Wednesday, August 19, 2020

August 19: Exhumation and Insanity in Denver, 1917

Mary Park, a 24-year-old schoolteacher of Greeley, Colorado, died August 19, 1917. Authorities believed that she died from a criminal abortion, but Mary signed a statement exonerating the two Denver physicians who were suspected.

For some reason, in September of 1921, Mary's body was exhumed. It was "in excellent state of preservation, but that one of the abdominal organs had been removed and a plaster of paris [sic] cast inserted in its place." A medical criminologist concluded that Mary had died from an abortion. 

Dr. E.L. Willis and Dr. Nicholas J. Phelan were arrested. During the trial Phelan was acquitted by reason of insanity and sent to a mental hospital. Willis was convicted. He had been party to the abortion, performed on August 8, at the Colonia Hotel in Denver. Willis was sentenced to 10 - 15 years in prison for Mary's death. He appealed his conviction but it was upheld.

See newly added sources below.


Mark Park additional sources:

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