True Crime Story
A true crime story. In 1974 a young actress went to her first rehearsal session with a filmmaker. He hid her dead body beneath the mattress he and his wife slept the night on.
On August 20, 1974, Mary Smithers, a schoolteacher who lived at 118 Waverly Place, complained of a leak coming through the ceiling of her top floor apartment. She and Mr. Johnson, the super, went up to investigate the source of the leak and found the body. There is nothing quite like New York in an August heat wave. It was 100 degrees. The horse flies had found the body first. Later, when the police turned the body over, they found imprints of a 2-1/2 by 4 inch rectangle with 3 circular holes in the flesh of her back.
She was a 23-year-old editorial assistant for McGraw-Hill, who studied acting a couple of times a week at the Strasberg Institute near Union Square. Early in 1974 she quit her job at McGraw-Hill to devote herself to becoming an actress. Taking a waitress gig in Penn Station, she moved into a tiny second floor studio on the old one-block curve known as Minetta Lane. It was a small room to serve as bedroom, living room, and kitchen all in one, but it had a wood-burning fireplace, and it was in Greenwich Village.
In July, she went on her first audition. She'd seen the ad in "Show Business" calling for non-union film actresses for a government educational film. When the filmmaker called to tell her she had the part, she was in the middle of working with a girlfriend and rehearsal buddy. He told her she'd have to rehearse with him nights for a couple of weeks and made an appointment for their first session. Her friend advised her not to go. The sessions were for 9 o'clock at night at his apartment at 120 Waverly Place.
Once he had Karin Schlegel in his apartment, Charles Yukl asked her to pose for a Lifebuoy Soap ad. He strangled her with a black necktie, breaking her neck, but once he started hitting her, he couldn't stop. Once she was dead, he removed her clothes and continued beating her naked, dead body. He had a razor in his hand to begin cutting, when his wife called to say she would be home in 15 minutes. He put Karin's body under the mattress and he and his wife slept on her corpse all night.
The base of the Yukl marriage bed was a worktable with small rectangular metal plates that had holes in them. In the morning, after his wife left for work, he took Karin's body up to the roof and dumped it. He dumped her belongings in a trash basket. He came home for lunch and took the table back to work with him. He left the mattress on the floor. It was the 1970s and lots of people slept on mattresses on the floor.
The one thing Charles Yukl didn't account for was a state parole officer who recognized the address, 120 Waverly Place, on the 11:00 news, and had a detective acquaintance in the 13th precinct in Greenwich Village known as Uncle Don Baeszler. The parole officer knew Yukl as the paroled killer of Suzanne Reynolds in 1966, a secretary, aspiring actress and singer. She had gone to keep an appointment with a vocal coach named Yogi Frietag, known as Charlie, at his apartment on East 28th Street. He strangled her with a black necktie, screaming all the while, "You're a goddamn slob."
When Yukl was arrested for the murder of Karin Schlegel, Detective Don Baeszler took him to the Tombs, casually mentioning that Yukl's wife was being interviewed at the 13th precinct. Yukl became very disturbed and blurted out a spontaneous confession that he'd already gotten rid of all the evidence, "The neck tie, her clothing, her pocketbook, and the table."
The table that had made the rectangular 2-1/2 by 4 inch imprint in the flesh of Karin Schlegel.
There was no trial; Yukl pled guilty. He was sentenced to 15 years to life, with parole eligibility in 1989. A bureaucratic error reduced the sentence by five years, making parole a probability on June 7, 1984. His wife had already divorced him by 1982, for sexual abandonment, when Charles Yukl hung himself.