Monday, January 23, 2023

January 23, 1944: The Soldier's Sweetheart

Portrait of a smiling young white woman with fine features and dark, shoulder-length hair
Geraldine Schuyler
Geraldine Schuyler, age 20, was a secretary at Matthewson Electric Company in Chicago when she learned that she was pregnant in January of 1944. The father was Geraldine's fiancé, a soldier in the Army Air Forces.

Geraldine turned to her mother, Leah Schuyler, who went with her on January 14 to meet one of Leah's friends, 49-year-old Mrs. Avis Konradt. 

Konradt, a nurse, took them to a rooming house where 79-year-old George E. Fosberg was caretaker. Fosberg was a physician whose license had been revoked in 1930 when he'd gone to prison for bank fraud. Fosberg examined Geraldine and agreed to perform an abortion.

The women returned to the rooming house on January 17. Mrs. Schuyler paid Fosberg $100 (about $1,700 in 2023 dollars), and he took Geraldine and her into the basement for the abortion, accompanied by Konradt.

Geraldine started to become ill on January 20. By the night of Saturday, January 22, she took a sudden turn for the worse and was quickly taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston shortly before midnight. At around 2:00 on the morning of the 23rd, she was dead.

Mrs. Schuyler told the police what had happened, and led them to the rooming house. There, police found Fosberg "in the dusty basement of the house, walking thru stacks of his old records as a physician." The police confiscated seven sets of surgical instruments.

Nurse Konradt testified against Fosberg during the trial, admitting that she had witnessed the abortion. 

Fosberg took the stand in his own defense, admitted that the three women had come to him on January 17 to request an abortion. He wept as he said, that he "resented" the request that he perform an abortion. "I suggested that she marry the man. I told her that if she had a baby she would never regret it."

The jury needed only 90 minutes to reach a decision. Fosberg was convicted of manslaughter rather than the more serious charge of murder by abortion. 

The judge had originally sentenced him to serve 14 years in prison. The sentence was deferred while Fosberg tried to get a new trial. The attempt failed. However, Fosberg's attorney argued that due to his client's age, a 14-year sentence was equivalent to a death sentence. Fosberg's sentence was reduced to between one and three years. 

I have been unable to learn anything about the outcome of the charges against the nurse, Avis Konradt. She had been granted a separate trial.

The Schuyler family had moved to the Chicago area from Decatur, Illinois five years earlier. After Fosberg's conviction, her working-class parents returned to Decatur.

Watch Nurse + Doctor = Death on YouTube.


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