On June 25, 1942, 18-year-old Inez McGraw, aka Inez Crawford, died from complications of an abortion perpetrated in Spartanburg, South Carolina by former midwife Henrietta Henderson.
On June 23, 1942, former midwife Henrietta Henderson, age 43, performed an abortion on 18-year-old Inez Crawford at the Henderson home a few miles outside Spartanburg, North Carolina. Inez died on June 26.
Police arrested both Henderson and 51-year-old undertaker William E. Evans for Inez’s death. Inez had worked as a receptionist for Evans for about four months prior to her death, and had her living quarters on his premises.
Sheriff S. M. Henry testified that when he brought Henderson into the room where Evans was being held, she identified him as the man who had brought Inez to her house, had been present in the next room during the abortion, and had carried Inez out to the car after the abortion was finished. He had promised upon leaving to pay Henderson an additional $5. She had performed the abortion using an instrument that she described as resembling “a little spoon,” which means it was probably an obstetric curette.
Evans, according to Henderson, had given Inez a ten-dollar bill to pay for the abortion, and that Inez had blamed Evans for her pregnancy.
Henderson herself testified that Evans had approached her about arranging an abortion, saying, “You don’t know me and I don’t know you…. I want you to help me out…. I want you to see after this girl for me…. I done it….”
Evans, a married father of three, denied any involvement. However, witnesses including Henderson’s husband implicated him.
Inez died on June 25 from generalized gas gangrene, necrosis of the uterine wall, acute peritonitis, and septicemia. Strangely, her death certificate notes “after miscarriage” rather than “after abortion.” It also lists her occupation as “spinner” in a mill for a month prior to her death, so evidently she stopped working for Evans before she knew she was pregnant.
Henderson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in exchange for turning state’s evidence. Evans was found guilty and sentenced to twelve years. He appealed his conviction on the grounds that the sheriff’s testimony was only hearsay, but the court noted that the prosecution brought forth eight other witnesses, including one who said Evans had approached him to find an abortionist, one who had arranged a rendezvous between Inez and Evans the day of the abortion, and one who had served as a go-between for Inez to approach Evans about her pregnancy.
- State v. Evans, Supreme Court of South Carolina, 202S.C.463(S.C. 1942)
- “Evans Indictment Be Asked By Watt,” Greenville (SC) News, Jul. 27, 1942
- “Spartan Negress Says Guilty of Abortion Charge,” Greenville (SC) News, Jul. 29, 1942
- “Evans Given 12 Year Sentence in Abortion Case,” Greenville (SC) News, Aug. 1, 1942
- death certificate