SUMMARY: On December 24, 1955, 20-year-old Jacqueline Smith died in New York after an abortion perpetrated by scrub nurse Leobaldo Pejuan.

Jackie Smith Quality Headshot.jpg
Jacqueline "Jackie" Smith

Over the years, many details of the Jacqueline Smith case have been lost, and the remaining story often is dismissed as an urban legend. But strange and macabre as the story is, it was all too true.

Jacqueline Smith, age 20, was a slender, brown-eyed blond from Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Over the protests of her father, 41-year-old Chester Smith, and her mother, Jacqueline moved to New York and took an apartment with two other women early in 1955. She wanted to pursue a career as a fashion designer.

That June, friends introduced the soft-spoken, demure Jacqueline to Thomas G. Daniel, an urbane young salesman of 24. Daniel was well-read, multi-lingual, a poet and gourmet cook. He had come to New York from Warren, Ohio, three years earlier. He worked at an upscale shop selling riding equipment. With his good looks and sophistication, he was able to win over the small-town girl. She spent more and more time at his apartment, all but moving in with him.

In December, Jacqueline told Daniel that she was pregnant. Daniels did not want to marry Jacqueline -- he still had a girlfriend back in Ohio who he preferred. Instead he arranged for a 46-year-old scrub nurse, Leobaldo Pejuan, to perform an abortion at Daniel's apartment on Christmas Eve. After performing the abortion, Pejuan became alarmed at the young woman's condition, and summoned Dr. Ramiro Morales, who told him that Jackie was dead.

Thomas Daniel High Quality Pic.jpg
Thomas Daniel
Daniel and Pejuan cut Jacqueline's body into pieces and took it to Pejuan's home, where over the next several days they cut into as many as 50 pieces, which they wrapped in Christmas paper and disposed of in trash cans along side streets off Broadway, from 72nd to 80th. (Read The Search for Jackie's Body)

When Chester Smith arrived for a visit on December 30, he got Daniel and together they went to the police to report Jackie missing. The police were quickly suspicious of Daniel and began to question him more closely. Daniel finally told police that Jacqueline had gone into the bathroom and stabbed herself to death due to his refusal to marry her, and that he had dumped her body in the Hudson River.

Police investigated, and found over 800 stolen medical instruments in Pejuan's apartment. The entire story eventually came out, with Pejuan pleading guilty and testifying against Daniel. Daniel's widowed mother attended the entire trial. Chester Smith, too, was there, but left the courtroom when testimony came to describing the dismemberment of his daughter's body.

Pejuan was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison, and Daniel was sentenced to 8 years. His mother went into hysterics upon hearing the verdict, screaming, "God help me. They have taken my lfe, my savings, my son."
Nobody recorded the words of Jacqueline's father as he faced a life without his daughter.

The newspaper in Jackie's home town of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, covered Jackie's life and death, and the trial, extensively. Click here for more thorough coverage. Click here for additional photos related to the case. Click here for more background on Jackie Smith and Thomas Daniel.

During the 1950s, we see an anomaly: Though maternal mortality had been falling during the first half of the 20th Century, and abortion mortality in particular had been plummeting, the downward trend slowed, then reversed itself briefly. I have yet to figure out why. For more, see Abortion Deaths in the 1950's.

For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

The Oklahoman Sources: New York Times, 1-12-56, 1-13-56, 1-14-56, 1-28-56, 5-30-56, 6-27-56, & 6-28-56; "Two Men Held in Abortion Death", The Oklahoman, January 12, 1956; "Court Convicts New Yorker of Abortion Death",, May 30, 1956


  1. 1900s
  2. 1910-1919
  3. 1920s
  4. 1930s
  5. 1940s
  6. 1950s
  7. 1960s
  8. 1970s
  9. 1980s
  10. 1990s
  11. 19th century
  12. 2000-2009
  13. 20s
  14. 30s
  15. 40s
  16. NAF
  17. abortifacient
  18. abortion
  19. abortion mill
  20. abortion mortality
  21. abortionists
  22. abortionists -- female
  23. abortionists -- male
  24. alabama
  25. anesthesia
  26. arizona
  27. black women
  28. born alive
  29. botched abortion
  30. california
  31. chicago
  32. colorado
  33. connecticut
  34. cover-up
  35. death
  36. deaths
  37. deception
  38. delay in transport
  39. delay in treatment
  40. district of columbia
  41. dumped body
  42. ectopic
  43. embolism
  44. falsifying forms
  45. fetal indications
  46. florida
  47. former criminal abortionist
  48. george tiller
  49. georgia
  50. hemorrhage death
  51. hospitals
  52. illegal - doctor
  53. illegal - midwife
  54. illegal - nurse
  55. illegal - paramedical
  56. illegal - post roe
  57. illegal - unknown
  58. illegal - untrained
  59. illegal abortion
  60. illinois
  61. inadequate documents
  62. inadequate equipment
  63. inadequate resuscitation
  64. incomplete abortion
  65. indiana
  66. infection
  67. kansas
  68. llinois
  69. louisiana
  70. maryland
  71. massachusetts
  72. maternal indications
  73. maternal mortality
  74. michigan
  75. mills
  76. missouri
  77. mortality
  78. national abortion federation
  79. new jersey
  80. new mexico
  81. new york
  82. north carolina
  83. ohio
  84. oklahoma
  85. pennsylvania
  86. planned parenthood
  87. pre-roe legal
  88. previous misconduct
  89. prostaglandin
  90. quackery
  91. questionable stories
  92. ru-486
  93. rupture
  94. saline
  95. secret abortion
  96. self-induced
  97. suicide
  98. teens
  99. texas
  100. wisconsin