Police officer Charles Thomas (left) examines an Esmarch chloroform mask (similar to the museum example, right) found in November of 1933 alongside the dead body of Chicagoan Rheta Wynekoop. As the latter’s philandering husband rode a train out of town, his cash-strapped mother, physician Alice Wynekoop (1871 to 1955), confirmed that she had already taken out extra life insurance on Rheta. When Rheta complained of abdominal pain, her mother-in-law chloroformed her “for the examination.” Panicking when Rheta appeared to have dropped dead, Dr. Wynekoop tried to cover up the medical mishap by shooting her daughter-in-law in the back to stage a “murder by intruder.” However, spilled chloroform had already burned Rheta’s face and that led to a 25-yr jail sentence for the murderous mother-in-law. (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology.)

Police officer Charles Thomas (left) examines an Esmarch chloroform mask (similar to the museum example, right) found in November of 1933 alongside the dead body of Chicagoan Rheta Wynekoop. As the latter’s philandering husband rode a train out of town, his cash-strapped mother, physician Alice Wynekoop (1871 to 1955), confirmed that she had already taken out extra life insurance on Rheta. When Rheta complained of abdominal pain, her mother-in-law chloroformed her “for the examination.” Panicking when Rheta appeared to have dropped dead, Dr. Wynekoop tried to cover up the medical mishap by shooting her daughter-in-law in the back to stage a “murder by intruder.” However, spilled chloroform had already burned Rheta’s face and that led to a 25-yr jail sentence for the murderous mother-in-law. (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology.)

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George S. Bause, M.D., M.P.H., Honorary Curator and Laureate of the History of Anesthesia, Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, Schaumburg, Illinois, and Clinical Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. UJYC@aol.com.