The Murder of Harold Mast

On October 5, 1950, a farmer named Harold Mast was shot in the back and proclaimed dead in the hospital. The Medina Police took in a man named Max Amerman, who had been in a yearlong affair with Randi Mast (Harold’s wife), for questioning, believing him to be the killer. They were half right. While Max had been involved- heavily –in the murder, the man who fired the shot was Gerald “Jerry” Killenger: Max’s employee, friend, and student of Medina High School. How and why did this happen?
It started when Randi Mast kicked out Max Amerman after their affair. She loved Harold, and wanted to be loyal to him. Max, unfortunately, still loved Randi, and insisted that she loved him, too. But Randi was done with Max. She admitted what she had done to Harold, and he forgave her.
After getting booted out, Jerry and Max, who both were good friends of the Masts, took a trip throughout multiple cities and states, in order to find some new jobs. During which, the two slowly turned from harmless friends to seriously plotting to get rid of Harold. By the time they came back, they had a fully formed murder plan.
Instead of Max doing the killing, which would be too obvious, Jerry would be the one to kill Harold while Max watched the World Series, creating an alibi. Jerry would wait for Harold to walk towards the door to his house, and then he'd shoot him in the back. He did exactly that. Harold was found shortly afterwards and rushed to the hospital, but died later. No one saw Jerry.
Despite their planning, they were caught relatively quickly. There are two reasons for that: the first one was that Max (who was taken in because he had a motive) had an alibi that was, as the Gazette put it, “too perfect.” He had each location he’d been at memorized, noting every second he’d been gone. The second reason was that Max just gave up and told the police during his questioning.
The two were put on trial, and both were found guilty, despite their lawyer's help. Max was killed via electric chair on November 16, 1951, with Jerry having his sentence communed to life in prison. He was let out on parole in 1971.

Images

Key Figures

Key Figures

The key figures in the case From left to right: Harold Mast, Randi Mast, Max Amerman, and Gerald "Jerry" Killinger. Out of these four people, only Jerry is confirmed to still be living. Harold and Max died in the 1950's, and no one has been able to locate Randi, who moved to Texas after the murder. The most tragic thing about the murder was that the four used to be inseparable. They worked together, played games together, and just generally hung out around each other all the time. The Masts even hosted Jerry's birthday once. During those times, Max and Randi developed feelings for each other. Unwilling to let her affair sour her relationship with Harold, Randi kicked Max out after the affair, and told him to never come back. She told Harold everything, and was given a second chance by him. Her time with Max, however, was far from over. As he saw it, Randi still loved him, and would always love him, despite her clear insistence that she was done. She even wrote a letter to him to show that she was serious about breaking up that said, "Don't ever come to this house unless you have business with my husband. You have betrayed our friendship." Image courtesy of the Medina Gazette, circa 2003. View File Details Page

Randi and Elsie

Randi and Elsie

A picture of Randi, the widow of Harold Mast, and her daughter, Elsie Kay. Randi was a Norwegian war bride who married Harold, a WWII soldier, in 1947. A year later, Elsie Kay was born. Harold Mast was a veteran, a good farmer, and a warm, loving father and husband. His untimely death was nothing short of a tragedy, ripping apart friends and family alike. Randi went through quite a lot after Harold's murder. In addition to dealing with her husband™s death, she had to deal with the insensitive media coverage and various rumors thrown at her. It was bad to the point where she once looked out her window and found a film crew and actors reenacting the murder on her own property. After the trial, Randi left Medina for good. She took Elsie Kay with her and went to Texas, where her sister was. Elsie Kay only returned once. Image courtesy of the Gazette News, circa 2003 View File Details Page

Max K. Amerman's Grave

Max K. Amerman's Grave

The final resting place of Max Amerman. Randi Mast pushed for the death penalty for both of the men, which surprised Max greatly. He gave her his property. Buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Max was executed via the electric chair on November 16, 1951. His partner in crime, Jerry, was spared hours before he met the same fate. Image courtesy of the Gazette News, circa 2003 View File Details Page

A Pumpkin Ball Bullet

A Pumpkin Ball Bullet

A shotgun shell, aka a pumpkin ball or a dum-dum, was the bullet that was used to kill Harold Mast. It's actually banned from warfare because of the devastating effect it has on the human body. When they were planning the perfect murder, they went through a few ideas, such as shooting him while he was hunting, or shooting both him and Max to shift the blame to another person, but eventually settled on a plan so incredibly complicated that it™s hard to believe that they were caught within the week it happened. Basically, Jerry would be the one to kill Harold, while Max would be at the World Series game. He™d buy a gun, have Jerry steal it from his car. The crime would be reported, so Max would be thought to be weaponless at the time. Jerry would then file any incriminating numbers off of it, and then drive to Harold™s. He would get out of the car, change his shoes, walk over to the house, and shoot Harold when his back was turned. In the confusion, he™d run to his car, speed off, and throw his shoes and gun into a lake. It worked almost perfectly. As a note the plan also went a tad awry around the gun. When Jerry filed away the incriminating numbers on the shotgun, he actually forgot to get rid of one of the more identifiable things on a gun: the serial number. View File Details Page

The House of Max, Harold, Randi, and Jerry

The House of Max, Harold, Randi, and Jerry

While it obviously didn't belong to all four of the people involved in the murder, it might as well have. This is the place where Harold was shot dead, interrupting the party going on inside. Randi rushed out to him, and asked who shot him, but he hadn't seen the killer. Harold was rushed to the hospital. He wanted oxygen badly, but for some unknown reason there was none in the ambulance. He died in the hospital of hemorrhage and shock. The Gazette News, circa 2003 View File Details Page

Jerry Killinger

Jerry Killinger

Can you spot the killer-to-bez Jerry Killinger is the man in the black suit, second row, third person. This photo is from his Medina High School year book, when he was still a sophomore. He committed murder in his junior year, and was found guilty and sentenced to death after a rough trial. 1950's psychology stipulates that he had "psychopathy without psychosis." Jerry's lawyers tried to get him out by pleading insanity. After all, they argued, why would a person in his right mind go after someone who had never done him wrong and had every reason to livez The only reason Jerry gave was that Max wanted him to do so, although earlier he'd said it would be for a car or for money. The jury decided that he was still guilty of murder anyway and sentenced him and Max to death. He spent his eighteenth birthday in prison. Jerry was going to be executed via electric chair, but had his sentence communed to life in jail on November 17, 1951, hours before he was going to die. He was let on 1971 on parole. He managed to turn his life around, becoming an author on heating and cooling units. Image courtesy of the 1949 Medina High School year book. View File Details Page

David Cowles

David Cowles

David Cowles worked under Elliot Ness, was a chemist, and was the man who interrogated Max and Jerry. He was the reason that Max just gave up and told the police what he did during his questioning. In order to get information, David would first question Jerry, who was in a different room than Max. David would occasionally go and bluff Max, saying that Jerry was telling him everything. Max had no way of knowing exactly what Jerry was telling him. Eventually, Max just admitted what he did. They brought Jerry and Max into the same room, and they both started telling the truth. Image courtesy of the Gazette News, circa 2003 View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Mackenzie Anne, “The Murder of Harold Mast,” Discover Medina, accessed July 22, 2017, http://discovermedina.org/items/show/135.

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