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Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Backed the family car up to a window and piped deadly monoxide gas into a room
Number of victims: 6
Date of murder: August 28, 1937
Date of birth: December 25, 1906
Victims profile: Her children, Orvin, 11; Wilbert, 10; Pauline, 7; Earl, 6; Leona, 4, and Viola, 2
Method of murder: Poisoning (monoxide gas)
Location: Dennison, Crawford County, Iowa, USA
Status: Committed suicide the same day

Farm wife kills six children

Frenzied by jealousy and grief over marital unhappiness, Mrs. Elsie Nollen, 30-year-old farm wife, of Dennison, Ia., backed the family car up to a window and piped deadly monoxide gas into a room, killing her six children and herself.

The children raged in age from two years to 11 years. The husband, Albert Nollen, and two friends, found the bodies.

Central Press


Mother Kills Six Children

Ends On Life With Them by  Running Auto Gas Into Farm Bedroom

The Milkwaukee Journal

August 30, 1937

Kenwood, Iowa - (U.P) - Mrs. Elsie Nollen, a comely farm wife of 30, left in a "suicide" letter Sunday her explanation of why she piped deadly fumes from a car exhaust into her bedroom and killed herself and her six children.

"I'm doing this because I see the family is not going to be raised up right," the letter said.

Albert Nollen found the bodies when he returned to his home Sunday morning after a quarrel with his wife and an all-night "spree". He found her letter in the mailbox.

Held Child in Arms

Mrs. Nollen died with her youngest child, Viola, 2, in her arms. At her feet was Orvin, 11. Death caught the other four, Wilber, 10; Pauline, 7; Earl, 6, and Leona, 4, as they left their  upstairs bedrooms and staggered through the parolor toward their mother's room.

Nollen later sat on the running board of the automobile wich manufactured the killing gas and told Sheriff A. C. Greene that he and his wife had quarreled Saturday night bitterly. His wife followed, got into the car, demanded to know where he was going. He told her it was "none of her business."

"I'm Getting Tired"

Nollen drove with her to Dennison, and entered the post office. When he emerged the car was gone. He went to visit some friends, and they took him home.

He found his car backed up under the window of his wife's room. A hose was placed over the exhaust pipe of the car, and run through the window. The automobile engine was running.

Mrs. Nollen note said, in part: "He has beat me up lots of times and I always forgot about that just because I loved him and wanted to live with him... I've always said if I coldn't live with him I didn't want to live, because there isn't any other beside Albert... But I getting tired. I hope Albert will be happier when he is rid of us."


Curious Crowd Around Father

Mrs. Nollen's Love of Family Told

DENISON, IA- Approximately 3,000 persons - curious and sympathetic- stood attendtively for almost two hours in the scorching sun here Tuesday to hear the eulogy of Mrs. Albert Nollen and her six children.

The large assembly heard the Rev. L. M. Grigsby pay tribute to a mother's love.

Saturday night Mrs. Nollen turned her farm home into a death chamber by piping deadly monoxide gas from the family car into the house killing herself and six children.

In a six page note Mrs. Nollen explained the action by saying, "I am doing this because I can see that this family si not going to be raised up right..." Mrs. Nollen also wrote that her husband drank excessively.

Inside the funeral home stood seven caskets in a row. Seated among the relatives, who crowded all available space sat the husband and father of the victims, Albert Nollen. Throughout the ceremony he maintained a stoic expression. Only once did he wince visibly, then when the Rev. Mr. Grigsby generalized on the evil of drink.

After the servicees the crowd surged around the doorway leading into chapel and passed in single file by the coffins. Many of the women came out of the exit weeping profusely. During the forenoon, about 2000 persons visited the chapel to view the bodies.

Five hearses were needed to bear the bodies from the funeral home to Lutheran cemetery for burial. As the 30 pallbearers came out of the chapel bearing the caskets, officials had to open a lane through the crowd.

When Nollen appeared, the lane narrowed considerably as people surged forward to see the husband. He stood a moment then walked unassisted through the crowd to his car.

Elsie Nollen was 30 years old. The children were:

Orvin, 11
Wilbert, 10
Pauline, 7
Earl, 6
Leona, 4
Viola, 2



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