Thursday, May 05, 2016

Criminal Abortion Deaths from 1914 to 1939

No Justice in Chicago, 1914 and 1941

On May 5, 1914, 21-year-old Hazel Johnson, an office worker, died at a Chicago residence from an illegal abortion performed by an unknown perpetrator. It is likely that the perpetrator was one of the many doctors or midwives who operated thinly-disguised abortion practices in Chicago at the time.

Rose Smith, a 23-year-old mother of five, died May 5, 1941 after an abortion perpetrated in Chicago. Midwife Magdaline Motzny-Stegeman was investigated by a grand jury, which despite powerful circumstantial evidence, concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to indict her. Motzny-Stegeman's husband William had been a member of the state's attorney's staff before being promoted to Police Lieutenant. Motzny-Stegeman had already been implicated in the 1926 abortion death of Emiliy Mueller.

Freed to Kill: Yonkers, 1938

At about 10:30 on the evening of May 5, 1938, Joseph LaRosa arrived at his Yonkers home to find his wife, 30-year-old Asunta LaRosa, in the kitchen with 38-year-old nurse Genevieve Horton. Horton had just been released on bail that day, pending sentencing after pleading guilty to an abortion charge. Asunta suggested that Joseph go to bed since he had to go to work early in the morning. Joseph went into the living room and settled down on the sofa to sleep.

About ten minutes later, Horton ran into the living room, calling his name. He went to the kitchen and found his wife lying unconscious on a blanket on the kitchen table. Horton started to run out of the house and Joseph tried to grab her to stop her, but she got away, carrying a rubber tube in her hand but leaving behind her purse.

An ambulance crew arrived and declared Asunta dead on the scene. Police arrested Horton in her home at 6:30 the following morning. I have yet to be able to determine the outcome of the case.

Sadly, abortionists killing patients after being released by the judicial system is far from unique. Other abortionists who have used their judicially-granted freedom to perpetrate fatal abortions include Dr. Lucy Hagenow, Dr. Amante Rongetti, Dr. Joseph Nisonoff, Dr. Jesse Ketchum, and Dr. Raymond Showery.

Exhumation Reveals a Deadly Chiropractor: San Diego, 1939

It was spring of 1939. Martha Anderson was only sixteen years old, but already she was married, and already she was unhappy in her marriage. She was separated from her husband, became sexually involved with a 26-year-old sailor named William P. Bouldin and became pregnant with Bouldin's baby.

On May 3, Bouldin, Mrs. Jacquet Scott, and a man named C.D. Radcliff drove Martha to the San Diego chiropractic office of George Parchen. Martha and Mrs. Scott, who was a friend of hers, went inside, while Bouldin and Radcliff waited in the car. Martha asked for George's brother Frank, who was six months into his chiropractic training. Martha consulted with Frank about an abortion and paid him $50. 

Mrs. Scott left Martha in a room with Frank and waited in the reception area. When Martha and Frank emerged, Frank gave Mrs. Scott a bottle of medicine, telling her ti would bring about an abortion and to give Martha some of it every two hours and to expect the girl to be in pain. 

On the morning of May 5, Mrs. Scott took Martha back to the chiropractic clinic, and Frank took the girl down the hall while Mrs. Scott waited in the reception area. At 2 p.m., Martha came out to the waiting area, very pale, bloody, and so sick she could barely speak. Mrs. Scott demanded to see Frank. He took both women to a small back room where he tried to stop Martha's hemorrhage with packing. At this point George, dressed in a business suit, came in, looked at Martha, and scolded Frank for "taking a case like that." George questioned Frank about what he'd already done to the girl, then set to work helping Frank try to save Martha, including administering artificial respiration. It was to no avail. She died some time between 5 and 5:30.

George removed the packing, and the trio brought Bouldin and Radcliff in to discuss what to do with Martha's body. Bouldin's family was in Texas, so George suggested sending Martha's body there. He himself would sign the death certificate. Frank offered $100 toward expenses. George volunteered to run interference with an undertaker.

At the funeral parlor, George spoke to the undertaker about sending Martha's body to Texas, providing a fee of $205. He told the undertaker that Martha had been suffering from pneumonia and the flu, "and all of a sudden her heart had just went back on her." The undertaker was skeptical when he saw Martha's body; she didn't look like she'd died of pneumonia.

Nevertheless, he arranged for the transport of the body and allowed George to fill out the death certificate, which listed the cause of death as cardiac failure and contributing causes as flu and lobar pneumonia dating from May 1. George fled the San Diego area to Oregon on May 16 with his wife and family.

Somehow the authorities got wise to what had happened and had Martha's body exhumed. Dr. Toomey, who examined Martha's body after exhumation, noted severed cervical arteries and veins, and identified this as the real cause of the girl's death. When the case went to court, each brother blamed the other. Bouldin faulted both, Frank for initiating the abortion and George for attempting to finish it. Bouldin said that Frank "shouldn't ever have taken the case, she was too far along."

Both brothers were convicted of murder and abortion -- Frank for performing it, and George for providing everything Frank needed for his practice and for assisting afterward. They were sentenced to five years to life in San Quentin.

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