Thursday, January 29, 2015

Three Criminal Deaths

On December 28, 1857, 20-year-old Olive Ash and her twin sister, Olivia, left their home and went by rail to the home of their cousin, Levi M. Aldrich, in Bradford, Vermont, ostensibly to visit his widowed mother. The sisters remained at Aldrich's home about two weeks, then said that they were going to meet some friends for an excursion into New York or Massachusetts. Instead, they went to the home and office of Dr. William Howard, about three miles south of Bradford. On Friday, January 29, 1858, Olive's mother, Mahitable, got a telegram telling her to come to Howard's home. She quickly complied, and was there when her daughter died at about 6 in the evening. Dr. Howard got a coffin for Olive, and the twins' mother took her daughter's body by train to Sutton. On February 3, Olive's body was exhumed for an autopsy, which showed evidence of recent pregnancy as well as signs of instrumentation and damage to the cervix. Dr. Frost believed that Olive had hemorrhaged due to the damage to her cervix. He removed and preserved her uterus. Another physician examined the uterus and concluded that the placenta had been retained for some time after the abortion, and that this retained placenta would also cause hemorrhage. Howard was tried in Olive's death. Olivia testified that she had taken her sister to Howard for the express purpose of an abortion. Olive was perhaps six months pregnant. After consultation and discussion, the young women paid Howard $100. Details of Olive's last weeks can be found here. Howard was convicted in Olive's death.

On January 29, 1883, a widow named Adeline Savroch died in a carriage on the way home from having a criminal abortion perpetrated by midwife Bertha Twachaus, who was held without bail for murder in Adeline's death. A saloon keeper named Julius Grosse, and his housekeeper, Celia Arlep or Ortlepp, were held as accessories.

Rose Lipner, age 32, mother of 2, died at Riverdale Hospital on January 29, 1936. Rose was buried the next day at Mount Judah Cemetery in Cypress Hills, New York. After the funeral, several people, including an anonymous caller, notified police and the District Attorney's office that the death was suspicious, and Rose was exhumed for an autopsy. The medical examiner determined that Rose had died from an abortion. Katz was arraigned for second-degree manslaughter. Dr. Maxwell C. Katz, who owned and lived at Riverdale (maternity) Hospital, which he operated, signed a death certificate indicating that Rose had been operated on there for a tumor. During his trial, his defense brought forth a large number of character witnesses testifying to Katz's 25 years as a physician and his good reputation. Katz did admit to performing an abortion on Rose, but said that it was in an attempt to save her life. This defense was successful, and he was acquitted.

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