Twenty-five-year-old Lizzie Cook, a farmer’s daughter, died suddenly on July 27, 1884, in Lockport, New York. The newspaper noted that “the secrecy in getting her body removed to her home created suspicion.” Lizzie’s body was exhumed for an examination, which showed that she had died from an abortion. Dr. Ira T. Richmond, alias Butler, was arrested. Richmond had come to Lockport a year earlier and opened a sanitarium, “which died for want of patronage.”
Richmond / Butler also was charged with bigamy. It turns out that at during the Grand Jury investigation into Lizzy’s death, a 54-year-old woman named Mrs. Butler and her 22-year-old daughter arrived on the scene, saying that Richmond’s real surname was Butler and that she’d married him in Canada and that he’d deserted her ten years ago. “She testified that even then he was engaged in irregular transactions and the dubious practice of a physician’s profession.”
Since at the time of Lizzy’s death, Richmond was married to the former Mrs. Platt of Lockport, this second wife posed a bit of a problem, though admittedly far less of a problem than the murder charge he was facing.
Richmond had arrived in Lockport in October of 1877, opening a watch and clock repair shop on East First Street and attending the West Methodist Church, coming across as “a very religiously inclined person.” He was also, the paper noted, “a smooth, oily-tongued talker” who passed himself off as a member of the I & B Richmond Firm of New York, scouting the Lockport area in order to set up a branch office.
“Indicted for Manslaughter,” New York Times, September 13, 1884
“Both Bigamist and Murderer,” New York Times, September 5, 1884