January 16, 1910
According to attorneys representing the Swope estate poison has been found in the stomach of the late Chrisman Swope. It is said this fact was known before the body of Colonel Thomas H. Swope was taken from the vault at Forest Hill cemetery last Tuesday to Independence, where the stomach was removed for the purpose of a chemical evaluation by Chicago specialists. The white powder found has been declared to be either strychnine or some other poison.
"Chrisman Swope's stomach was sent to Dr. Haynes in Chicago nearly two weeks ago," said John H. Atwood, attorney for the Swopes, last night. "An analysis was immediately made. The result was the finding of white powder in a large quantity. This powder was either strychnine or some other deadly poison. The name of the second poison I am unable to tell you. there is no doubt in the minds of the attorneys or of the Chicago specialists that the white powder is poison."
John G. Paxton and Mr. Atwood, counsel for the Swope heirs, will leave this evening for Chicago. Mr. Paxton will return Tuesday night. Mr. Atwood may remain longer. When Mr. Paxton returns he will probably bring with him the official report of the doctors' investigation.
At a conference yesterday at the Swope home in Independence, participated in by Prosecuting Attorney Virgil Conkling and counsel for the Swopes, the nurses who attended Thomas Swope told their stories.
A dispatch to The Journal from Chicago last night stated that Dr. Walter S. Haynes, the toxicologist, worked all day on the analysis and examination of the stomach of Thomas Swope with a view of tracing the typhoid bacilli which are said to still exist in the stomach and other organs. The work was carried on behind closed doors in the laboratory of the Rush Medical college.
Professor Ludvig Hektoen of the University of Chicago medical faculty has left Chicago for a few days, but when he returns he will work in conjunction with Dr. Haynes.
"I have not progressed sufficiently to make any statement as to my findings," said Dr. Haynes. "The examination will occupy several days at least. Professor Hektoen will carry on the work of making the exact microscopic tests."
The case is one of the most extraordinary presented for criminal investigation for some years.
Dr. J. V. Bacon in discussing the investigation in Chicago yesterday said that the placing of life in jeopardy by administering the bacilli of typhoid, tuberculosis or another diseases was simple, the only thing necessary being to administer the germs in milk, soup or other foods, wherein it would be impossible to detect by taste.
"The result in administering typhoid germs would simply be to create a case of typhoid," said Dr. Bacon. "The patient might recover or might die, just as in the case contracted in the ordinary way, and the percentage of recoveries is high enough to render such a method of attempted murder very uncertain. Of course in the case of an old man, enfeebled already by years, the risk of death in typhoid is heavy."
It was not until a week ago, when an unofficial report was received from the Chicago specialists that poison had been found in the stomach of Chrisman Swope, that the family realized the extent of this alleged plot. Colonel Swope's body was removed from the vault in Forest Hill cemetery. The autopsy was held Tuesday and the following day the stomach and other vital organs sent to Chicago to be examined.
The investigation branched from this to the presence of typhoid fever among the Swope heirs. Eight members of the family had been taken down with typhoid fever, between December 1 and 18. Physicians were called in. then it was believed that the members of the family had not contracted the disease by natural means.
It is known that the millionaire benefactor was planning several days before his death to give $1,000,000 or more to Kansas City.
"This fund, held as a residue and bequeathed to no one," said John Paxton, attorney for the Swope estate, "contained about $1,000,000. He realized that he had provided for all his relatives handsomely, and this reside he had, I think, made up his mind to give to the public of Kansas City or for some charity. He died before he could change his will, and this residue of over $1,000,000 consequently was divided among the heirs."