Joseph Kallinger: The Shoemaker Who Teamed With His Teen Son to Rape, Torture & Kill

Joseph Kallinger/YouTube video [screenshot]

LEONIA, NJ — On October 14, 1976, the verdict came down for Joseph Kallinger. He got life in prison, with no possibility of parole.

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Between 1974 and ’75, Kallinger, a 39-year-old former cobbler, engaged on a multi-state spree of murder, rape, sexual mutilation, torture, and robberies.

He killed and cut the penis off a random 9-year-old boy, drowned his own 11-year-old son, and fatally slashed the throat of a 21-year-old nurse while grotesquely savaging a suburban family he held captive.

More horrific still, Joseph Kallinger’s accomplice in these atrocities — and others — was Michael Kallinger, his son who was only 13 when this madness commenced.

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Joseph Kallinger’s tragic upbringing reads like a textbook example of how to raise a future serial killer. Born in 1936 and adopted as an infant, foster parents Stephen and Anna Kallinger tormented and abused young Joseph throughout his childhood. The couple’s sick “punishments” included starvation, burnings, brandings, and forcing the boy to eat excrement. Six-year-old Joseph even suffered a hernia that resulted from Stephen beating him.

Outside the home, bullies regularly pummeled Joseph. When he was nine, a gang of neighborhood boys raped him.

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Understandably, then, Kallinger spent much of his youth acting out, often injuring himself and setting fires. Psych ward stays occurred regularly.

As a teenager, Kallinger married Hilda Bergman. The couple had two children, with whom she fled in 1956 due to domestic violence. Two years later, Kallinger married Betty Baumgard, with whom he had five children. Michael, born in 1961, was their third.

As a father, Kallinger replicated much of the horrors to which he’d been subjected as a kid. In 1972, three of his children went to the police to show injuries that he had inflicted on them via whippings, brandings, and hammer beatings. Responding officers charged Kallinger with child abuse.

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On a court-ordered IQ test, Kallinger scored a decidedly subnormal 82. Examining psychiatrists diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic and also recommended that Kallinger remain institutionalized, stating in their report:

“He appears to be developing agitation and anxiety in the sexual area and, if this loading becomes strong, he will again repeat his sadistic response when he discharges this effect.”

Suddenly, then, Kallinger’s three kids recanted their stories. The court cut Kallinger loose with four months probation. What a mistake.

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In 1974, police found 11-year-old Joey Kallinger, Jr., wandering in a daze and bleeding from head wounds. Joey’s father said the boy had run away and must have gotten hurt. Police suspected worse, but didn’t couldn’t find any evidence. Shortly thereafter, Joey drowned. Again, the cops failed to pin the crime where it belonged.

Given the sketchy circumstances, Kallinger’s insurance company refused to pay out on the child’s death. This decision may or may not have detonated something monstrous inside Kallinger.

Either way, after that, the shoemaker packed up 13-year-old Michael and took him “hunting.” An otherworldly being, Kallinger later claimed, was directing him to kill and castrate young boys. That’s exactly what the father-and-son team did, then, to nine-year-old Jose Collazo in Philadelphia.

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Over the next year, the Kallingers invaded homes and violated whoever was there while ransacking the residence for valuables. Typically, Joseph posed as a saleman to gain entry. He then tied up, slashed, and raped the female residents while Michael loaded up on stolen goods. They struck with impunity in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Baltimore.

This m.o. took a homicidal turn in Leonia, New Jersey, on January 8, 1975. With guns drawn, the Kallingers burst in on eight family members, and bound them all, with Joseph repeatedly threatening to slice off the male homeowner’s penis.

Tragically, nurse Maria Fasching, 21, stopped by the home to visit an ailing resident in the midst of the attack. Kallinger forced her inside, tied her up, and raped her. He then commanded Fasching to bite off the male homeowner’s genitals. When she refused, Kallinger slit her throat and she died.

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On the way out of the Leonia crime scene, Kallinger ditched his bloody shirt on the street. Investigators found the garment and noticed a laundry mark on the inside label that read: “KAL.”

When detectives asked a local dry cleaner if he recognized the shirt, he said, “That’s Joe Kallinger’s, he runs the shoe repair place down the block!”

Even more than the hand-scrawled nickname, the cleaner said he knew the shirt from its odor, telling the cops that Kallinger’s shirts “always smell like that.”

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Officers arrested Joseph and Michael Kallinger on January 17. Due to Michael’s age, the court sent him to a reformatory until he turned 21, after which he’d be on probation for four years. Joseph, on the other hand, was found fit to stand trial. Defense attorneys naturally tried an insanity plea. Kallinger got life in jail anyway. He hardly proved to be a model prisoner.

While locked up, Kallinger screamed incessantly that God and Satan had chosen him to kill every human being on earth. He also regularly started fires, slashed his cellmate’s throat, and doused himself with lighter fluid, whereupon he lit it up, and attempted to “fry an egg on his head.”

In 1979, authorities transferred Kallinger to a psychiatric prison hospital. He died there of a seizure in 1996. Michael Kallinger reportedly changed his name, moved to another state, and is believed to have remained out of trouble.

To learn more about this case, watch the “Super Delusional” episode of Investigation Discovery’s Most Evil on ID GO now!

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Read more:
New York Times
New York Magazine

Main photo: Joseph Kallinger/YouTube video [screenshot]


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