Monday, April 07, 2014

1896: Abortion Victim Dies During Investigation

On the evening of Monday, April 6, 1896, Tillie Karcher heard moaning in the flat of seamstress Millie Meyers, just upstairs of her at 415 Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn. She listened again and heard a young female voice crying out, "Oh, let me go home to my mama!"
Alarmed, Mrs. Karchner sought out a policeman on his rounds, who went to the apartment and found a young woman there, ailing and alone.
The girl gave her name as Mrs. Emily Scott.
"What is your husband's name?" the officer asked.
"Ollie Scott. He is a fireman on a Fulton ferry boat."
"Do your parents know you are married?
"No; it is a secret."
"Are you his common law wife or were you married by a minister?"
"Ollie is my husband, and is a true, good husband to me. I believe in him."
"Who is your doctor?"
Emily named Dr. Cardwell of Halsey Street
The policeman found prescription bottles in the room, so he copied the information from them and went to the pharmacy that had prepared them. The pharmacist said that the medicines were common ones used in treating fevers.
The policeman considered all these goings-on to be fishy, so he reported the situation to the precinct captain, who began an investigation to identify and round up everybody involved in the young woman's suspicious illness.
Around 5:30 on Tuesday afternoon, April 7, the young woman said that she was going to die soon, told the police that her real name was Emily Binney and gave them her address on Rutledge Street.
Emily's turn for the worse sent the police rushing for the coroner, leaving the ailing girl in the care of Minnie Meyer. The coroner arrived to find that Miss Meyer had abandoned Emily, leaving her to die alone in the intervening half hour.
Dr. Cardwell was questioned and said that he had indeed cared for Emily but hadn't believed anything was unusual.
Minnie Meyer admitted that she'd helped 20-year-old Emily to seek out the services of 33-year-old midwife Mary Schott and had herself been engaged to look after the patient.
The building cleaning woman told police that two men, Mr. May and a man who used both the names Scott and Schmidt, had been coming by the place regularly to see Emily.
A police officer went to the Fulton ferry house and managed to identify Scott/Schmidt as Arthur Robbins, who was a ferry fireman. Robbins was arrested when he showed up at Meyer's flat to look for Emily at 10:00 that evening. Robbins said that he was a family friend and that a friend had brought a message from Emily that he was to come to see her there.
Mr. May turned out to be Emily's cousin George May, who boarded with her family.
May, Robbins, Schott, and Meyers were all arrested.
While the suspects were being questioned, Minnie said that Emily's baby had been born alive on March 21. Upon hearing that, Robbins burst into tears and told police that about four hours after the child's birth he had wrapped the baby in newspapers weighted down with a piece of iron and thrown it out a porthole in the ferry. He couldn't say if the baby had still been alive when it was tossed into the river.
He then admitted that he had gone with Emily and Minnie to arrange for Mrs. Schott to perform an abortion, paying her $50 that he'd gotten from Emily. Police learned that Emily had gotten the money from her cousin George, who had taken $100 out of the bank for her the day before the abortion. May admitted that he'd gotten the money for Emily, but insisted that he'd given it to her so she could go away while he and Robbins tried to get her baby's father, Mr. Fox of Port Oram, New Jersey, to marry her.
Emily hadn't told her parents of the pregnancy. She had left home, telling her sick mother that she was going to Dover, New Jersey, to visit a friend. When police notified the family of Emily's death, Mrs. Binney collapsed from the shock and was reported to be "in critical condition."
Emily's older sister, Beatrice, seemed to have a bit more knowledge. Though she insisted to police that she'd not even known Emily to have a romantic attachment, Beatrice had learned of her sister's death when she went to the Meyers home.
Emily's father seemed to bear no ill will against Robbins. He actually went to the station house to speak to him, asking "How are you, Robbie?" Robbins, it is reported, "turned his face to the wall and wept."

Of all the parties involved, I could only learn the fate of Minnie Meyer, who was found guilty of manslaughter.

No comments: