Part 1 can be found here.
In 1909, George A. Fritch found himself under arrest for suspicion of murder when the dismembered corpse of a young woman showed up in a Detroit-area creek. The doctor, who was 37, was a Canadian-born man of English extraction who’d immigrated in 1898. He was short and thin with a sandy moustache and had a wife and family on Trumbull Avenue in Detroit.
And the homicide detectives in Detroit knew that they had him “dead to rights this time.”
The young lady who pointed the accusatory finger at the doctor was Martha Henning, chum of the murdered girl. Martha testified that just before Maybelle disappeared, she was in a plight. She received a registered letter at the post office with a large sum of money. Then both young women made a trip to Detroit.
The last time Martha saw her friend, she said, Maybelle was in the office of Dr. Fritch. What happened after that, she didn’t know. She went to Dr. Fritch’s office several days later and inquired, but the doctor said he’d refused her case.
The young chum of the dead girl was asked repeatedly to name the man who’d been involved with Maybelle. Martha never gave them a name.
And then the medical men made news again, telling reporters that Maybelle wasn’t actually pregnant. Well, they put it this way: “[S]ome grim caprice of an ironical fate led Maybelle Millman to her death on an operating table when her need for surgical attention was but an illusion.”
Dr. Fritch was put on trial for manslaughter in the spring of 1910. When it came time for the doctor to mount his defense, the scene was one of the most pathetic in the history of Detroit’s Recorder’s Court. The principal witness for the doctor was a woman named Mrs. Bessie Knott. She testified that she was in Dr. Fritch’s office Aug. 27 when it was alleged Maybelle was there. She denied seeing the girl and explained that she would have seen her if she had been there.
While Mrs. Knott was testifying, a man stepped up to the judge and said, “You should not let her testify, Judge. You ought to stop it.”
“Why?” asked the judge in surprise.
“It’s rank perjury,” the man said. Then he said he was Frank Knott, the woman’s husband. Judge Phelan recessed court for the day.
At the trial’s end, Dr. Fritch was found guilty of manslaughter for causing the death of Maybelle Millman by a criminal operation and attempted concealment of the crime. In sentencing the doctor to a minimum of 15 years in Jackson Prison, the trial judge excoriated the physician.
After his sentencing, Dr. Fritch remarked, “All I can say is that they are sending an innocent man to prison.”
But the doctor stayed in prison far, far beyond the 15 years of his sentence. It's one thing to perform an illegal surgery. Quite another to chop up the victim. Dr. Fritch’s name appears in the 1910 census as a prison inmate in Jackson Prison. In 1920, the census-taker found him in a State House of Correction in Marquette. In 1930, twenty-one years after the death of Miss Millman, the census shows Dr. Fritch was in Jackson Prison. At 63, he was one of the oldest inmates, and he worked as a nurse at the prison hospital.
Eventually, one supposes, because the records end there, he was released from prison only to fade into the bloody pages of a forgotten history.
Sources: Van Wert (Ohio) Daily Bulletin, Sept. 13, 1909. Washington Post, Sept. 13, 1909. Elyria (Ohio) Evening Telegram, Sept. 10, 1909. Coshocton (Ohio) Daily Age, Sept. 9, 1909. Nebraska State Journal, March 3, 1910. Marion (Ohio) Weekly Star, March 12, 1910. Modesto (California) Morning Herald, Oct. 26, 1909.