Annie Dorris

SUMMARY: On June 26, 1888, 16-year-old Annie Dorris died at the San Francisco maternity hospital of Dr. Lucy Hagenow from complications of an abortion.

Hagenow.jpgDr Lucy “Louise” Hagenow“Mrs. Dr. Hagenow, a former resident of San Jose, who gained unenviable notoriety in connection with the death of Louise Derchow in San Francisco about a year ago, is again in similar trouble.”

On June 26, 1888, 16-year-old Annie Dorris (or Doreis) died at Dr. Lucy Hagenow’s “maternity hospital” in San Francisco. She was buried the following day based on a death certificate filed by Dr. Xavier Dodel, who claimed that he’d been called to tend to her at her home for chills and fever and had transferred her to Hagenow’s care about two days before her death, when his treatment was not successful.

The baby’s father was a young man named Cox who drowned in the San Francisco Bay the Christmas after Annie’s death.

“A autopsy held on the remains which were disinterred for the purpose, showed that death was the result of an abortion.”

During the coroner’s inquest, Annie’s mother, Augusta, testified that in late July, Annie had come to her, “Troubled with what she thought was some female disease.

Augusta read in a German newspaper that “Mrs. Hagenow’s hospital on Twelfth street was a good place,” so she took Annie there. “Mrs. Hagenow said that she would cure the girl for $30 and took her into a private room to examine her.” After Annie emerged, Hagenow charged her mother an additional $10, saying that she had damaged an instrument due to Anna’s inability to lie still.

Daily Alta California Volume 80 Number 40 9 February 1889 — DEATH OF ANNIE DORREIS.pngThree days later, Annie took to her bed, complaining of pains in her legs and back. According to Annie’s father, Frederick, Hagenow came to the house to check on Annie. Hagenow took the girl into a side room, from which Frederick heard Annie cry out. Hagenow emerged and said that a “man doctor” had to be called in due to inflammation of the bowels and high fever. Hagenow left and returned with Dr. Xavier Dodel. The two of them went into the room with Annie, and again Frederick heard his daughter cry out. Dodel emerged from the room with bloody hands.

Upon his recommendation, Annie was removed to the “Maternity Home,” where she died on the third day.

Augusta said that Hagenow’s sister, Mrs. Seibert, told her that she’d taken her daughter to a “hell hole” and that “other persons had been murdered there.” Anna Hickert, who operated a bakery, said that she relayed to Hagenow that Seibert had told her that Hagenow ran “a murderous den,” but Hagenow had told Hickert not to relay this because her sister would deny having ever said any such thing.

As Augusta testified about her daughter’s death, she “cried pitifully.” After being given time to regain her composure, Augusta, with her husband by her side, was asked about her encounter with Hagenow at the coroner’s office. Augusta said that Hagenow told her to denied ever meeting her, or she (Hagenow) would end up doing 25 or 30 years at San Quentin. The coroner had chased Hagenow from the room.

Hagenow eventually made bail, but the San Francisco Chronicle noted, “The bond itself is a queer one. Although the signers qualify in the aggregate for $20,000 there is more than the faint suspicion afloat that it is a bond of straw.” Pretty fishy – perhaps in one case even fictitious – characters were putting their signatures on it. “When Mrs. Hagenow was released she ran to Dr. Dodel’s cell and held a short conversation with him. It is quite probable that he will soon be out on bond if [Judge] Hornblower can be persuaded to accept the same kind of sureties for him as he did for his female companion.” Hagenow stuck to her story that Annie had been deathly ill before she’d even been called in.

Three trials in the case led to three hung juries.

Hagenow was also implicated in the San Francisco abortion deaths of Louise Derchow (August, 1887) and Abbia Richards (June, 1888), as well as for the suspicious death of Emma Dep at Hagenow’s maternity home in August of 1888.

Hagenow relocated to Chicago and began piling up dead bodies there as well. She was implicated in numerous abortion deaths, including:


  • “A Mysterious Death,” The (San Jose) Evening News, Aug. 21, 1888
  • “Released on Bail,” San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 23, 1888
  • “A Murderous Den,” San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 4, 1888
  • “Mrs. Hagenow. On Trial Again for the Murder of Annie Doreis,” Evening News, May 2, 1889
  • “Mrs. Hagenow’s Case,” San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 13, 1889
  • “The Death of a Young Girl Which Should Warn Others,” Reno Evening Gazette, Aug. 21, 1888
  • “Death of Annie Dorreis,” Daily Alta California, Feb. 9, 1889
  • “Some of the Testimony Given in the Examination for Murder,” The Evening News, Sept. 4, 1888