where he was assisted by members of the anarchist community. Still concerned about his safety, however, Schnaubelt sailed the following spring to Argentina, where he became a successful businessman, living well into the twentieth century.
There are numerous contradictions among the different accounts—including the one Schnaubelt told the police—of his precise whereabouts during the rally. He was almost definitely on the speakers' platform at some point, but whereas he said that he left only when he saw the police coming, defense witnesses Edward Lehnert and August Krueger testified that they saw him leave about half an hour before the bombing.
Two key prosecution witnesses implicated Schnaubelt in the bombing. Malvern Thompson maintained that shortly before the speeches he had overheard a conversation just south of Crane's alley, next to the speakers' platform, among August Spies, Michael Schwab, and Schnaubelt, whom he identified from the photograph that became People's Exhibit 9 (a cropped version appears in the broadside). Thompson said he heard only snippets of dialogue, but this was enough to suggest that the three men were discussing a bomb. Thompson added that he saw "something pass between them," presumably a bomb, which Schnaubelt put in his pocket.
State witness Harry Gilmer also implicated Schnaubelt when Gilmer testified that he saw Spies enter the alley to join Fischer and Schnaubelt. Like Thompson, Gilmer identified Schnaubelt from a photograph. Gilmer contended that he saw Spies light the bomb before Schnaubelt "tossed it over into the street."
Thompson and Gilmer's accounts contradicted each other, as well as other more credible testimony, and contained multiple implausibilities and errors of fact. Thompson claimed that the three men conversed with each other in English, in spite of the fact that they were native Germans and Schnaubelt's English was weak. Gilmer's description of the person he identified as Schnaubelt was inaccurate. The testimony of both men is in the "From the Archive" section of this Act.
The one credible witness who claimed to get a decent look at the bomb-thrower, a man named John Bernett, described him as someone who did not resemble Schnaubelt. Although the state never disavowed the statements of these two witnesses, it ceased to insist that it could irrefutably name the bomb-thrower or prove that the men on trial were physically connected to the bomb-throwing. The state focused instead on the indirect charge that the defendants' words and other actions caused the bomb to be thrown.
Schnaubelt's escape from the police dragnet was one of many sources of Captain Michael Schaack's criticism of Ebersold's staff and of the superintendent himself. "The stupid detectives knew [Schnaubelt] was a close friend of Spies and Fielden, who were already locked up," Schaack wrote, "and to prove that friendship now that they were in trouble, Schnaubelt frequently dropped in at the City Hall to inquire after them. He continued to hang around under the tolerance of the officials, and I have always believed that the only thing that saved him from being locked up was the fortunate circumstance that no one put a sign on his back reading that he was the bomb-thrower."
Schaack said that he even gave Ebersold a solid lead that Schnaubelt was in California (this was actually erroneous), on which Ebersold did not follow up. "Schnaubelt thus had a good friend at the City Hall," Schaack concluded, "and he cannot thank the officers there too much for having saved him the painful necessity of going down to death on the 11th of November, 1887, with the other conspirators."
For more on the issue of whether Schnaubelt was in fact the bomb-thrower, see the "Who Threw the Bomb?" entry in the "A Century and Counting" section of the Epilogue.