Thursday, September 29, 2022

September 29, 1923: Revelations at a Baby Farm

On September 29, 1923, 44-year-old Annie Allison, a London native living in Brooklyn, died at the office of chiropractor Henry Lee Mottard at 114 West 71st Street in Manhattan. Mottard practiced under the name of Dr. Henry L. Green. Annie was a homemaker. Her husband, Herbert Allison, was a music professor. According to census records, she and Herbert had two children Bernhard and Elsie, who were young adults at the time of their mother's death.

Annie was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Brooklyn, on October 2. 

However, Annie's death certificate, signed by a Dr. Husson, attributed her death to chronic cardiac nephritis. 

Two years later, police were investigating 41-year-old Mottard for his suspected involvement in a kidnap/adoption scheme and the disappearance of an infant returned to him after a family backed out of an adoption. Somehow this investigation raised suspicions that Mottard was up to more than just kidnapping and selling infants. They had Annie exhumed. That's when things got really weird.

During the post-mortem examination, performed on April 17, 1925, doctors found that somebody had removed Annie's brain, heart, kidneys, and other organs. Mottard reportedly admitted that he had indeed performed an abortion but that Annie had actually died from falling down the shaft of a dumbwaiter on his premises while she was there recuperating. She had, he said, mistaken the dumbwaiter shaft for a bathroom. However, there were no broken bones or other injuries consistent with a fall. 

Mottard denied having been at his practice at the time that Annie died.

It was revealed that she had died from an abortion. Mottard was arrested on suspicion of homicide. His bond was set at $25,000. That's over $400,000 in 2022 dollars.

Police concluded that Mottard was running a very lucrative abortion business out of the Manhattan brownstone, bringing in as much as $100,000 a year. That's nearly $1.7 million in 2022 dollars. He admitted that he had performed many abortions and claimed no maternal fatalities. 

During the investigation, police searched Mottard's ten-acre farm outside the city for evidence of more bodies after allegations arose that Mottard had also performed an abortion there on a young woman the previous January. An operating room and a machine gun were found in the 14-room farmhouse. I haven't been able to find reports that they found the remains of any babies.

A second homicide case was filed against Mottard by officials of Suffolk County, where the farm was located. They had evidence that one of Mottard's rural abortion patients had suffered the same fate as Annie Allison. 

Mottard admitted to having performed three abortions in the farmhouse but recanted his admission that he had performed the fatal one on Annie. 

Mottard told officials that he had come to New York five years earlier from Wisconsin and had changed his name from Mottard to Green because he preferred the name. Records do show him practicing chiropractic in Milwaukee in the first quarter of the century.

Watch "She Fell Down the Elevator Shaft" on YouTube.


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