The Case of Frederick Mors (Part Two)

Continued from Part One

After Frederick Mors' successful escape from the Hudson River State Hospital in 1916, a police manhunt turned up no trace of him and, after months of investigating, public interest largely died down.

 In the meantime,  World War One continued to rage in Europe and industrial output in many U.S. factories rose sharply as a result.   Due to the numerous military contracts that had become available, not to mention growing confidence that the United States would be eventually entering the war,  the need for factory workers was greater than ever.  Certainly that was the case at the Torrington Factory located in Torrington, Connecticut (hence the name).  Though regulating industrial safety standards were largely hit or miss depending on where factories were located and how dangerous the factory work actually was,  the Torrington Factory boasted its own first aid department with a staff physician to deal with any injuries that occurred.  

It still isn't clear how and when "Frederick Maurice Beno" began working as an physician's assistant at the factory.   By all accounts, he soon became a well-known fixture in Torrington, Connecticut where he was living,  as much for his peculiar manner and strange way of dressing as for his work treating injured workers.   And there he might have gone on living quietly had it not been for one problem:   being a German national living in the United States meant that he was officially designated an enemy alien and needed to be registered with the U.S.  government to remain in the country.   More importantly, authorities belatedly checking his file discovered that nobody by that name had ever entered the country legally and, for all intents and purposes, "Frederick Maurice Beno" didn't exist.   Aside from his claim to being born in Munich, Germany, there was absolutely no evidence to support his identity.   When police picked him up in February, 1918, Beno raised suspicions by being deliberately vague about his activities between 1915 and 1917 when he arrived in Torrington.   He was charged with violating his residency permit though he was soon released (presumably he wasn't considered a flight risk).  

 Despite his release however, the publicity over his arrest cost Beno his job and generally made life in Torrington unbearable.   By April, he had disappeared after leaving behind three letters to people he had known in town   In  all three of the letters, Beno announced that he would be committing suicide.   Fearing the worst, police and local scout troops  searched the local woods for any trace of his body but nothing was ever found. And that would have been the end of the story for Frederick Beno if it hadn't been for a factory worker named Henry Godere.

While he was having his lunch at the factory where Beno had once worked, Godere happened to be reading the magazine section of the New York Herald dated March 21, 1915.   And there, along with the story of Frederick Mors and his murders, was a picture of the man he knew as "Doctor" Frederick Beno.   Godere was so struck by the resemblance that he began showing the picture to his co-workers,many of whom had been treated by Beno, and all of them agreed that that he strongly resembled the picture of Frederick Mors in the magazine.   When Godere notified the police, a new investigation was launched, including checking with New York authorities about Mors/Beno's prison status.  

After learning that Frederick Mors had escaped custody in 1916,  Torrington police launched a full investigation.   Not only did Beno fit all the available descriptions of Frederick Mors, including his odd manner and way of dressing, but police also learned that he had given a cigarette case with the initials "F.M." to a man with whom he had been boarding.   Though all the nearby towns were notified, no trace of the escaped fugitive ever turned up.    People in Torrington were understandably disturbed to learn that the man who had been living in their town was suspected of being a multiple murderer but interest in the case of Frederick Mors/Frederick Beno  largely died down after a few months.  

It was only in 1923 with the discovery of a skeleton at a farm in Northfield, Ct., not far from Torrington, that the question of what had happened to Mors could finally be answered.   Despite having no head and the absence of any identifying marks, a coroner formally identified the body and concluded that Mors had poisoned himself at some point after he disappeared from Torrington.   Two bottles were found next to the corpse, but , while one contained whiskey, there was no way to tell what the other bottle contained.  Given the condition of the skeleton, there was also no way to tell how long he had been dead.  The spot Mord had picked to end his life was isolated enough to ensure that his body would not be discovered until years later.  Only after a thorough investigation were police able to solve a mystery that had been haunting Northfield for weeks after the body was found.   It also meant that police in New York could finally close the file on the eight patient deaths linked to Mors once and for all.    The mystery of what he did in those final months before his death died with him.  

While there have certainly been other examples of  patients being murdered by caregivers, the case of Frederick Mors is still one of the most unusual.  Whatever his reasons for killing eight patients, he certainly managed to become a local legend.   Something that likely suited him just fine.


Related Stories

  • The Case of Frederick Mors (Part One)
  • The Mathematician In The Asylum
  • Who Was the Axeman? (Part Two)


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