#142 James Anderson

James Cassidy (18??–????), aka James Anderson, Big Jim Cassidy, Jimmie the Kid — Pickpocket

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-three years old in 1886. Born in Ireland. Married. Tailor. Medium build. Height, 6 feet. Weight, about 180 pounds. Hair black, turning gray; gray eyes, light complexion. Generally wears a sandy mustache.

RECORD. “Jimmie the Kid” is a clever old New York thief. He has been traveling through the country for a number of years, and is well known in all the principal cities East and West. He is a great big rough fellow, and will get the money at any cost.

He was arrested several times in New York, but never with a clear case against him until April 10, 1876, when he was arrested for robbing George W. Mantel, on one of the horse-cars, for which he was convicted, and sentenced to ten years in Sing Sing prison, on June 16, 1876, by Recorder Hackett, in the Court of General Sessions, New York His time expired on December 16, 1882. His picture is an excellent one, taken in January, 1876.

One Saturday night in January 1888, pickpockets William Rodgers, alias Ryan, and James Cassidy, alias Jimmie the Kid, walked into Nooney’s saloon at the corner of First Street and Second Avenue in Lower Manhattan to quench their thirst. While at the bar, they encountered James “Jersey Jimmy” Johnson, another pickpocket of the same generation. All the men were over forty years in age; Jimmie the Kid Cassidy may have been well over fifty, since the ages given on his prison records varied from birth years of 1830 to 1843.

Rodgers had a beef with Jersey Jimmy. He accused Johnson of being a “squealer,” a police informant, who had ratted him out. The previous day, Friday, Rodgers had been arrested and had been given  the “third degree” over his knowledge of a recent robbery, but was ultimately discharged. Rodgers spotted Johnson at a table and heated words were exchanged, and then Jersey Jimmy’s hand, holding a knife, punched Rodgers’s chest. More shoving occurred, and the blade was seen to swipe Rodgers in the stomach and across his hands. Cassidy and other bystanders separated the two men, and Cassidy assisted Rodgers out the door. Jimmie Cassidy took Rodgers to a doctor, who did his best to bandage the wounds, and then took Rodgers back to the apartment he shared with his wife.

Inspector Byrnes heard about the fracas and sent detectives to Cassidy’s apartment, where they found Rodgers sleeping. They took both Rodgers and Cassidy to the Central Station, where a police doctor took a look at Rodgers and immediately sent him to Bellevue hospital. Rodgers was listed in critical condition, but flatly refused to press any charges against Johnson. Inspector Byrnes had Johnson and Cassidy dragged into court all the same, since Cassidy was willing to testify about the stabbing. The judge took Johnson and Cassidy over to Bellevue, where Rodgers once again denied that Johnson had been his assailant.

A year later, in 1889, Jimmie the Kid Cassidy was arrested for larceny, and sentenced to ten years in Sing Sing. He emerged in May 1898, with time reduced.

Four months later, in September 1898, Cassidy walked into a saloon and encountered Charles Robinson, alias Henry Carter, an ex-convict he knew from Sing Sing. By one account, Cassidy and Robinson had an ongoing dispute left over from prison; by another account, the two shared drinks, but then disagreed over who was paying. Robinson just turned his back and started to walk out of the saloon. Jimmie the Kid pulled out a revolver and shot him in the back.

On his way to the hospital, Robinson identified his attacker. Cassidy was arrested at his home. “Yes, I shot the man,” Cassidy told police, “but I didn’t think he would peach on me.”

Cassidy was convicted of manslaughter. Because of his age and the fact that his victim was an ex-convict, Judge Goff gave him a comparatively light sentence, twelve years. However, because Cassidy had been released on a reduced sentence earlier, he would also owe the reduced time on top of the twelve years, making a sentence that totaled over fifteen years. Since Cassidy was already between 68 and 55 years old in 1898, he was virtually assured of living out his last years behind bars.





#173 David Mooney

David Mooney (1852-1913), aka James H. Brady, John H. Hill, Little Dave — House thief, Murderer

Link to Byrnes’s profile of #173 David Mooney

Judging by the space Byrnes devotes to his profile of David Mooney, he was obviously fascinated by the excuses a man would make when accused of murder. Byrnes reprints a lengthy interview that a newspaper reporter elicited from a newly-arrested Mooney, in which Mooney issues denials of involvement in the death of his thieving partner, Edmond “Frenchie” Lavoiye. It was an ill-advised interview, and Mooney made several assertions that were later contradicted.

Byrnes added his own twist after quoting this interview: the fact that Mooney later confessed to the murder, which supposedly was caused by an argument over a pair of diamond earrings that Lavoiye intended to gift to a woman. Perhaps Byrnes’s intended to make a point that a criminals were often experts at dissembling. However, in Mooney’s case, his confession and sentence to life in prison did not end the debate over his guilt.


During his trial, the jury heard that the alleged suicide note left by Lavoiye showed similarity to Mooney’s handwriting, though Mooney claimed he was barely literate. Lavoiye’s pistol had been found in the hand of his disabled arm, causing the prosecution to assert that Mooney must have placed it there. Also, the prosecution called medical experts as witnesses who stated that Lavoiye’s wounds could not have been self-inflicted. As the case mounted against him, Mooney was advised to confess to a lesser charge of manslaughter–claiming self-defense–that would earn him a lighter sentence–perhaps seven years. Instead, he was found guilty of murder, and sentenced to life behind bars.

He was sent to the Massachusetts State Prison in Charlestown in late summer, 1881. For the next twenty-six years, the world heard no news about Dave Mooney. Then, in 1907, a long feature article appeared in the Chicago Inter-Ocean newspaper entitled “Tale of Forty Thieves as Told by the Forty-First.” It took a nostalgic look at the famous professional criminals of the 1870s and 1880s, with updates on their fates; the intention was to show that most met bad ends. The article contained a strong defense of David Mooney’s character:

“It was always ‘Dave ‘Mooney’s boast that outside of the business he was a gentleman. Mooney may be classed as the ‘king of the porch climbers.’ One of his greatest feats was the robbery of the Drexel mansion, in Philadelphia, of jewels and other valuables worth about $200,000. Mooney got away with the booty, but a boy he had used as a ‘lookout’ was arrested on suspicion. Mooney entered into negotiations and by an arrangement made through a lawyer returned every penny of his spoils to the family in return for the boys’ liberty.

“There is another little romance connected with Mooney’s ‘finish.’ Of course, it does not turn out well. One of the man’s redeeming traits was a love of children. He was married, but childless, and from an institution adopted a deaf and dumb girl, who was reared in comfort and in absolute ignorance of her foster father’s vocation.

“‘Frenchy’, known to be a pal of Mooney, was found dead in a room in Boston several years later, and Mooney was suspected. ‘Frenchy’ had been shot to death. A reward of $500 was offered for his capture, and Mooney, with his wife and foster daughter, went to Albany to lie low for a time. He was innocent of the crime, his friends have always said, but he knew his record would convict him in any court.

“Allowed to play in the open air, the girl one day in a store saw a picture of her father in a newspaper, with the information that the police would pay $500 for his capture. For some inexplicable reason she went to the police and afterward led them to Mooney’s hiding place. He was arrested, taken to Boston, and is today a ‘lifer’ in Charlestown. What became of the girl is not known.”

Two weeks later, in late January 1907, “The Forty-First” was back with another long column, this one dedicated entirely to presenting the case for Mooney’s innocence.





The publication of these articles in 1907 earned David Mooney some supporters, foremost among them Bernard Keenan, a city official in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Keenan lobbied the pardon board on Mooney’s behalf. It was pointed out that Mooney had been promised a much lighter sentence in return for confessing to manslaughter, but had been in prison for thirty years.

Finally, in February of 1912, Governor Foss of Massachusetts pardoned Mooney after thirty-two years of confinement. His wife and adopted child had died while he was in prison. Upon his re-entry into society, Mooney was asked what had changed most since he had been jailed. He answered without hesitation, that what dazed him were women’s hobble skirts: the skin-tight, full-length skirts that barely allowed the wearer to move her feet a few inches.

“They are the funniest things I have ever seen,” Mooney said.

Mooney, at age 61, got a job as a night watchman at a theater in Pawtucket. He was found dead from natural causes in the theater’s bathroom stall less than a year later, in 1913. His Pawtucket friends raised the money for his funeral and burial.




#21 John Clare

John G. Clare (1845-1896), aka John Gilmore, George Price, George J. Bedford — Thief, Murderer (Acquitted)

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-six years old in 1886. Born in United States. Photographer by trade. Single. Height, 5 feet 7 inches. Weight, 150 pounds. Black hair, dark hazel eyes, dark complexion. Wears black side whiskers and mustache. Has a slight scar on left arm near elbow.

RECORD. Clare is a clever and desperate bank burglar, and was at one time an associate or Ike Marsh’s and his brother, and was with them in several bank robberies. He is credited with being able to make a good set of tools. He was arrested in Baltimore, Md., on November 4, 1865, charged with the murder of Henry B. Grove on October 17, 1865. On January 29, 1866, his trial commenced in Baltimore City, but was changed upon application of his counsel to Townstown, Baltimore County, on January 30, 1866. His trial occupied from December 13 to 20, 1866, when the jury rendered a verdict of murder in the first degree. A motion for a new trial was denied, and on January 14, 1867, he was sentenced to be hanged. The Court of Appeals granted him a new trial, and he was tried again on March 29, 1870, and acquitted.

On June 27, 1874, an attempt was made to rob the safe of the New York County Bank, corner Fourteenth Street and Eighth Avenue, New York City. Clare, under the name of Gilmore, hired a basement next door to the bank, and had a steam engine at work boring out the back of the safe, which they reached by removing the brick walls of both houses. At the time of the raid by the police, William Morgan, alias Bunker, James Simpson, and Charles Sanborn were arrested, convicted, and sent to State prison. Clare, or Gilmore, made his escape, but was captured on March 27, 1876, twenty-one months afterward, in New York City, tried, convicted, and sentenced to four years and six months in State prison by Judge Sutherland, in the Court of General Sessions, New York City. Clare’s picture is an excellent one, taken in 1876.

There is no shortage of interesting aspects to the career of John G. Clare. As Byrnes indicates, Clare was arrested and tried for murder when he was barely twenty years old. Reading through accounts of his arrest and first trial (in which he was convicted), it is hard to see how he ever could have been acquitted: he had worked for the victim, a photographer; he had access to the key to the storefront; a bloody footprint matching his shoe was found at the scene; a pawnshop owner identified Clare as the man who had pawned the dead man’s watch; a gun was found under Clare’s bed with one recently-fired chamber, matching the caliber of the bullet found in the victim’s head. Moreover, Clare was caught in lies about both the gun, the watch, and the time and reason he left Baltimore immediately after the killing.


Fortunately for Clare, his family (parents Thomas Isaac Clare and Elizabeth Jane Brown) secured an exceptional team of Baltimore lawyers to mount his defense: R. J. Gittings, Orville Horwitz, Archibald Sterling, Jr., and the lead attorney: Milton Whitney. First they had the venue changed to Baltimore County. After Clare was found guilty and sentenced to hang, they appealed the validity of the indictment–and won that appeal, nullifying the first trial. This process took over three years. Clare was indicted and tried a second time, but by then, several of the critical witnesses were no longer around, and the testimony they had provided earlier was now inadmissible. Clare’s family offered an alibi (of sorts), all saying they had seen Clare at home before they went to church and after they returned, seemingly not leaving enough time for him to have committed the crime. With a less capable defense team (or better prosecutors), John Clare surely would have hanged. He was acquitted on March 29, 1870–having spent nearly five years in prison.

Clare kept a low profile for four years, establishing residence in New York under the name J. J. Gilmore. In the spring of 1874, he purchased a run-down restaurant/saloon next door to the New York County Bank. Clare’s three accomplices were caught using a steam-powered drill to break through the building walls and attack the bank’s vault. Clare escaped, but was captured nearly two years later and sent to Sing Sing. Was the restaurant nothing more than a sham front? A week before the bank burglars were caught, Clare advertised for a cook:


Following his release from Sing Sing, Clare teamed up with another burglar, “Jack Reynolds,” for a thieving-tour through the upper Midwest. In Marshalltown, Iowa, they were confronted by Sheriff George McCord. Clare meekly surrendered, which distracted McCord, and allowed Reynolds time to draw a gun and shoot McCord. Both thieves fled, splitting up, but were soon captured. The Sheriff survived his wounds, but both Reynolds and Clare (under the name George Bedford) were sentenced in January, 1885 to twenty-two year stays at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Anamosa. When Clare was processed as a prisoner, he refused to divulge anything: birthplace, religion, occupation, education, habits, etc.

His sentence was commuted in May, 1892, but during the years between 1885 and 1892, “George J. Bedford” applied for and was granted four United States patents, for : a railroad seat adjustable foot rest; a pickpocket-proof mail pouch; a freight-car lock; and a “burglar-proof” door lock.


Allegedly, it was in recognition of Clare’s contributions as an inventor that the Governor of Iowa commuted his sentence after six years.

From Iowa, Clare returned to New York and within a matter of weeks was picked up by police, having in his possession burglar tools and dynamite. Although no specific crimes could be pinned on him, in November, 1892 he was sent to Sing Sing once again for possession of those implements. He was sentenced to five years, but was released in 1896.

In August 1896, Clare and three accomplices attempted to burgle the grocery store of Walker Adams and Son in Bedford, Westchester County, New York. The owner, Walker Adams, and his son William heard them from their residence and grabbed guns to confront the robbers. Walker adams approached the rear of the building, surprised one of the burglars, who drew a gun and shot Adams dead. The son, William Adams, exchanged fire with three other burglars and wounded all of them.  One of these was John Clare, whom the other burglars called “Charles Jenkins.” Clare fled the scene. The two others shot by Adams were captured: “John Jenkins” and “Peter James” (aka Edward Jacques). John Jenkins died from his injuries. Peter James escaped from jail.

John Clare, though wounded, made his way from Westchester County to Brooklyn, where he checked into a hospital. There, his condition worsened due to kidney failure, which doctors informed him was due to Bright’s Disease. Though they interrogated him and told him he was dying, Clare refused to divulge any details of his history, or to accept a visit from a priest or minister. He died in the hospital on August 24, 1896.

In his last known dwelling, police found a large collection of bicycle parts–about $1500 worth–an enormous amount for that time. Clare was 51 when he died. No one knows what plans he had for the bicycle parts.





#201 Thomas McCormack

Thomas Joseph McCormick (1844-1897), aka Tom McCormack — Bank Robber

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Forty-three years old in 1883. Born in United States. Married. Machinist. Medium build. Height, 5 feet 8 inches. Weight, 150 pounds. Hair black, turning gray ; dark gray eyes, very dark complexion. Looks like a Spaniard. Generally wears a full black whisker and mustache. Dresses well, and is a great wine drinker.

RECORD. Thomas McCormack has had a checkered career and is a desperate man. He was associated from time to time with all the first-class bank burglars, and was implicated in many important bank robberies. Several years ago he shot and killed Big John Casey, another burglar, over a quarrel on the division of the moneys stolen from the Kensington Savings Bank in Philadelphia, which they and others had robbed on February 4, 1871, of a large amount of money. The bank referred to was robbed by McCormack, Casey, Dobbs, Brady, Burns, alias Combo, and three others. One of them during the day went to the president and represented having been sent by the Chief of Police to tell him that information had been received that either that night or the one following the bank was to be robbed. That he must not impart this information to any one, but that the Chief would send three or four policemen in uniform that afternoon, who were to be locked in the bank, and that the president could leave a porter with them. This programme was followed out, and two watchmen were left. When night set in they sent one of the watchmen out for beer, and during his absence bound and gagged the other and tied him up in a back room. On the return of the other they served him the same way, and then proceeded to rob the bank. They secured between $80,000 and $100,000.

McCormack was arrested in New Haven, Conn., by Marshal Hamilton, on Sunday evening, December 9, 1882, for breaking open and robbing a safe in Walpole, N. H., on the night of December 8, 1882. When arrested in New Haven he gave the name James Crandell. He was taken to Keene, N. H., on December 21, 1882, and upon an examination he was committed to await the action of the Grand Jury. He was indicted on April 1, 1883. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years in State prison on April 12, 1883. Sam Perris, alias Worcester Sam, was with McCormack in this robbery, but escaped after a desperate fight with the officers, who only succeeded in holding McCormack.

Chief Byrnes made at least one mistake in introducing the record of Tom McCormick, i.e. the notion that McCormick shot “Big John” Casey during a dispute over the spoils of the robbery of the Kensington Savings Bank of Philadelphia that took place in February, 1871. The fatal shots exchanged by McCormick and Casey actually took place in New York in August, 1870, six months prior to the Kensington Bank robbery.

In this instance and in other places in the text of Professional Criminals of America, Byrnes confuses facts of two separate Philadelphia bank robberies: the April 6, 1869 robbery of the Beneficial Savings Fund Bank; and the February, 1871 robbery of the Kensington Savings Bank. The perpetrators of both robberies were never conclusively identified, but most sources agree that a core group of men were behind both robberies: Frank McCoy, Jimmy Hope, and Joe Howard aka Joseph Killoran. [Though Hope’s name was often invoked in regard to these two jobs, he was lodged in Auburn prison when the Kensington robbery occurred; and–according to columnist Louis Megargee–denied involvement in the Beneficial Savings job, though he helped to recover the money. See #20 James Hope entry.]

Beyond those names, a plethora of other criminals have been cited as involved with one or the other of these crimes: Albany Jim Brady, John Kerrigan aka Johnny Dobbs; “Worcester Sam” Perris, John “Clutch” Donohue, Ike Marsh, Thomas Burns, Big John Casey, Curly Harris, Tom McCormick and John “Brockie George” Adams.

So while it is possible that McCormick and Casey argued over their shares of the Beneficial Savings robbery, the New York Herald suspected a more traditional explanation:


The woman, if there truly was one behind the dispute, might have been Louisa Farley, who was said to be involved with McCormick at around this time.

McCormick was born in Troy, New York in 1844, and went to school to learn the trade of machinist. He became a skilled professional, which brought him to the attention of criminals who required his skills to penetrate vaults.

There is abundant evidence that McCormick was often involved in bank robberies with the most skilled thieves of that era. When McCormick shot John Casey, he was accompanied by veteran robbers Joe Howard (aka Joseph Killoran) and Henry Kelly (aka Charles Gleason.) In November, 1873, McCormick joined Frank McCoy, Jimmy Hope, Jim Brady, and George Bliss in an attempt to rob the First National Bank of Wilmington by holding the bank’s cashier hostage. They were captured before the attempt was made, and quickly tried and found guilty. They were sent to prison, but also suffered a public whipping as part of their sentence. Several of the gang, including McCormick, were able to escape.

In 1882, McCormick was arrested as one of the robbers of a Walpole, New Hampshire store safe. He was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to eight years at the New Hampshire State Prison.

Upon his release in the late 1880s, McCormick resolved to give up crime. However, trouble still found him; in 1890 he was accused of stabbing a thief/pickpocket named Alonzo Henn, aka Dutch Alonzo, on the street in front of his brother’s saloon. McCormick was reported to have opened his own saloon in the 1890s, as well as playing the horses and bookmaking, and was said to generously give money away as quickly as he earned it. His obituary reported that he dissuaded many young men from a life of crime. He died a poor man in 1897–but a reformed one.

#5 Phillip Phearson

Philip Pearson (1832-Aft. 1907), aka “Philly” Phearson, Dr. White, Charles Bushnell–Bank sneak thief, Abortionist

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Fifty-four years old in 1886. Height, 5 feet 5 1/2 inches. Weight, 135 pounds. Hair mixed gray. Eyes, blue. Complexion, sallow. Ink marks: Eagle wreath, American flag, square and compass, an Odd Fellow’s link, also “J. Peck,” with face of woman underneath the name, all the above on left fore-arm; star and bracelet on left wrist; star between thumb and forefinger of left hand; figure of woman on right fore-arm; above the elbow is a heart, with “J. P.” in it; shield and bracelet with letters “W. D.” on same arm.

RECORD. Phearson, or Peck (which is his right name), is one of the oldest and smartest sneak thieves in this country. He has obtained a good deal of money in his time, for which he has done considerable service in State prisons. He comes from a respectable Quaker family of Philadelphia.

Phearson, Chas. Everhardt, alias Marsh Market Jake (38), and George Williams, alias Woodward (194,) were arrested in Montreal, Canada, in 1876, for sneaking a package containing $800 in money from a safe in that city. Williams gave bail and jumped it, and Phearson and Everhardt stood trial, and were sentenced to three years and six months in prison.

On June 16, 1879, shortly after his release in Canada, he was arrested in New York City for the larceny of a $1,000 4-per-cent bond from a clerk of Kountze Brothers, bankers, in the general Post-office building. To this offense he pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to three years and six months in State prison, on June 26, 1879, under the name of George W. Clark.

Phearson was again arrested in New York City in October, 1885, for the larceny of $85, on the till-tapping game. He claimed to be a health officer, and while he had the proprietor of the store in the yard, his accomplice carried away the drawer. For this offense he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to five years in State prison by Judge Cowing on November 5, 1885, under the name of Daniel Kennedy. Phearson’s picture is an excellent one, taken in 1885.

Phillip Phearson. Illus. by David Birkey http://cargocollective.com/dbillustration

Thomas Byrnes lists several facts about the bank sneak thief known as Philly Phearson, many of which seem to be untrue (or at least suspicious). Byrnes cites his birth year as 1832, which matches an exact date of March 12, 1832 that appeared in one of his arrest records. However, Byrnes also says that Phearson came from a good Quaker family, and that his real name was Peck. Phearson (who was usually named in newspapers and prison records as Pearson/Pierson/Peerson, without the “h”) had many tattoos on his body, one of which was a heart with the the letters “J. Peck” and a figure of a woman with the initials J.P. He had other tattoos that bore symbols of the Odd Fellows fraternal organization. Tattoos and Odd Fellows membership do not jive with a Quaker background; and having a woman named “J. Peck” in his past does not mean that was his given name–but perhaps Byrnes had other sources for his assertions.

The major crimes that Pearson was known to have been involved in include:

  • In early 1873, with associates Horace Hovan and Johnny Price, Pearson hit banks in Berks County and Dauphin County, Pennsylvania using their bank sneak techniques.
  • According to Byrnes, Pearson was with Charles Everhardt (aka Marsh Market Jake) and George Williams in 1876 when a safe containing $800 was robbed in Montreal, Quebec. Byrnes states that Pearson was sentenced to a term of three years and six months, but he obviously was released early, since he definitely resurfaced in New York in 1878.
  • In June, 1878, Pearson was caught stealing in New York. He did not give up the names of his partners, but did inform police where their next planned robberies were to occur. For this cooperation, his sentence was commuted by the New York State Senate to one year, and further reduced by good behavior and a promise to stay out of New York.
  • A year later, in June 1879, Pearson was caught robbing a $1000 bond from Kountze Bankers. He was sent back to Sing Sing under the name Geo. W. Clarke to serve 3 years and six months.

Nothing more is heard of him until 1884, when there are conflicting reports: Byrnes states that he was in a gang with Old Bill Vosburgh and Kid Carroll, touring the western states to do bank sneak thieving. However, another source says that he was in prison in Toronto.

An even more stark example of conflicting reports occurs in late 1885. Byrnes says that Pearson was arrested in October, 1885 and sent to Sing Sing for five years under the name Daniel Kennedy. However, a Philadelphia paper says that he was arrested in that city in December, 1885, in the company of Marsh Market Jake.

In his 1895 revision, Byrnes states that Pearson was arrested again in February 1888 for stalling a shop owner while the cash till was robbed. However, the newspaper accounts and prison records say that the man arrested was 73-year-old William Pearson, a long-time felon known as “Funeral” Pearson. Philly Pearson, in contrast, was 56 in 1888–he appeared old, but not 73. So Byrnes, it seems, had the wrong information.

Byrnes, writing in 1895, concluded, “He is a pretty old man now, and has outlived his usefulness as a thief.” In these words, Byrnes was correct–Pearson stopped thieving…and became something much worse.

Using his scholarly appearance and assuring banter, Pearson set himself up in Philadelphia as an abortionist–deemed a “malpractitioner” in the parlance of the times. There is no evidence that he had any medical training. In 1904, one woman he operated on (as “Dr. Clarke”) was later hospitalized near death, and another–Ada Greenover–died from peritonitis after Pearson worked on her. He should have been prosecuted for murder, but was instead lightly slapped with the charge of practicing without a license.

The legal cases against him were no deterrent. A few months later, his butchery caused the death of a black child and the near-death of the mother. The Philadelphia Coroner believed that Pearson was running an abortion syndicate responsible for the disappearance and presumed death of three other women.

With attention on him, Pearson curtailed surgical operations and instead began selling abortion nostrums through the mail. Whether the mixtures he sold were harmless placebos or toxic poisons is not known, but his use of the mails under the name “Charles Bushnell” finally provided the leverage to shut him down.


The “sympathies of the jury” might have been better spent on the women he maimed and killed.