Thursday, November 12, 2015

Three Criminal Deaths: A Midwife, a Doctor, and an Amateur

On October 12, 1877, Nellie Ryan, an unmarried 21-year-old white woman from Turner Junction, Illinois, died in Chicago due to a criminal abortion perpetrated two weeks earlier. The autopsy report noted "The internal surface of the womb showed no marks of violence, but was inflamed and in the incipient state of gangrene." Amelia Spork, a doctor or midwife, was arrested for Nellie's death but released by the Coroner's Jury. A man named Dougherty was sought by police in connection with the case, which was considered a double homicide.
On November 12, 1917, 22-year-old homemaker Margaret Linstrom died at Chicago's American Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by Dr. Anna Sorenson, who was indicted and released. Sorenson had performed the fatal abortion on Emelia Gorman earlier that year, and went on to kill Margaret Crowe in January of the following year. Her chain of death ended with her own death in prison while awaiting trial after her January 15, 1918 arrest.

On November 12, 1952, 22-year-old Isabell Cuda died in Rockford, Illinois from complications of an abortion. A 75-year-old midwife named Mary Murawski was convicted in Isabell's death. Isabell's mother had arranged the abortion because Isabell's husband had abandoned her. Murawski used the then-common abortion technique of putting a rubber catheter tube into Isabell's uterus and leaving it there overnight. The next day, Murawski added her own twist, removing the catheter and administering a douche which, predictably, caused the infection that killed Isabell. Murawski was sent to prison for killing Isabell.

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