January 14, 1910
COL. THOMAS H. SWOPE.
Was the late Colonel Thomas H. Swope, whose benefactions to Kansas City, including Swope park, amounted to more than a million and a half dollars, the victim of a scientific plot which had for its aim the elimination of the entire Swope family, by inoculation with the typhoid fever germs, looking to ultimate control of the $3,000,000 estate?
Acting on the theory that a poisoning conspiracy rivaling in fiendish ingenuity the most diabolical deeds of the Borgias was responsible for the death of Colonel Swope, October 3, last, and later of his nephew, Chrisman Swope, the body of Colonel Swope was removed Wednesday from the vault where it rested in Forest Hill cemetery and taken to Independence, where an autopsy was held.
The stomach was removed and will be taken to Chicago for analysis by chemists and toxicologists of national repute, in the hope of finding traces of poison, which members of the Swope family, their counsel and friends believe to have caused death.
The autopsy of Colonel Swope's body Wednesday, attorneys for the Swopes say, resulted in the finding that death was not due to apoplexy, as was given out at the time. All the organs, including the brain, were found to be in normal condition. This could not have been the case had he died of apoplexy. The same was found in the Chrisman Swope autopsy. His brain was found to be normal, as were the other organs of his body. A slight trace of typhoid bacilli was found, but not enough, it is claimed, to have caused his death.e
But with this the plot does not end. After Colonel Swope and his nephews were out of the way, a plot was hatched, it is alleged, to kill off the entire family.
Suspicion of foul play was aroused at the sudden death of Chrisman Swope last month. An autopsy was held, the stomach was removed and a thorough examination made. The stomach is now in Chicago, where it is being analyzed by a commission of eminent chemists and toxicologists.
"It will be several days before an arrest is made," said John H. Atwood of the law firm of Reed, Atwood, Yates, Mastin & Harvey. "We have the evidence well in hand. There is not a particle of doubt in my mind but that both Thomas Swope and Chrisman Swope were poisoned, and that they did not die of the diseases which they were said to have in the newspaper accounts."
This plot, said to have been planned with more deliberation, and even more heinous intent than the now famous Gunness affair, had for its supposed end the extermination of all the Swope heirs. Shortly before Chrisman Swope's death, it is charged, a man visited the office of a well known bacteriologist of Kansas City and secured some typhoid germs. With these deadly bacilli, those pushing the matter believe he hoped to innoculate the members of the Swope family.
Colonel Thomas H. Swope and Chrisman Swope are said to have both died after the same manner. The former died October 3. He arose the fateful morning, and was given a bath. An hour afterwards he died in convulsions.
Chrisman Swope was a man of about 30, young and vigorous. Shortly before this it was given out that he was suffering from typhoid fever. He was taken down December 2 and died four days after. He is said to have been administered a capsule an hour before his death. the nurses say that he died in convulsions.
The man suspected secured his typhoid bacteria November 10. His first visit to the Swope home in Independence was made Thanksgiving day. It was only a week after this that Chrisman Swope was taken down with the contagion. The plot is thought to have been to kill off the heirs by typhoid fever.
The sudden death of Chrisman Swope, following so close after the fatal illness of Colonel Swope, immediately aroused the suspicions of the family. An autopsy was held with the result that it was claimed that the last member of the family had not died of typhoid, as was said. The stomach was soon after sent to Chicago.
During this time, it is claimed, there was more evidence of a plot to kill off the entire family. Mrs. Logan Swope was taken down with typhoid fever early in December.
In rapid succession other members of the family were taken down with typhoid fever. They follow in chronological order:
Dec. 2 -- Margaret Swope.
Dec. 4 -- Miss Dixon, the governess. A negro servant by the name of Coppidge, Miss Compton, seamstress.
Dec. 5 -- Stuart Flelming.
Dec. 9. -- Sarah Swope, 14 years of age.
Dec. 11 -- Stella Swope.
Dec. 22 -- Lucy Lee.
None of the victims were in a critical condition.
Lucy Lee was on her return trip from Europe. It is thought that she was inoculated with the typhoid germs in route to Kansas City. It is known that it takes from six to seven days after inoculation, for the first symptoms of the disease to show. In the case of Miss Lee, she was taken down four days after her arrival in Kansas City.
The investigation which resulted in these startling disclosures was largely at the insistence of the nurses employed in the Swope home during the illness of Chrisman Swope. At their suggestion Dr. G. T. Twyman of Independence was called in to make an investigation. He found the house to be in a sanitary condition and no place from whence the disease germs could possibly originate. Dr. Frank Hall also made an investigation with the same results.
Mrs. Logan Swope and other members of the family told their suspicions to John G. Paxton, attorney for the Swope estate. At first Mr. Paxton would not believe that there could be anything in these charges. But after an investigation he, too, became convinced that there was truth in them. Mr. Paxton yesterday employed the law firm of Reed, Atwood, Yates, Mastin & Harvey, to push the investigation.
One man suspected is now under the espionage day and night of five private detectives employed by the Swopes.
Dr. Hekpeen of Rush Medical College, Chicago, is in Kansas City making investigations. He will take the stomach of Colonel Swope back with him for a thorough examination. Dr. Haynes of Chicago, a chemist of national reputation, will assist in the chemical tests to be made in the effort to find a trace of poison.
"The Swope millions will be used to run this mystery to the ground," said Mr. Atwood.