Andrew Kehoe

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Andrew Kehoe
Photo taken c. 1920
Andrew Phillip Kehoe

(1872-02-01)February 1, 1872
DiedMay 18, 1927(1927-05-18) (aged 55)
Cause of deathSuicide by explosives
Occupation(s)Farmer, school board member and treasurer
Ellen Agnes "Nellie" Price
(m. 1912; murdered 1927)
DateMay 18, 1927
Location(s)Bath Township, Michigan
Target(s)Bath Consolidated School, his house and farm
Killed45 (Including himself)[Note 1]

Bolt-action rifle:

Andrew Philip Kehoe (February 1, 1872 – May 18, 1927) was an American mass murderer. Kehoe was a Michigan farmer who became disgruntled after losing reelection as treasurer of the Bath Township school board. He subsequently murdered his wife and then detonated bombs at the Bath Consolidated School on May 18, 1927, resulting in the Bath School disaster in which 44 people[Note 2] were killed and 58 more people were injured. Kehoe killed himself near the school by detonating dynamite in his truck, causing an explosion which killed several other people and wounded more. He had earlier set off incendiary devices in his house and around his farm, destroying all the buildings.

Early life and education[edit]

Kehoe was born in Tecumseh, Michigan, among the younger of a family of 13 children. His parents were Philip Kehoe (1833–1915) and Mary (McGovern) Kehoe (1835–1890).[8] He attended Tecumseh High School and Michigan State College (later Michigan State University), where he studied electrical engineering. There, he first met his future wife, Ellen "Nellie" Price, the daughter of a wealthy Lansing family.[9]: 27 

After college, Kehoe went southwest, apparently working for several years as an electrician in St. Louis, Missouri. During this period, in 1911, he suffered a severe head injury in a fall[10] which resulted in him being in a coma for two weeks.[11]

Kehoe then moved back in with his father after the injury. During Kehoe's time away his mother had died and his father had married Frances Wilder, whom Kehoe did not like.[11] On September 17, 1911, Frances was severely burned when the family's stove exploded as she was attempting to light it. The fuel soaked her, with her body catching fire. Kehoe threw water from a nearby bucket on her; due to the oil-based nature of the fire, the water did nothing to put the flames out. Frances later died from her injuries, with allegations being made that the stove had been tampered with.[12][13][Note 3]

Marriage and family[edit]

After his return to Michigan, in 1912 he married Nellie Price. In 1919 the couple bought a 185-acre (75 ha) farm outside the village of Bath[2][9]: 27  from Nellie's aunt for $12,000 (equivalent to $379,000 in 2023[15]). He paid $6,000 in cash and took out a $6,000 mortgage.[9]: 28


Kehoe was regarded by his neighbors as a highly intelligent man who grew impatient and angry with those who disagreed with him. Neighbors recalled that Kehoe was always neat, dressed meticulously, and was known to change his shirt at midday or whenever it became even slightly dirty. Neighbors also recounted how Kehoe was cruel to his farm animals, having once beaten a horse to death.[14] The Kehoes initially attended services at the Catholic church in Bath, but he refused to pay the church's parish assessment of members and prevented his wife from attending.[14]

Kehoe's neighbors thought he preferred mechanical tinkering to farming. His neighbor M. J. "Monty" Ellsworth wrote in his account of the disaster,

He never farmed it as other farmers do and he tried to do everything with his tractor. He was in the height of his glory when fixing machinery or tinkering. He was always trying new methods in his work, for instance, hitching two mowers behind his tractor. This method did not work at different times and he would just leave the hay standing. He also put four sections of drag and two rollers at once behind his tractor. He spent so much time tinkering that he didn't prosper.[14]

Recent analysis labels him a dangerous "injustice collector:" a person who remembers slights and holds a grudge for a long time. While many people may hold grudges, it becomes dangerous when a person begins to feel like a victim and lashes out.[4]

Bath Consolidated School administration[edit]

With a reputation for thrift, Kehoe was elected treasurer of the Bath Consolidated School board in 1924. While on the board, Kehoe fought for lower taxes and was often at cross purposes with other board members, voting against them and calling for adjournment when he did not get his way. He repeatedly accused superintendent Emory Huyck of financial mismanagement.[14]

While on the school board, Kehoe was appointed as the Bath Township Clerk in 1925 for a short period. In the spring 1926 election, he was defeated for the position, and was angered by his public defeat. His neighbor Ellsworth thought Kehoe started planning his "murderous revenge" against the community at that time. Another neighbor, A. McMullen, noticed that Kehoe stopped working altogether on his farm in his last year, and thought he might be planning suicide.[14]

During these years, Nellie Kehoe was chronically ill with tuberculosis, and had frequent hospital stays—at the time there was no effective treatment or cure for the disease. By the time of the Bath School disaster, Kehoe had ceased making mortgage and homeowner's insurance payments. The mortgage lender had begun foreclosure proceedings against the farm.[14][16]

Bath School disaster[edit]

The Bath School disaster is the name given to a series of explosions perpetrated by Kehoe on May 18, 1927, in Bath Township, Michigan, which killed 45 people including Kehoe himself, and injured at least 58. Of the 44 directly-attributed fatalities, thirty-eight were of children, all aged between 7 and 14 years of age (most under 12 years), attending the second to sixth grades at the Bath Consolidated School.[5]: xvi [17] The disaster remains the deadliest act of mass murder in a school in U.S. history.[18]

Kehoe killed his wife between May 16, when she returned home from a hospital stay, and the morning of May 18. He moved her body to a farm building before setting off incendiary explosions in their house and farm buildings.[19] About the same time, he had arranged timed explosions in the new school building. The materials in the north wing exploded as planned, killing many students and some adults inside. Kehoe had set a timed detonator to ignite dynamite and hundreds of pounds of pyrotol at the school, which he had secretly bought and planted in the basement of both wings over the course of many months. The second 500 pounds (230 kg) of explosives in the south wing did not detonate, so that part of the school was not destroyed.

As rescuers started gathering at the school, Kehoe drove up and stopped his truck. During a struggle with Superintendent Huyck, Kehoe detonated dynamite stored inside his shrapnel-filled truck, killing himself and Huyck, as well as killing and injuring several others (among them a boy who had survived the initial bombing).[20] During the rescue efforts, searchers discovered the additional 500 pounds (230 kg) of unexploded dynamite and pyrotol planted throughout the basement of the school's south wing. These explosives, connected to an alarm clock that was supposed to act as the detonator, had been set for the same time as the other explosion.

Sign on Andrew Kehoe's fence

After the bombings, investigators found a wooden sign wired to the farm's fence with Kehoe's last message, "Criminals are made, not born," stenciled on it.[16] When investigators were done taking an inventory of the Kehoe estate, they estimated that, prior to its destruction, sale of the unused equipment and materials on the farm would have yielded enough money to pay off the Kehoes' mortgage.

One of Kehoe's sisters claimed his remains and arranged for burial without ceremony in an unmarked grave at Mount Rest Cemetery in St. Johns, Michigan.[8][21] The Price family claimed Nellie's remains and had her body buried in Lansing, under her maiden name.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Potential motives include:
  1. ^ 38 people were killed in the school bombing, 5 in the truck bombing (including Kehoe). He killed his wife at their farm sometime before the mass casualties and a 44th victim initially survived the school bombing but later died in the hospital.
  2. ^ 38 children and 6 adults
  3. ^ Monty Ellsworth's version of these events in The Bath School Disaster incorrectly differs on one detail—he says that the fire happened when Kehoe was 14 but agrees with other sources on points of fact. He does mention the rumors that the stove was tampered with.[14]


  1. ^ "Board Votes Aid for Bath". Clinton County Republican-News. Official Clinton County website. May 26, 1927. Retrieved April 1, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Ellsworth, Monty J. (1991) [First published 1927]. "Chapter One – The Bath Consolidated School". The Bath School Disaster (1991 online ed.). Bath School Museum Committee. OCLC 6743232. Archived from the original on October 24, 2017. Retrieved April 1, 2023.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ Ellsworth, Monty J. (1991) [First published 1927]. "Chapter Five – Made Own Troubles". The Bath School Disaster (1991 online ed.). Bath School Museum Committee. OCLC 6743232. Archived from the original on October 24, 2017. Retrieved April 1, 2023.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ a b O'Toole, Mary Ellen (September 2014). "The dangerous injustice collector: Behaviors of someone who never forgets, never forgives, never lets go, and strikes back!". Violence and Gender. 1 (3). Rochefort, New York: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.: 97–99. doi:10.1089/vio.2014.1509. Archived from the original on June 9, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Bernstein, Arnie (2009). Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing. Ann Arbor, Michigan: The University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-03346-1.
  6. ^ Knoll, James L. (March 2010). "The 'Pseudocommando' Mass Murderer: Part I, The Psychology of Revenge and Obliteration". The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. 38 (1). Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law: 87–94. PMID 20305080. Archived from the original on June 10, 2022. Retrieved June 24, 2022. As an example that such mass murderers [pseudocommandoes] have existed long before Whitman [Texas Tower shooter], consider a notorious case, the Bath School disaster of 1927, now long forgotten by most. Andrew Kehoe ...
  7. ^ Schechter, Harold (2021). Maniac – The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer. Amazon Publishing – Little A. p. 37. ... seems an early sign of his future psychopathology
  8. ^ a b Daggy, J. L. "The Bath School Disaster: Andrew Philip Kehoe—Farmer, School Board Treasurer, Bomber". Daggy Space. Archived from the original on March 21, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  9. ^ a b c Parker, Grant (1992). "Chapter VI: Challenge". Mayday, History of a Village Holocaust. Springville, Utah: Liberty Press. pp. 23–31. ISBN 0-9604958-0-0.
  10. ^ Mayo, Mike (2008). American Murder: Criminals, Crime, and the Media. Detroit, Michigan: Visible Ink Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-57859-191-6. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Interview with Arnie Bernstein" (PDF). Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press. 2009. Retrieved August 4, 2017. ... an accident that put him in a coma for two weeks
  12. ^ Bernstein, Arnie (2009). "Chapter Two: Andrew P. Kehoe". Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-11606-5.
  13. ^ "Frances Kehoe Death Certificate". September 19, 1911. Archived from the original on August 5, 2017. Retrieved May 31, 2017 – via Michigan History Foundation.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Ellsworth, Monty J. (1991) [First published 1927]. "Chapter Three — Life of Andrew Kehoe". The Bath School Disaster (Online ed.). Bath School Museum Committee. Archived from the original on October 24, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2020 – via Daggy Space.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  15. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  16. ^ a b "School Dynamiter First Slew Wife" (PDF). The New York Times. May 20, 1927. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 2, 2024. Retrieved April 2, 2024 – via University of New Brunswick Library.
  17. ^ "Blast Depletes Grades at Bath". Lansing State Journal. May 23, 1927. p. 9 – via
  18. ^ Vargas, Theresa (May 24, 2022). "Remembering the deadliest school massacre in U.S. history". Washington Post. Retrieved May 25, 2022.
  19. ^ "Testimony taken upon the hearing, held at the Village of Bath, Clinton County, Michigan", Michigan Coroner's Inquest: In the Matter of the Cause of Death of Emery E. Huyck, Deceased, Before C. E. Lamb, Clinton County Coroner and jury; Inquest conducted by William C. Searl, Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney, State of Michigan, 1927, pp. 349, 218–222, Transcript of the hearing of May 23–25, 1927 [Facsimile version], archived from the original on March 2, 2018{{citation}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  20. ^ Burcar, Colleen (2011). It Happened in Michigan: Remarkable Events That Shaped History. Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot. ISBN 978-0-7627-6754-0. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  21. ^ Parker, Grant (1992). "Chapter XIX: Shockwaves and Ashes". Mayday, History of a Village Holocaust. Lansing, Michigan: Liberty Press. pp. 150–152. ISBN 978-0-9604958-0-1.
  22. ^ Daggy, J. L. "Ellen Agnes Price Kehoe Murder Victim; wife of School Bomber". Daggy Space Website. Archived from the original on March 21, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)

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