On December 16, 1925, 22-year-old Irish immigrant factory worker Bridget Josephine Masterson died in her Chicago home from a botched abortion. Police were able to question Bridget prior to her death, but she refused to implicate anybody.

JohnOMalleySuicideNote.jpg
Text of O'Malley suicide note
John O'Malley, a boarder and the father of Bridget's baby, committed suicide by gas after learning of Bridget's death. The Chicago Tribune printed the text of the suicide note he left behind (errors in original):

Heloe borthers,
I am sorry to do this, but it is called for. Doctor Lady at 301 W. North avenue is a murderer, so it is up to ye to prosecute. She is the cause of me and Miss Masterson to be in our graves today. I request, I ask of ye, is bury me with miss Masterson. Go over & find her at our 1106 Fullerton ave., where I was boarding.

The address John O'Malley noted was the address of 84-year-old Dr. Lucy Hagenow. It took police several days to locate Hagenow. They arrested her on December 24. It appears that a grand jury indicted her but a judge dismissed the charges on January 5, 1926.

Hagenow, who had already been implicated of the abortion deaths of Louise Derchow, Annie Dorris, Abbia Richards, and Emma Dep in San Francisco, would go on to be linked to over a dozen Chicago abortion deaths:


Hagenow was typical of criminal abortionists in that she was a physician.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s. For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

Sources:
  • "Operation Fatal to Girl; Youth Takes Own Life," Chicago Tribune, Dec. 21, 1925
  • "Seek Dr. Hagenow in Vain; Call Youth, Suicide, Crazed," Chicago Tribune, Dec. 22, 1925
  • "Arrest Dr. Lucy Hagenow Again for Girl's Death," Chicago Tribune, Dec. 25, 1925
  • "Dr. Lucy Hagenow is Freed," Chicago Tribune, Jan. 6, 1926
  • Homicide in Chicago Interactive

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