Thanks to shows like American Horror Story and Ghost Hunters, fans of the paranormal are coming out of the woodworks in search of the next great scare. Hotel Emma may not be crawling with the spirits of serial killers like they do in American Horror Story: Hotel, but it definitely does have a dark past of its own. Keep reading to discover the truth behind Hotel Emma and its original owner, who found his death at the end of an illicit triangle of pleasure, deceit, and pain.

Our story takes place in the historic Alamo country, in the bustling Pearl District of San Antonio, Texas.

In the middle of this popular tourist destination, is the fine establishment known as Hotel Emma. What was once a 19th-century brewery, Hotel Emma is now a luxurious hotel that has reportedly left many guests with an uneasy feeling in their chest as they lay down to sleep at night.

Otto Koehler, an immigrant from Berlin, Germany, had just settled down in St. Louis, Missouri and was eager to see what he could achieve in America.

Eventually, Otto was able to get a great job as the manager of Lone Star Brewery. Fortunately, he was able to learn everything there was about the brewing business, allowing him to open several different avenues of success. Eventually, he realized that it was time for him to move on to bigger things.

Otto Koehler, an immigrant from Berlin, Germany, had just settled down in St. Louis, Missouri and was eager to see what he could achieve in America.

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The year was 1902 and Otto had just received the job opportunity of a lifetime, and he simply couldn’t refuse it.

With the knowledge he received from his experience at Lone Star Brewery, Otto picked up and moved to San Antonio, Texas to take charge of the Pearl Brewing Company. With his experience and determination, Otto was preparing to turn Pearl into one of the biggest breweries in the country.

Nothing could keep Otto back from chasing his dreams, and before long, he was elected as the president of the Brewing Association.

His popularity was on the rise and he was earning the respect of different people from all over the country, but Otto was receiving more than fame. Because of his expertise and wise investments, Otto wasn’t only respected, but he was very wealthy now. At this point in his life, Otto was actually one of the wealthiest men in the Southwest United States.

Nothing could keep Otto back from chasing his dreams, and before long, he was elected as the president of the Brewing Association.

While Otto was rising to the top financially, he was also chasing the stars romantically by getting married to another native of Germany, Emma Bentzen.

Emma loved her husband dearly, and as the passing of time would prove, she stayed by his side through thick and thin. Emma was so devoted to her marriage that she even helped Otto with the business at the brewery. That was until an unfortunate accident changed everything.

While Otto was rising to the top financially, he was also chasing the stars romantically by getting married to another native of Germany, Emma Bentzen.

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It was 1910, and Emma had been in a horrific accident that left her bedridden.

Sadly, Emma’s condition required full-time care, so Otto, not being able to take care of her the way that she needed, began to look for a nurse for Emma. After a bit of searching, Otto realized that he had found the perfect nurse for his wife, who just so happened to be named Emma, as well.

It was 1910, and Emma had been in a horrific accident that left her bedridden.

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Emma Dumpke was her name, also known as Emmi, and she was a beautiful German woman in her twenties.

Although her presence was of help to Otto’s wife Emma, Otto couldn’t seem to ignore the fact that she was painstakingly beautiful. In fact, it wasn’t long before Otto and Emmi had taken their working relationship to adulterous territory. Otto, who was in his mid-50’s at the time, felt no shame about his actions and did nothing to hide his illicit affair with his wife’s nurse from anyone.

Soon after Emmi became Otto’s mistress, she invited her very close friend to live with her in San Antonio.

Like Emmi, her friend was a nurse from Germany, and ironically, her name was also Emma, but she often went by the nickname, Hedda. As you can imagine, Hedda was also strikingly beautiful, and once again, Otto had a difficult time keeping his hands to himself.

Soon after Emmi became Otto’s mistress, she invited her very close friend to live with her in San Antonio.

Without taking a second to think, Otto offered to buy Emmi and Hedda their very own quaint little cottage right in town.

Things may have looked promising when the idea came about, but soon enough, Otto began to distrust Emmi’s loyalty to him. So to protect himself in the event that Emmi ever wanted to leave him, he put the little cottage in Hedda’s name. This meant that if Emmi did indeed leave him, he wouldn’t lose the cottage too.

Now that the women were in their new home, Otto realized that he needed to give them a bit of spending money.

As a monthly allowance, Emmi received $125 and Hedda received a little bit less with an allowance of $50. Otto was clearly happy with the arrangement. After all, he didn’t have to pay any mind to his sick wife when he had two other Emmas to obsess over. Otto may have thought things were going great, and they probably appeared to be that way, but there was deception lurking underneath the surface.

Now that the women were in their new home, Otto realized that he needed to give them a bit of spending money.

In 1913, the suspicions that Otto had been harboring about Emmi were proven to be true.

She had fallen in love with a man named Mr. Doschle. Not wanting to deny her true feelings, she ran off with Doschle to St. Louis where they were married. Otto was heartbroken and his mental health suffered because of it. Otto became desperate for love and threw all of his attention at Hedda. Since Emmi was no longer in the picture, he increased Hedda’s monthly allowance to $125 and brought her on vacation to their native country of Germany.

In 1913, the suspicions that Otto had been harboring about Emmi were proven to be true.

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No matter what he did, Otto couldn’t feel better about losing Emmi, so he decided that drastic measures needed to be taken.

Out of desperation, Otto proposed marriage to Hedda. Even though Hedda claimed that she loved Otto, her conscience wouldn’t allow her to go through with it. Even though Hedda had been Otto’s mistress for all this time, his wife was still gravely ill and bedridden. She couldn’t allow him to abandon his wife when she needed him the most.

No matter what he did, Otto couldn’t feel better about losing Emmi, so he decided that drastic measures needed to be taken.

Otto wasn’t the type of man that took rejection lightly, so he decided that a bit of retaliation was in order.

It wasn’t long before Hedda began to suspect Otto of sneaking around with other women, so she hired a private detective to follow him to Germany, where her suspicions were confirmed. Otto stopped calling while he was in Germany, and he didn’t call Hedda when he returned to San Antonio either. Things weren’t looking too good for Hedda at this point.

Otto wasn’t the type of man that took rejection lightly, so he decided that a bit of retaliation was in order.

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Fearing that Otto had truly moved on, which wouldn’t exactly be good for her financial security, Hedda decided to give things one more shot.

Knowing that she could lose the comfort that she had become accustomed to, Hedda got into contact with Otto. Hedda asked Otto if they could meet up, and after some consideration, Otto agreed, but there was going to be a catch.

Fearing that Otto had truly moved on, which wouldn’t exactly be good for her financial security, Hedda decided to give things one more shot.

Otto was willing to meet up with Hedda, but it was going to be 100% on his terms.

She was instructed to meet him in the red light district of San Antonio, and she was to bring “all of her papers.” Basically, Otto was looking for anything that could benefit Hedda, such as letters, credits, and anything that could possibly be used as blackmail. After their conversation, Hedda realized just how far south their relationship had gone, and she began to fear for her life.

Otto was willing to meet up with Hedda, but it was going to be 100% on his terms.

Knowing how powerful of a man Otto was, she called the one and only person that could protect Hedda from Otto.

Otto had never stopped thinking about Emmi and Hedda knew it, so she called her friend in hopes of avoiding danger. As soon as she knew what was going on, she packed her bags and left St. Louis to join Hedda in San Antonio. While Hedda was awaiting Emmi’s arrival, she came up with the perfect plan.

Knowing how powerful of a man Otto was, she called the one and only person that could protect Hedda from Otto.

Otto had wanted Hedda to meet him in the red light district, but that wasn’t going to work.

Instead, Hedda sent Emmi to the Pearl Brewery to speak to Otto in person. Surprised by her appearance, and eager to please her, Otto agreed to speak with Hedda at the cottage. It was November 12, 1914, just a little before 5 pm, Otto got into his horse and carriage and drove to the little cottage at 532 Hunstock Street.

Otto had wanted Hedda to meet him in the red light district, but that wasn’t going to work.

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When he arrived, Emmi was in the home’s parlor, but she explained that Hedda was lying down in bed with a headache.

Emmi suggested that Otto should go speak to Hedda first, and assuming that meant more time with Emmi, Otto agreed. The events of what happened after this conversation are controversial, but there is one thing that’s for certain, sinister things happened in the cottage that night.

 When he arrived, Emmi was in the home’s parlor, but she explained that Hedda was lying down in bed with a headache.

It was five minutes after five o’clock and Mrs. Neil Campbell, a neighbor of Hedda’s, heard gunshots.

Knowing something was obviously wrong, Campbell ran outside to witness Emmi screaming in the front yard for help. Campbell immediately ran back into her home to call the police, who arrived shortly after. By the time the police were breaking down the front door of the cottage, a large crowd had gathered to watch the graphic events unfold.

It was five minutes after five o’clock and Mrs. Neil Campbell, a neighbor of Hedda’s, heard gunshots.

Like we said before, the truth of really happened is unknown, but there are several different accounts of what went on inside of the cottage that night.

Some people say that when the police arrived, Emmi could be seen lying on top of Otto, completely covered in blood. While other witnesses claim to have seen Emmi with her head in a neighbor’s lap. And then others said that she was sitting all by herself. Even though there are plenty of questions about what Emmi was doing, there was no doubt about what had happened to Otto.

Like we said before, the truth of really happened is unknown, but there are several different accounts of what went on inside of the cottage that night.

When they arrived, police found Otto dead, in a pool of his own blood, a victim of a broken neck due to a gunshot.

In total, Otto had been shot three times. On the nightstand, was .25 caliber revolver, while the murder weapon, a .32 caliber automatic, lay hot on the floor. There was also an open knife case on the floor. Clearly, whatever had happened inside of the cottage, things weren’t looking too good for the dead man’s mistress.

Shortly after the police arrived, Hedda was taken to the hospital to be treated for a gash on her wrists and several bruises on her neck.

After being indicted and charged with Otto’s murder, Hedda was nowhere to be found. Her lawyer, State Senator Carlos Bee, excused her absence by saying that she had returned to Germany to serve her patriotic duty by aiding soldiers wounded in the war. Well, her lawyer may have said that she left the country, but Hedda most certainly did not. However, she did travel a little out of her comfort zone to the fast-paced New York City. While she was still facing charges in San Antonio, Hedda lived in New York for three years, until 1917, when she decided it was time to face her past.

Shortly after the police arrived, Hedda was taken to the hospital to be treated for a gash on her wrists and several bruises on her neck.

Mark Cantu / YouTube

Hedda got into contact with the court and explained that she was ready to stand trial.

With the former governor of Texas, T.M. Campbell, by her side to fight the charges against her, Hedda returned to San Antonio. The prosecution had prepared what they thought was a fool-proof argument. They were able to convince Florence Rabe, one of the first female attorneys in Texas, to testify that Hedda had shared her plans to kill Otto, but Ramer was nowhere to be found on the first day of the trial.

Rabe thought that it was in her best interest not to testify against Hedda, so she fled in the middle of the night.

She was only able to get a few towns away when she was arrested and brought back to San Antonio. The prosecution was eager to get Rabe’s testimony done and over with, but she would prove to be a difficult witness.

Rabe thought that it was in her best interest not to testify against Hedda, so she fled in the middle of the night.

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When Rabe got to the stand, she invoked the attorney-client privilege and denied everything.

Clearly, Rabe had gotten enough of the courtroom, because she threw in the reins and took off to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting under the name Florence Bates. Regardless of Rabe’s testimony, the entire trial was a circus. Starting with Banker J.H. Frost, who testified that Hedda had attempted to cash in one of Koehler’s $10,000 letters of credit. Of course, Hedda denied everything that Frost claimed had happened.

When Rabe got to the stand, she invoked the attorney-client privilege and denied everything.

MGM

There were different theories about what happened inside the cottage that night.

There may have been different theories, but one thing was for certain: Hedda had shot and killed Otto. On one occasion Hedda said she did it “to protect the honor of my friend.” Another time she said that she did it because Otto was like a wild bull and she “thought he was going after my friend.” Hedda also claimed that Otto was choking her, and then later added that he was charging after her with a gun. Needless to say, Hedda had plenty of different stories for the court.

There were different theories about what happened inside the cottage that night.

In the Hands of the Jury

Apparently, both of the guns that were found in the cottage belonged to Hedda.

After shooting Otto, Hedda shot herself in the head, somehow missed, and then cut her wrists because “I didn’t know if I had a bullet in my brain.” The only thing that could be confirmed was that after Otto arrived UNARMED to the cottage, he was shot to death by Hedda. The trial lasted only one week, including the whole Florence Rabe debacle, and then it came to an end on January 22, 1918.

Apparently, both of the guns that were found in the cottage belonged to Hedda.

After deliberation, the all-male jury found Hedda not guilty of murder.

As all of the charges against her were dropped, the jury lined up to shake her hand in congratulations. One year after the trial ended, Hedda married J.W. Turley, who was one of the jurors on her trial, in New Orleans. Eventually, the couple moved back to San Antonio, where they lived in the quaint little cottage that Otto had bought for his two mistresses.

Even after all of this, the strangest thing of all happened shortly after Otto was killed.

Remember the original Emma? Otto’s one and only wife? Well, after spending all of those years sick in bed, she miraculously stood up soon after Otto was killed and took back control of the business. In fact, by the time Hedda was standing trial, Mrs. Koehler had already turned Otto’s dreams into reality and Pearl Brewing was official the largest brewery in all of Texas.

Even after all of this, the strangest thing of all happened shortly after Otto was killed.

The Hotel Emma

Emma Koehler took Pearl Brewing to the top, even throughout the prohibition years, when they switched to soft drinks and food production.

Women couldn’t even vote at the time, and Emma was brewing beer the same day that the Volstead Act was repealed, dominating the male-coveted brewing industry. To honor her, the old brewery was turned into Hotel Emma, where guests can order a drink known as “The Three Emmas,” which comes with a warning of “one is great, and three will kill ya” from hotel staff members.

Emma Koehler took Pearl Brewing to the top, even throughout the prohibition years, when they switched to soft drinks and food production.

Thirsty Mag

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