Joseph von Werthen

Joseph von WerthenabortionistsmalevonWerthen.pngSan Francisco Detective Hogan concluded that Dr. Joseph von Werthen had performed the fatal abortion on Clara Mathews, as arranged by Harry Gray, assisted by Dr. E.P. Driscoll. All three men were charged with murder.

Von Werthen had faced criminal charges before, havng “acquir[ed] for himself an unenviable reputation.”

His first run-in had to do with voting in a district where he had not met the residential qualifications to vote. Those charges were dropped.

The second run-in related to his service as physician to the Ancient Order of Foresters, who he reportedly defrauded out of money relating to the purchase of medication.

“He had become notorious in Lincoln, and his own admission that he had been extremely successful n cases similar t that oft he girl of whose murder he is charged was perhaps the chief element in his notoriety.”

He was around 35 years old at the time of Clara’s death. He’d come to California from Louisiana, where it was believed he’d gotten his medical degree at Tulane University in New Orleans. He evidently beat the rap, because he shows up as a physician and druggist in San Francisco directories from 1897 through 1900.

“A Tale of Horror,” San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 25, 1893
“They May Yet Escape,” San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 26, 1893