SUMMARY: Clara Rowe, age 17, died September 19, 1933 after an abortion perpetrated in Chicago by Dr. Morris Reich.
On September 24, 1933, a body wrapped in a blanket was found a fisherman in a swamp at the corner of 120th Street and Avenue O in Chicago. It was the body of 17-year-old night club singer Clara Rowe.
An investigation found that she had died from complications of an illegal abortion.
Dr. Morris Reich, age 46, and nurse Glenda Cleeves were charged in her death. Cleeves turned state's evidence against Reich, whose initial defense was going to be that Clara had drowned.
|Dr. Morris Reich|
Reich admitted that Clara had come to his office on September 17, but he said that she was suffering ill effects from a self-administered dose of some substance. He denied having performed an abortion on her.
Reich then brought Clara to the home of nurse Glenda Cleeves, who ran "a rest home for women." Cleeves testified that Reich said he'd brought the girl there from his office because she "needed a rest."
Clara died on the 19th. Reich testified, "I was so upset I hardly knew what to do. I notified the coroner, and some time later two men came to me saying they were from the coroner's office, and that we would have to get rid of the body."
Cleeves said that it wasn't until September 22 that Reich showed up at 2 a.m.with a man he claimed was an undertaker. They wrapped the Clara's body in blankets and took it from the house.
"We took the body out to the swamp," Reich admitted. "I drove the car. The two men took the body out of the car, but I don't know what they did with it. I did not report the unusual procedure because I was so distracted."
The prosecution had sought the death penalty. The jury deliberated for two and a half hours before returning a verdict of guilty. Reich was sentenced to 14 years, the minimum permissible sentence in a murder case.
Note: Illinois state death index indicates that Clara, born 10 Sep. 1917, died on Sept. 23. Her age is listed as 16, her occupation as student, her residence as 5343 Wallace St., Hammond, IN. Her parents are listed as Robert Rowe and Edna Turrell Rowe.
- "Physician and Nurse Indicted in Girl's Death," Chicago Tribune, Oct. 6, 1933
- "Jury Chosen for Abortion Murder Trial," Chicago Tribune, May 1, 1934
- "Nurse Accuses Doctor in Girl Murder Trial," Chicago Tribune, Jun. 2, 1934
- "Doctor Guilty of Murder in Abortion Case," Chicago Tribune, Jun. 3, 1934