SUMMARY: Ann Roberts, age 25, died in Saint Louis, Missouri on December 3, 1878 from complications of a lay abortionist.
Ann E. Roberts, 25 years old, submitted to an abortion November 29, 1878 in Saint Louis, Missouri. She died of peritonitis on December 3. She was attended to by William Stapp and Stephen L. Metcalf, neither of whom was a doctor. Before her death, Ann identified Stapp as her abortionist. Metcalf was arrested as an accessory.
Somebody — possibly Dr. Hugo Auler (sp?), who is listed as the attending physician on the death register of the City of Saint Louis — made out a falsified death certificate and attempted to make burial arrangements, but the coroner was tipped off and convened a jury.
Ann, from Little Rock, Arkansas, became involved there with a cotton merchant named John O’Brien, who set her up in a dwelling in St. Louis, supporting and visiting her and her 3-year-old child intermittently. Ann maintained her reputation by telling people she was a widow.
She was engaged to R. P. Underwood, a printer who “was much aggrieved at her death, and wept over her body like a child.”
Stapp was described as “an old, gray-haired, bald-headed rascal, who once served a term for passing counterfeit money.
Source: “Murder by Abortion,” Chicago Tribune, Dec. 7, 1878