Tuesday, June 03, 2008

1962: The macabre end of Barbara Lofrumento

Like the Jacqueline Smith case in the previous decade, the strange events surrounding the death of 19-year-old Barbara Lofrumento have become almost an urban legend. But the tale of Barbara's tragic death and its aftermath is all too true.

Barbara, a 19-year-old college student, informed her parents that she was pregnant. Mr. and Mrs. Lofrumento cast about for a reputable abortionist and were referred by an acquaintance to Dr. Harvey Lothringer. Lothringer, a Princeton graduate, examined Barbara on June 2, 1962, and assured the parents that although Barbara's pregnancy was 5 months advanced, there was no danger. He arranged to pick up Barbara and her mother, Rose, and took them to his office, which was in his home in a wealthy section of Queens.

This was typical of the "back alley abortion" -- a reputable physician would make sneaky arrangements to do abortions at the site of their legitimate practices, taking the woman in "through the back alley" rather than the front door. In fact, by far the bulk of criminal abortion were performed by doctors.

They arrived just after 3 AM on the 3rd. While Mrs. Lofrumento waited, Lothringer sent Barbara into a room where she removed her underwear and reported feeling unwell from the injection Lothringer had given her. Lothringer then took Barbara into his office and left Mrs. Lofrumento in his waiting room.

At about 5 AM, Lothringer told Mrs. Lofrumento that Barbara was all right, but that she needed some oxygen. Sources disagree as to what happened next. Milton Helpern, who was then Chief Medical Examiner of New York City, wrote that at 7 AM, Lothringer told Rose that Barbara was resting quietly, and that she should go home and get some rest. The New York Times wrote that Lothringer told Rose that he was going to hospitalize Barbara for a minor complication. Both sources indicated that Lothringer instructed Rose to return later to get her daughter.

Lothringer sent Mrs. Lofrumento to Grand Central Station, where he had arranged for her husband to pick her up and take her home. Instead, the couple went straight to Lothringer's home, where they found no sign of Lothringer or their daughter. They went home and repeatedly called Lothringer, getting no answer. The next morning they returned to Lothringer's home, where they found several patients waiting outside. No one had seen Lothringer. Mr. Lofrumento waited for several hours, then went home, and contacted the police to report Barbara missing.

Sources diverge again on what happened next.

According to Milton Helpern, later that day, Lothringer called a policeman who was a friend of his, telling him that he was away on business and asking him to call Roto-Rooter about the stopped-up toilet and to let them into the house. The New York Times, on the other hand, said that Lothringer's father discovered that the drains were clogged, and called somebody to come attend to them. Whoever called the worker in, the man found the toilet backed up, partially flooding the bathroom, and more water in the basement. Investigating the main house drain, the worker found the source of the problem -- pieces of bone and flesh. Somebody called the police, and an investigator took the tissue to be examined.

Soon the authorities had workers digging up the sewer lines from Lothringer's house. They found pieces of Barbara, her clothing, and her baby. The largest fragments were only a few inches long. Barbara had been dismembered and flushed down the garbage disposal and the toilet. Barbara's parents identified the clothing fragments, and Barbara's orthodontist identified a section of jaw with the teeth still in it along with several isolated teeth.

Lothringer, who had already been under surveillance for suspected abortion activities, appeared to have fled the country, accompanied by a Cuban-born former stewardess who was serving as his receptionist. Lothringer was well-to-do, with reports circulating that he kept as much as a million dollars cash in safe deposit boxes. An international manhunt was launched, with Lothringer first being traced to the area of his family's hunting lodge about 60 miles from Montreal. Eventually he was extradited from Andorra, where he was discovered in 1962.

Lothringer told police that Barbara had developed an air embolism. He had tried to dispose of her body, he said, to keep his receptionist from being implicated. He plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter in Barbara's death and was sentenced to 2 to 8 years. Barbara's mother reportedly screamed and fainted when she heard of what she considered a light sentence; Barbara's father called it "discount justice." But Lothringer's lawyer reported receiving numerous calls from Lothringer's woman patients, in support of the doctor -- a foretaste of the abortion-enamored women who it seems will rush out of the woodwork to defend anybody as long as the person in question is willing to kill fetuses.


FreedomtoChoose said...

Dear Lady:

My father was the business partner of Barbara Lofrumento's father for 30 years. I was young but remember her visiting our home fairly often.

Had abortion been legal and she did not have any choice but to go to a back alley clinic, she would no doubt still be alive today.

If the doctor could have called an ambulance or taken her to a hospital and not faced prosecution/persecution,Barbara's life could have been saved. If abortion were legal she would have received the best healthcare offered at the time, and not come to a horrid end.

I'm sure her family and friends would not appreciate you using her name/case to further your strange religious views.

I think you ought to spend your time worrying about the sperm output of men, instead of the personal decisions that women make regarding their healthcare.

Mindy Cole
Albuquerque, NM

Christina Dunigan said...

Mindy, your theory sounds really good but it hasn't exactly played out in practice. There's plenty of safe, legal abortionists who manage to kill their patients by not calling an ambulance promptly, or not having the appropriate staff on hand, or simply shoving her out the door to die. In fact, I know of three former criminal abortionists -- Benjamin Munson, Jesse Ketchum, and Milan Vuitch, who had clean records when abortion was illegal but each went on to kill two abortion patients with sloppiness after legalization took away their fear of going to jail.

I've simply not seen any evidence that legalization induced these guys to clean up their acts. Had abortion been legal, Lothringer still would have been an abortionist, and he'd have used the same abortion methods. He'd have just had less fear of getting in trouble for screwing up. And I don't see how that would give him any motivation to be more careful.

FreedomtoChoose said...

Well, people die in all kinds of medical procedures daily. I'm sure a lot more die in a dentists chair or getting liposuction or facelifts annually than die during a legal abortion procedure.

Would you like me to be able to make decisions regarding your body or health based on my religious or moral convictions? May I deny you that brain surgery, since my religion may not like it?
Should I decide on any life-saving attempts that may be used on you? Do you want to make your own decisions? Or may I and all my personal baggage make it for you?

Come on, it's a personal decision, that's all.


Christina Dunigan said...

But most medical procedures don't kill a human being as their INTENTION, which is true of abortion.

Society as a whole has accepted legal abortion as a "necessary evil" that supposedly limits the carnage to JUST a dead baby, not a dead mother as well. But what if NOBODY has to die? Wouldn't that be better?

Not to a hardcore abortion advocate, of course, but to most people, yes. They don't want anybody to die.

Anonymous said...

Listen to me right now Granny. When people are forced to do anything against their will, it creates a lot of negative repercussions. When you take a child and FORCE her to have a child, then you FORCE her to go through nine months of agony and humiliation, then she is FORCED to give it up to needy couples who get lawyers to FORCE her to cut ties with the kid, we are FORCED to listen to the convoluted garbage coming out of the mouths of religious zealots like yourself. This country is finally getting rid of a suppressive president and entering into a new age of change. Don't you think that it is about time? I'm an ex-hippie, proud to vote Democratic, when the politician is forthright and honest; I admire good people. I am an accountant, and a mother of a Boston Terrier bitch. If my Daisy's mother had not been spayed for medical reasons, she would have suffered internal complications that might have compromised her health. All humans need to have the right to do with their bodies whatever it is that they wish. No religion, government, or even an aquaintence should have the right to make it mandatory to do anything against one's will. That is freedom. That is freedom of choice. Amen

Kathy said...


How many pregnancies are due to forced sex? Very few. How many abortions are due to pregnancies that came about as a result of forced sex? Very few.

How many pregnancies are due to sex that was entered into willingly? Almost every single one. How many abortions are due to pregnancies that were begun by willing sex? Almost every single one.

These people had the freedom to choose sex, which they did. They didn't think about the repercussions when they had the chance to avoid them. Rather like a person driving drunk and killing someone -- should he be allowed to plead "not guilty" because it was really the alcohol that caused the accident while he was just an unwilling victim? I think not. He is held accountable for his actions because he was a willing participant in his getting inebriated. When he makes the choice to get drunk and then get in the car afterwards, he tacitly makes the choice to accept all consequences resulting from that stupidity.

The person who drives drunk has a bit more excuse than the person who gets pregnant, because at least the person who was drunk could say he was not in his right mind at the time he got in the car and drove 100 mph the wrong way down the interstate. That's obvious enough. He's still culpable, though. Why should a woman -- and remember, whenever you "pro-choicers" talk about a child having an abortion, she is consistently called "a 13-year-old woman" or some such nonsense, so don't be a hypocrite and start calling her a child now -- why should a woman be allowed to kill the baby that she willingly created? Oh, I know, she didn't *intend* to create the child when she engaged in the act of intercourse. But then, the drunk driver didn't *intend* to kill anyone when he got in his car.

Pregnancy is not typically considered "agony" -- if it were, I daresay the birthrate would not be what it is, if it were. And as for "humiliation" -- you liberals have been very effective at removing the stigma of single motherhood, thereby causing more and more women to make the deliberate choice of unwed pregnancy, so I fail to see how pregnancy is humiliating.

How many women are forced to give up their babies for adoption? It is typically a free choice -- they can keep the baby or they can give it up -- how many women have a gun put to their heads in order to make them sign away the rights to their babies?

And if you don't like what we pro-lifers have to say, you can always pick a different website, change the TV channel or radio station -- in fact, pro-aborts get a lot more air time than pro-lifers do anyway, so I don't really see that you have any reason to complain.

I'm glad your dog's mother had access to hysterectomy. I don't have a problem with women choosing to be sterilized, especially if pregnancy will cause health problems. Are you suggesting that hysterectomies are a preferred alternative to abortions? I agree with you. Humans do have the right to do what they will with their own bodies. But not with other people's bodies.

Inside a pregnant woman is a genetically unique human. When she gets an abortion, she chooses what will happen to that other human's body. In fact, she kills that other human. Do you see no problem with that?

Christina Dunigan said...

Anon, people have a responsibility to their own children. That's not something anybody FORCES on them. That's life. You're arguing that mothers ought to be able to KILL THEIR OWN CHILDREN, and that protecting the children from this is somehow "forcing" something on the woman. BIOLOGY -- and in 99+% of cases, the woman's own choices -- are what "forced" a child on her.