Thursday, January 21, 2021

January 21: An Unsuccessful Cover-Up

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 the Bronx, New York. He provided a death certificate indicating that she had died from pulmonary thrombosis. The undertaker notified the medical examiner, 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, whose real surname was Greczka, had gotten a job as an editor for Dell Publishing Company just three weeks prior to her death. She went to her boyfriend on January 13 with the news that she was pregnant. He offered to marry her, but she declined.

The young man picked Vivian up at her home at 10:00 and drove her to the doctor's office on the morning of January 21. They arrived shortly after 11:00. 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 was originally questioned and released before his arrest at 6:00 a.m. on January 23.

Friedman said that he had treated Vivian four times in the past for shortness of breath and heart problems, but had disposed of all of his records for 1960 and thus could not produce evidence that he'd provided the care.

The scandal of Vivian's death came as a shock to patients that Friedman had cared for during his 22-year career.

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.


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