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The Death of Mary S. Sherman


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Mary Sherman was murdered on 21st July, 1964. She had been stabbed in the heart, arm, leg and stomach. Her mattress had been set on fire, but her massive burns could not have come from the smoking mattress. The crime has never been solved. Sherman's death occurred on the day the Warren Commission came to her city (New Orleans) to obtain testimony about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

What do we know about Sherman? Mary Stults, the daughter of a voice teacher, was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1913. A highly intelligent student, at the age of sixteen she went to France to study at the L’Ecole de M. Collnot before working on a masters at the University of Illinois. At this time she married Thomas Sherman (he later committed suicide).

Mary Sherman went on to do graduate work at the University of Chicago. As Edward Haslam points out in Dr. Mary's Monkey: "In 1937, it (University of Chicago) produced the first sustained nuclear reaction for UC physicist Enrico Fermi. This is where Mary Sherman did her post-graduate work. She was trained at the headquarters of nuclear, bio-chemical, and genetic research in America." During this period Sherman did ground-breaking research into botanical viruses which lived in soil.

Mary Sherman became Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, and practiced medicine at UC's Billings Hospital. Sherman's research was brought to the attention of Dr. Alton Ochsner and she was invited to become a partner in the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans where he was carrying out research into the causes of cancer. She was also offered the post of Associate Professor at the Tulane Medical School. Sherman accepted Ochsner's proposal and started work for her new employer in 1952.

Sherman's career prospered and she was elected to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS). Soon afterwards she was appointed as chairman of the Pathology Committee of the AAOS.

Edward Haslam argues in "Dr. Mary's Monkey" that Sherman was involved in carrying out secret research into developing a vaccine to prevent an epidemic of soft-tissue cancers caused by polio vaccine contaminated with SV-40. This work included using a linear particle accelerator located in the Infectious Disease Laboratory at the Public Health Service Hospital in New Orleans. According to Haslam there was a second-lab working on this project. This was being run by David Ferrie on Louisiana Avenue Parkway.

Edward Haslam has done more than any other researcher to explain Sherman's death. In his recently published book he provides some very important evidence about the death:

(1) Homicide Report (29th October, 1964)

The undersigned entered Apt. J. from the patio, the only entrance to said apartment, into the living room area. Said apartment was composed of a living room, kitchen, bathroom, study, and a bedroom.... Located in the bedroom, was the body of a white female, apparently dead, later learned to be one Dr. Mary Stults Sherman, WF, 51 yrs., formerly residing 3101 St. Charles Ave., Apt. J., who lived alone....

The body was in a supine position, the head in the direction of the river, the feet in the direction of the lake, and both legs were outstretched and parallel to each other... The left arm was outstretched and parallel to the left side of the body. The right side of the body from the waist to where the right shoulder would be, including the whole right arm, was apparently disintegrated from the fire, yielding the inside organs of the body. There was what appeared to be a stab wound in the left arm and also in the inner side of the right leg near the knee.

The body was nude; however, there was clothing which had apparently been placed on top of the body, mostly covering the body from just above the pubic area to the neck. Some of the mentioned clothes had been burned completely, while others were still intact, but scorched... According to the Criminologist, the mentioned clothes were composed of synthetic material which would have to reach a temperature of about 500 F before it would ignite into a flame; however, prior to this, there would be a smoldering effect.

It appeared that no scuffle took place inside of said bedroom, and nothing appeared to be dis-arranged in the bedroom or throughout the apartment.

(2) New Orleans Times-Picayune (21st July, 1964)

An intruder forced his way into a fashionable St. Charles Ave. apartment early today, stabbed a prominent woman orthopedic surgeon to death and set fire to her body. Police apparently had virtually no clues to the identity of the slayer of Dr. Mary Stults Sherman...

Homicide detectives said the front door to her apartment had been forced open, her wallet was empty, and her 1961 automobile was missing ... Sam Moran, Special Investigator for the Orleans Parish Coroner's office, said the front door had been forced open and an unsuccessful attempt had been made to open a jewelry box.

Mrs. Levy (a neighbor who lived beneath Dr. Sherman for 12 years) ... usually heard Dr. Sherman when she came in at night, but last night she went to bed early and didn't hear anything.... "If there had been a loud commotion, I know I would have heard it," Mrs. Levy said. "The doctor was quiet, but I always heard her come in and take off her shoes, then padding around in her slippers. Sometimes I remarked to my husband, Doc's home again."

(3) Coroner's Report on the Death of Mary Sherman (July, 1964)

A preliminary examination by Dr. LoCascio on the scene determined that there were several possible stab wounds of the left arm of the body, which had not been deteriorated by the fire. There also appeared to be several stab wounds in the torso. There was also a large wound of the inside of the right thigh just above the knee. From further examination of the body, it was noted by the coroner that the right arm and a portion of the right side of the body extending from the right hip to the right shoulder was completely

burned away exposing various vital organs...

The cause of death was also given to Patn. Knight by Capt. Stevens as follows: 1. Stab wound of the chest, penetrating the heart, hemopericardium and left hemithorax [sic] 2. Multiple stab wounds of the abdomen, with incid wound of the liver. 3. Multiple stab wounds of the left upper extremity and the right leg. 4. Laceration of Labia Minora. 5. Extreme burns of right side of body with complete destruction of right upper extremity and right side of thorox and abdomen.

(4) Precinct Report on the death of Mary Sherman (July, 1964)

The fire smoldered for sometime -long enough to denude an innerspring mattress and burn away the flesh from one of the doctor's arms...

From further examination of the body, it was noted by the coroner that the right arm and a portion of the right side of the body extending from the right hip to the right shoulder was completely burned away exposing various vital organs.

The cause of death was ... 5. Extreme burns of right side of body with complete destruction of right upper extremity and right side of thorax [chest] and abdomen.

The right side of the body from the waist to where the right shoulder would be, including the whole right arm, was apparently disintegrated from the fire, yielding the inside organs of the body.

(5) New Orleans States Item (15th August, 1964)

The murderer set fire to her bed and piled underclothing on her body, setting it afire. The fire smoldered for some time - long enough to denude an innerspring mattress and burn away the flesh from one of the doctor's arms.

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Mary Sherman was murdered on 21st July, 1964. She had been stabbed in the heart, arm, leg and stomach. Her mattress had been set on fire, but her massive burns could not have come from the smoking mattress. The crime has never been solved. Sherman's death occurred on the day the Warren Commission came to her city (New Orleans) to obtain testimony about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Yes and no. The bulk of the testimony was taken April 6-8, 1964, but a few people were questioned on July 21. And the Commission was not there, just counsels Liebeler and Jenner.

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Yes and no. The bulk of the testimony was taken April 6-8, 1964, but a few people were questioned on July 21. And the Commission was not there, just counsels Liebeler and Jenner.

Stephen, you are probably the world's leading expert on David Ferrie. What do you make of Ed Haslam's claim posted here:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=3205

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Yes and no. The bulk of the testimony was taken April 6-8, 1964, but a few people were questioned on July 21. And the Commission was not there, just counsels Liebeler and Jenner.

Stephen, you are probably the world's leading expert on David Ferrie. What do you make of Ed Haslam's claim posted here:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=3205

The link leads to a thread, and I'm not sure which of Haslam's statements you reference. Can you quote a specific one here?

Nevertheless, let me make a generalized statement: I have read only the first edition of Mary, Ferrie and the Monkey Virus, and the online portions of Dr. Mary's Monkey. I am a real stick in the mud when it comes to evidence. As intriguing as Haslam's theories are, he actually offers very little checkable evidence, if you read closely. In his original edition, he seemed to speculate a lot; a few pages later, the speculation would become fact; and he would then pile "fact" upon "fact" to create the impression of something sinister.

They key to his main thesis is that Ferrie had a working relationship with Dr. Mary Sherman, but he presents no evidence that the two were acquainted in his first edition. He merely speuclates that they had common interests and quotes Garrison (who could often be wrong) as a source on the relationship. Whatever one may think of Ferrie's surviving friends and acquaintences, I find it hard to believe that they would all be lying about the following: I have asked those I've interviewed if they knew of Ferrie working with a woman doctor, or a woman named Mary Sherman, or if they recognize her pictures, and none have any recollection of her. How could this be? Likewise, they recall no white mice or laboratory at Ferrie's apartment at 3330 Louisiana Avenue Parkway. Along the same line, the late Don Lee Keith spent many years researching a biography of Sherman, and his papers reveal NO link between the two, save a document from a local reporter working with Garrison, whose source was...Garrison.

Sherman's death was surely an unsolved mirder, and who knows if it may have been related to her work. The link between her death and the JFK matter is Ferrie; and given the paucity of evidence that she knew or worked with Ferrie, it is hard to do anything other than file this under interesting speculations. I tried to discuss this with Haslam, but he seems to have dropped contact with me.

Barring any new evidence, this is my take on it, in a general way.

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