On December 28, 1857, Olive Ash and her twin sister, Olivia, left their home and went by rail to the home of their cousin, Levi M. Aldrich, in Bradford, ostensibly to visit his widowed mother. During the visit, Olive seemed to her family to be in normal health. The sisters remained at Aldrich's home about two weeks, then said that they were going to meet some friends at the Fairlee depot for an excursion into New York or Massachusetts. Instead, when they arrived at Fairlee depot they took a wagon to the home and office of Dr. William Howard, about six miles north of the depot and three miles south of Bradford.
On Friday, January 29, 1858, Olive's mother got a telegram telling her to come to Howard's home. She quickly complied, and was there when her daughter died at about 6 in the evening. Dr. Howard got a coffin for Olive, and the twins' mother took her daughter's body by train to Sutton. On February 3, Olive's body was exhumed for an autopsy, which revealed what Olivia had already known: Olive had died from complications of an abortion. Dr. Howard was convicted of murder in Olive's death.