Tuesday, January 21, 2020

January 21: Criminal Deaths in 1901, 1919, 1926, and 1961

In 1901, on her deathbed, Chicago homemaker Annie Robinson named Teresa Muenster* not only as the abortionist responsible for her own death, but also as the abortionist responsible for the death of her sister-in-law, 28-year-old homemaker Caroline Schroeder, on January 21, 1899.  Muenster was born around 1841 in Holsten Schleswig, which would have made her nearly 60 years old at the time of the women's deaths.


On January 21, 1919, 26-year-old homemaker Wanda Skrzypzak died at Chicago's St. Elizabeth's Hospital from an abortion perpetrated by Dr. Michael Rozumski** and Dr. John P. Wojtaleiwicz*** They were held by the Coroner for intentional manslaughter by abortion on January 22, and were indicted on February 15, but the case never went to trial. There were allegations of police corruption associated with the case.


On January 21 of 1926, 38-year-old homemaker Victoria Smith died in Chicago from a botched abortion. The Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database indicates that the abortion was performed at Jefferson Park Hospital, but the database often erroneously lists the hospital where the woman died as the location of the abortion. On January 26, the coroner pushed for the arrest of Peter Krakowski as the principal and Mary Sprochi as an accessory. Krakowski's profession is not given. On February 15, Krakowski was indicted for felony murder. Peter Krakowski was such a common name in Chicago that I've been unable to even hazard a guess as to which one might be the one in question.


Vivian Grant
On January 21, 1961, 52-year-old Dr. Mandel M. Friedman contacted a Queens undertaker, asking him to arrange burial for 23-year-old Vivian Grant of New York. Friedman told the undertaker that Vivian had died of a heart ailment.  The undertaker notified authorities, who determined that although Vivian had not been pregnant, Friedman had attempted to perform an abortion on her, causing her death. Friedman was charged with homicide and falsifying a death certificate.

 Vivian and the baby's father went to Friedman's office on the morning of January 21, and the boyfriend paid $800 for the abortion. He left Vivian with the doctor. When he returned at 2 p.m., Friedman told him that Vivian had died, and returned the abortion fee.

An autopsy showed that air bubbles had entered Vivian's blood stream during the abortion attempt, which triggered clotting problems, causing her to bleed to death. In other words, her death was simply a case of all surgery having risks.

Friedman resurfaced late the following year, while still awaiting trial in Vivian's death. He was charged with homicide in the September 11, 1962 death of Barbara C. Covington, age 35, a Florida socialite.


*Census record showing Theresa Muenster in Chicago with her husband.

**Dr. Michael Rozumski's draft registration indicates that he was born September 29, 1884. According to census records he was a Polish immigrant.

***According to census records, Wojtaleiwicz was born in Illinois to Russian immigrants Ignatz and Veronica Wojtaleiwicz. His draft registration gives his date of birth as July 5, 1890.

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