The Starvation Doctor (Part 2 of 2)

Continued from Part One

Desperate to save Dora's life, Margaret Convey then turned to Claire and Dora's uncle who was living in Oregon at the time.    The uncle, John Herbert, had not been aware of Claire's death and, when he went to the Seattle funeral parlour where the body was on view, was so horrified at the condition of Claire's body that he refused to believe it was hers.     When Herbert investigated further, Hazzard showed him a letter supposedly written by Claire supposedly affirming her faith in Linda Hazzard's treatment.  The letter was typewritten and unsigned. 

While John Herbert returned to Seattle to plan his next move, Margart Convey stayed at the clinic to tend to Dora who was growing steadily weaker.    Despite her alarming health, Dora continued to get her daily enemas and starvation diet.    In desperation, Convey managed to get herself assigned as Dora's full-time nurse and snuck in extra food to keep her alive.  She also questioned other patients and learned that Hazzard was treating them much the same.   As part of her investigation, Convey discovered that Dora had been forced to sign a note given Sam Hazzard $500 (Dora had been under the impression that the money was going to a relative).     Showing this to Dora finally convinced her that she was being cheated.   With the help of John Herbert,  Linda Hazzard  released Dora, but only after Dora was forced to pay another $500 which Hazzard claimed was still owing on the bill.

By July 22, 1911, Dora Williamson was free and the quest for justice began.   After getting help from the British consul, Dora and Margaret Convey convinced authorities to begin investigating Linda Hazzard's clinic.   First of all, they had to get an attorney to remove Linda Hazzard's name from legal papers assigning her guardianship, then they slowly built a case against the Hazzards.  Since the clinic was located in Olalla and had considerable political clout, gaining persuading people to testify against Linda Hazzard was difficult.   Along with questions about Claire Williamson's death, the Hazzards were also suspected in the disappearance of more than $6000 worth of jewellry from the the sisters' property which had been returned by the clinic.  

When Dora Williamson's lawyer, Frank Kelly, went to the county prosecutor and laid out the case against the Hazzard clinic,  a new problem came up.   Though the prosecutor, Thomas Stevenson, grudgingly agreed to proceed with the case, he also pointed out that the county had very little money to conduct the type of case that would convict Linda Hazzard and her husband.   With the threat of an international incident hanging over his head (Claire Williamson had been a British subject), Stevenson agreed to lay charges if Dora Williamson subsidized the court costs involved.     Though the request for money seemed unbelievable, Dora finally agreed.   As Frank Kelley told the district attorney, "If she has to pay to stop her sister's murderer, so be it." 

And so the case against Linda and Sam Hazzard was finally underway.   After an arrest warrant was filed on August 4, 1911, Linda Hazzard was charged with Claire Willliamson's death.    While waiting for the case to come to trial, Frank Kelley and Thomas Stevenson began investigating other suspicious deaths linked to the clinic.   Their efforts were helped along by the media storm over the allegations against Linda Hazzard.  Newspapers in Seattle and Tacoma provided lurid headlines about the "starvation atrocities".      Records relating to all deaths linked to Linda Hazzard's practice were carefully examined and a suspicious pattern emerged with bank records and evidence of wire transfers showing that the Hazzards had systematically drained  the accounts of many of her patients after their deaths.   That was enough for the American Medical Association to pull Linda Hazzard's medical license and she was belatedly put out of business.

By the time the Hazzards' trial finally began, things had become even more bizarre.    The investigation into Linda Hazzard's history turnd up the fact that Sam Hazzard was actually married to another woman and that he had committed bigamy by marrying Linda as well.    Patient deaths linked to Linda Hazzard dated back to 1902 when she was practicing in Minnesota although she had managed to avoid charges by moving to Washington.   Funded by Dora Williamson, the district attorney brought in prominent medical experts who testified that Claire Williamson had died from starvation rather than from peritonitis as the defense claimed.  Not surprisingly, the defense insisted that the trial was an attempt by orthodox medicine to suppress the truth of Linda Hazzard's starvation treatment.   While some of her patients attempted to testify in her defense, they were not allowed to by the judge.   On the other hand, the list of names of patients who had died while in Linda Hazzard's care seemed like overwhelming evidence of her malpractice.   

Whatever else you could say about the trial, it was certainly memorable.   Appearing on Linda Hazzard's behalf were various patients and relatives of patients who believed strongly in her treatment despite the various deaths that had occurred.  One of them, John Ivar Haglund, testified that he believed in her special diet even though his wife, Daisy, had been one of the first to die in Hazzard's care.  In fact, his faith in Linda Hazzard was so strong that he allowed his young son Ivar to continue as her patient.    Other patients were not so supportive, however.   They testified that Linda Hazzard was frequently seen wearing clothing and jewelry belonging to dead patients.    Some even alleged that she and Sam had removed the gold crowns from the mouths of dead patients to be sold to a local jeweler. 

The most damaging evidence against Linda Hazzard was the discovery of a badly decomposed body on the grounds of her clinic.   The body was identified as a wealthy patient who had been shot in the head.    While the police suspected suicide many of Linda Hazzard's accusers believed that he had been murdered so that she and her husband could control the patient's estate. 

Despite a spirited defense, Linda Hazzard was convicted of manslaughter on February 4, 1912.   The judge sentenced her to twenty years in prison.   As the sheriff came to take her away, she loudly protested her innocence and accused conventional medical doctors of conducting a vendetta against her.  "The high and mighty with the diplomas and letters after their names have done this!”, she said while being led away.   

But that was hardly the end of Linda Hazzard.  After serving two years in the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla, she received a full parole on December 26, 1915.    The governor granted her a full pardon a year later. 

Linda and Sam Hazzard then moved to New Zealand where she was able to offer her services as a health specialist.   Though she was not allowed to practice medicine, she still continued to write books and attract followers.   After ten years, she had earned enough money to return to the United States and open a School of Health in Olalla.    No longer licensed to practice medicine,  Hazzard still managed to attract patients agreeing to be starved for their health.    This continued until her school burned down in 1935 and was never rebuilt.    Linda Hazzard died three years later, reportedly as as a result of prolonged fasting.

As for the total death count of patients under Linda Hazzard's care, that is still a matter of debate.    While there are fourteen known victims,  some suggest that there are far more victims still buried on the Olalla property where her clinic was located.    It seems fitting that there are local legends about the ghosts of these patients being seen walking the grounds.

Probably in search of a good meal.


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