FLORENCE ROSE GOTTWALD was born at 479 Union Street in Brooklyn, New York on November 6, 1912 to Charles Gottwald and his wife, the former Catherine Elizabeth Carroll. By the time the Census was taken in January of 1920 the family had moved to Rahway, New Jersey. Charles Gottwald was then working as a cooper in a factory. Besides Florence there was a five month-old baby in h household, Esther. The Gottwalds moved to Camden in the 1920s, taking up residence at 1116 Lawrence Street by 1929. The family was still at that address when the Census was taken in April of 1930. The Gottwald family moved to 1036 Segal Street in the 1930s.

Florence Gottwald had a talent for mimicry, and she was well known in Camden for her performances in amateur shows and reviews in the city. She began working at the RCA Victor factory in 1929.

On December 23, 1938 Florence Gottwald was shot outside her home by a neighbor, Emil Mascher, who had been infatuated with her for a number of years. Though shot mutiple times, her wounds proved treatable and she recovered. Her assailant confessed and later died in prison.

Florence Gottwald was in a long-term relationship with William Keesey Hewitt, who lived on Birch Street near North 7th Street. They had a daughter, but did not stay together. She later married Pat Aversa. Last a resident of 1240 Sayrs Avenue in Camden, Florence Gottwald passed away on December 23, 1969.

Camden Courier-Post * December 27, 1938



Emil Mascher, 46, Empties Gun 3 Times at Florence Gottwald, 26


WPA Worker Opens Fire as RCA Employee Returns Home in Auto

Shot 10 times last night by a suitor she had spurned for months, Florence Gottwald, 26, of 1036 Segal Street, lay near death in Cooper Hospital today while her assailant, Emil Mascher, 46, awaited a police court hearing in a city jail cell.

Mascher, with a reputation of being a quiet, unassuming man in his neighborhood, emptied a revolver at Miss Gottwald in front of her home. Ignoring her screams for mercy as she lay on the sidewalk, he twice reloaded his weapon and emptied it at her.

Then he calmly walked to the corner of Front and Erie street

and waited until police arrived and arrested him.

Gift of Candy Returned

Police said Mascher brooded over the fact that Miss Gottwald refused his advances of friendship. The accused man said he tried to get her to marry him for three years. Yesterday she returned, unopened, his Christmas gift of a five-pound box of candy

The shooting occurred as Miss Gottwald was alighting from the automobile of a friend who had brought her home. As she stepped to the sidewalk, Mascher walked from the shadows and without warning opened fire.

"Don't, please don't," the girl screamed as she fell to the street.

Ignoring her plea, Mascher recharged his revolver, emptied it again at her. Again he refilled the chamber. There was no plea for mercy as he emptied it the third time. She lay on the walk unconscious.

Little Chance to Live

Rushed to Cooper Hospital in a police patrol, it was found 10 bullets struck the girl. Attendants said there was "one chance in a thousand" she would survive.

Her condition became critical at 1:30 a.m., and she was placed in an oxygen tent.

One bullet pierced her body, entering the right breast. Another struck her in the abdomen. Three lodged in her left wrist, one in her left palm. Two bullets entered the right forearm, another the right shoulder.

As he emptied the revolver the last time, Mascher, a WPA worker living at 1004 Segal Street tossed the gun aside and walked to Front and Erie streets, where police found him.

"I loved her," Mascher told them. "I loved her madly but she never paid any attention to me. For three years I tried to get her to marry me, but she wouldn't have anything to do with me. I don't know why I did this."

After questioning Mascher at headquarters, detectives took him to the hospital and into the operating room where surgeons prepared for an operation in an attempt to save Miss Gottwald's life.

"That's the man," the girl said.

"Let me kiss her, please," Mascher begged Detectives Clarence Arthur, James McLaughlin, and Leon Feltz.

"Take him away," the girl begged in a voice barely audible.

Mascher, who has lived alone since the death of his mother three weeks ago, told detectives he brooded "all day" over Miss Gottwald's rejection of his attentions. The return of his Christmas present, a five-pound box of candy, he said, was the "final blow."

He said he visited relatives in Philadelphia and returned home. He learned Miss Gottwald was away from home for the evening. He said he sat in a room from which he could observe her return.

He saw her step from the car of Donald Osmund, 23, of 2904 Carman Street, whose wife, Gertrude, and Miss Gottwald are intimate friends. She had spent the evening with them. With them was Osmund's seven-year-old nephew, Vincent Macrina, of 542 North 7th Street.

"I don't know what happened then," Mascher told detectives.

Fired Without Warning

Osmund, however said he saw Mascher come from the shadow of the Gottwald home and with no warning began firing at the girl.

Mascher was 20 feet or less away when he fired the first shots, Osmund said, and kept walking toward Miss Gottwald as he fired.

When the girl fell to the ground, Osmund said, Mascher reloaded the revolver and walked a few feet closer to her. The last shots were fired, Osmund said, as she lay unconscious. 

Osmund said the first shots "paralyzed" him and he was fearful Mascher would fire at him and his nephew. He said he "finally managed" to get his car started, drove a few blocks and called police.

Neighbors Call Police

Neighbors had summoned police. Feltz and McLaughlin were first to arrive in a police car. About the same time as the patrol wagon of the First District arrived. The crew placed the girl, whose clothing was saturated with blood, in the patrol wagon and proceeded to the hospital.

Staff physicians ordered an operation as a last resort to save her life.

Miss Gottwald, an attractive brunette, is employed as a radio tester by the RCA Manufacturing Co., Inc. She lives with her mother, Mrs. Catherine Gottwald.

Though she heard the shooting, the mother did not know her daughter was the victim until notified by police.

She collapsed but was revived and insisted on being taken to the hospital. She was allowed to see her daughter for a moment and then was led to a seat outside the operating room.

After taking Mascher to the hospital, detectives returned him to police headquarters for further questioning in which County Detective Chief Lawrence T. Doran took part.

According to Doran, there were three other witnesses of the shooting. They are Wilson Peiffer, 32, of 1040 Segal Street, and two small girls, Grace Kelly, 10, of 1016 Segal Street and Alberta Bosco, 13, of 1014 Segal Street.

Peiffer told detectives he was asleep when aroused by a shot. He said he ran to the window of his bedroom and saw Mascher firing at Miss Gottwald.

The girls said they, too, were aroused from sleep and from their bedroom windows saw the shooting.

Miss Gottwald was employed at the RCA plant for nine years and is widely known as an amateur impersonator. She appeared in that role a number of times with the Holy Name Minstrels and won several prizes in contests for amateurs, several of them at Convention Hall. 

Trenton Evening Times
December 27, 1938

Florence Gottwald
Clarence Arthur
Emil Mascher


Click on Images for PDF File of Article

Seattle Daily Times
December 27, 1938

Florence Gottwald
Clarence Arthur
Emil Mascher

Camden Courier-Post * December 28, 1938

Only 5 of Bullets Fired by Rejected Suitor Hit No. Camden Woman

Miss Florence Gottwald, 26-year-old radio worker who was shot by a WPA worker she spurned, will recover, physicians at the Cooper Hospital said today after a thorough examination of her wounds.

Previously believed by police to have been struck by 10 of 18 bullets fired at her, the woman is suffering from only five gunshot wounds, none of which is serious unless infection develops, the doctors said.

The belief that she had been hit by 10 bullets was due to the fact that four of the five bullets which struck her passed through her arms, making two surface wounds in each case.

The fifth bullet struck her in the abdomen while she was lying on the ground but did not penetrate the abdominal muscles, according to the physicians. It was removed from under her right arm, where it had lodged. Its course lay directly under the skin.

Bullets Break Bones

A two hour examination of Miss Gottwald was made by a half-dozen physicians of the hospital staff last night. They agreed that while the bullet wounds of her arms broke bones, they are not considered serious. They said the stomach wound was superficial.

The doctors said the woman is suffering more from loss of blood and shock than from the effect of the bullets. She was given a transfusion yesterday and will undergo another today, they said.

One of the bullets penetrated her left palm, another went through her left forearm, the third pierced her left upper arm and a fourth struck her in the lower part of her right arm and went through. The bones were broken in each of the places the bullet passed through.

The physicians said that if no complications set in, Miss Gottwald will be able to leave the hospital in two or three weeks.

Meanwhile police announced that Emil Mascher, 46, a WPA worker, signed a confession at headquarters, admitting that he shot Miss Gottwald in an alleyway leading to their homes on Segal Street. Mascher lives at 1004 Segal, and Miss Gottwald at 1036. He will be arraigned in police court.

Hospital physicians selected four persons from 12 who offered their blood for transfusion. Of these, Gerald Harter, 24, of 827 North 6th Street, brother of a girl friend of Miss Gottwald, gave the first transfusion shortly after noon. The other three were instructed to return today.

Trenton Evening Times
December 28, 1938

Florence Gottwald
Harry Kyler
Emil Mascher

William Keesey Hewitt
Florence Gottwald

1940s in North Camden
possibly on Segal Street