Edward Gingerich killed his wife, Katie, at dusk on March 18, 1993, a cold gray Tuesday preceded by several days of snow. The twenty-eight-year-old Amish man attacked his spouse in front of two of their children who witnessed the atrocity in stunned horror. In the kitchen of their western Pennsylvania farmhouse, he knocked her down, crushed her skull by stomping on her face, ripped off her clothing, and then opened up her belly with a kitchen knife. Through the gaping, seven-inch gash, he removed her heart, lungs, spleen, liver, kidneys, ovaries, and intestines, stacking these in a neat pile beside her corpse. Within an hour, volunteer ambulance personnel from a nearby village stared at the bloody shell sprawled nude on the kitchen floor and at the knife plunged into the dripping mound of organs.
The tall, pale-skinned lumber-mill operator was arrested by the Pennsylvania State Police at a dirt road intersection near his house. Bearded, denim-clad, wild-eyed, blood-splattered, and virtually incoherent, the Amish man mumbled biblical passages and made vague references to the devil.
Gingerich's non-Amish neighbors were thunderstruck by the slaughter. They told reporters and police investigators that he's suffered a recent brush with mental illness but had never exhibited tendencies toward violence.
For the first time in American history, an Amish man stood accused of homicide, raising a host of bewildering questions. What had driven this quiet, easygoing man to commit a crime so ghastly as to defy description? Who was Edward Gingerich? What was he? How would his family, the Amish community, and Pennsylvania's criminal justice system deal with this unique and disturbing case?
Ultimately, Ed was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to imprisonment at the State Correctional Institution in Pittsburgh for a minimum term of two and a half years and a maximum of five years.