MULTIPARA HOMICIDES INVESTIGATION
January 1, 1884
Detective Sergeant G. Mezzanotte
I. The Victims
|Janine Campbell||NYC||27||May 23||New Amsterdam Hospital, in surgery|
|Abigail Liljeström||Buffalo||25||May 30||DOA Bellevue|
|Catherine Crown||Brooklyn||30||June 4||DOA Women’s Hospital|
|Eula Schmitt||NYC||29||June 8||Windsor Hotel|
|Jenny House||NYC||34||Jun 10||At home (Gramercy Park)|
|Esther Fromm||New Haven||24||June 12||Astor Hotel|
|Mariella Luna||Staten Island||29||June 13||Grand Union Hotel|
|Irina Svetlova||NYC (Russia)||31||June 16||St. Luke’s Hospital, in surgery|
|Mamie Winthrop||NYC||24||June 20||At home (Park Place)|
II. Investigating officers
Detective-Sergeants Maroney and Mezzanotte; Detectives Larkin, Sainsbury and Hazelton.
III. Facts in Evidence
- All victims were married and living with a spouse.
- All were solvent and financially sound, though the range of income is broad. Household annual incomes ranged from $2,500 (Campbell) to approximately $60,000 (Winthrop).
- The Winthrops have a residence on Park Place, one on Long Island and one in Newport R.I.
- Archibald Campbell’s annual income of $2,500, while comfortable, would not generally be enough to purchase and maintain a single family residence. In fact, after his wife’s death and the disappearance of his sons, evidence linked Campbell to some $50,000 in stolen bearer bonds. He was extradited to Boston where he was tried and sentenced to fifteen years hard labor.
- Of the six victims who were resident in this city, five lived in single family residences and two in French flats that demand high rents.
- All the victims were white, 24-32 years of age, in good health. All were pregnant, or believed themselves to be pregnant.
- In medical terms, all the victims were ‘multipara’ – having given birth previously.
- No record of insanity, violence or criminal activity, dissolution, promiscuity, drug addiction, bankruptcy or gambling debt in any case.
- Nearest family members (husbands, parents, children etc.) are likewise without criminal vulnerabilities with the exception of Archibald Campbell, as discussed above.
- Physicians of record for all victims were interviewed. None report anything out of the ordinary during the most recent office visits.
- Each victim purposefully sought out an abortion from person or persons unknown.
- The motivations for seeking out the procedure varied widely. The victims paid between $150 and $350 for the procedure.
In those cases where a victim was seen by a doctor after surgery but before death, that doctor was interviewed. In every case the physician reported the same clinical observations (see Dr. Lambert’s report).
- The victims did not move in the same social circles, had no common family history, nor did they live near one another, attend the same church or work with the same charities.
- The earlier victims were found fully dressed, while the later ones were only partially dressed, specifically, they were without the corsets they were known to wear habitually.
III. Cause of Death
As established by Dr. Lambert and the Coroner of the City of New York: Systemic septic peritonitis and blood loss due to an illegal and willfully incompetent abortion performed by a knowledgeable person or persons unknown with malice aforethought and harmful intent.
We have been unable to ascertain how the surgeon and the victims become acquainted. There is some evidence that newspaper advertisements played a role. Investigating officers spent almost six months pursuing and interviewing seventy-eight individuals who placed such ads, but no viable suspects came to light. An example of such advertisements:
MARRIED AND SINGLE LADIES in need of medical consultation of a private and personal nature can turn with confidence to Dr. _______, who has had the finest medical education available. Twenty years in practice.
Simple removal of all obstructions to nature’s rhythms. Modern hygienic methods, safe, and discreet. Box ___, Broadway Post Office. By return mail you will receive a description of services offered. Specific details of your case will make a detailed response, including an estimation of costs, possible.
From the time of the first victim’s death until this date the detectives assigned to this case have conducted extensive interviews in New York city, in Brooklyn, on Long Island, in Buffalo and New Haven.
Family and close friends
Social, charitable & church connections
Acquaintances and neighbors
Trades people, clerks,
ticket agents, conductors, drivers
Family physicians and pharmacists
Employees of hotels, restaurants, etc.
Consulting physicians and specialists
Other persons associated with suspects
Two suspects were identified.
Dr. James McGrath Cameron
The primary suspect, now deceased, was Dr. James McGrath Cameron, originally of Scotland, who came to the city at age ten with his family. Cameron was a physician with offices near Jefferson Market. He had a reputation as an able doctor, but one who frightened and intimidated his patients on religious grounds.
Cameron attended the Janine Campbell inquest as an observer, and made his opinions known during the hearing from the gallery, through public statements, and by letters to newspaper editors. All of the victims deserved their deaths, in his opinion, on the basis of their sins and pride.
Dr. Cameron removed to Philadelphia to spend his last days with a sister, leaving the city on June 22 or 23 by train. The Philadelphia Police Department, knowing of our interest in the doctor, sent us an obituary which appeared in the Philadelphia Eagle on August 25, 1883.
On Thursday, the 23rd day of August, Dr. James McGrath Cameron, eminent physician, died in this city at the residence of his sister, the widow Mrs. Malvina Galbraith. He was 92 years of age.
Dr. Cameron graduated from the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania at twenty-three and practiced medicine in New York city until his recent retirement. In addition to his medical practice he was a respected author best known for “Christian Virtues and Health” and “Mortality and Systematic Morality.” He also served for sixty years as Deacon at Manhattan’s John Street Methodist Church.
A number of prominent citizens of New York and Philadelphia attended Dr. Cameron’s funeral service. Anthony Comstock of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice remembered him as “That rarest of men, a doctor of medicine whose first purpose was to serve the will of the Divine Physician. If he saved a life but not the soul, he considered his work incomplete.”
Dr. Cameron was a man of intense fervor and energy, of sterling ability and rock solid faith.
Dr. Neill Graham
Dr. Graham was born August 29, 1860, in this city. He is the son of John Graham, a schoolteacher, now deceased and Sarah Graham, also deceased. He graduated from the medical department at Bellevue last year, and is now on the staff at Women’s Hospital. His specialty is surgery.
At the time of the deaths under investigation he was an intern at Bellevue and worked part time as an ambulance doctor. He was on duty when a call for assistance at the Campbell home came in. Dr. Graham attended. While Mrs. Campbell was barely conscious, she asked to be taken to the New Amsterdam for treatment to which he agreed. On arrival he requested and was granted permission to stay and
observe the emergency surgery, during which she died.
Comments Graham made to Detective Sergeants Maroney and Mezzanotte during investigation of the Campbell case first brought him into serious consideration as a suspect.
We have not been able to account for all Dr. Graham’s time over the period in which the nine victims disappeared, and we still consider him a suspect.
After consulting forensic and other medical specialists it is our opinion that the Surgeon sought out women who were first, able to pay a very high fee for services; second, were already mothers capable of both bearing and raising another child; and finally and most important, who sought medical assistance to end a pregnancy.
The victims’ motivations or reasons varied widely and seem to have been of little interest or importance. The purpose was, simply, to punish those women or, as one consulting physician suggested, to remind women that by refusing to bear more children they had abandoned their sole purpose in life, and had thus rendered themselves disposable.
Since the Winthrop case in June there have been no further victims who fit the Surgeon’s modus operandi. Inquiries with police departments in every city of at least medium size in a five hundred mile radius failed to discover any similar crimes.
No new evidence has come to light for any of the identified cases.
The Chief of Police, after consulting with the District Attorney, has instructed us to close this investigation until and unless more evidence or new victims appear.