Thursday, August 04, 2022

August 4, 1924: A Habitual Offender in Wichita

Inez Lorean Franklin, a 19-year-old Southwestern Bell Telephone employee of Buffalo, Missouri, died on August 4, 1924 in Wichita, Kansas. The autopsy found that Lorean had died of peritonitis due to an abortion. 

An inquest was held to verify if Dr. Charles C. Keester had perpetrated a fatal abortion on her since Lorean died in Keester's hospital, Keester's Sanitarium at 1600 East Harry Street. 

Authorities believed that he had performed the abortion on August 1. 

Lorean's sister, Addie Furlington, swore a complaint against Franklin in the death. Keester asserted that he had merely operated on Lorean for gallstones.

Two young men who were not identified in the source were "alleged to have admitted their connection with the affair and to have made arrangements with the doctor for the operation."

Keester had already been implicated in the abortion deaths of Hattie Myers, age 19, March 7, 1922; and Hazel Hadicke, age 19, December 16, 1923. The same month that Loren died, Keester was implicated in the abortion death of "Bonnie," age 18. The Newton Journal noted, "Dr. Keester has an infamous reputation in Wichita and evidently has been pulling iniquity with a cart rope. It is alleged that the officers were ready on numerous occasions to close in on questionable cases but the relatives involved would back out, avoiding publicity and scandal."

Keester was charged originally charged with first degree murder but ultimately convicted of manslaughter in Lorean's death and sentenced to 5 to 21 years in prison. He was freed on bail pending the new trial, which was granted after an appellate court found that the judge had erred in instructing the jury that they could find Keester guilty of first degree manslaughter though the charge had been second-degree manslaughter. After eight unsuccessful attempts to schedule a trial, Lorean's sisters agreed in May of 1927 to sign a written recommendation to end prosecution. 

The decision to drop prosecution would prove ill-considered. Keester on to be convicted in the February 28, 1930 abortion death of Rena Armstrong, age 17. 

Watch "Freed to Kill Again" on YouTube.


  • "Lorean Franklin," Newton Kansan, August 8, 1924
  • "Charge Doctor With Murder Following Alleged Operation," Hutchinson News, August 11, 1924
  • "Postpones Inquest," Wichita Daily Eagle, August 13, 1924
  • "Kansas Notes," Concordia Press, August 14, 1924
  • "Keester Facing Murder Charge," The Newton Kansan," August 15, 1924
  • "Dr. Chas. C. Keester Charged With Murder," The Newton Journal, August 22, 1924
  • "Dr. Keester Charged With Malpractice," The Newton Journal, August 29, 1924
  • "Keester Asking for New Trial," The Newton Journal, December 12, 1924
  • "Doctor's Case Brings Legal Records to Fore," Wichita Evening Eagle, April 2, 1927
  • "To Hear Keester Appeal Monday," Wichita Daily Eagle, May 2, 1927
  • "Statements of Sisters to End Keester Case," Wichita Evening Eagle, May 3, 1927

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