Saturday, July 13, 2024

July 13, 1926: Dismembered and Dumped

  A Ghastly Discovery

Vittorio Gianini
On July 13, 1926, state hospital laborer Vittorio Gianini, walking to work along Walk Hill Street in the Mattapan district on the outskirts of Boston, spotted something unnerving. 

The road passed between New Calvary Cemetery and Mount Hope Cemetery. Against the wall of New Calvary Cemetery were two cardboard boxes and a burlap bag.

Mr. Jenney notified a nearby patrolman, who lifted the lid of one of the boxes and spotted what appeared to be human remains. He called for other police officers to help him guard the scene while they waited for the medical examiner.

Parts of the woman's body were wrapped in Boston newspapers dated June 27. The vital organs had been wrapped in a cotton chemise, then placed under the head in the larger box. 

Police believed that the remains had been dumped next to the cemetery by someone who had planned to toss them into a grave that had been dug in anticipation of a burial, cover them with some dirt, and allow the scheduled burial to hide all traces of the victim.

Identity a Mystery

Investigators described the young woman as "attractive and apparently refined." 

Dr. Leary, the Boston medical examiner, said that the she was approximately 22 to 25 years of age, 5'6" tall, weighing 120 pounds, with bobbed black hair parted on the left and combed smooth, and dark brown eyes. Her eyebrows were carefully penciled. She had never needed dental work, and had a slight overbite. Her nails were very well-tended but not professionally manicured or pedicured. 

The young woman's legs were still wearing Nile green stockings which had been pulled up over the tops of the severed limbs. The young woman's cotton night dress, with embroidery on the right shoulder and a pink ribbon running through the neckline, was still on her torso.

She had evidently been dismembered shortly after her death, Leary said. The dismemberment was expertly done, Leary said, indicating that the killer might be a skilled surgeon. Leary estimated that the young woman had been dead from 48 to 72 hours at the time of autopsy.

 The medical examiner's office photographed the body and had a "microphotographer" alter the picture to try to recreate what the young woman had looked like when alive. The photo was published in newspapers

Around 23 families or other loved ones of missing women contacted the morgue in the first hours after the body was found. A procedure was established to prevent morbid gawking. Dr. Leary would ask the name, age, and description of their missing loved one. This was often sufficient to rule out a missing woman. One woman, for example, was told that the body was not that of her daughter, Eileen LeGrace, because Eileen had dental fillings while the woman in the morgue had completely health teeth. 

If the description matched the body, the family would first be shown the photograph, which was usually enough to rule out the missing loved one as the "Mattapan Victim."

Two employees of the State Child Welfare Division came to the morgue with a photograph of Edith Greene, who had been a ward of the state. They had come forward after seeing the photo of the dead woman in the newspaper. However, they were uncertain as to the identity after viewing the body because, they said, Edith did not have an overbite or particular large central front teeth like those of the victim.

Other Clues Pursued

The boxes were dusted for fingerprints. The ropes used to tie them provided clues, since they had been tied using distinctive knots. A salesman at a store reported a man had purchased 50 feet of clothesline the morning of Monday the 12th, the day before the body was discovered. He was confident that he would be able to positively identify the purchaser. 

William Reagan
William Reagan, superintendent of the Natick Box Company, went to the medical examiner's office to examine the boxes the body had been found in. He identified one of them, the smaller, 13 x 9.5 x 8 inch, as having been produced at his factory. It was their "green mahogany" box, manufactured exclusively for a Boston company, Collins & Fairbanks, for fur neckpieces. While this narrowed down the place the box was obtained, this did not much narrow down the specific box since Natick produced 3,000 a year. Nevertheless, police went to the Boston firm to request a list of customers who had purchased furs packaged in the green mahogany box.

Leary also did not at first release a definitive cause of death. He said that "blood poisoning" was likely and indicted that, as the New York Times said, "evidence pointed to illegal surgery."

"The only indication as to the identity of the murderer came from young men who saw a well-dressed, middle-aged man nervously driving an automobile in the vicinity" the previous night.

Possible Sightings

People came forward who thought they had seen the young woman or the person who had dumped her body.

A watchman at Grand Trunk Railroad station said that he had seen a woman matching the woman's description at the station about two weeks earlier. She was quarrelling with a man who appeared to be in his mid-30s and slapped his face. The argument was about plans for an abortion. About five minutes later they seemed to have calmed down, asked about the departure times for trains into Boston then getting into a taxi and leaving together.

A brakeman at the station said that the watchman had called his attention to the woman that day. He said he had seen her as a passenger a week before the quarrel, getting off the train at Berlin, New Hampshire. 

The Victim Identified

By July 15, the young woman had been positively identified as 20-year-old Edith Louise Greene, the young ward of the state who had previously been ruled out as the victim. Information that the state officials hadn't known when they first went to the morgue led the medical examiner to take a closer look.

Edith had been raised as a ward of the state, along with her two siblings, at the behest of their mother after the death of their father. 

Edith went to work at the home of Mrs. Arthur J. Buckley, taking care of her two children. The children, Mrs. Buckley said, were delighted with Edith, and she, herself, was fond of the girl. After working with the family for eleven months, Edith left to take a job at the Boston Psychopathic Hospital on April 26, 1926 in order to earn more money so she could marry her sweetheart. She was employed in the pathology department in a training position.

Edith she became friends with another worker at the hospital, Betty Landry. 

Edith left her lodgings at the hospital the night of June 23, never to return.

Edith's Time at the Rooming House

Edith was next tracked to lodgings she took with Mrs. John R. MacDonald at 39 Stanley Street, Meetinghouse Hill in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston on June 26. Mrs. MacDonald became quickly very fond of her young lodger. "She seemed so refined and honest and good that no one could help caring for her."

Mrs. MacDonald said that Edith and the young woman's lover sat down together on July 3 and had a conversation about Edith's pregnancy. Mrs. MacDonald said that she encouraged the young couple to consult with a pastor and get married. Edith and her boyfriend expressed concern about the expenses of a young family, Mrs. MacDonald said, but she assured them that they would be able to manage.

The couple left, Mrs. MacDonald said, and returned with a marriage license, which they showed her much to her delight.

A few days later Edith slipped away, leaving her key on her dresser. 

"I missed her very much," Mrs. MacDonald said. "You see, she seemed so well trained and quiet and ready to do anything one asked her. I did everything to make her comfortable and she appreciated even the smallest favor. She was so thoughtful about pulling up my chair for me or doing little deeds of kindness."

When she read about the body found by the cemetery and saw the photo of the dead girl, she convinced herself that it wasn't Edith. She became uneasy when the State Ward Department phoned her about Edith's whereabouts, and totally distraught when she learned the sad truth.

Edith's Final Movements

She was next tracked to lodgings at 233 Warren Street in Roxbury, where she took a room on July 8. She told Mrs. Ida Engel, who kept the lodging house, that she had just been hospitalized and was going to "loaf for a week." Mrs. Engle was surprised that Edith selected Room 7A, which was a large room. Edith explained that she was expecting a friend to come to visit and wanted to have plenty of space.

Edith had arrived at Mrs. Engel's house at around 6:30 in the evening and stayed just long enough to secure the room without leaving any belongings there.  At about 9:00 that evening she returned with a young man and two suitcases. Edith struck Mrs. Engle as very refined and likely to be a desirable lodger.

Edith and the young man, whom she addressed as "Gene," merely dropped off the luggage and left. Edith never returned.

The young man, however, did return on Monday, July 12. He was accompanied by a young woman who matched the description of Betty Landry, Edith's friend from the State Psychiatric Hospital. The pair said that Edith was resting in the country and had sent them for her belongings. They didn't have Edith's room key, which Mrs. Engle took as a sign that they didn't have permission from Edith to take the bags, so she refused to let the couple take them.

Betty Had Been the Key

Betty Landry
The state officials responsible for Edith had not given up on tracking their young ward down just because they didn't think she was the woman in the morgue. They went back to the hospital asking questions. Of all of Edith's co-workers, Betty Landry clearly had been the one in her confidence. It was through information from Betty that officials had been able to trace Edith to the two boarding houses. 

They then took Betty to the medical examiner's office. She knew of a pigmented mark on Edith's back that the medical examiner had missed, likely due to post-mortem discoloration of the skin. A microscopic examination of the skin found the mark.

The state officials also brought Edith's dental records. Tiny fillings had been placed in the backs of Edith's upper third molars in 1914. Using dental mirrors and strong lighting, the medical examiner spotted the fillings that had originally been missed.

Betty and the state workers had also brought two pairs of Edith's shoes -- a pair of shoes too big for her that she habitually wore around the house and a pair of dress shoes that fitted her properly. The shoes were tried on the feet of the corpse and, as expected, the dress shoes fitted properly but the house shoes were too big.

The Young Man

James Vincent Ford
Police began a search for the 21-year-old man, James Vincent Ford, the "sweetheart" responsible for Edith's pregnancy.

Police went to the home of James's brother, William J. Ford, in South Boston and took him, James, and their father to the morgue for questioning. Ford's mother, who had a history of heart ailments, collapsed when the police took her son into custody. The sad woman had lost a daughter of her own to death only a week earlier.

Ford told police that he had loved Edith and planned to marry her until she told him something that scared him off. At that point he decided that an abortion was the answer. A man named Thomas Tierney gave him the connection to Dr. Thomas Walsh. Ford paid $150 (c. $2,500 in 2022)  for the fatal surgery, dropping Edith off for the abortion on Friday, July 9. 

Ford said he went back to Walsh's home on Saturday night. Edith was lying on a cot and told him she was feeling well. Walsh assured the young man that everything was fine.

Arrow denotes Walsh's office

The next day, Ford said, Walsh called to say that Edith had died. Ford said that he fainted upon hearing the news. Ford said that Walsh had asked for his help in disposing of Edith's body, but that he had refused. 

Ford said he hadn't known that Edith's body had been dismembered until he read the story in the newspaper and saw the photograph of the dead woman.

Ford told police, "I wish now, of course, that I had married her. I did wrong. I know it. I didn't think anything like this would happen. I will now try to make what amends I can by telling the whole truth about it. It does not matter how much I have to suffer now."

Ford also said that he wanted to "give Edith a decent burial" to make amends for arranging the lethal abortion. How earnest he was in his desire to "make amends" is dubious, since in his confession he indicated that though he believed he was the father of the aborted baby, Edith had been involved with other men. He also, of course, didn't come forward right away but let his sweetheart be cut up and tossed by the roadside in a pair of cardboard boxes and a burlap bag.

Ford ultimately pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to procure an illegal operation and testified against Dr. Walsh.

Catching the Abortionist

Dr. Thomas E. Walsh
Dr. Thomas Walsh was already known to the police. He had been indicted for abortion in 1920. In May of 1923 he was held as a suspicious person in connection with an abortion case. In September of that year, based on a complaint filed by the medical board, he was arrested for practicing medicine without a license and fined $200.

Police raided 48-year-old Walsh's office shortly after midnight. There was no sign of the disgraced doctor. However, they found one of Edith's organs in a garbage pail behind Walsh's apartment. 

Murder warrants were issued for both Walsh and his 28-year-old wife, Marion. 

The pair eventually surrendered themselves. Walsh was charged as a primary and his wife as an accessory before the fact, with their bail being set at $15,000 and $2,000 respectively.  Mrs. Walsh posted bail first so that she could care for her ailing mother. Dr. Walsh then made bail.

The search for culprits in Edith's death also netted a thoroughly intoxicated Dr. John Leo Hanson, who admitted to having been in Boston when Edith vanished, but who denied having any part in her death or dismemberment. Hanson had been arrested while trying to get New York license plates for his car. They found a bag of surgical instruments in his room. Police believed that he had helped Walsh dismember and dispose of Edith's body. They sought an unnamed man whom they said had driven the car.

The judge directed the jury to find Mrs. Walsh not guilty of the two charges she faced: conspiracy to procure an illegal operation and accessory before the fact in an illegal operation. Walsh's defense hinged on the testimony of witnesses who said that they were present at Walsh's home the night of July 11 for "a family party" and saw no unfamiliar woman on the premises. Walsh's attorney also argued that Edith's baby might have been aborted by some means other than surgical, and that Dr. Walsh would not have been capable of dismembering Edith's body.

Walsh, an Irish immigrant who had come to the US in 1888, was found guilty of the abortion and having performed the abortion with an instrument, which carried a total maximum sentence of nine years. For some reason he was not charged with Edith's death; had he been convicted of that crime he would have faced 20 years.

When sentencing day came around, there was no sign of Walsh. Those who had paid his bail had to forfeit their money.  Rumor was that Walsh had vanished only because he was trying to get one last Christmas as a free man before being sentenced. 

He was eventually recaptured and incarcerated.

Watch "Dismembered and Dumped" on YouTube.


Friday, July 12, 2024

July 12, 1978: Choked on Vomit While Under Abortion Anesthesia

 In July of 1978, Twenty-seven-year-old Gail Mazo went to Mt. Sinai in New York for an abortion, because she had ulcerative colitis.

While she was under general anesthesia for the abortion, Gail began to vomit, and breathed the vomit into her lungs.

The material in her lungs caused complications that killed Gail. She died on July 12, 1978.

Gail's survivors filed suit against the anesthesiologist for failure to recognize that Gail was a high-risk patient and to treat her accordingly. The family and the doctor eventually settled out of court for $800,000.

Source: New York County (NY) Supreme Court Case No. 8517-80

July 12, 2002: Chicago Planned Parenthood Death

Irene Stevenson underwent an abortion at a Chicago Planned Parenthood in 2002. She developed an infection and died on July 12. Her widower, Maurice, sued Planned Parenthood, Dr. Lloyd Gregg, Dr. Murray Pelta, and Michael Reese Hospital for malpractice, but the case was dismissed by stipulation in 2006. 

I'm not certain what roles Dr. Gregg and Dr. Pelta played in Irene's death, but Pelta is an abortionist with a lot of cases noted on AbortionDocs.

Commenting on the lack of public records on abortion deaths, Maurice told the Chicago Tribune, "It's outrageous. These procedures, complications and deaths should be public record."

When the Chicago Tribune was investigating the lack of records, Carole Brite, then president of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, could not confirm if they had reported Irene's death, since the records were in storage, but did say that Planned Parenthood had reported a patient's 2008 death. 

My research arm, Keely, found a wrongful death lawsuit against planned Parenthood: Estate of Bonnie Hunt vs. Planned Parenthood. Bonnie died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago at the age of 44 on August 5, 2008. 

The other Planned Parenthood deaths I have in my records are:


July 12, 1970: Another Beneficiary of New York's Liberalized Law

  Pearl Schwier, age 42, was 20 weeks pregnant when she sought a safe, legal abortion under New York state’s new law, at St. Luke’s hospital in New York City.

She was brought into the operating room on July 6, 1970 for a hysterotomy abortion, which is simply a C-section in which the intention is to allow the baby to die rather than to deliver him or her alive. It was performed under general anesthesia. Pearl was also to have her tubes tied during the surgery.

About 45 minutes into the procedure, Pearl had a reaction to the anesthesia and never regained consciousness, dying on July 12, leaving her husband, John, with four children to care for.

Pearl is “Judy” from the Life Dynamics “Blackmun Wall.”

The 1970 liberalization of abortion had made New York an abortion mecca until the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling that abortionists could legally set up shop in any state of the union. In addition to “Judy,” these are the women I know of who had the dubious benefit of dying from the newfangled safe-and-legal kind of abortion in pre-Roe New York:

  • Carmen Rodriguez, July, 1970, salt solution intended to kill the fetus accidentally injected into her bloodstream
  • Barbara Riley, July, 1970, sickle-cell crisis triggered by abortion recommended by doctor due to her sickle cell disease
  • "Amanda" Roe, September, 1970, sent back to her home in Indiana with an untreated hole poked in her uterus
  • Maria Ortega, October, 1970, fetus shoved through her uterus into her pelvic cavity then left there
  • "Kimberly" Roe, December, 1970, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Amy" Roe, January, 1971, massive pulmonary embolism
  • "Andrea" Roe, January, 1971, overwhelming infection
  • "Sandra" Roe, April, 1971, committed suicide due to post-abortion remorse
  • "Anita" Roe, May, 1971, bled to death in her home during process of outpatient saline abortion
  • Margaret Smith, June 1971, hemorrhage from multiple lacerations during outpatient hysterotomy abortion
  • "Annie" Roe, June, 1971, cardiac arrest during anesthesia
  • "Audrey" Roe, July, 1971, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Vicki" Roe, August, 1971, post-abortion infection
  • "April" Roe, August, 1971, injected with saline for outpatient abortion, went into shock and died
  • "Barbara" Roe, September, 1971, cardiac arrest after saline injection for abortion
  • "Tammy" Roe, October, 1971, massive post-abortion infection
  • Carole Schaner, October, 1971, hemorrhage from multiple lacerations during outpatient hysterotomy abortion
  • "Beth" RoeDecember, 1971, saline injection meant to kill fetus accidentally injected into her bloodstream
  • "Roseann" Roe, February, 1971, vomiting with seizures causing pneumonia after saline abortion
  • "Connie" Roe, March, 1972, cardiac arrest during abortion
  • "Julie" Roe, April, 1972, holes torn in her uterus and bowel
  • "Roxanne," May, 1972, convulsions and death at start of abortion
  • "Robin" Roe, May, 1972, lingering abortion complications
  • "Danielle" Roe, May, 1972, air in her bloodstream


  • "Maternal Mortality Associated With Legal Abortion in New York State: July 1, 1970 - June 30, 1972; Berger, Tietze, Pakter, Katz, Obstetrics and Gynecology, 43:3, March 1974, 320
  • Abortions Prove Fatal to Three N.Y. Women,” The Troy Times Record, July 22, 1970

July 12, 1925: Life of the Mother?

  From the records of the Cook County Coroner's office:

1926 July 6 -- Lowy, Mrs. Lottie - Age 37 -- Died from a criminal abortion at 301 W. North Ave., office of a midwife, Lucy Hagenow, who was held by the coroner on 7/17/25. 11A Dist. Sept. 1950 No Bill.
Dr. Louise "Lucy" Hagenow
July 6 is evidently the date of the crime, because all other sources give the date of death as July 12.

According to Illinois death records, Lottie's full name was Charlotte Lottie Cagney Lowy, an immigrant from England. She was married to Simon Lowy. Genealogy records indicate that she and Simon had two children, ages 11 and 12, at the time of her death.

News records give her husband's name as Siegfried. He was an immigrant from Hungary, so it's likely that he Anglicized his name, which was a common practice at the time.

Siegfried/Simon was arrested just hours after Lottie's funeral. "Though he had allowed the act which caused his arrest, he said, believing it would save his wife's life, he was arrested on a charge of being an accessory to an illegal operation...." Lottie, he told the papers, had been in ill health for several years. 

Lottie became seriously ill after the abortion. She was admitted to St. Anthony Hospital, then transferred to Cook County Hospital where she died.

Prior to her death Lottie "told police officers .. how she had been attacked several months ago by Phillip Dispensa, an Italian, whom Mr. Lowy had hired to work around his yard." This seems to indicate that both Lottie and her husband might have attributed the pregnancy to a rape that had gone unreported. This fact, rather than Lottie's health, might have been the real reason for the abortion, since it would have been legal for a doctor to admit Lottie to a hospital and preform an abortion under the best possible conditions had her life really been endangered.

Lottie was 12th of the 18 victims attributed to Dr. Lucy Hagenow, who was reportedly 85 years old at the time of the fatal abortion. Women's deaths attributed to Hagenow are:
  1. Louise Derchow (1st San Francisco death, 1887)
  2. Annie Dorries (1888)
  3. Abbia Richards (1888)
  4. Emma Depp (1888)
  5. Minnie Dearing (1st Chicago death, 1891)
  6. Sophia Kuhn (1892)
  7. Emily Anderson (1892)
  8. Hannah Carlson (1896)
  9. Marie Hecht (1899)
  10. Mary Putnam (1905)
  11. Lola Madison (1906)
  12. Annie Horvatich (1907)
  13. Lottie Lowy (1925)
  14. Nina Pierce (1925)
  15. Jean Cohen (1925)
  16. Bridget Masterson (1925)
  17. Elizabeth Welter (1925)
  18. Mary Moorehead (1926)

Thursday, July 11, 2024

July 11, 1975: Death at the "Lime 5" Clinic


 Beverly Ann Moore, age 15, dies on July 11, 1975 after an abortion performed by Dr. Tuckey Hayes at Chattanooga Women's Clinic -- the "Lime 5" clinic.

Hayes assured Beverly's parents that she would be "all right" just fifteen minutes before she died.

Chattanooga Women's Clinic was written up for continued deficiencies even after Beverly's death. Noted flaws included (with dates of citation):

  • "Wrist, knee or foot controls not provided on lavatories used by physicians and nurses" (3-8-79)
  • No system for referring patients to other health care providers (3-8-79)
  • No emergency transfer arrangements (3-8-79)
  • Lack of written job descriptions (3-8-79, 10-10-89)
  • Lack of documentation of staff qualifications (10-10-89)
  • Inoperable emergency lighting (3-8-79, 3-12-87, 3-17-87, 4-5-93)
  • Re-use of disposable curettes (3-12-87)
  • Medications out-of-date (5-22-85, 3-12-87, 3-17-87, 10-10-89, 4-6-92)
  • Outdated IV solution (10-10-89)
  • Medications improperly stored (3-8-79, 3-12-87, 3-17-87, 6-18-87)
  • Unwrapped speculums stored in examining table drawer (6-18-87)
  • Used disposable curettes stored on shelf with clean supplies (6-18-87)
  • Blood in procedure table (10-10-89)
  • Dirty floor and equipment in lab (10-10-89)
  • Out of date sterile instruments in autoclave area (6-18-87)
  • "Sterile instruments in treatment room observed to have stains" (4-6-92)
  • Patient records lacking documentation of required testing for sexually transmitted diseases (10-10-89)

A young woman would later sue the clinic over the dehumanizing treatment she has received there during an 8-week abortion in February of 1992. She was stripped of her name and told to answer to "Lime 5." Her pre-abortion "counseling" took place in a room with 20 other patients. She was not given copies of any of the papers she signed. Staff were not available to answer her questions. When she was on the table, the doctor came in to perform her abortion with his shirt unbuttoned. He used repeated profanity, appeared to be fondling the nurse, and told the patient that he believed "Nothing is better in life than sex and money." The young woman was injured. When she sued the clinic, she tried to use a pseudonym, but the clinic successfully moved that the young woman they wouldn't even call by her real name had to use that name in public if she wanted to sue them. (Hamilton County (TN) Circuit Court Docket No. 92CV-1999)

Watch "Death in the 'Lime 5' Clinic" on YouTube.

Sources: Kevin Sherlock Death Log; Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Center Survey Form 3-12-87; Statement of Deficiencies and Plan of Correction 3-8-79, 5-22-85, 3-17-87, 6-18-87, 4-24-90, 4-16-91, 4-6-92, 4-5-93; Licensing Board Docket No. 17.17-D-89-1104A

July 11, 1931: Self-Induced Abortion Proves Fatal

Tina May Lynaugh was born in Victory, Vermont on October 7, 1909. She grew up in a large family, with younger siblings born in 1912, 1913, 1916, and 1918. Her final sister was born in 1926, when Tina was 16 years old.

Tina married Dexter Grant in 1928 at the age of 18. The couple had two children.

Tina was described as having a happy, sunny disposition, brightening every gathering.

All that came to an end on July 11, 1931, when Tina died at Brightlook Hospital at the age of 21. 

For some unknown reason, Tina had decided to try a self-induced abortion which caused fatal septicemia.

Watch Young Mother's Self-Induced Abortion Death on YouTube.

Sources: Death record and obituary

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

July 10, 1934: Boyfriend off the hook. So who killed Marian Mills?

Marian Mills
It was the summer of 1934. Marian Mills, age 20, had just completed her degree at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. She was planning to return for post-graduate studies in the fall. Marian was a popular woman at the university. She had been chosen Engineers' Beauty Queen in 1932. 

In 1934, Marian Mills, a beauty queen, was the 20-year-old "campus sweetheart" of Neal Myers. Marian was the daughter of engineering professor M. Elbert Mills. Myers, a 21-year-old pharmacy student, was the son of Dr. P. B. Myers of Denver. 

On July 10, Marian died in the Norman, Oklahoma home of 39-year-old Mrs. Hazel Brown, the cook for Myers' fraternity house and "the only person of mature age in the house during the 24 tragic hours preceding the girl's death."

Hazel Brown Describes Arranging the Abortion

According to a signed statement she gave to the police, Brown had been a cook at the Delta Upsilon house for about eight years. Prior to that she had been a practical nurse in Oklahoma City. She got to know Neal Myers well during the previous two years because he had worked in the fraternity house kitchen to earn his board. She said that she considered him "a close friend."

In March of 1934, Brown said, Myers approached her and said, "Brownie, I am in trouble." He explained that he had gotten a girl pregnant and wanted to know about medicines that would work to cause an abortion. Brown reported that she'd told Myers that she had experience with abortion medication and they usually work. She reported that she told Myers everything she knew about abortifacients.

Hazel Brown

"He left then," Brown went on, "and came back to me in a few days and asked me to call a doctor who was a member of the D. U. fraternity and see what could be done." She called the doctor in question, who referred her to a doctor whose name is redacted in the newspaper.

Myers went to Oklahoma City to see this doctor, who had quoted a $75 fee for the abortion, which is a little over $1,750 in 2024 dollars. Myers said that when he told the doctor that he didn't have that much money, the doctor told him that then he'd have to marry the girl.

Brown said that the next she saw Myers was on June 6, when he said that he was nearly crazy over the situation. Brown said that she suggested that Myers go to his father with his problem but he said, "I can't." He then said he had heard of a doctor at Chickasha who might be cheaper.

Myers returned to speak to Brown on June 9, saying that he had gone to see the Chickasha doctor, who recommended quinine and castor oil. Myers was to give the girl -- finally identified to Brown as Marian -- these "medicines" as a preliminary step. Myers and the doctor had a discussion about where Marian and Myers should stay overnight for the procedure. Brown consented to let the couple use her house since it would only be an overnight stay. 

Starting the "Medicines"

Neal Myers

Hazel Brown said that she got home at about 8 pm on June 9 to find Myers and Marian in her living room. "I sat down there in the living room and talked to hem about an hour. We talked about her taking the capsules and I assured her it wouldn't hurt her, but that it would do the work. When I reassured her she said that she felt better about it then."

They then moved to the back porch and continued discussing the situation. Marian reported having taken three of the capsules before Brown had gotten home and continued to take them roughly every two hours. 

Brown took a bath and put on her robe and let Marian know that she could bathe next. "She got out a bottle with medicine [castor oil] and I prepared some orange juice for her to take it in. She poured all of the contents of the bottle and put it into a glass. After Marian had her bath I gave her a night gown to sleep in." Neal left to go take a bath at his own place and didn't return until after the two women had gone to bed. He didn't go to bed himself but instead paced the house, smoking cigarettes.

It Doesn't Seem to be Working

Hazel Brown's House, where Marian died

Six o'clock the next morning finds Myers asleep in his clothes on the couch. Brown tries to leave for work without waking the young people, but Marian awakens and tells Brown that she feels okay. Myers woke as well the the couple were distressed that the abortion drugs weren't working. 

Brown left for work at the fraternity house, about six blocks from her home, and returned a little after 10 am. Marian was still in bed, still distressed that the abortion capsules hadn't done their job. She told Brown that she had only a small window of time for the abortion in order to avoid raising suspicions. Myers, who sat playing solitaire while the women talked, asked, "Brownie, do you think it's going to work? It's got to. We're both crazy."

Brown went back to work. At around noon Myers called and asked her to send them some lunch. "I sent chipped beef, French fried potatoes, navy beans, squash, head lettuce, tomatoes, chocolate pudding, whipped cream, and graham crackers."

It was close to 2:00 when Brown again returned home to find Myers sitting in a chair, smoking, and Marian lying on the bed. Marian reported that though she felt weak, the drugs still weren't having their desired effect. 

Brown again left for work, just as her son 16-year-old son Richard was coming home. She wasn't at work long before Richard called saying, "Mother, come home right away." He wouldn't tell her why.

Returning to Find Tragedy

Brown hurried home to find a Dr. E. F. Stephens there. Dr. Stephens said said he'd gotten an emergency call that a girl had fainted and had arrived to find her dead. The man who had placed the call -- Neal Myers -- had taken his suitcase and vanished..

What Else Came to Light

Marian's parents had been kept in the dark about their daughter's pregnancy and plans. Mrs. Mills had dropped Marian off at the Norman bus station at 4 pm on Monday believing that she was going to a house party in Tulsa. 

Richard Brown, along with his 14-year-old brother, Charles, said that Myers had introduced Marian to them as his wife. The boys had been under the impression that the young couple's decision to spend the night had been a spontaneous one. 

Richard said that shortly after his mother left for work, Myers sent him to the store to buy chewing gum. When Richard returned, he said, "Neal told me he had called a doctor and for me not to go into the bedroom but to show the doctor in there when he arrived. Neal went out the back door, saying he was going to the infirmary for a doctor."

Myers left his El Reno home on Sunday morning, saying that he was going to see about a job in Oklahoma City and then would go to the Delta Upsilon fraternity house in Normal to straighten his room. He didn't come home and the police couldn't find him for questioning. His father issued a public plea for Neil to turn himself in so that his parents could help him.

Myers was charged with murder in Marian's death, and could have faced life in prison if convicted. 

Why was the young man arrested? Dr. Roy Emanuel testified that Myers had consulted him about a possible pregnancy. Emanuel said that Myers had only asked for advise, not for an abortion. Emanuel said that he'd recommended a test to verify the suspected pregnancy, and had also told the young man to consult with his father.

"Two or three weeks later he came back ... bringing the report, which showed the girl was not pregnant." Myers had Marian with him, and she said that she wanted an examination, because she didn't think the test was accurate. He did examine her and while he could not definitively say, he didn't think she was pregnant. The couple returned again the Thursday before Marian's death, and this time his examination verified that the girl was pregnant. Again, Emanuel said, he referred the couple to Myers' father.

Mrs. Brown, for her part, said that Myers had loved Marian and had wanted to marry her. He was opposed to the idea of an abortion. Marian, on the other hand, insisted that her parents would never accept Myers. Brown said that Marian had taken "a harmless drug" and that this was the only attempt that she personally knew of to abort the baby.

But evidently Marian had found an abortionist, or had done something herself more drastic than just take mild abortifacients, because doctors who examined her said that some sort of instruments had been used in the abortion that had caused her death.

Myers was supported by Brown, his father, and his fraternity friends during the trial. There were tears of joy in the courtroom when he was acquitted.

Marian's father "maintained a strict silence." And I've found no mention at all of any further investigation into the death of his daughter.

See more photos here.



July 10, 1998: Fatal Abortion in Texas Hospital

Dr. Lillian Jones

Virginia Wolfe, age 33, went to Methodist Women's and Children's Hospital on July 6, 1998, to have an abortion performed by Dr. Lillian Jones.

Jones performed a suction abortion. During the procedure, she punctured Virginia's uterus and bladder.

Virginia suffered massive hemorrhage, losing so much blood that her heart stopped.

Doctors repaired her bladder and removed her uterus, but Virginia's brain had already been damaged by the lack of oxygen.

Virginia was pronounced dead on July 10, 1998.

Watch "Death in the Heart of Texas" on YouTube.

Sources: Bexar County Forensic Science Center Autopsy Report, Case # 98-1003

Tuesday, July 09, 2024

July 9, 1916: Mystery Abortion in Chicago

 On July 9, 1916, 27-year-old homemaker Mina Malletti died at Chicago's Washington Park Hospital from complications of a abortion performed that day by an unknown perpetrator.

July 9, 2016: Sent Home to Bleed to Death

Snapshot of the face of a young Hispanic woman giving the camera a Mona Lisa smile.
Jamie Lee Morales
On July 9, 2016, 30-year-old Jamie Lee Morales of Buffalo, New York, had her sister drive her to Liberty Women's Health in Flushing, Queens, for a an abortion. The doctor, 53-year-old gynecologist Robert Rho, specialized in "vaginal rejuvenation" but also did what his attorney described as "difficult" abortions.

Jamie signed in under her sister's name, Thaycha Ruiz, and underwent the procedure. Rho admitted to investigators that he he knew Jamie was using somebody else's identity, but "there was an issue with payment for the procedure which was handled by the receptionist." It's unclear if the clinic knowingly let Jamie fraudulently use her sister's insurance to pay for the $6,000 abortion.

It's unclear how Jamie found Rho, who was willing to abort a viable fetus of about 25 weeks of gestation after Planned Parenthood and another Queens abortion facility had turned her away. He was also willing to do it fast -- in only one day, rather than spending multiple days gently dilating the cervix, which was how his website described the procedures he did past 20 weeks.

Jamie reportedly was aborting her baby so late in the pregnancy because she had only recently realized that she was pregnant.

According to later testimony, Rho both performed the abortion and administered the anesthesia himself rather than having a qualified professional to properly monitor his patient.

The procedure was started at 1:40 pm. In the recovery room, Jamie was bleeding heavily. Rho performed another procedure that was intended to stop the bleeding.

Though Jamie was weak and woozy, and at one point collapsed in the bathroom, Rho discharged her in the care of her sister with instructions to go to a hospital if the bleeding resumed. She was discharged about 6:30 pm.

Jamie was riding in the back seat on the way to her sister's home in the Bronx when she lost consciousness, falling to the floor. Her sister took her to a hospital, where, in spite of being transfused with six units of blood, she died that night. It turned out that during the abortion, Rho had lacerated her cervix, put a hole in the wall of her uterus, and cut into her uterine aorta. 

A middle-aged Korean man with eyeglasses and a mustache
Dr. Robert Rho
Rho was charged with second-degree manslaughter in Jamie's death because he injured her so severely and then failed to provide necessary life-saving care. Adding to the unprofessionalism of the case is the fact that Rho disposed of Jamie's fetus in a black plastic trash bag outside the door of his clinic. He blamed his patient's death on the fact that she hadn't told him that she had lupus, which could affect her body's ability to stop bleeding.

Pending trial, Rho was freed on $400,000 bail. He was required to surrender his passport and was not to practice medicine until the case was resolved. His attorney said that Rho was "devastated" by Jamie's death and immediately and voluntarily closed his clinic.

During the three-week trial, the prosecution alleged that Rho took risks to save time and money, and rushed Jamie out of the office to make room for other patients. Witnesses noted that Rho had been investigated in the past for hiring staff without adequate training. 

At one point Rho almost caused a mistrial by approaching a juror near courthouse security to try to sway her.

After learning that the jury had reached a verdict, Rho surprised the court by changing his plea to guilty of felony negligent homicide. Troy Newman of Operation Rescue commented, "I suspect Rho took the plea deal once he realized the jury was about to convict him [of second degree manslaughter]." This charge could have resulted in up to 15 years in prison, while the guilty plea would result in a much lower sentence of 16 months to 4 years.

Newman added, "We have great sympathy for the Morales family for the loss they have suffered. Their grief was only compounded by Rho's selfish and erratic behavior that first denied them the life of a loved one, then denied them the closure a verdict would have brought."  As Operation Rescue's press release about the plea deal noted, "The Morales family was upset that they had endured a full three weeks of trial where the reputation of their daughter was attacked, only to be denied a jury verdict."

This last comment makes me think that Rho's attorney tried to use what's dubbed "the slut defense" -- dragging up the woman's sexual history, perhaps history of prior abortions, or in this case the fact that she had decided to abort a baby old enough to survive outside the womb, in order to paint her as somebody who just got what she deserved. This is a pretty typical defense, the threat of which, as Kitty Kolbert characterized it to the National Abortion Federation, means "beating the shit out of this woman to get her to drop her suit." It's staggering to think of what Rho's attorneys put Jamie's family through.

Predictably, abortion advocates blamed Jamie's death on the fact that, at the time, New York had limits on circumstances under which it was legal to abort babies past the age of viability. Planned Parenthood's Margaret Sanger Clinic, which at the time did abortions up to 24 weeks, reportedly would refer women to other facilities willing to abort viable babies. It's unclear if they referred her to Rho.

Watch Rushed Late Abortion Kills Mother on YouTube.


July 9, 1986: The First of Three Direct Hachamovitch Victims

Black and white headshot of a middle aged man of Jewish descent with dark hair, a receeding hairline, large, dark 1980s style eyeglasses, and wearing a suit coat and tieLuz Maria Rodriguez was 40 years old when she went to Moshe Hachamovitch's abortion clinic in the Bronx for a first-trimester abortion on July 5, 1986. She was between 8 and 10 weeks pregnant.

Luz bled heavily after the abortion. Just before she was to be discharged, she turned blue and stopped breathing. 

Staff performed CPR and summoned an ambulance, which took Luz to a hospital. Efforts to resuscitate her were successful, but she remained comatose. Four days later, July 9, she died. 

The autopsy found that she had suffered from an incomplete abortion.

Hachamovitch went on to have other dead patients to his discredit:

  • Christina Goesswein, who died of an amniotic fluid embolism on October 19, 1990 after an abortion performed by Hachamovitch.
  • Tanya Williamson, who died September 7, 1996 after Hachamovitch overdosed her on anesthesia then let her slip away unsupervised in the recovery room.

He spread the carnage by owning, and evidently very poorly supervising, other abortion facilities, leading to more deaths:

  •  Lisa Bardsley, who bled to death on February 17, 1985 after Dr. John Biskind discharged her from a Hachamovitch-owned clinic in Arizona.  
  • Jammie Garcia, whose long struggle to survive injuries suffered at a clinic Hachamovitch owned in Texas ended on March 2, 1994.
  • Lou Ann Herron, who bled to death on April 17, 1998 when Biskind ignored her pleas for help at that same Arizona clinic.

Source: "Abortion clinic owner no stranger to lawsuits," Lubbock Online, January 18, 1999

July 9, 1913: Who Was Minnie Bernstein?

On July 9, 1913, 33-year-old Russian immigrant Mary Goldstein, nee Solomon, died in Chicago from an abortion perpetrated by Minnie Bernstein. Bernstein is identified only as "abortion provider", so she might have been a lay abortionist, though given the proliferation of doctors and midwives practicing abortion in Chicago at the time, she might have been a trained medical professional.

Bernstein was held by the Coroner, and indicted by the Grand Jury for felony murder on September 1, but the case never went to trial.

The Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database incorrectly gives the date of death as July 4, but all other records note July 9.

July 9, 1993: Chaos and Death for Immigrant at Fake Clinic

  A Desperate Young Mom

Guadalupe Negron
Guadalupe "Lupe" Negron, age 33, had come to the United States from Honduras with her husband in the late 1980s. They left their three young sons with Lupe's mother, planning to send for them as soon as they could earn enough money. Lupe and Herminio sold flowers and ice cream from a cart on a street corner.

The need to earn money became more urgent after Lupe's mother died. 

Lupe and Herminio continued to work hard. They welcomed the children's new little brother, Byron Callejas, into the world.

Time were tough for the divided little family that summer of 1993. On the 4th of July a passer-by had tossed a firecracker through a window into the family's apartment, starting a fire that destroyed everything they owned. Neighbors gave the family used clothing and furniture to help them set up a new home. They loved the big lady with the bigger smile who would sometimes give children treats for free.

Things seemed to be looking up when Lupe got the opportunity to work through Calvary Hospital as a home-care aide for a neighbor with cancer. There was only one problem: Lupe was five months pregnant. She feared that she would not be able to get certified as a caregiver if she was pregnant.

Metro Women's Center

The young mother must have felt terribly torn. "She didn't believe in abortion," her niece, Helena de Monzon said to Newsday. "She knew it was a sin, what she was doing. But she didn't want to lose a job. It was a necessity." 

Lupe didn't discuss the situation with Herminio because he knew she'd talk her out of aborting their baby, Helena said. Instead, she told Herminio that she was ill that day and would stay at home. Herminio took 4-year-old Byron with him to start another working day.

Hoping to help her aunt through this difficult situation, Helena drove her to Metro Women's Center at 102-21 Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, New York on July 9, 1993. 

Though Lupe no doubt had concerns about her spiritual well-being, she was confident about her physical well-being. "She wasn't in any fear because they told her there wasn't any risk," Helena said.

Lupe might have felt differently had she known about the 56-year-old doctor who was about to take her life into his hands. Metro Women's Center, in fact, would not even tell Lupe and Helena the doctor's name.

Elyas Bonrouhi aka David Benjamin

The Iranian-born Dr. Elyas Bonrouhi had come to the United States in 1982. He had failed his certification test three times before he was able to be certified as an obstetrician-gynecologist. In 1986, while practicing under his original name in update New York, his license had been revoked for 47 incidents of misconduct including performing surgeries and deliveries in his office rather than a hospital and for performing an unnecessary hysterectomy. 

Bonrouhi insisted to the board, "Every patient I deal with, I deal like she is my sister." 

If this was true, Bonrouhi was cruel to his family.

One woman describing her ordeal at his hands to the medical board said, "He started cutting me after that and he just kept cutting me and taking pieces out of me and showing them to me and everything. The numbness wore off and I was screaming. Then he got scared because there was so much blood coming out ... he called the nurse ... so she got tissues and stuff and he just stuffed me with cloth on the inside and packed it in there. Then he sewed it right in me." She ended up hospitalized and required eight surgeries to repair the damage.

His fellow physicians testified against him. Dr. Anthony Dardano, who had been overseeing Bonrouhi's work as a stipulation for him getting provisional privileges at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Utica, New York, testified, "It took me one weekend of watching his work to suspend him. .... I found him to be intellectually dishonest, poor in surgical technique, and poor in medical judgment." Dardano described having to step in to stop the hemorrhaging on a patient during a C-section Bonrouhi was performing.

In spite of the evidence against him, Bonrouhi challenged the revocation, getting it reduced to a three-month suspension, before changing his name to Dr. David Elyas Benjamin and relocating to Queens.  

Just two weeks before Lupe and her niece walked into Metro Women's Center, the medical board had revoked Benjamin's license for botching gynecological procedures. He was still practicing while appealing the case.

The First Signs of Trouble

Lupe paid $800 (c. $1,600 in 2020) for the abortion. Abortions at Lupe's stage of pregnancy were typically performed in a two-day procedure, in order to dilate the cervix sufficiently without tearing it. Benjamin decided to just perform the abortion as a one-day procedure. He also took no steps to address her high blood pressure.

A receptionist for the facility noted that after Dr. David Benjamin had performed Lupe 's abortion at 10AM, she was moved to the recovery room and left unattended and without monitoring equipment for over an hour. 

Meanwhile, Helena sat in the waiting room, hoping all was well with her aunt. While she waited, she tried to help another patient, a Mexican woman who had a 6-month old baby in a stroller and was waiting for aftercare. She'd suffered a massive infection from an abortion Benjamin had performed. She screamed in pain and begged for somebody to call her family. 

Some time after noon, still trying to comfort the Mexican woman, Helena saw Lupe -- pale, bleeding, spitting up blood, and clearly in pain -- wheeled out on a stretcher. Benjamin said there had been "complications" and wheeled the ailing woman into an exam room.

Shortly afterward, Benjamin's wife, Jackie, who acted as his assistant, came out of the exam room screaming "Oh my God! Oh my God!" and "Call the ambulance! Call the ambulance!" However, the ambulance was not summoned until 1:40 PM.

What the Medics Saw

When paramedics Freddie Noboa and Miguel Acvedo arrived, they were flabbergasted. Noboa said, "I saw the sign 'abortion clinic.' I was shocked. It was the back from of an office all the way in the back of the building, hot as hell and filthy." 

He and his partner found Lupe naked and bloody, still in the stirrups and without even a sheet to cover her. A woman dressed like a nurse was screaming, "Do something! Do something!" 

Noboa said, "She and the doctor are doing CPR on this female who's covered in blood and totally naked. Her feet are still in the stirrups." Noboa noted that "There was nothing under the patient, just this very thin piece of paper soaked with blood. There was blood all over the place, under her buttocks, on the floor, all over the instruments."

None of the normal equipment to address an emergency was there. "There was no blood pressure cuff, no EKG monitor. He had one tiny cylinder tank of oxygen about eight inches long. He said it had run out." The medics also noted that Benjamin had inserted a breathing tube into Lupe 's stomach instead of her trachea. Noboa said, "While they're doing CPR, all her abdominal fluids are going up through the tube into the mask down into her lungs. She's choking on her own fluids. Besides which she's in a semi-sitting position, which closes off the airway."

Noboa said that even if Lupe hadn't bled to death, she could have drowned in her own fluids due to the botched tube placement.

The paramedics also indicated that they were hindered in their attempts to save Lupe 's life because Benjamin lied to them about the nature of her problem. The emergency call itself had only been for a patient experiencing difficulty breathing.

"We got there within five minutes, but she was already dead on the table," Noboa said. "Her pupils were fully dilated." 

Both Benjamin and his wife appeared to be panic-stricken. "I told the doctor, 'Get out of here. You're doing everything wrong. Get out of the way." Meanwhile, "I could hear someone screaming in the background, which was the nurse. At first I thought it was a family member because of the way she was jumping up and down and screaming. I said, 'Ma'am, you have to get out of here."

The disgusted paramedic said that no anesthesiologist was present. "She was just given Demerol and Valium. .... He wasn't monitoring her vital signs." He refused to give his name or an incident report to take to the hospital and told the medics that the patient was unconscious due to "too much anesthesia." 

Noboa was also disgusted with the doctor's demeanor. "He was nervous for himself. He kept saying, 'Make sure you tell them I gave her the oxygen.'"

The paramedics removed the face mask and misplaced tube, properly intubated the patient, and transported her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead an hour later.

Meanwhile, Back at the Not-a-Clinic

Once Lupe had been loaded into the ambulance and Helena had left for the hospital, Benjamin's receptionist, identified only as Maria, decided she'd had enough. Her boss called for his next patient -- the Mexican woman who was screaming in agony. Instead Maria hustled the woman and her baby out of the facility. Police eventually tracked her down to testify against the doctor. Fortunately for her, she had gotten her aftercare elsewhere. 

What Happened Next

Dr. Benjamin told Lupe's distraught family that she had died from a heart attack. The autopsy report found otherwise.

In trying to extract a 20-week fetus without having first properly dilated the cervix, Benjamin had lacerated Lupe's cervix and ripped a three-inch hole in her uterus. She hemorrhaged and went into shock and cardiac arrest. Authorities determined that Benjamin had initiated the risky procedure without having first examined the patient.

Dr. David Benjamin
Benjamin was indicted for second degree (depraved indifference) murder, second degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and tampering with evidence. Contrary to news coverage at the time, Benjamin was not the first case in New York history of a doctor being charged with murder for performing a legal procedure; that was Jesse Ketchum for performing a fatal abortion on Margaret Louise Smith in 1971. Slashing up a woman's insides then letting her bleed out, even if done safely and legally, can still be frowned upon.

Benjamin sobbed and pleaded during a hearing for his $750,000 (c. $1.5 million in 2022) to be lowered, but the judge instead raised it to $1 million. His family members screamed "Oh my God" and raised such an outcry that they were led from the courtroom.

He was offered a chance to plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter, which would have resulted in a sentence of three to nine years. He chose instead to go to court. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 to life. His appeal was rejected on the grounds that being a doctor doesn't grant the right to treat patients with depraved indifference.

One of the paramedics told a reporter, "I wouldn't take my dog there (Benjamin's clinic)."

The Legal Status of Fake Clinics

After Lupe 's death, reporters from Newsday noted that the city of New York had all the regulations in place they needed to shut Metro Women's Center down. Shortly after abortion-on-demand had been legalized in New York in 1970, the city put regulations on the books to cover facilities that performed abortions, regardless of whether they were actually licensed clinics. Evidently officials did little in terms of enforcing the regulations. Not one abortion facility, as of 1993, had ever been closed by the city for substandard or dangerous conditions. Metro Women's Center, like the bulk of abortion facilities in New York City at the time, was not actually a licensed clinic and thus was not regulated by the state.

In the aftermath of Lupe 's death, instead of calling for the city to begin inspecting the facilities and closing down the dangerous ones, New York City Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman instead demanded that the city's hospitals speed up the roughly three-week wait time for abortions on their premises.

Alexander Sanger, head of Planned Parenthood of New York, faulted the state not with failing to shut Benjamin and the fake clinic down but rather with failing to advertise that abortions were legal and the state would pay for them with taxpayer dollars.

Guadalupe's brother and youngest son
Lupe's husband, Herminio , lay abed in shock after being informed of his wife's death. Friends and family gathered to support the grieving widower. The neighbors who had contributed furniture and clothing to help Herminio rebuild his home were raising money so that he could send his wife's body back to Honduras for burial. 

"All I want is justice," he told Newsday. "And I need help to get my kids here [from Honduras]."

Three weeks later Herminio filed suit against the doctor and the clinic, as well as against the state for not having shut the clinic down after determining that his practice constituted a risk to the public. The appellate court ruled that the medical board had acted within the scope of their duties.

Watch "Death at a Fake Clinic" on YouTube.