Marian Mills1930s, teens, oklahoma, illegalunknownSUMMARY: Marian Mills, age 19, died on July 10, 1934, after an abortion in Oklahoma. The perpetrator was never identified.Marian Mills
In 1934, pretty Marian Mills, a beauty queen and professor’s daughter, was the 19-year-old “campus sweetheart” of Neal Myers. Myers, a 21-year-old pharmacy student, was the son of Dr. P.B. Myers of Denver.
On July 10, Marian died in the apartment of Mrs. Hazel Brown, the cook for Myers’ fraternity house and “the only person of mature age in the house during the 24 tragic hours preceding the girl’s death.”
Myers was charged with murder in Marian’s death, and could have faced life in prison if convicted.
Dr. Roy Emanuel testified that Myers consulted him about a possible pregnancy but had asked for advise, not for an abortion. Emanuel said that he’d recommended a test to verify the suspected pregnancy, and had also told the young man to consult with his father.
“Two or three weeks later he came back … bringing the report, which showed the girl was not pregnant.” Myers had Marian with him, and she said that she wanted an examination, because she didn’t think the test was accurate. He did examine her and while he could not definitively say, he didn’t think she was pregnant.
The couple returned again the Thursday before Marian’s death, and this time his examination verified that the girl was pregnant. Again, Emanuel said, he referred the couple to Myers’ father.
Mrs. Brown, for her part, said that Myers had loved Marian and had wanted to marry her. He was opposed to the idea of an abortion. Marian, on the other hand, insisted that her parents would never accept Myers. Brown said that Marian had taken “a harmless drug” and that this was the only attempt that she personally knew of to abort the baby.
During the trial, witnesses testified that Mrs. Brown had refused to call a doctor for Marian, saying that she was “as good as dead,” and instructing Myers to run — which he did, spending three weeks on the lam before turning himself in.
Doctors who examined Marian after her death indicated that she had sought or attempted more aggressive means to “avert motherhood” than just mild abortifacients. They said that some sort of instruments had been used in the abortion that had caused her death.
Myers was supported by Brown, his father, and his fraternity friends during the trial. There were tears of joy in the courtroom when he was acquitted. Marian’s father, Professor M. Elbert Mills, “maintained a strict silence.”
I have been unable to find if the perpetrator of Marian’s fatal abortion was ever identified. Myers was suspected, and a druggist testified at the trial that Myers had bought strong antiseptics which he said he needed “to sterilize instruments.”
Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1930s.
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion
- “Myers Sobs as Jury Frees Him of Killing”, The Oklahoman, Sept. 8, 1934
- “Defense to Say Myers Not Involved in Girl’s Death”, The Oklahoman, Aug. 1, 1934
- “Woman Tells Jury He Loved Girl Who Died”, The Oklahoman, Sept. 5, 1934
- “State Attack in Girl Death Case Falters”, The Oklahoman, Sept. 5, 1934
- “Jury May Get Myers Death Case Tonight”, The Oklahoman, Sept. 6, 1934
- “Youth, 22, Surrenders in Murder of Beauty Queen,” San Francisco Tribune, Aug. 1, 1934
- “Loved Coed, Youth Says,” Omaha World Herald, Sept. 7, 1934
- “Blame Put on ‘Quack’ Medications,” San Diego Evening Tribune, Jul. 11, 1934
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