In tallies of murdered abortion workers, abortion supporters never count clinic owner/administrator Kenneth Yellin, who was gunned down outside his Chicago abortion facility November 3, 1979. Yellin had been shot in the head five times in an apparent gangland execution. But new stories didn't follow the pattern we're accustomed to: that of lamenting the assassination (presumably by prolifers) of a hapless abortion provider. Instead, coverage featured such headlines as "'Creepy Kenny' died in the gutter where he belonged."
"He left a trail of sour deals, bad paper, and civil suits," one article said, noting that Yellin had run a series of businesses opened with money his father gave him (a paint and body shop, a car dealership, an import car business, and Kenneth Yellin Enterprises -- whatever that was). The story went on, "He put his business acumen and money into concerns that were characterized by their increasing sordidness and which have known links to organized crime. He ran a marriage counseling service which a former prosecuting attorney said was a front for prostitution, and was then believed to have operated or invested in X-rated movie theaters. The abortion business seemed a natural progression."
Yellin, stories said, picked up the nickname "Creepy Kenny" as a child, when he was reputed to pull stunts such as putting sand in the gas tanks of parked cars. His attempts to get a degree ended in failure when he was flunked out of four colleges.
Yellin was known for living high and on the edge. He had previously been arrested in his home town "for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest... charges he would beat on a technicality. He was driving a maroon Corvette and wearing a $2000 leather coat." An attorney reflected on Yellin after his death, saying, "I remember him driving around town in a big white Cadillac convertible. There was always a blond sitting next to him. Different blonds each time."
Yellin's facility, originally called "Women's Medical Facility," had been closed by the state for licensing violations, but Yellin reopened it as Biogenetics.
Yellin had been passing himself off as "Dr. York" at Biogenetics, performing physical examinations on unsuspecting abortion patients. "Dr. York" was accused of battery for squeezing a woman's breasts during an examination, although for unreported reasons the charges were later dropped.
An undercover investigator at Biogenetics reported that Yellin scolded a recovery room worker, telling her, "We're giving out too many cookies. Cookies cost money." Yellin was this stingy with his cookies even though the patients had been fasting for a day prior to their abortions and were coming into recovery weak and hungry.
After Yellin's murder, police went to his "elaborate" apartment and found "his live-in girlfriend, a tall, thin blond named Melody Forster" stuffing cash into a suitcase. Forster later turned up in Florida. "There were pornographic video cassettes and assorted sexual paraphernalia stacked near the bed," reports said. During the investigation, evidence turned up that Yelling had recently lost around $200,000 "in a confidence scheme." Police also sought out "Robin Dragin, a professional burglar with mob connections," who ran another Chicago abortion clinic that competed with Biogenetics for customers.
"Yellin reportedly held a secret interest in a second abortion clinic on the Far South Side that burned down. The fire is being reinvestigated for possible arson. Yellin was a heavy gambler and made high-risk investments. Although he made a 'fortune' from his business, Yellin owed a lot of money because he spent and invested it faster than he could make it."
Yellin's estate included "five suburban buildings worth more than half a million dollars," $550,000 in personal property, "six autos, three boats, stocks and bonds worth more than $200,000." Yellin left assets of $1.3 million, yet managed to die $1 million in debt.
Yellin got no sympathy from the press -- or from anybody else, it seems -- on the grounds of "providing vital reproductive health care services." Rather, the fact that he was entangled in a seedy abortion mill was treated as just one more reason society didn't mourn his death. One article quoted a police investigator as commenting, "What goes around comes around. He was a butcher. He got what he deserved. He died in the gutter where he belonged."
Kenneth Yellin's murder remains unsolved.