Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two deaths from 1923

On September 29, 1923, 44-year-old Annie Allison of Brooklyn died at the office of chiropractor Henry Lee Mottard, who practiced under the name of Dr. Henry L. Green. Mottard alleged that Annie had died after an accidental fall down an elevator shaft at the premises. However, Annie's death certificate, signed by another physician, attributed her death to chronic cardiac nephritis.

In the wake of the autopsy's preliminary findings, Mottard was arrested on suspicion of homicide. The autopsy had shown no broken bones or other injuries consistent with a fatal fall, and therefore showed that Mottard had lied about the circumstances of Annie's death. Police, who were investigating Mottard for his suspected involvement in a kidnap/adoption scheme, were suspicious and had Annie exhumed. It was revealed that she had died from an abortion.

A Grand Jury questioned Dr. Norris, who had performed the autopsy; one of Annie's friends; the undertaker who buried Annie; Annie's brother; and the owner of the building where Annie had supposedly fallen to her death.

During the investigation, police searched Mottard's ten-acre farm outside the city for evidence of more bodies after allegations arose that Mottard had also performed an abortion there on a young woman the previous January. Mottard admitted to having performed three abortions in the farmhouse, which was outside Long Island, but denied having performed the fatal one on Annie.

An operating room and a machine gun were found in the 14-room farmhouse. A second homicide case was filed against Mottard by officials of Suffolk County, where the farm was located. They had evidence that one of Mottard's rural abortion patients had suffered the same fate as Annie Allison.

On the very same day that Annie died, 18-year-old Mollie Monilson of Chicago died from complications of a criminal abortion. The person or persons responsible for her death were never identified or brought to justice.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future when Ameila died. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

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

No comments: