Sunday, December 29, 2019

A Mystery Doctor in Chicago

While looking for more information on abortion anniversaries I stumbled across several other abortion deaths. This one involved a hospital that did clandestine abortions.

Dr. W. Eugene Shelton was charged with murder in the February, 1927 abortion death of 23-year-old Mrs. Stella Lickerman and five other women whose names I've been unable to determine.

Shelton wasn't arrested until October of 1928.

Shelton ran two "hospital flats" in Chicago, one on 6343 Halsted St. and one at 6341 Halsted St.

Two nurses were also arrested and charged with conspiracy. Nurse Sylvia Atcherly was arrested at the address while nurse Ophelia Roper Griffith worked at the 6341 address.

Two other women were arrested and released after three days of questioning: Mrs. Gertrude Vollert, who was a cook at one of the flats, and Pearl Hawkins, a maid. Mrs. Vollert had been arrested because, clad in her white cook's uniform, she had been mistaken at first for another nurse. She indicated that she was only a substitute cook, filling in for the regular cook on occasion. 

The raid took place based on a lead provided by a barber named Elmer Duval. Duval had married Sylvia Atcherly, the nurse, in 1924 and lived with her at the hospital until the couple split up. His evident motive for spilling the beans was that he hated Shelton.

Duval said that Shelton had fired one of his nurses, Helen Goode, blaming her for Stella's death and saying that it would cost him $5,000 to "square that case."

Police found indications that Shelton would perpetrate the abortions, and if the women suffered complications he would transport them in his car to a hospital on Chicago's west side. 

Based on Duval's statements, police began an investigation that led to the raid. They found two young women in hospital beds in a front room of the flat. Both had recently undergone abortions. After giving statements they were transferred to the county hospital for care. Shelton had charged each woman $200.

Duval said that the first woman to die at Shelton's hands had died in December of 1926.

Duval  said that Stella Lickerman was the second abortion patient to die. He provided information that led police to her family. They indicated that she had been treated by Shelton, and that another doctor who examined her later found evidence of an abortion.

The only other information I've been able to obtain is that Duval said that one of the victims was 18 years old. Strangely enough, all mention of Shelton seems to vanish from the records after his indictment.

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