Friday, July 10, 2009

1934: Mystery abortion kills frat boy's sweetheart

In 1934, pretty Marian Mills, a beauty queen, was the 19-year-old "campus sweetheart" of Neal Myers. Myers, a 21-year-old pharmacy student, was the son of Dr. P.B. Myers of Denver.

On July 10, Marian died in the apartment of Mrs. Hazel Brown, the cook for Myers' fraternity house and "the only person of mature age in the house during the 24 tragic hours preceding the girl's death."

Myers was charged with murder in Marian's death, and could have faced life in prison if convicted.

Dr. Roy Emanuel testified that Myers consulted him about a possible pregnancy but had asked for advise, not for an abortion. Emanuel said that he'd recommended a test to verify the suspected pregnancy, and had also told the young man to consult with his father. "Two or three weeks later he came back ... bringing the report, which showed the girl was not pregnant." Myers had Marian with him, and she said that she wanted an examination, because she didn't think the test was accurate. He did examine her and while he could not definitively say, he didn't think she was pregnant. The couple returned again the Thursday before Marian's death, and this time his examination verified that the girl was pregnant. Again, Emanuel said, he referred the couple to Myers' father.

Mrs. Brown, for her part, said that Myers had loved Marian and had wanted to marry her. He was opposed to the idea of an abortion. Marian, on the other hand, insisted that her parents would never accept Myers. Brown said that Marian had taken "a harmless drug" and that this was the only attempt that she personally knew of to abort the baby.

But evidently Marian had found an abortionist, or had done something herself more drastic than just take mild abortifacients, because doctors who examined her said that some sort of instruments had been used in the abortion that had caused her death.

Myers was supported by Brown, his father, and his fraternity friends during the trial. There were tears of joy in the courtroom when he was acquitted. Marian's father, Professor M. Elbert Mills, "maintained a strict silence."

I have been unable to find if the perpetrator of Marian's fatal abortion was ever identified.

For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

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