Thursday, September 29, 2005

Looking back -- a tragic death 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 many people: 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.

The kidnap/adoption scheme involved Lillian McKenzie, who as kidnapped from her baby buggy outside a store. Lillian's mother swore to police that Mildred Grofe, the adopted daughter of a New Jersey couple she'd visited, was actually Lillian. Lillian's mother evidently had been led to the Grofe family after a nurse reported having received two infants from Mottard, who instructed her to care for them. One infant was adopted out to the Grofe family. The other was sickly and was returned to Mottard's care. Upon investigation, the Grofe baby was found not to be Lillian McKenzie, because she was several months older than Lillian would have been.

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. The police were also searching for the remains of the sick baby the nurse had returned to Mottard's care. When questioned about the infant, Mottard was unable to give the police a satisfactory answer.

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.

Source: New York Times 4-10-25, 4-11-25, 4-12-25, 4-16-25, 4-17-25, 4-21-454-24-25, 4-25-25, 4-29-25, 5-5-25

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