A native of Sennwald, Anna Göldi arrived in Glarus in 1765. For seventeen years, she worked as a maidservant for Johann Jakob Tschudi, a physician. Tschudi reported her for having put needles in the bread and milk of one of his daughters, apparently through supernatural means. Göldi at first avoided arrest and the authorities of the Canton of Glarus advertised a reward for her capture in the Zürcher Zeitung on 9 February, 1782. Göldi was arrested and under torture admitted to being in a pact with the Devil, which had appeared to her as a black dog. She withdrew her confession after the torture ended, but was sentenced on June 18 1782 to execution by decapitation. The charges were officially of "poisoning" rather than withcraft, even though the law at the time did not impose the death penalty for non-lethal poisoning.
During her trial, official allegations of witchcraft were avoided, and the court protocols were destroyed. The sentence does therefore not strictly qualify as that of a witch trial. Still, because of the apparent witchhunt that led to the sentence, the execution sparked outrage throughout Switzerland and the Holy Roman Empire.