The Chilling Tale of the Smuttynose Island Axe Murders in Maine
Many people know of the Isles of Shoals, a collection of islands off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine.
Smuttynose Island is located northeast of Star Island, and many would be surprised to hear that it actually has a very dark history.
Back in 1873, it was here where two women named Karen and Anethe Christiansen met their untimely end.
According to Smuttynosemurders.com, Norwegian fisherman John Hontvet and his wife Maren moved to Smuttynose Island in the late 1860s or early 1870s. In 1872, they took in 28-year-old Louis Wagner, a Prussian fisherman.
NewEngland.com explains that other family members then joined the group on the Island, including Maren's sister Karen Christensen, their brother Ivan, and his wife Anethe. Louis ended up leaving Smuttynose, becoming "destitute" by 1873.
On the fateful night on March 5th, 1873, an impoverished Louis journeyed back to Smuttynose with the intent of robbing the Hontvet's home, according to Smuttynosemurders.com. He had heard that the men of the island would be out later than usual, and that Maren, Karen, and Anethe would be home alone.
NewEngland.com explains that after successfully reaching the Island, Louis broke into the Hontvet's house some time after 10pm, but his movements woke up Karen.
It was then that all hell broke loose.
Knowing that he'd been spotted, a panicked Louis beat Karen with a nearby chair, according to the article. Maren, now awake, managed to drag her sister into her and Anethe's room and barricade the door. Anethe tried to escape by climbing out a window, but encountered Louis, who had left the house.
Louis then grabbed a nearby axe, struck Anethe in the head, and killed her. Maren witnessed the brutal scene from the window, according to NewEngland.com.
Maren knew that she and Karen had to escape, but the latter was still too dazed from being hit. Maren's survival instincts took over upon hearing Louis re-enter the house, and she'd ultimately escape through a window and hide on another part of the island.
Karen was unfortunately unable to recover in time, and met a similar fate as Anethe.
Smuttynosemurders.com says that Louis searched for Maren all over the Island, but couldn't find her. After returning to the Hontvet home and taking some money, he left Smuttynose. Maren was the sole survivor and witness of the attack.
At the time of their deaths, Karen and Anethe were 35 and 25 years of age.
In the aftermath of the murders, Maren gave this testimony about the horrific events of that night. Louis was being imprisoned, found guilty after a quick trial, and hanged on June 25, 1875, according to NewEngland.com.
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