Wednesday, January 15, 2020

January 15: Two Chicago Deaths

On January 15, 1907, 24-year-old housekeeper Sarah M. Cushing died in Wesley Hospital in Chicago, from septicemia caused by a criminal abortion perpetrated on December 29 at the home of a midwife or "lady doctress" named Gertrude Plenz,* who was arrested on January 24, and held by the coroner's jury. Mrs. Plenz was also arrested in the abortion death of Margaret McCarthy in 1904. Plenz and her sister, Sophie Mann, were both indicted in the 1937 abortion death of Mary Kissell. 

On January 15, 1915, 22-year-old Margaret Jenickes died in Chicago. Somebody tipped off the coroner that there was something fishy about Margaret's death. "Mourners over the girl's body were surprised by a visit from Coroner's Physician Springer. He performed an autopsy and changed the death report from dilation of the heart to peritonitis." The coroner's office declared that the infection had been caused by an abortion presumably perpetrated by Dr. C.A. Erickson. Erickson was charged with murder; a man named Joseph Martin was also held for manslaughter. Though Erickson was indicted on February 1, the case never went to trial because the men were exonerated by a Grand Jury. No other suspect in Margaret's death is mentioned in my sources. I've been unable to determine why Erickson was a suspect.

* Immigration document for Gertrude Plenz

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