Sunday, January 05, 2014

Four Criminal Deaths -- One Courtesy of Lucy Hagenow

Very little information is available about three of the women whose deaths we commemorate today.

Alphia Robinson, age 18, had been living with a man named Amos Kimberly for about two years in Iowa Township, Iowa. On January 5, 1876, she went up to her room "in a cheerful manner, and in apparent good health," but a few moments later her mother went up and found her dead. The coroner declared that she had died from an abortion attempted by Dr. J. F. Houser of West Branch, Iowa.

On January 5, 1912, 19-year-old Lottie Roeder, who was still in school, died at St. Elizabeth's hospital from infection caused by an abortion perpetrated earlier that day by a nurse/midwife referred to as "Mrs. Theodore Larson." Most criminal abortions not perpetrated by doctors were committed by nurses, midwives, or others with medical training like Larson. She was held by the Coroner's Jury on January 12 and indicted, but the case never went to trial.

On January 5, 1930, bookkeeper Sonia Ragins, age 26, died from an illegal abortion performed at an unknown location by an unknown person. On January 6 the coroner recommended identification and arrest of the guilty party.

Far more information is available about the January 5, 1925 death of 22-year-old factory worker Bridget Masterson, who died in her Chicago home from a botched abortion. Police
Abortionist Lucy Hagenow
were able to question Bridget prior to her death, but she refused to implicate anybody. John O'Malley, a boarder and the father of Bridget's baby, committed suicide by gas after learning of Bridget's death. He left a note implicating "a lady doctor at 310 W. North Ave." This was the address of Dr. Lucy Hagenow. Hagenow was arrested, but it is unclear when, since the date of her arrest is noted as being the day prior to Bridget's death. Hagenow was indicted for felony murder by a grand jury on January 5, 1926.

Hagenow (pictured), who had already been implicated of the abortion deaths of Louise Derchow, Annie Dorris, Abbia Richards, and Emma Dep in San Francisco, would go on to be linked to over a dozen Chicago abortion deaths, including Minnie Deering, Sophia Kuhn , Emily Anderson, Hannah Carlson, Marie Hecht, May Putnam, Lola Madison, Annie Horvatich, Lottie Lowy, Nina H. Pierce, Jean CohenElizabeth Welter and Mary Moorehead. Why Hagenow was able to ply her deadly trade brazenly remains a mystery to me.

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