Thursday, December 30, 2010

1955: A father's nightmare

On December 30, 1955, Chester Smith of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, went to New York City to visit his 20-year-old daughter, Jacqueline. She had moved to the city early in the year, over the protests of her parents, taking an apartment with two other women. She had dreams of becoming a fashion designer.

That June, friends had introducted the soft-spken, demure Jacqueline to Thomas G. Daniel, an urbane young salesman of 24. Daniel was well-read, multi-lingual, a poet and gourmet cook. He had come to New York from Warren, Ohio, three years earlier. He worked at an upscale shop selling riding equipment. With his good looks and sophistication, he was able to win over the slender, brown-eyed, small-town girl. She spent more and more time at his apartment, all but moving in with him.

When Chester Smith arrived for his holiday visit, he found that Jacqueline had been missing since Christmas Eve. He got Daniel and together they went to the police to report her missing. The police were quickly suspicious of Daniel and began to question him more closely. Daniel finally told police that Jacqueline had gone into the bathroom and stabbed herself to death due to his refusal to marry her, and that he had dumped her body in the Hudson River. At some point in the story, Daniel brought up a 46-year-old scrub nurse named Leobaldo Pejuan.

Police investigated, and found over 800 stolen medical instruments in Pejuan's apartment. The entire story eventually came out.

Sometime earlier in December, Jacqueline told Daniel that she was pregnant. Daniel did not want to marry Jacqueline -- he still had a girlfriend back in Ohio who he preferred. Instead he arranged for Pejuan to perform an abortion at Daniel's apartment on Christmas Eve. After performing the abortion, Pejuan became alarmed at the young woman's condition, and summoned Dr. Ramiro Morales, who told him that Jackie was dead.

Daniel and Pejuan cut Jacqueline's body into pieces and took it to Pejuan's home, where over the next several days they cut into as many as 50 pieces, which they wrapped in Christmas paper and disposed of in trash cans along side streets off Broadway, from 72nd to 80th.

Once police had the story, Pejuan pleaded guilty and testified against Daniel. Daniel's widowed mother attended the entire trial. Chester Smith, too, was there, but left the courtroom when testimony came to describing the dismemberment of his daughter's body.

Pejuan was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison, and Daniel was sentenced to 8 years. His mother went into hysterics upon hearing the verdict, screaming, "God help me. They have taken my lfe, my savings, my son."

Nobody recorded the words of Jacqueline's father as he faced a life without his daughter.

Jacqueline's death brings to my mind the words of Susan B. Anthony:

Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!

Legalization has indeed proven a great boon to those who drive women to the desperation that impel them to abortion. I don't see that it's been that great a boon to the women. They're just as dead.

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

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