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Find Mrs. Lorillard Jr. Dead In Bathroom: Coroner's Verdict, Suicide Part I

Washington, March 25

Mrs. Pierre Lorillard, Jr., of New York was found this morning dead in her bathroom in the Lorillard residence, near Du Pont Circle. Although Coroner Nevitt returned a verdict of suicide by inhaling gas, the husband and other relatives insist that Mrs. Lorillard did not commit suicide, but that she was a victim of heart disease. There are a number of mysterious circumstances in connection with the affair, and the action of the Coroner in signing the certificate of death before notifying the police authorities has effectually prevented any further investigation.

The death was made more dramatic by occurring only a few hours after Mr. and Mrs. Lorillard had been the guests of Mrs. Townsend, on Massachusetts Avenue, at a dinner given in honor of Lady Paget. They returned shortly after mid-night.

Mrs. Lorillard was found this morning by her husband. The couple occupied separate rooms, and when the butler carried Mr. Lorillard's breakfast to him about 8 o'clock his attention was attracted to the strong odor of gas in the hall. He traced it to the door of Mrs. Lorillard's apartment, and hurriedly setting down his tray, broke into Mr. Lorillard's room and awakened him.

Body Lay on Floor

Mr. Lorillard went immediately to his wife's apartment and entered. The gas was flowing from the bathroom door, which was partly ajar. On the floor of the bathroom, her head pillowed on her arm, lay Mrs. Lorillard. She was clad in a silk petticoat and chemisette and had removed one stocking. The husband called to the butler. Together the two men carried the limp body to Mrs. Lorillard's room. Panic-stricken the servants were dispatched for a doctor, while Mr. Lorillard attempted to revive his wife by means of artificial respiration. Dr. M.F. Cuthbert, the family physician, was summoned, and arrived about the same time that Dr. H.B. Deale was admitted to the residence. Both resorted to every scientific method within their power to restore life, but after an hour's effort gave up in despair.

Dr. Cuthbert immediately notified the Coroner, who put in an appearance shortly before 10 o'clock. According to all the stories, Dr. Cuthbert pleaded with Coroner. Nevitt to issue a death certificate on the ground of heart disease, but the Coroner refused to do so without performing an autopsy. This was done by Deputy Coroner Glazebrook, with the result that it was found that Mrs. Lorillard's lungs were terribly congested, presumably through inhaling gas.

Then Dr. Nevitt issued a certificate of death of suicide by gas poisoning. He said later that gas was escaping from one or more jets in the bathroom when the body was discovered.

Shortly after his arrival at the Lorillard home the Coroner's attention was called to a note that had been left in a blank envelope. The note was in Mrs. Lorillard's handwriting, but the Coroner took possession of it and refused to make it public. He bases his refusal on the grounds that it is purely a private matter and does not touch upon the tragic end of the writer in any way.

Shortly after the Coroner had signed the death certificate, the police were notified of the tragedy, and detectives were sent immediately to the Lorillard residence. They were as promptly sent back, because, the certificate having been properly signed and issued, they had no jurisdiction.

Family Very Reticent

Extreme reticence is being maintained by the Lorillard family and all others who possess information concerning the sudden death. Only a few of the most intimate friends have been admitted to the home since the news spread of Mrs. Lorillard's death.

Inquiry at the residence met with the declaration that Mrs. Lorillard had not committed suicide. "She died of heart failure," the servants told inquirers. Tonight Mr. Lorillard stated that in his opinion the death of his wife was not due to suicidal intent, but was the result of accident. He was the last person to see Mrs. Lorillard alive. He bade her goodnight after returning home about midnight from the Townsend dinner.

It was said this evening that Mrs. Lorillard had been suffering from depression yesterday. For the first time in weeks she did not have tea with her husband in the afternoon. The two, however, went to the formal dinner given in the evening at the home of Mrs. Richard Townsend, other guests at which were the Brazilian Ambassador and Mme. Nabuco, Secretary of the Navy and Mrs. Meyer, Senator and Mrs. Aldrich, Senator and Mrs. Lodge, Senator Root, Mrs. Robert Bacon, Mr. and Mrs. William Endicott of Boston, and Col. and Mrs. Colin Campbell. Mr. and Mrs. Lorillard returned to their home about 11 o'clock

.Mrs. Lorillard was then in fine spirits. Her friend Mrs. C.C. Cuyler of New York, who had been in Washington for some time, was soon to return to New York, and Mrs. Lorillard had planned a luncheon party in honor of Mrs. Cuyler for today. She had asked Mrs. Bacon, Mrs. Beekman Winthrop, wife of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and Countess Wedel, wife of the First Secretary of the German Embassy, all of whom had been unable to accept. Others who had accepted were Mrs. Wilmerding, Miss Patten, Mrs. Wheelwright, and Miss Lay.

Mrs. Lorillard's bed had the appearance of not having been occupied during the night. The dog collar of diamonds she wore at the dinner had been removed before she went to the bathroom, but the costly circle of diamonds that adorned her hair had not been displaced. The note was found in Mrs. Lorillard's room.

Dr. Cuthbert, the family physician, when seen tonight, held aloof from any discussion that might shed light upon the affair. As to events that preceded Mrs. Lorillard's death Dr. Cuthbert said he was entirely uninformed.

"I had not been called to see Mrs. Lorillard within the last two months, and I was startled when the message came to my office this morning," he said. "I do know that Mrs. Lorillard was much alarmed over the condition of her heart. She had suffered considerably. When she visited Paris last Summer she sought an eminent specialist, whom she consulted as to her condition, but when she returned to America she had been ill frequently. I must decline to discuss any other phase of the case."

News of the tragedy brought posthaste from New York Louis L. Lorillard, his son, and his daughter-in-law. Louis L. Lorillard refused to discuss it beyond saying that the body will be taken to New York tomorrow for interment.

There are a number of mysterious angles to the affair, however, which the police unofficially are at a loss to account for. The butler today announced that when he first say Mrs. Lorillard stretched out in the bathroom, two gas jets were blazing brightly. The Coroner found unmistakable evidence of death by inhalation of gas, and it would be manifestly impossible for such to have been the case if the gas had been lighted. Hands of Police Tied

This discrepancy, together with the mysterious note that the Coroner and the family refuse to give up, has occasioned much speculation in the police department. The department's hands are tied, however, and it is not conducting any inquiry of any kind.

A young diplomat, who had been a frequent visitor at the Lorillard home, was sought tonight in an effort to throw some light on the affair, but he could not be found. At his legation it was said he was not in town, although some of his friends saw him on the streets here this  afternoon. Mr. and Mrs. Lorillard had been in the habit for several years of spending part of the reason in Washington. They took the house in Hyllyer Place last January, and expected to remain here until May, when Mrs. Lorillard was planning to go to Europe. Mr. and Mrs. Lorillard's son, Pierre Lorillard, 3d is assistant manager of Tuxedo Park. He arrived in Washington this evening. Another son, Griswold Lorillard, graduated from Harvard last June, and is now in India, on a trip around the world. Mr. Lorillard sent several cablegrams today endeavoring to reach him.

Continue On Part II


Article Information:
Article Name:  Find Mrs. Lorillard Jr. Dead In Bathroom: Coroner's Verdict, Suicide Part I
Website: http:www.thehistorybox.com |Researcher/Transcriber:    Miriam Medina
Source:   The New York Times March 26, 1909 p.1 (2 pages)
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