Saturday, October 16, 2021

October 16: New Info on Old Chicago Death

Based on the Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database, I'd previously posted that on October 30, 1923,  19-year-old  Mrs. Lydia Nelson died at Chicago's Englewood Hospital from an abortion performed there that day, evidently by Dr. Charles Klinetop. However, my follow up research found that Lydia had died on October 16.

However, a newspaper indicates that Klinetop was actually held to a grand jury on October 30, and that Lydia had died three weeks earlier. She had entered the hospital on October 14 when her husband had become alarmed at her condition. Prior to her death she had signed a statement that Klinetop had perpetrated the abortion at his office on October 8.

A woman named Emma Sales came to the inquest and smacked Klinetop in the face, saying that about a year earlier her daughter, Harriet Grimm, had died from an abortion perpetrated by Klinetop.

Klinetop maintained his innocence, saying that he had treated Lydia once, in her home, and had done nothing unethical.

On January 15, 1924, Klinetop was indicted by a grand jury for felony murder in Lydia's death. He had also been implicated in the 1917 death of Edna Lamb and the 1912 death of Minnie Miller.

Newly added sources:

  • "Arrest Doctor on Charge Made by Young Wife," Chicago Tribune, October 15, 1923
  • "Woman Attacks Doctor Accused of Operations," Chicago Daily Tribune, November 1, 1923

Friday, October 15, 2021

October 15: Post Abortion Suicide

A woman I used to picket with in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, told me of a day she was outside one of Harrisburg's two safe and legal abortion facilities. The clinic was set back from the street by an expanse of lawn, with a parking lot to the side and back. Sidewalk counselors would stand in the alley, where they could call to the women as they got out of their cars. The picketers would stand on the sidewalk in front, where patients could see their signs from the waiting room. 

The woman saw a middle-aged couple get out of a car. They opened the back door and pulled out a teenage girl who appeared to be Filipino. The girl was crying. The sidewalk counselors called out to her, and she tried to move toward them, the picketer said, but the middle-aged white couple took the girl by the arms and led her toward the front of the building. The picketer called out to the clinic escort. "Can't you see she doesn't want to do this? I can't step on your property, but you can help her. You're pro-choice, right? Can't you help her?" According to the picketer, the escort smirked at her, then held the facility door open, to make it easier for the couple to propel the girl into the clinic. 

The next time she saw that girl's face, the picketer told me, was on the news. It was October of 1992, and the news story was about the suicide of 19-year-old Arlin Della Cruz. She had disappeared from her home. A search found her hanging from a tree in a nearby woods on October 15. "Under her shirt, the coroner found Arlin's favorite stuffed animal -- a rabbit." Arlin's mother said that Arlin had left a suicide note saying that she wanted to go be with her baby. 

One of Arlin's friends reported that Arlin wanted the baby, but chose abortion to try to salvage her relationship with her boyfriend. If the picketer's observations are correct, Arlin had serious second thoughts the day of the abortion.

Monday, September 27, 2021

September 27: The Tragic Bride

In early September of 1931, Jane Coult, the daughter of a Newark, New Jersey judge, secretly married John Merrill. The couple had a public wedding at the bride's home on September 22.

Five days later, Jane was dead.

She had been under the care of  Dr. Aloysius Mulholland, age 35, from September 24 through 26th before being admitted to Polyclinic Hospital in New York. Police said that Jane had paid Mulholland $500 of a $600 abortion fee. An autopsy confirmed that her death was due to a criminal abortion.

Both Mulholland and Jane's new husband were charged with murder. Each was released on $7,500 bond. Mulholland made no statement on the advice of his attorney. This turned out to be very good advice, because the case didn't end up going forward.

Mulholland was later charged with the abortion death of Katherine DiDonato and again remained free. He was finally imprisoned in 1943 after being charged with several abortions which were not fatal to the mothers.


  • "Doctor Arrested for Bride's Death," Asbury Park Press, October 1, 1931
  • "Serious Charge Against Doctor," The Standard Union, October 1, 1931
  • "Doctor Held for Death of Bride After Operation," New York Daily News, October 2, 1931
  • "Merrill Granted Delay In Hearing Until October 13," New York Daily News, October 5, 1931
  • "Husband Freed in Merrill Death," New York Daily News October 21, 1931

Friday, September 17, 2021

September 17: Schoolgirl, Rape Victim, Dies After Abortion

SUMMARY: Phyllis Brown, a 16-year-old Riverside High schoolgirl, died at Grant Hospital in Chicago on September 17, 1937 after an abortion performed by Dr. C. Harold Edmunds (pictured, right).

On June 17, 1937, 16-year-old Riverside High schoolgirl Phyllis Brown was attacked and raped by an acquaintance near Villa Park in Chicago. 

She kept the assault a secret from her parents even after learning that the assault had resulted in a pregnancy. Instead, Phyllis confided in her friend, 17-year-old Lillian Pernicka. 

Lillian (pictured, left) told Phyllis that she herself had undergone an abortion on March 8 at the hands of Dr. Clarence Harold Edmunds in Oak Park. The girls went to Edmunds's office in Oak Park on September 1. There, Edmunds performed an abortion. 

When Phyllis took ill afterwards, her parents summoned Dr. S. A. Sugar. He examined her on September 13 and admitted her to Grant Hospital. He believed that she might be suffering from abortion complications so he notified the police.

On September 18, Edmunds, age 48, and his secretary, Marie Trampush, age 27, were arrested. Edwards was released on $25,000 bond and Trampush on $3,000.

Phyllis's father, Samuel, put all the blame on the boy who had raped his daughter. "You don't need police to run down the boy," he said at the inquest. "He murdered my daughter and wherever he is, I'll find him and take care of him in my own way."

Both Edmunds and Trampush (pictured, right) denied having any knowledge of an abortion performed on Phyllis.

Edwards was originally licensed in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1913. He moved to North Dakota and practiced there before relocating first to Florida and then to Oak Park, where he set up practice in 1931.

The case had originally been struck off because there were legal issues with Phyllis's dying declaration. The charges were filed again and both Edmunds and Trampush were indicted. However, in January of 1938 the charges were dropped for reasons I've been unable to determine.


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Trunk Mystery of 1871 (draft)

Who was the young woman whose decomposing body had been discovered in a trunk at a railroad depot? The police wanted to know -- and the friends and family of Alice Augusta Bowlsby wanted to know where she was. The two mysteries came tragically together that late summer of 1871. 

Alexander "Paddy" Potts, age 12, made money at the Hudson River Railroad Depot in New York City by selling candy and papers and by helping people with their packages. At around 1:00 on the afternoon of August 26, 1871, one-horse cab pulled up near where Paddy was waiting outside the ladies' entrance. Paddy ran up to the cab and opened the door. A shabbily-dressed woman who seemed to be around 18 or 19 years old handed the cab driver a $1 bill then turned to the boy. "Sonny, can you tell me where the ticket office is?" she asked.

Paddy went with her to the ticket office. She bought a ticket to Chicago, paying with two $20 bills and getting $18 in change. After chatting for a moment with the clerk, the young woman told Paddy that she'd changed her mind about going to Chicago herself and wanted to just check her baggage on the train. Paddy told her that she couldn't just put her baggage on the train; it had to be with a ticketed passenger. 

Paddy went with her to the baggage drop-off area and waited. The young woman recognized the wagon and beckoned the driver. The trunk was small -- less than three feet long -- but very heavy. Paddy and the driver each grabbed a handle put it on a baggage cart. The woman fussed about how the trunk was handled, stressing that it contained glass and other fragile items. Paddy went to the counter and told Frank Dunning, the baggage clerk, that the lady wanted her trunk checked to Chicago. 
The woman fretted that the lock was flimsy and said that she would like to have an extra strap around the trunk. Frank charged her a dollar for the strap, which he nailed into place. He had his doubts as to whether the trunk was sturdy enough to get to Chicago in one piece. The woman gave Frank $1 and her ticket. Franked punched the ticket and handed it back to the woman with a baggage check. 
With hours to go before the train was due to depart, the young woman asked Paddy where she could go to get something to eat. The boy walked her to Keenan's saloon, assuring the young woman that she had plenty of time to return in time to get a good seat on the train. Instead of going into the eatery, the woman told Paddy that she didn't have much money to buy something to eat, so she was going to meet some friends and would pay him more on her return. She then walked off and vanished into the crowd.

Hours later, when it came time to board the Chicago train, the flimsy trunk was hauled to the platform from the baggage room. The lid was jarred, and an overpowering stench filled the balmy summer air. The station master was called over. He had no trouble opening the cheap lock. He pried open the lid to find bloodstained quilts and rags covering the nude body of a young woman. She was frail and slight, doubled up and crammed into the small space. Her pale hair spilled over her body. Her blue eyes stared sightlessly at the horrified spectators.

A summoned police officer had the trunk and its grisly contents brought to the morgue. Dr. Cushman removed the body from the trunk, along with an army blanket, a quilt, a bed-tick, a chemise, and two white muslin rags. Nothing in the trunk provided a clue as to the young woman's identity.

The body had no external marks of trauma, though there was substantial decomposition. 

Dr. Cushman began the autopsy. All of the organs of the chest were found to be normal. Inside the pelvic area he found an enlarged uterus with a dilated cervix and remnants of a placenta, evidence of peritonitis, and uterine lacerations caused by a pointed instrument. 

Dr. Cushman concluded that the young woman had died from infection due to an abortion. 

The newspapers dubbed the mystery "The Trunk Case", and filled their pages with lurid descriptions of the crime and poetic descriptions of the victim. She was, the New York Times said, a "young girl ... [with] a face of singular loveliness... but her chief beauty was her great profusion of golden hair... that lay in heavy masses upon her breast." 

An appeal went out to the public to identify the dead girl. Crowds braved the smell to catch a glimpse of the young woman's body, which was kept on ice to try to slow decomposition. Despite some false leads, the woman's identity remained a mystery.

The police enlisted the help of young Paddy Potts. The boy remembered seeing the name "Tripp" on the wagon in question, leading the police in search of carters named Tripp, then Trapp, and dragging an innocent man into the police station and assuming that by denying being the carter in question, he was likely an accomplice in the murder.

Paddy was taken all around the city by the police in search of the wagon in question, to no avail.

Finally a man named William Pickett came forward. From reading the papers he'd realized that he was the carter the police were looking for. Paddy and Pickett recognized each other.

Pickett said that the young woman from the depot, who had given her name as Julia Sidney, had quibbled over the $1 fee but had paid it when Pickett went into a store and broke a $5 for her. She instructed him to go to the house at 687 Second Avenue and ring the basement bell. The trunk, she said, would be brought to him. 

Pickett had gone to the address and rung the bell as instructed. A man opened the door and let him in. Several women were present in the basement room. The man helped Pickett to carry the trunk to the cart, but didn't speak to him. Pickett described the man to the police, who knew that Dr. Jacob Rosenzweig, who matched the description the cart man had given, lived at the address in question.

They went to 687 Second Avenue and arrested Rosenzweig. That he was probably the "butcher" who had killed the young woman in the trunk came as no surprise to reporters and police detectives. He had, in fact, been one of the city's abortionists featured in a New York Times article, "The Evil of the Age," just a week earlier. 

After the arrest, Pickett identified Rosenzweig as the man who had handed the trunk off to him.

Though the police still had to complete their investigation, they were certain that they had identified the abortionist. They still had to identify the victim.

Meanwhile in Patterson, New Jersey, Caroline Bowlsby worried about her daughter, 25-year-old Alice. The young woman and her mother had been in Newark, helping to attend to her ailing uncle. Alice had left her aunt's home on the 23rd  to go to New York for the day. Clad in a white lawn dress with a blue sash and ribbons, she'd headed into the Big Apple to see a matinee and do some shopping. She hadn't been seen or heard from since. 

Mrs. Bowlsby asked the family dentist, Dr. Joseph T. Parker, what she should do. Parker, though worried that evil had befallen the young woman, tried to reassure the frantic mother that perhaps Alice had taken ill and was resting up somewhere before returning home.

Caroline had already suffered much. Her abusive, alcoholic husband had abandoned her to care for their three daughters. The four of them lived together, working as dressmakers. Alice also taught Sunday school. She had her share of attention from men, but had formed a relationship with 25-year-old Walter F. Conklin. Walter was the son of Newark alderman Lewis Conklin and worked as a bookkeeper at a silk factory. He had met Alice at the dressmaker's shop where she worked. Alas for Alice, Walter was a bit of a rake.

The family doctor, Theodore F. Kinney, had also heard of Alice's disappearance, and had read about the gruesome discovery in the papers. He consulted with Parker, who practiced in the same building, about whether or not the woman in the trunk could be the missing Alice. On Tuesday, August 29, Kinney went to the Bellevue Hospital morgue to view the body and learn if the dead girl was his patient.

He found the body in a state of such decomposition that he couldn't just identify her on first sight. However, upon closer examination, Kinney was able to tentatively identify her as Alice by her scars -- particularly an unusually-placed vaccination scar, and by a scar on her face. 

Kinney returned to New Jersey, and together with Dr. Parker went to Mrs. Bowlsby and voiced his suspicions. He returned to Bellevue with Parker, who was able to identify Alice positively by her facial scar and a mole, as well as by the dental work he had done on her. Both men concurred on the identification. The dead woman was indeed Alice Augusta Bowlsby.

When Dr. Kinney and Dr. Parker went to the police to report on the identity of the dead woman, they were brought to Rosenzweig's home to see if they could identify anything there as belonging to Alice. They identified a hemstitched cambric handkerchief, marked "A. A. Bowlsby", and a blue sash that the men could not say for sure was Alice's, though they believed it to be. This strengthened the identification of Rosenzweig as the abortionist.

The news that the Trunk Mystery woman was Alice Bowlsby reached most of Patterson, New Jersey, through the newspapers. Gossip was running rampant in the silk mill where Walter Conklin worked. Some conjectured that Walter's diamond pin, which he'd not been wearing recently had been used to pay for the fatal abortion. While most of the 250 workers were on lunch break, Walter opened large fireproof room off the bookkeeper's office, went inside, and shot himself in the head. In his pocket was a note written on a piece of the business letterhead:

 "I have long had a morbid idea of the worthlessness of life, and now to be obliged to testify in this affair and cause unpleasantness to my family is more than life is worth."

After his death, rumors arose that Walter Conklin had two wives -- one in New Jersey and one in Russia, where he had traveled on business -- while being involved with Alice and possibly other young women. His suicide cemented his identity as Alice's "seducer."

Another young man, Frank Tripp, believed to have been somehow involved in Alice's sad end, absconded from the area and was believed to be in Canada.

On September 1, 1871, a Coroner's Jury was convened. Alice's mother was in no state to view her daughter's body or to participate in the inquest. The men of the Coroner's Jury, after being sworn in, were first brought to the morgue, where Alice's body lay under a sheet. Dr. Kinney and Dr. Parker showed the jury the marks by which they had identified the dead woman as Alice. The jury then returned to the hearing room, where they cast angry and disgusted looks at Rosenzweig, who turned away and looked out the window.

Rosenzweig, a native of Poland, had reportedly begun as a saloon owner, but qualified himself as a doctor and branched out into abortion on the basis of a $40 diploma he'd bought from a diploma mill in Philadelphia. Since at that time all a person had to do to legally practice medicine in New York was pay a $10 "physician revenue tax," this diploma might well have raised his status.

Rosenzweig denied any duplicity in also being the "Dr. Ascher" who ran thinly veiled abortion ads in the paper. He asserted that he just used Ascher's name for pure convenience because his predecessor had left the sign up.

Rosenzweig reportedly attempted to hang himself in his prison cell on the morning of September 2. He insisted that he was a victim of a conspiracy and was placed on suicide watch.

The article had republished an ad from the New York Herald, reading, "A. -- Ladies in trouble guaranteed immediate relief, sure and safe; no fees required until perfectly satisfied; elegant rooms and nursing provided. Dr. Ascher. Amity-place. $c."

Under Boss Tweed, abortion, though illegal, had been tolerated. But the gruesome discovery of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl crammed rudely into a trunk excited too much outcry for any politician to step in and intervene. Rosenzweig would be brought to trial. As the evidence against him mounted, nobody doubted that he would be convicted.

Pickett, the cart man, testified about the young woman who had hired him to collect the trunk. She had given her name as Julia Sidney, and had quibbled over the $1 fee but had paid it when Pickett went into a store and broke a $5 for her. He was instructed to go to the house at 687 Second Avenue and ring the basement bell. The trunk, she said, would be brought to him. Pickett had gone to the address and rung the bell as instructed. A man opened the door and helped him to carry the trunk to the cart, but didn't speak to him. Pickett identified Rosenzweig as that man.

Pickett then testified that he had brought the trunk to the depot, where he'd found Julia Sidney waiting for him at the baggage drop-off. The trunk was too heavy for Pickett to carry himself, so he'd gotten the depot baggage boy to help. The boy, 12-year-old Alexander Potts, was present as a witness, and Pickett identified him. With some help from Julia, Pickett and Alexander loaded the trunk onto a baggage cart. Julia had examined the trunk, fretted that the lock was failing, and asked Alexander to get her a rope to fasten it more securely. He helped her get a strap. With that, Pickett had gone back to the cart stand, and had nothing more to contribute to the inquest.

Alexander was called to testify. He testified that the woman calling herself Julia Sidney, dressed "like a poor girl", had arrived at the station in a hired cab and asked him how to get to the ticket office. He'd brought her there, and she'd bought a ticket to Chicago, while lamenting that she didn't want to make the trip herself. When Pickett had driven up, Julia had asked Alexander to help with the trunk. She had fussed about the trunk being handled carefully, saying that it contained glass and other fragile objects. Julia had asked for a rope to fasten the trunk with, and Alexander had gotten the baggagemaster to fasten it with a strap. Julia had tried to leave without paying for the strap. She checked the trunk for Chicago, tipped Alexander a nickle, and pondered where to go for dinner. Alexander had recommended a place, assuring her that she had plenty of time to return in time to get a good seat on the train. She told the boy she was going to meet some friends and would pay him more on her return. She then walked off and Alexander never saw her again.
The baggage master, Frank Dunning, testified that he had seen the trunk at the depot; he'd supplied the strap to fasten it. He testified that the trunk was very weak, that he had his doubts that it would make the trip to Chicago intact, and also doubted that the owner of the trunk could afford to pay him the $1 for the strap, which he had nailed in place. He'd also been present when the trunk was opened and the body discovered.
James F. Boyle, an undertaker, testified that on the morning of Saturday, August 26, a man came to his establishment, saying that a servant girl of his had died. She'd only had about $10. He wanted to know how much it would cost to bury her. Boyle had asked where the girl was to be buried, and the man had said he wasn't particular; the cheapest place would suffice. He also wanted to know how quickly the preparations could be finished. Boyle had told him about an hour and a half. He asked where the dead girl was, to which the would only reply that she wasn't far away. Boyle had asked about the doctor who had tended the girl, and was told he was downtown. Boyle said that he would need a medical certificate. The man had left, saying he would return later with the medical certificate, but he never did. Boyle testified that he's seen him later, standing outside the house on Second Avenue. He said he identified him later, at the police station, as Dr. Rosenzweig.
Jane Johnson, Rosenzweig's servant, testified that she had seen a woman dressed in white, with a white bonnet, admitted to the home on August 23. The woman went upstairs. She never saw the woman again. She identified a piece of a diaper and a towel, taken from the trunk, as belonging to the Rosenzweig household.
Dr. Cushman, who had performed the autopsy, reported that he had removed the body from the trunk, along with an army blanket, a quilt, a bed-tick, a chemise, and two white muslin rags. The body had no extermal marks of trauma, though there was substantial decomposition. All of the organs of the chest had been normal, but inside the pelvis he found evidence of peritonitis and uterine lacerations caused by a pointed instrument. He concluded that the young woman, later identified as Alice Bowlsby, had died from an abortion.
A woman named Marian Arthur testified that she had let professional rooms to a man she had always known as Dr. Ascher, who she identified by pointing to Dr. Rosenzweig. She said that Ascher/Rosenzweig "has a considerable practice, but more gentlemen than ladies."
Rosenzweig answered few questions for the Coroner's Jury, only indicating that he was a Polish-born pysician, 39 years of age. His attorney argued that "a great deal of the testimony admitted is illegal," and the suspect denied "any participation in the atrocities charged".
The Jury quickly returned their verdict, that Alice Bowlsby had died from a criminal abortion performed some time between August 23 and August 26, and that Jacob Rosenzweig was the perpetrator.
News coverage of the inquest concluded by saying that the District Attorney, when interviewed, "said there was no possible chance of escape for the abortionist, and that he is certain of seven years' retirement from professinal life at Sing Sing."
The Trial Begins
The trial was a senstation, drawing huge crowds to the brownstone courthouse. The first motion in open court was by Rosenzweig's co-counsel, Mr. Hummell, who pleaded unsuccessfully for an adjournment to allow main counsel, William Howe, to recover from an illness. A jury was empanelled: a cigar maker, a tailor, a builder, a plasterer, a speculator, two brokers, a hatter, a grocer, an agent, a dry goods merchant, and a tobbaconist.
The Second Day
On this, the first day of testimony, the infamous trunk was brought into the courtroom and entered into evidence.
Alice's mother, distraught, agitated, and dressed in mourning, took the stand. She testified about the last time she'd seen her daughter alive, and about Alice's possessions, found at Dr. Rosenzweig's home. She also briefly testified about Alice's relationship with Walter Conklin. Next, Alice's sister Carrie testified. She spoke of the last time she'd seen her sister alive, and corroborated her mother's testimony about Alice's possessions.
Jane Johnson, a servant working at Rosenzweig's house, testified that she had been living under his roof for three months prior to Alice's death. She left Rosenzweig's employ on the 29th of August, when the trouble had erupted over the discovery of Alice Bowlsby's body.
Rosenzweig lived with his wife, four children, and a boarder named Abraham Sigel. A woman named Netta was a frequent visitor, up until about noon on the 23rd or 24th of August (which Jane recalled as the Wednesday or Thursday prior to the discovery of Alice's body). On that day, Jane saw Rosenzweig come into the house through the basement and admit a woman, clad in a white dress with ruffles and tucks, through the main entrance. This woman immediately went upstairs.
On Friday morning, the 25th, Mrs. Rosenzweig sent Jane on an errand that kept her out of the house all morning. Jane reported seeing Nettie at the house that day.
Early in the morning of the 26th, Jane was sent to take Rosenzweig's children to Central Park. She didn't return until late afternoon. She could not positively identify the trunk, but there had been one like it in Rosenzweig's house. She believed, from what she'd heard from Rosenzweig's daughter Rosie, that it belonged to Netta. Jane did positively identify a baby blanket found in the trunk as belonging to the Rosenzweig family.
On cross-examination, Jane indicated that she'd not heard or noticed any particular excitement or stir about the house on the days in question, other than that naturally involved with the birth of the Rosenzweigs' new baby.
Pickett the cabman gave the same testimony he'd given to the Coroner's Jury. Extenisve cross-examination didn't shake him in his story. He identified the trunk, as did several other witnesses, including the baggage boy, police officer, baggage master, and morgue attendant, all of whom reiterated testimony given at the Coroner's Jury. Alice's dentist and family doctor testified about how they'd identified her body. Boyd the undertaker reiterated his testimony from the Coroner's Jury. The police who searched Rosenzweig's house testified about the evidence they'd found there.
A woman named Nellie Willis was called to the stand to identify Rosenzweig as the man who had performed an abortion on her, about two and a half years earlier, that had left her hospitalized for weeks, and had nearly killed her. Rosenzweig had been practicing then as Dr. Ascher.
Dr. Cushman testified in great detail about the autopsy he'd performed. Alice's uterus had been enlarged, the cervix dilated, and various lacerations, giving evidence of an abortion which had caused fatal infection. The trial was adjourned for the day during cross-examination.
Day Three
This day began the the defense completing the cross-examination of Dr. Cushman. A Dr. Finnell was sworn in, and corraborated Cushman's testimony. The prosecution rested its case.
The defense, while conceding that the crime against Alice was "frightful, replsive, horrible", and conceding that there was a strong circumstantial case, held that it had not been proved that Rosenzweig had actually killed Alice.
Howe called two doctors to the stand, Garrish and Parker, who gave some medical testimony that made so little impression on reporters that I've been able to find no record of it.
The defense called Cornelia Bowlsby of Brooklyn, who was not related to the dead woman. Mrs. Bowlsby of Brooklyn claimed that the handkerchief identified as Alice's actually belonged to her daughter, Anna. She said that she and her daughters had visited the Rosenzweig home in August, and that Anna had spilled some wine and wiped it up with the handkerchief, and had left it behind. She said Anna had seen articles about Alice's death in the newspapers, with great attention focused on the handkerchief, and had brought it to her mother's attention. Mrs. Bowlsby then felt compelled, she said, to step forward to identify it. On cross-examination, she indicated that she'd not given any thought to the handkerchief until Mrs. Rosenzweig had come to her house to talk to her about it three weeks before the trial, and she wavered a bit on her description of the handkerchief. She also admitted that her husband had been expelled from the same college of physicians that Rosenzweig had gotten a phony diploma from.
The defense also produced as witnesses the Cohen brothers, Jacob and Lewis, who placed Rosenzweig at their home on the 26th, providing medical care to Jacob. Lewis testified that Rosenzweig had arrived at 10 a.m. and had stayed until 2 p.m.; Jacob testified that Rosenzweig he had arrived at aout 12:30 and stayed two or three hours. But on cross-examination, both brothers became less clear about what day Rosenzweig had actually been at the house, with Jacob saying that it was two or three days before Rosenzweig was arrested, and Lewis only being able to say it was a Saturday in the later part of August.
Mr. M. Samuels took the stand, saying he'd known Rosenzweig for at least six years, during which he'd treated his brother at their father's house. He said that Rosenzweig had visited at his house on the day he was arrested -- Monday -- and had been there the previous Saturday as well at about 3 p.m.
The defense also brought forward eight character witnesses, but most of them could only verify that they knew Rosenzweig as a physician. Only three of the eight testified that they personally knew that he was "a man of good character."
The vanished Netta, also identified as Yetty Fox, was produced as a defense witness. She said she had secretly gone to Rosenzweig's house on the Thursday prior to the 26th, due to illness, and had been dressed in white. She said she had come forward after reading accounts that placed importance on the entrance to Rosenzweig's home of a woman dressed in white.
The Defendant Takes the Stand
When Rosenzweig took the stand in his own defense, according to the New York Times, "his testimony was singularly incoherent, and he totally failed in his endeavor to remove the effect of the case made by the prosecution."
Rosenzweig testified that he knew Cornelia Bowlsby, and her daughters, who lived in Brooklyn, but never knew any Bowlsbys that lived in Patterson, New Jersey. He said he knew of nobody named Conklin from Patterson, New Jersey, and that nobody had arranged for Alice Bowlsby to board at his home. He denied having ever performed an abortion on anybody. He denied that any woman had died in his house during the time period in question, saying, "if she did I would know it."
He said any evidence of a pregnancy at his home was due to the fact that five weeks prior to his arrest his wife had given birth in the family home. He said he'd brought Netta to his house to see the baby, and had come in through the basement because he'd forgotten his key. Netta, he said, was the white-clad woman the servant had seen. He insisted that no other woman dressed in white had come to his house at all during the period in question.
Rosenzweig also testified that he had never seen the carman, William Peckett, until after his arrest. He also insisted that he'd never seen the handkerchief until after his arrest. He denied ever having seen the trunk. He admitted to having visited Boyle, the undertaker, but said he'd been sent by a Jewish society to get prices for funerals for the poor.
Under cross-examination, Rosenzweig admitted to practicing under the name of "Dr. Asher," but that he only did so because he'd taken over the previous doctor's practice and had simply left the name on the door. He denied having any knowledge of some other physicians who were evidently part of an abortion ring.
Day Four - The Defense Rests
The court was crowded, with Rosenzweig's wife and 14-year-old daughter arriving early. Alice's family did not attend, but the Mrs. Bowlsby of Brooklyn was there with her daughter as well.
Defense attorney Howe launched into a challenge for the court to prove that Alice Bowlsby had been alive on August 24, and that if an abortion had been performed it had not been necessary to try to preserve her life. His motions were denied.
In his closing argument, Howe proved a less than stellar spokesman for his client. He attacked Alice's mother for not having gone to the morgue personally to identify her daughter's body, instead having "deputed a hired dentist and a hireling physician". He then insisted that the identification was insufficient to prove that the dead woman was in fact Alice Bowlsby. How, he said, could Rosenzweig be convicted of killing Alice Bowlsby when it hadn't been sufficently been proven that Alice Bowlsby was in fact dead? Then he pointed out that the last people to see Alice Bowlsby alive had seen her in New Jersey, and no witnesses had seen her alive in New York. Sure, he conceded, Alice's things were in New York, but had Alice brought them to New York alive and died there? Then he theorized that Conklin, "who betrayed the girl, procured her death to conceal his guilt, and subsequently sent the body to the house of a so-called New-York abortionist" -- thus admitting that Alice's body had indeed been at his client's house and that his client was known as an abortionist, assertions that his client had denied during the trial.
He then argued that had Rosenzweig actually killed Alice, he'd hardly have kept her sash, dress pads, and handkerchief around the house to be discovered. Then he used the lack of larger, more easily identifiable items of Alice's dress at Rosenzweig's home as proof that Alice hadn't been there.
Howe pleaded Rosenzweig's reputation, his family, his home, and his charities, while Mrs. Rosenzweig and their daughter wept openly.
Day Four - The Prosecution Rests
The prosecutor began by focusing on the horrible nature of the crime. According to the New York Times, the District attorney, addressing the court, "observed that he never rose to open a case of this description without feelings constituting the most lively emotions within the heart. The surroundings of a case of this character were such that wherever we look, to whatever point of the compass they direct their attention, death, blood and murder stared them in the face. If the prisoner was guilty of the crime with which he stood charged, he was guilty of one of the highest crimes known to the law. And yet for some unaccountable reason ... our legislators and governers have seen fit to construct the law so that a man who takes the life of the unborn child, and also of the mother, by no jury of his country or by no Judge can he be consigned to the gallows."
He described the plight of a girl like Alice, desperate to save her reputation and not to shame her mother and family, abandoned by her lover to face her shame alone.
He reiterated the evidence identifying the dead woman as Alice Bowlsby. He reiterated that only Alice and her killer knew exactly what had been done to her, and Alice had taken the secret to her grave. He reviewed the evidence that Alice had been at Rosenzweig's home, that her body, crammed into a trunk, had been removed from that home.
He contrasted the respectable Dr. Rosenzweig's practice with that of the disreputable Dr. Ascher -- one and the same man.
He ended with a plea for justice not just for Alice, but for her unborn baby, and held that any man who loved his wife and children would have to convict.
Day Four - The Jury
A man identified as "Recorder Hackett" read the applicable laws to the jury, then reviewed all the evidence, including inconsistencies in the defense's case. He closed by saying, "The crime of which the prisoner is accused has been practised from the formation of the world, and will continue to be practised as long as human nature remains as it is. It can only be restrained by potent legislative penalties and the vindications of the law. The poor girl's story is shortly told. Trusting, betrayed, she and her seducer sleep the sleep that knows no waking. Your duty is to calmly weigh the tesimony, and render a verdict according to your oaths."
The jury deliberated just under two hours before finding Rosenzweig guilty of manslaughter. He was sentenced to seven years of hard labor. The New York Times noted, "The testimony presented so clear a case against Rosenzweig that he himself seemed to have abandoned all hope of escape. He expressed no astonishment at the verdict, though he showed that he thoroughly realized the horror of his situation."
Upon the judge dismissing the court, Mrs. Rosenzweig wept and went to embrace her husband one last time before he was taken away. His daughter threw herself on the floor shrieking, crying out curses on everybody who had spoken against her father: "Oh, may my God curse every one who has went against you, father; may their flesh rot from their bones; may their lives wither up; may they die rotten. Oh, father, if I die for it, I'll have all their lives!" She then threw herself onto her father and clung to him. Through all of this, Rosenzweig remained stoic. He was led outside, past a jeering crowd, and taken to prison.
The Aftermath
Alice was buried in the Potter's Field. The feminist newspaper, Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly, published a scathing piece about the death of Alice and her lover, placing the blame on a society that winked at unchaste men but condemned women who showed evidence of unchastity themselves:
We bring the dead bodies of the father, mother and the unborn child and lay them on society's doorstep, saying, "Behold your handiwork." This is no time to be scrupulous in our language. We cannot stand to pick words which hundreds are running the risks which Miss Bowlsby ran to satisfy the laws of society. We say that society itself is the patron of abortionists, that society's present laws make their occupation excusable, nay, a necessity; that the very men who are so loud in their denunciations of Rosenzweig and his class have, nine out of every ten of them, paid for his assistance, and, among women, nine out of ten would act as Alice Bowlsby did, if placed in the same position.
You screech at Rosenzweig today; you employed him yesterday, and will produce patients for his successor tomorrow, and go to church next Sunday and look as devout as a Chadband. And yet, as society exists, he has been your friend. How many of your daughters owe the shelter of your roofs to him? Ah! were that question fairly solved, it would ignite a torch whose lurid glare would inflame this city from end to end, and every one would proclaim how dreadfully bad his neighbor was, and point out the skeleton in his neighbor's closet.
The Rosenzweigs step in and say, practically, "I will spare you nine deaths out of the ten (for only one in a hundred dies under my hands). I will send fifty more out of the hundred victims home, still virtuous according to your rules, because no one knows of the so-called transgression, and the remainder shall have their error known only to their parents or relatives, and the outside world and future husbands shall remain in happy and blissful ignorance of the truth. All this I will do for one hundred dollars each." You find the money, you have the private interview with Rosenzweig (not that you are interested; oh, no, it is all out of pure friendship; you didn't do it; it was some other man.) You cheat society's rules of its victims, until another victim dies. Then you howl at their depravity and Rosenzweig's villainy.
Alice's mortification at her predicament must have been great. She was a Sunday school teacher and an active member of her church. Whether it was fear of censure alone that drove her to sacrifice her baby and risk her own life at the hands of Rosenzweig is a secret she took to her grave.
A public outcry against abortionists led to laws nationwide calling for stiffer penalties for abortionists. Ironically, Rosenzweig's attorney was able to leverage the new law into an appeal that freed his client on a technicality after he had served only one year of his sentence.

Additional sources:

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Louise Derchow Needs Rewrite

The First Known Victim of the Notorious Dr. Hagenow

Louise Derchow, age 23, is the first known victim of notorious criminal abortionist Dr. Louisa "Lucy" Hagenow

Louise had been born in a village near Hamburg, Germany. Some time in the mid 1880s she moved to San Francisco and took work as a domestic servant in the home of Mrs. Steinhart at 1090 Post Street. She was courted by another German immigrant, a barkeep named Henry Peckelhoff. Those who knew the couple anticipated that they'd marry soon.

In early August of 1887, Louise moved in with Henry and began using his surname. 

On August 9, 1887 Louise told Peckelhoff that she was pregnant, and he told her to go to Dr. Hagenow's “maternity hospital” at 19 Twelfth Street in San Francisco to be examined. She was admitted, and Peckelhoff later said that she seemed well when he visited her there until but something went wrong. Louise died at about 1 a.m. on Monday, August 21.

Peckelhoff went to an undertaker named Suhr at about 2 a.m., sa ying that he needed a burial for his wife. The undertaker's assistant removed Louise's body from Hagenow's establishment at about 3 a.m., then went to get a death certificate from Hagenow. The Assistant Secretary of the Health Department refused to issue a burial permit with a death certificate signed by Hagenow because she was on a list of "illegal practitioners." The clerk said that Dr. S. S. Kahn was authorized to examine the body and issue a death certificate if no qualified doctor could sign one. Mr. Suhr said that he could get a new certificate signed by a properly qualified physician.

The undertaker's assistant and Hagenow went looking for Dr. F. F. DeDerky, who had also attended Louise. They couldn't find him, so Hagenow's cook forged DeDerky's signature on a death certificate identifying the woman as Louise I. Peckelshoff

 in order to get the health department to accept the death certificate and issue the burial permit, which was finally released at 3 p.m. 

The funeral was held an hour later. 

Because of the suspicious circumstances surrounding Louise's death, the City Physician disinterred Louise's remains and performed an autopsy at the Odd Fellow's Cemetery on September 1. He found what was termed “conclusive evidence” of an abortion, with inflammation caused by an instrument. 

Hagenow insisted that Louise had shown up at her door already seriously ill and bleeding heavily. Prior to her death, Hagenow admitted, Louise was delivered of a four-month fetus. She also admitted that the young woman had died of peritonitis.

All told, Hagenow was tried three times in Louise's death, and acquitted in the third trial, just around the time she was being investigated in the abortion deaths of Annie Dorris and Abbia Richards, as well as for the suspicious death of Emma Dep shortly after discharge from Hagenow's maternity home. The third acquittal was largely attributed to the death of the state's star witness, a journalist who had originally broken the story. 

One of Peckelhoff's friends helped him to go through the young woman's possessions and found the necessary addresses to write to her friends back home in Germany about her death.

Hagenow relocated to Chicago and began piling up dead bodies there as well. She was implicated in numerous abortion deaths, including Minnie Deering, Sophia Kuhn , Emily Anderson, Hannah Carlson, Marie Hecht, May Putnam, Lola Madison, Annie Horvatich, Lottie Lowy, Nina Pierce, Jean Cohen, Bridget Masterson, Elizabeth Welter, and Mary Moorehead.

Sunday, August 08, 2021

August 8: Abortifacient Proves Fatal

Norman Schaeffer, a 40-year-old railroad worker, was arrested on allegations that he had provided abortifacients to 20-year-old Jennie L. Young of Washington, PA. Jennie had made a formal deathbed statement to that effect a few days before she died on August 8, 1905. During her final days she was attended by Dr. Crawford and Dr. Dunning.

Jennie's father, Franklin Young, testified at the inquest that Jennie had told him that Schaeffer had gotten him the drugs. A neighbor, Mary Snultz, testified that Jennie had indicated that she was about four months pregnant and that a man had provided her with abortifacient drugs.

  • "Charged With Abortion," Lancaster (PA) Inquirer, August 12, 1905

Thursday, July 22, 2021

July 22: Teen Found Dead in Grandma's House

On July 22, 1949, at around 10:40 p.m., Alma Deery, age 16,  was found dead on the floor of her bedroom in her grandmother's home in Sheeder, Pennsylvania

Alma's father Earl W. Deery, age 46, was arrested along with his wife, Mary Gladys Deery, age 37, and Mary's sister, Myrtle Lahr, age 31. Earl and Mary Gladys were charge with attempted abortion causing death, aiding and abetting an abortion, and conspiracy to do an unlawful act. Myrtle was charge with aiding and abetting an abortion, conspiracy to do an unlawful act, and accessory before and after the fact. Each was held on $3,000 bail

Alma's boyfriend, James Souch, age 21, was arrested for aiding and abetting an attempt to commit an abortion but the charge was dropped and he signed out on a $500 bond as a material witness.

Alma's death certificate says "Causes unknown at this time pending further investigation."


Thursday, June 24, 2021

June 24: "Annie" is Edith Clark

 "Annie" is Edith Clark. Edith traveled from her home in Newark, New Jersey to the Sparkhill, New York office of Dr. Robert Livingston to avail herself of the new law, for a first-trimester abortion on June 24, 1971.

Shortly after she was given an injection of Innovar for anesthesia, Edith went into cardiac arrest, and attempts to revive her failed. She left behind three children.

Edith was the first woman to die in New York's Rockland County from a newly legalized abortion. The second, 18-year-old Pamela Modugno, died in May of 1972 after an abortion in one of the many freestanding abortion facilities that opened immediately after New York decided to permit outpatient abortion-on-demand up to 24 weeks.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

May 27: "Hollywood Play-Girl" Found Dead in an Alley

Patricia Steele, age 34, "Hollywood Play-Girl" found in a Los Angeles alley on May 27, 1952. Victor Cefalu, who performed the autopsy, said that she'd died from either hemorrhage or infection caused by an abortion that had taken place 24 to 48 hours before her death.

Patricia's physician, Dr. Louis J. Klingbell, reportedly told the police that Patricia had been four months into her pregnancy and had told him, "I'm going to do something about it."

Patricia was the daughter of financier Victor Steel and his wife, Jane. She had a "richly-furnished" apartment and travelled to Honolulu two months before her death. Her expensive convertible was still in her garage.

Victor said that he'd talked to Patricia on the telephone the morning of May 26 and she'd told him that she felt sick. He called back later but got no answer.


  • "Hollywood Play-Girl Found Dead In Alley; Said Victim Of Abortion," Lancaster (PA) Intelligencer Journal, May 28, 1952

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Family Planning Associates Death Count Up by One

Today I opened my mailbox to find the story of the seventeenth young woman I know of now to have died after an abortion at that National Abortion Federation flagship: Family Planning Associates Medical Group.

To preserve her confidentiality, I have given her the pseudonym "Kyla Ellis."

Kyla was 23 years old and about 11 weeks pregnant when she went to Family Planning Associate Medical Group at 601 S. Westmoreland Avenue in Los Angeles for an abortion on May 14, 2014. Like other young Black women, she was at higher risk of death than a white woman would be.

The day after the abortion, Kyla suffered agonizing abdominal pain. Her partner, whom I will call "Benjamin," called an ambulance, which rushed her to Centinela Hospital. She arrived at around 3:30 that afternoon. Kyla rated her pain at 10 on a scale of 10. Bright, fresh blood was flowing from her vagina. She couldn't pass urine at all. Hospital staff used a catheter to drain her bladder of about 200 cc of bloody urine.

Doctors decided that Kyla needed more intensive care than Centinela was able to provide. Kyla rode by ambulance to Kaiser West Los Angeles. She arrived shortly after midnight on May 16. At first she was awake, but at around 1:40 a.m. her gaze turned glassy and she became unresponsive. Staff took her to the lab for a CT scan, but on arrival Kyla went into cardio respiratory arrest. All efforts to revive her failed and she was pronounced dead at 2:45 a.m.

The autopsy found her uterus boggy and enlarged. The endometrium (lining) had been scraped away. 

Kyla had bled to death.

She's the seventeenth woman I'm aware of to have died after abortions at FPA. The others are: 

  • 1970: Denise Holmes
  • 1984: Patricia Chacon and Mary Pena
  • 1985: Josefina Garcia
  • 1986: Laniece Dorsey
  • 1988: Joyce Ortenzio and Tami Suematsu
  • 1992: Deanna Bell and Susan Levy
  • 1994: Christina Mora
  • 1995: TaTanisha Wesson
  • 1998: Nakia Jorden
  • 1999: Maria Leho
  • 2000: Kimberly Neil and Maria Rodriguez
  • 2004: Chanelle Bryant
Watch 17th Known Abortion Death at YouTube.

Autopsy pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Sunday, May 23, 2021

May 23: Three Deaths in Different Eras

Dr. Amante Rongetti
On May 23, 1929, 24-year-old Elizabeth Palumbo died at West End Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Amante Rongetti signed a death certificate attributing her death to appendicitis. However, upon autopsy the coroner's physician, Dr. Thomas Dwyer, determined that her death had actually been caused by an abortion. 

Rongetti was held by the coroner on June 12 for having perpetrated the fatal abortion on May 10. However, he was acquitted.

All of these goings-on surrounding Elizabeth's death took place while Rongetti was out on bail pending a new trial in the abortion death of Loretta Enders, for which he'd been sentenced to die in the electric chair.

Newly-added source: "Rongetti Held Again on Serious Charge," Journal Gazette, May 27, 1929

Life Dynamics lists 29-year-old Rhonda Ruggiero on their "Blackmun Wallsafe and legal abortions. According to the information LDI put together, Rhonda underwent an abortion in May of 1982. She suddenly died of an abortion-related pulmonary embolism on May 23. An embolism is a flukey thing that can kill regardless of the doctor's skill, so Rhonda probably would have died regardless of whether abortion was legal or not.

Documents indicate that Josefina Garcia, age 37, mother of 2, died after abortion at a Family Planning Associates Medical Group (FPA) facility. Josefina's survivors filed suit against FPA owner Edward Campbell Allred, and 5 other doctors: Kenneth Wright, Leslie S. Orleans, Earl Baxter, Soon Sohn, and Thomas Grubbs. The family said that staff failed to determine that Josefina had an ectopic pregnancy before proceeding with a routine safe and legal abortion procedure by D&C on May 23, 1985. After her abortion, Josefina was left unattended in a recovery room, where she hemorrhaged. She died the day of her abortion. Regardless of whether or not abortion is legal, an ectopic pregnancy is something any abortionist should have diagnosed, if not before the abortion, then certainly after the abortion was completed and there were not pieces of fetus removed. Either way, there was little excuse for failing to detect the ectopic pregnancy. Whether Josefina lived or died would have depended on the state of medicine at the time, and the ordinary skills of doctors who were not abortionists.

Monday, May 17, 2021

May 18: A College Student's Fatal Journey

Pamela Modugno, a college student, died Wednesday, May 17, 1972 during an abortion at Monsey Medical Center in New York. She was 18 years old. Cardiac arrest due to air embolism. She was the second death from a safe, legal abortion in the county since New York liberalized the abortion laws effective July 1, 1970. The first had been Edith Clark.

County Medical Examiner Dr. Frederick Zugibe postulated that reverse air pressure from a suction unit might have blown air into Pam's bloodstream.

Monsey Medical Center had opened two days after abortion was legalized. The director, Dr. Lester Lando, was a licensed OB/GYN.

Pam's father, Thomas Modugno sued for negligence in how the abortion was performed and under the theory that the abortion was "assault and trespass" against Pam because at the time of the abortion, no surgery was permitted on an unmarried patient without parental consent except in an emergency.

Pam is identified as "Danielle" in Life Dynamics' list of safe, legal abortion deaths.


  • "18-year-old student dies during abortion," The Journal News, May 18, 1972
  • "Abortion death suit filed," The Journal News, January 18, 1973