Friday, January 15, 2021

January 15: Coroner's Physician Crashes Memorial

An Interruption and an Autopsy

On January 15, 1915, 22-year-old Margaret Jennickes 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 due to an illegal abortion.

The coroner's office concluded that the abortion had been perpetrated by Dr. C.A. Erickson of South Green Street. Erickson was charged with murder. A man named Joseph Martin of Bishop Street was also held for manslaughter. 

Though Dr. 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. According to the Cook County Deaths Index, Margaret was a telephone operator born in Chicago to German immigrant parents.

A Repeat Offender in Chicago

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. 

Watch Mourning Interrupted on YouTube.

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