Friday, June 03, 2022

June 3, 1962: Teen Mother Dismembered and Flushed Down the Drains

Like the Jacqueline Smith case in the previous decade, the strange events surrounding the death of 19-year-old Barbara Jane Lofrumento have become almost an urban legend. But the tale of Barbara's tragic death and its aftermath is all too true. 

The Pregnancy

Barbara had been an active student in high school. She played volleyball, tennis, basketball, and badminton and was on the honor squad. She was part of the staff of the school newspaper and the yearbook. Barbara was also part of the chorus, the French Conversation club, and the French Journalism club. Nicknamed "Bobbie Lu," she was described in her yearbook as "quiet but friendly." 

When she was a sophomore at the College of New Rochelle, a Roman Catholic girls' school, Barbara informed her parents that she was pregnant. They went with her to her boyfriend's house and discussed the situation with him and his parents. He wanted to marry Barbara, but the Lofrumentos reportedly didn't think Barbara wanted to marry him. They also didn't think that marriage was a wise option for their daughter. They left the home, saying that they would take care of things.

The Abortion

Dominick and Rose Lofrumento cast about for a reputable abortionist and were referred by an acquaintance to 41-year-old Dr. Harvey Norman Lothringer. Lothringer, a Princeton graduate, got his medical degree from the New York University Bellevue College of Medicine.

Lothringer examined Barbara on June 2, 1962. Barbara's parents said that Lothringer had reassured them that although Barbara's pregnancy was 5 months advanced, there was no danger. Lothringer was given $500.

He arranged to pick up Barbara and her mother at Grand Central Station. Dominick Lofrumento accompanied his wife and daughter to the station, handed them off to Lothringer and Cuban-born former stewardess Theresa "Terry" Carillo, who served as Lothringer's receptionist, and boarded a train back home. Lothringer and Carillo took Rose and Barbara to his office, which was in his 19-room, $85,000 home (over $800,000 in 2022 dollars) in a wealthy section of Queens. 

This was typical of the "back alley abortion" -- a reputable physician would make sneaky arrangements to do abortions at the site of their legitimate practices, taking the woman in "through the back alley" rather than the front door. In fact, by far the bulk of criminal abortion were performed by doctors.

Harvey Lothringer
They arrived just after 3 AM on the 3rd. 
Rose Lofrumento handed over another $500. Carillo slipped away upstairs. 

While Mrs. Lofrumento waited, Lothringer sent Barbara into a room where she removed her underwear and reported feeling unwell from the injection Lothringer had given her. Lothringer then took Barbara into his office and left Mrs. Lofrumento in his waiting room. 

About half an hour later, Terry Carillo appeared in the waiting room. Rose fretfully asked her, "What's taking them so long?" 

Carillo reassured her, "Don't worry. She's in good hands."

At about 5 AM, Lothringer told Mrs. Lofrumento that Barbara was all right, but that she needed some oxygen. At around 7:00 or 7:30, Lothringer told Rose that Barbara was resting quietly, and that she should go home and get some rest. The New York Times says that Lothringer told Rose that he was going to hospitalize Barbara for a minor complication. Both sources indicated that Lothringer instructed Rose to return that afternoon to get her daughter.

Where is Barbara?

Rose called her husband, asking him to drive to Grand Central Station to meet her. Lothringer drove Rose to the nearest subway station so she could go to meet her Dominick. 

Dominick asked Rose, "How's Barbara?"

"I didn't see her," Rose replied.

"What! You didn't see her?"

The two of them drove over to Lothringer's home and repeatedly rang the bell. The only response they got was a barking dog. They tried to peer in through the windows, but the Venetian blinds were drawn. 

They went to a nearby diner, where Dominic used a pay phone to call Lothringer every half hour. They got no answer.

Involving the Police

The next morning, Monday, they returned to Lothringer's home, where they found several patients waiting outside. No one had seen Lothringer. Mr. Lofrumento waited for several hours, then went home, and contacted an attorney. He advised them to contact the police to report Barbara missing. The couple went to the office of Queens District Attorney Frank O'Connor the following day and made the report.

They withheld crucial information, though. They only told the police that Barbara had told them that she was pregnant, then had abruptly left the house saying, "I know what to do." They said that they had found Lothringer's name in Barbara's room and had gone to his home on Sunday only to find nobody there.

Officers went to Lothringer's house and rang the bell, knocked on the door, and explored the yard and tried to peer inside. Like Barbara's parents, the only response they got was from a barking dog. Because Barbara's parents hadn't given them sufficient cause for a warrant, they were unable to pursue a search of the home.

Into the Sewer

On Tuesday, Lothringer called Patrolman George Harshak of the Elmhurst station from an unknown location. Harshak was both a patient and a friend. Lothringer told him that he was away on business and had arranged to have Roto-Rooter see about his stopped-up toilet. He needed for Harshak to get spare keys from his parents and let the workmen into the house.

Investigating the main house drain, the worker found the source of the problem -- pieces of bone and flesh, including identifiable human fingers. 

Harshak, who had been monitoring the work, called a detective. An investigator took the tissue to be examined.
 Soon the authorities had workers digging up the sewer lines from Lothringer's house. They troweled sewer waste into screen frames, rinsing away the filth to see what of value they could find. They found pieces of Barbara, her clothing, and her baby. 

Assistant Medical Examiner Richard E. Grimes said that this was the first time he had ever encountered a body cut into such small pieces. Barbara and her unborn baby had essentially been cut into two-inch cubes, likely with a small electric saw. Lothringer had flushed the remains down the toilet.

The medical examiner estimated that it would have taken upwards of 24 hours to cut up the body into such small fragments. Lothringer was probably working on this grisly task even as Barbara's frantic parents were at his door.

The Daily News noted, "Lothringer may even have watched the cleaning job from a discreet distance, ready to stage a reappearance and brazen out the disappearance of Barbara if the remains had been flushed away without discovery of the crime."

Positively Identified

Police went to the Lofrumentos with the news that the search for body parts in Lothringer's sewer pipes had most likely uncovered their daughter. That's when Dominick broke down and told police the entire story.

The teeth, recovered in seven chunks of remains, were sent to Barbara's dentist and positively identified.

Barbara's father also identified fragments of Barbara's coat, slip, and skirt, including blue-checked fabric fragments as matching the clothing Barbara had been wearing when she left home for the abortion appointment.

Where is Lothringer?
Theresa "Terry" Carillo
Lothringer had vanished, along with Cuban-born former stewardess Theresa "Terry" Carillo, and his Dalmatian. The last people to report encountering him were his parents, Helen and Dr. David Lothringer. They said that on Monday night he had opened their door, let his Dalmatian in, and left without even looking inside.  

An international manhunt was launched. US authorities contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police because the Lothringer family owned a hunting lodge near Montreal, and contacted Mexican authorities because Lothringer had a sister living there.

They sought him in Cuba, Terri's homeland, after an anonymous phone call saying, "If you want to find them, look in Camaguey, Cuba." Another false lead came from a Fort Worth dry cleaner who thought the couple had come to drop off a pair of trousers.

They also learned that Lothringer had contacted his answering service the day of Barbara's death, saying that he was going on vacation and that any patients who called should be advised to find another doctor.

The police had been caught off-guard by Barbara's death and Lofrumento's flight. They had been surveilling him for three weeks to build a case against him for running an abortion ring and had been preparing to charge him on two abortion counts. Queens District Attorney Frank D. O'Connor said, "Because of the present confusion over the legality of wire-taps, we did not wiretap the house. If we had used wiretaps, this poor girl would have been alive today."

Differences of Opinion

Conflicting pictures arose of Lothringer during the manhunt. His 24-year-old ex-wife, Felice, had left with their two children in 1957 in a split the Daily News characterized as "stormy." She eventually divorced him. Felice described him as a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, "a wonderful doctor but a poor husband." Neighbors reported that he had been a skirt-chaser even before Felice and the children had left. Other neighbors, however, described him as a fine man.

His estranged wife said that he had an annual income of $85,000. He owned over 100 suits, a Lincoln, a Cadillac, and a station wagon. However, he reportedly would tend to his patients clad in dungarees, sweat shirt, and sneakers.

His parents, Helen and Dr. David Lothringer, refused to talk to the press about him. All his brother, Kenneth, would say was that he and Harvey were distant and that he hadn't seen him for a few months.

As police investigated it became clear that Terry Carillo was more than Lothringer's receptionist. Eventually Terri Carillo would claim to be Lothringer's wife. She had been living in his house for about a year, and a search found a Valentine card addressed to Teresa and signed by Lothringer: "You're the only real love of my life." 

Lothringer was well-to-do, with reports circulating that he kept as much as a million dollars cash in safe deposit boxes. He also reportedly had begun stashing money, allegedly from abortions, in a 2-foot-square safe in his bedroom closet, in order to hide the assets from his estranged wife.

The Manhunt Ends

Eventually, on September 10 of 1962, Lothringer and Carillo were located in the tiny  Pyrenees mountain state of Andorra, population 6,439. The police had tracked him from a postcard he'd mailed to a friend under a false name. The two were living as Mr. and Mrs. Victor Rey. They also stood out like a pair of sore thumbs.

A French official said, "If criminals want to hide out in Europe they had better pic a bigger place."

Andorra had no extradition treaty with the United States. Even identified, Lothringer and Carillo would have been safe had they stayed put. They were caught when they crossed the border into France to look for new lodgings when their lease was about to expire. French police arrested Lothringer in the border town of Pas de la Case and brought him to Perpignan.

Standing By Her Man

Terry recounted the pair's flight. She told The Daily News "I am not just Dr. Lothringer's receptionist or secretary but his wife. We were married in April, 1961, but I am still using a Cuban passport in my maiden name because it takes three years to qualify for an American passport." 

She insisted on Lothringer's innocence. "The truth is we only saw the girl once. Her parents brought her up to my husband asking for an abortion. But since the girl was five months pregnant, my husband refused to operate and told them, 'Do you want me to end up in the electric chair?' He advised the parents to let Barbara have the child in another U. S. city and have the child adopted there."

She said that Barbara's parents had told Lothringer that they knew that he "like all American doctors" "helped" girls, and they threatened to tell the police about prior abortions he had perpetrated unless he performed an abortion on Barbara. 

She said that the reason she and Lothringer had fled after Barbara's disappearance was that he feared that her parents would take revenge on him.

She recounted their journey. "We took a plane from Idlewild, flew to Paris where we spent a few hours and then took a train for Spain. We came to Andorra at the end of June and when my husband was arrested we were just about to leave."

During a hearing Lothringer began to echo his lover, crying out, "I am not guilty of what I am accused of!"

The French prosecutor gave a warning, "We are not concerned here with your protests of innocence. We only want to ascertain if you are the man sought." His identity confirmed, Lothringer was held.

Lothringer Comes Clean

French police contacted the Queens District Attorney's office. Lothringer contacted his attorney, Moses M. Falk. Because Falk was in a trial, District Attorney Philip Chetta got a five-hour head start on an air race to France. 

As Terry paced nervously outside the interview room, Lothringer told Chetta that Theresa hadn't know about the abortion. He said that when he fled, he told her, "Trust me and follow me without asking questions." He denied that he and Theresa were married.

Lothringer told police that Barbara had developed an air embolism about half an hour after he'd started the abortion. Contrary to what Mrs. Lofrumento said, Lothringer said that he had tried to talk the family out of the abortion because of how far advanced Barbara's pregnancy was. He said that he set a high fee of $1,000 (roughly $9,500 in 2022 dollars) in the hopes that Barbara's father would balk. (Barbara's family had reported paying $500 for the abortion.)

Though he'd openly discussed the abortion with police, he refused to say anything about cutting up Barbara's body other than that he'd done it "to avoid involving" his lady love.

Lothringer's Lawyer Changes Everything

It was only after Lothringer's confession that his attorney arrived. He asserted that the police had not caught Lothringer on French soil but had instead kidnapped him in Andorra. He asserted that Lothringer's confession was false. Lothringer, he said, had only confessed because it was the only way to get police to agree to let Terry visit him in his cell. He reportedly feared that she would kill herself if not allowed to see him.

Falk also took umbrage at the cell where his client was held, saying that it was an 800-year-old "dungeon" with hay for a bed. As the Daily News put it, "Efforts got under way to transfer Lothringer to a more stylish cell in the U.S. and Falk put up quite a fight against that." Nevertheless, Lothringer was extradited and returned to the states with Carillo and the police.

Back in the USA

Upon arrival in New York, a manacled Lofrumento was led down the ramp of an Air France plane by members of the Queens District Attorney's office. The Herald Statesman reported, that Lothringer "managed quick, tense smiles for photographers" but "declined any comment, shaking his head negatively to questions."

Lothringer's attorney met him at the airport.

Falk pleaded for Lothringer to be released on $10,000 bail, noting that other doctors charged with abortion manslaughter were released on even lower bail. He also noted that until Barbara's death, Lothringer had an unblemished record. ADA Frank Cacciatore, on the other hand, wanted a high bail. "This defendant ran away and did not notify anyone. He could run away again. This charge of manslaughter resulted from an abortion. Ordinarily, a person who takes another's life is charged with murder. Counsel should thank God for little favors." Lothringer's bail was set at $50,000.

Falk also said he would appeal to the UN Human Rights Commission, once again arguing that Lothringer was "kidnaped" from Andorra, then was lodged in a cell "without heat or ventilation, with food unfit for human consumption, and rats as his only companions."

Terry Carillo refused to testify before the Grand Jury and was charged with contempt of court. She surrendered to police, and after giving a full statement to Assistant District Attorney Bernard Patten, she was granted immunity. She was, however, held on $30,000 bond as a material witness.

Back in Queens, Lothringer was charged with first degree manslaughter, abortion, second degree assault, dissection of a human body, conspiracy to commit abortion, failure to report a death to the Medical Examiner and removing and disturbing the clothing of a corpse. Two abortion charges were related to cases where the young woman survived. Conviction fir the manslaughter charge alone could result in a 20 year prison sentence.

Justice Delayed

Lothringer entered a not-guilty plea. While awaiting trial, he made weekly journeys to Flushing, Long Island, to visit Terry, who was working at an antique shop. Unable to practice medicine, Lothringer reportedly got a job as the manager of a paper plant. He dutifully returned to Queens for court appearances. As the trial went through one delay after another, Barbara's father shouted at Lothringer as he was led out through the corridor, "Why don't you go home and blow your brains out, you murderer?" Lothringer didn't respond.

However, in after jury selection and a dozen postponements, he surprised everybody by pleading guilty to second degree manslaughter in May of 1964. With the guilty plea he faced a maximum sentence of 15 years. Had he been found guilty of first-degree manslaughter, he would have faced a possible 20 year sentence.

Lothringer, in spite of the flight risk, was still free on $50,000 bail (nearly half a million in 2022 dollars).

After Lothringer's plea, Dominick Lofrumento told reporters, "Justice has been served. The district attorney's office has done a wonderful investigating job. All we can say is thanks." He then put his arm around the weeping, black-clad Rose and added, "Instead of going to a graduation, we had to go to this." 

Barbara would have graduated from New Rochelle College that month.

A Shocking Outcome

It wasn't until July 22 that Lothringer was finally sentenced: 2 to 8 years in Sing Sing. Upon hearing the sentence, Barbara's mother screamed, "Oh, my God!" and fainted. After she was revived by court attendants, she sobbed, "A crime so vicious! How can he get off with so low a sentence? And he has been impeding justice the past two years."

Dominick Lofrumento
Dominick said, "I expected him to get the full 15 years. This was discount justice. Why, the district attorney's office told me that under the original 15-count indictment this man could have got 99 years. He got 90% off!"

Lothringer's attorney, however, was pleased. He had requested leniency, saying that Lothringer had lost his medical license and was seeking to rehabilitate himself. The judge said that he had gotten letters from patient urging mercy. One of those letters -- written anonymously -- was in praise of Lothringer for performing an abortion.

Justice Farrell justified the sentence by saying that even if Lothringer was released after serving even two thirds of the 2-year minimum sentence, 16 months, he would still be under parole and thus supervised for the full 8 years.


After the discovery of Barbara's remains, Deputy Chief Inspector James E. Knott said that Lothringer had arranged for his sewer pipes to be cleaned out the previous December. Knott refused to draw any conclusions.

And in terms that would be familiar today, Anthony Autorino wrote a letter to the editor published in the June 13, 1962 Daily News: 
Another young girl's life is snuffed out by an illegal abortion. Why are we such hypocrites in this country, allowing abortions to be performed every day by unscrupulous doctors, under scary conditions, charging ridiculous fees, jeopardizing the victim's life when something goes wrong? Why don't we take a lesson from some other countries and save lives by legalizing the practice?
It was evidently lost on Mr. Autorino that Lothringer was a reputable physician right up until he chopped up Barbara and her baby. 

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