SUMMARY: Chorus girl Susanna "Susan" Geary, age 20, died September 19, 1905 after an abortion perpetrated at the Boston practice of Dr. Mary S. Dean.

Susan and Morris

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Susanna Geary

Susanna Alice "Susan" Geary, 21-year-old daughter of J.D. and Catherine Geary of Cambridge, Massachusetts. She performed under the name Ethel Durrell with the Shepherd King Company.

Susan's fiance, Morris Nathan, was a secretary to the Shepherd King Company's manager. On the evening of September 9, 1905, Morris accompanied Susan from the theater where the company had been performing in Boston to a car that was to take her home to Cambridge. Morris expected to his fiancee again on September 11, when the company opened performances in Lowell.

Susan's Mysterious Illness

On September 11, the manager got a physician's certificate signed by “P. A. Smith, M.D., Boston,” stating that "Miss Durell" was ill with stomach troubles and would be unable to work for a while. Nathan Morris became suspicious – especially since there was no doctor by that name listed in either Lynn or Boston. He contacted Susan's mother, who said that she'd gotten word that Susan was sick in Salem.

SusannaGearyLetter2Mom.jpgOn September 18, Susan wrote a letter to her mother, on paper with the letterhead torn off. She claimed to be in Salem, Massachusetts, sick with diarrhea. When Mrs Geary got the letter, she went to Lowell, where the company was scheduled to perform, looking for her. Nathan showed her the suspicious letter.

A Gruesome Discovery

On September 21, dress suitcase containing a torso, minus intestines and stomach, was found in Boston Harbor at Winthrop, about three miles south of the city. The Boston Globe described the torso as that of a “young and beautifully formed woman.”

Mrs. Geary worried that the body might be that of her daughter, and followed coverage of the discovery closely.


Days after the suitcase was found, police found their “first promising clew”—a description of a man someone thought they saw in the area, as well as word of a missing East Boston woman they thought might be the victim, until she promptly “reappeared” the next day. A missing Back Bay girl was also misidentified as the possible victim.

A suitcase containing limbs matching the torso were fished out of the harbor on September 27. On the right hand were three rings. Pictures and descriptions of the rings were published in the local newspapers.

Susanna Identified

Three rings were found on the right hand recovered in the suitcase full of limbs. They matched the description Susanna Geary's mother and sisters had provided of their missing loved one's jewelry. Mrs. Geary examined the rings and positively identified them.

Mrs. Geary told authorities that Susan had been complaining of a pain in her side, and postulated that a doctor had performed a botched appendectomy.


When newsboys started shouting about the discovery of parts of the body, Howard got scared and fled the city.





On October 30, Susanna was identified. When the arms were found, there were three rings on one hand which Mrs. Geary identified. When she saw photos of the rings and their description in the newspaper, she was sure the body was Susanna's. Susanna's mother, who went with daughter Evelyn to Cambridge, said she'd not known of the pregnancy and didn't believe Nathan had anything to do with the abortion. At that time, Mrs. Geary said that Susanna had been complaining of pains in her side and postulated that she had died from a botched appendectomy.




On September 10, Susan she visited a medical parlor on Tremont Street in Boston, where Mary S. Dean performed an abortion.



When Susan wrote the letter her mother got on the 18th,She was, in fact, now at another home in Roxbury, hours from death.




Dr. Percy McLeod, graduate of Harvard Med School, member of Mass. Med. Soc., married and c. 35 years old, testified that on the morning of September 14 he had been called to the Winthrop Street address he was later told was Dr. Dean's house. There he examined a young woman and declared that the patient needed immediate surgery to save her life. He telephoned Dr. Pettee to help him. Pettee had know McLeod for years, identified a photo of Mrs. Dean as “Mrs. Dana.” Said McLeod told him that he did hospital work for Mrs. Bishop.

Nurse Sarah E. Griffiths said that Susanna remained conscious until her death, did not ask for a priest, did not want her mother to know. Griffiths assisted McLeod and Dr. John H. Pettee, both wearing masks, to care for Susanna. Pettee assisted McLeod in the operation which he told Griffiths was necessary to save Susanna's life.

Geary was told that she was dying, and she is said to have asked Dean to pray with her. She died in the early morning hours of September 19. Discussions ensued about how to proceed, and Dean and Dr. McLeod decided to dismember Geary in the bathtub and pack her body into suitcases. They offered $100 apiece to two men, who purchased suitcases, and were instructed to dump them in the Atlantic Ocean near Portland, Maine.

Mrs. Dean refused to provide burial clothes for Susanna, said Nurse Griffiths.

Emma W. Coulter, who acted as a nurse at the Bishop establishment on Winthrop Street said that there were seven rooms there and often three patients in each room. McLeod attended patients there, and she had seen him attending to Susanna. He always wore a white mask when there. After the second operation on Susanna, Coulter saw an additional doctor there.

Howard, a hypnotist and fortune teller, said that he'd gone to Crawford's office on the night of September 19, and Crawford said, “I have a great scheme to make money. Come around about noon tomorrow and I'll tell you all about it.” When Howard went to Crawford's apartment as instructed, Crawford told him that a woman had died at Bishop's private hospital and he had been hired to dispose of the body. He offered Howard $100 to help him. They met at Bishop's at 8 p.m, on September 20 and found two leather suitcases in a corner which Howard was told contained the woman's body and a satchel on the sofa which Crawford said contained the woman's head and 30 pounds of lead shot.

The men took the luggage by a roundabout route to the ferry at East Boston, intending to drop all three bags at the center of the river. However, several people were standing near the at the stern so they were afraid to dump the bags. At Crawford's suggestion, they took the bags to Orient Heights then returned to the ferry. A few hundred feet into the crossing, Crawford dumped the satchel overboard, followed by one of the suitcases, which floated away into the darkness. The two men together then threw the final bag into the water.

They then returned to Bishop's practice to college another suitcase containing Susanna's torso. The suitcase was so heavy it took both men to carry it. They hired a cab to take them to the ferry, where they waited for five minutes for the next boat, which they boarded, tossing the bag midstream.

When they got back to Crawford's office, Howard only managed to collect part of the promised fee, and had to pester Crawford for the rest.

Louis Crawford , aka Albert H. Emery, age 31, said that the Bishop office was an abortion mill, for which Mrs. Bishop got $50/day of the fee. Crawford was Mrs. Dr. G. Bishop's son-in-law and managed her business. Either Mrs. Dean or William Hunt/Howard, age 34, did the abortion.



Susanna's torso, minus intestines and stomach, was found on September 21. The Boston Globe described the torso as that of a “young and beautifully formed woman,” Her mother worried that the body might be that of her daughter. When newsboys started shouting about the discovery of parts of the body, Howard got scared and fled the city.

Days after the suitcase was found, police found their “first promising clew”—a description of a man someone thought they saw in the area, as well as word of a missing East Boston woman they thought might be the victim, until she promptly “reappeared” the next day. A missing Back Bay girl was also misidentified as the possible victim.

Susanna's limbs were found on October 27.

On October 30, Susanna was identified. When the arms were found, there were three rings on one hand which Mrs. Geary identified. When she saw photos of the rings and their description in the newspaper, she was sure the body was Susanna's. Susanna's mother, who went with daughter Evelyn to Cambridge, said she'd not known of the pregnancy and didn't believe Nathan had anything to do with the abortion. At that time, Mrs. Geary said that Susanna had been complaining of pains in her side and postulated that she had died from a botched appendectomy.

Morris Nathan, who admitted to being the babydaddy, was arrested in Pittsburgh. Ailing and against the advice of his physician, he insisted on accompanying Massachusetts police to Boston to see those who had killed Susanna brought to justice. He was hospitalized in Boston and went from the hospital to court for questioning. He had reportedly been distraught, crying for a week, prior to his arrest in Pittsburgh.

Morris was pale and weak upon his arrival in Boston, and held his hat over his face as police led him past a crowd at the train station. He collapsed upon arrival at the police station. A police physician examined him and recommended that he be removed to a hospital and questioned after he regained his strength.

Cinch identity: Susanna's body was identified by a diamond ring, given to her as a Christmas present by her mother, that had been used as collateral for a loan. One of Morris Nathan's friends had pawned the ring. The ring was identified by Mrs. Geary, Susanna's sister Evelyn, and the jeweler who had sold Mrs. Geary the ring.

On November 2, Louis Crawford and Albert H. Emery, a theatrical agent, and William Howard aka Hunt were arrested.

On November 5, the satchel was located and taken to an undertaking establishment to await formal identification by the medical examiner, whence it was sent to Harvard Medical School and reunited with the rest of Susanna's remains. It was said to be in good enough condition for visual identification, though identification was confirmed with dental records. And then, on November 5, Geary’s head was found in a bag in Boston Harbor. It wasn’t police who found the head, but instead a diver hired by the Boston Post.

On November 11, police in Boston raided five abortion mills. Somebody had perpetrated an abortion on 15-year-old Iola Reed of West Newfield, Maine. She was brought along on the raids and identified Bishop's office as the location where her abortion had been done.

At Bishop's place on Tremont Street, police found a mask worn by abortionists while they worked. “The parlor is elaborately furnished in blue and gold. Books found in a desk showed that an enormous business has been done daily.” There were three operating rooms, “cleverly arranged with the idea of hiding the operator from the patient.”

A large crowd followed the police, blocking traffic. Upon entering each establishment, police photographed the premises along with any instruments found. For hours after the raids, people believed that police had uncovered another abortion death.

The offices of “Mrs. Dr. Ames” and Dr. J. W. Emmons, 165 and 170 Tremont Street, were devoid of people, as was Dr. Bishop's office. Dr. Lewis, husband of abortionist Arnie Brown who practiced at the Bishop office, was found at Dr. Butler's office. Three women were waiting to be seen at the Williams office. Bishop's office was at 178 Tremont. Police found a safe open and papers strewn about.

Police concluded that multi-state abortion rings were routing women to the Boston abortion mills.

Dr. McLeod was found not guilty. Louis Crawford and William Hunt, the two men who disposed of the suitcases containing Geary’s dismembered body, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison.
For months, police continued to search for Dean. The search took them to Portland, Maine, New York City, and Nova Scotia, but Dean was never found. Nathan was not prosecuted.
Susanna Geary is buried in New Cavalry Cemetary, just three miles from where she died.


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