The Mad Doctor of South Hill
The mad doctor South, Hill. That's what they called it. And it fit like a glove. The story of Rudolf on is. Black and white film new are. Wells. Slow Burn that reminds you. None of us are getting out of this thing called life alive. It was nineteen twenty four. The doctor was about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of Angel Food, cake. And his wife, she had a great big dollar sign. Where most women have a heart. But like a tree falling an empty forest. You can get away with just about anything when everyone's willing to look the other way. Would money. Does it sweetens the world around you? Hiding the bitterness until it's too late. The doctor's wife swallowed her bitter pill in the form of a bullet. Fatal Dose said Cops say she delivered to herself. The Luger pistol still Leonard Comb Dead Hand. But what about all the other bullets riddled the room where she took a final breath. This wasn't going to be an open and shut case. Not by a long shot. And the DOC wasn't going to be much help. When the gumshoe showed up, he was high on the devils. Drink watching Racehorse Grays on the front lawn. There, wasn't a dead woman lying in a pool of blood just upstairs. But I'm getting ahead of myself. To really understand this case. We need to go back to the scene of the crime. And back in time. Before television and radio. World was introduced to the atomic bomb. Back when steriods pandemic, striking down millions of people all over the world back when they started wearing masks every time they left their homes school at work canceled. Even, the churches were shutdown. We feel a lot of frustration. A Lot of resistance petition circulating in the city about wanting to be allowed to have the gatherings again. In fact, they have a board of health meeting on December sticks an absolutely raucous. People there you know hooting and hollering from the back of the feeding. I'm Kim Shepard with Caroline. And this. Is C. The cry. Kim there's a lot to the story, and even though we're going back in time I also feel like there are some eerie similarities in the pandemic that happened in one, thousand, nine, hundred eighteen, and what's going on right now with corona virus, and that's part of the reason why I wanted to bring this story. This week is because it's not just about the mad doctor Rudolph Han, but it's about this period in time when things are just a little crazy like they are right now this period when people would do just about anything to find a sense of normalcy a period, when everyone so hyper focused on their own survival that people like Dr Hawn. Could get away with murder. So, let's go back to the beginning and I think this story really starts back in nineteen sixteen. This was two years after the assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand and the beginning of World War. One, a conflict that would see the deaths of sixteen million people when soldiers from poor and working class families were being sent by the thousands to join the allied forces overseas. Back in Spokane, the heir to the HEKLA silver mine. Fortune Sarah Smith married Roulston Jack. Wilbur a man sixteen years her senior, she wasn't satisfied with the little cottage that Wilbur had built on the property. He owned in Spokane's South Hills neighborhood, so she gave him carte blanche to spend her money and build her a mansion and boy. Did he deliver this craftsman style? Three story home was built into a bluff just outside downtown spokane. It had panoramic views of the city sitting on nearly four acres of land. Land, the mansion had imported marble gold. Leaf carvings Mahogany paneling with mother of Pearl that had been shipped in all the way from China no expense was spared, and before the last brick had been laid, the couple spent seventy five thousand dollars as about two million dollars in today's money. This type of opulence is far. Spokane is concerned is just incredible. Was the wealth and heard of spokane was actually a growing metropolis at this point, there was over one hundred thousand people living there. They think by about nineteen. Nineteen twenty, there might have been one hundred fifty thousand people living in Spokane. It was it was a pretty big center of Commerce, so there was a lot of mining that was happening outside of town like I said she was the heir to US silver. Mine Fortune. You know it wasn't a small town. Spokane was a pretty big city by this point and I just WanNa talk about the economics of this whole era for a minute right around the turn of the century. There was the progressive era when. When people were really speaking out about things like worker rights, immigrant rights, people are taking notice of the growing inequalities between classes political corruption. That's contributing to that and I talked with Nancy Barstool. WHO's a history professor at the University of puget sound about what was happening during this era of Spokane history, the to foundational pillars of American Life. Democracy and the free market are being sort of constrained and contained by way of industrialization. So there's a real effort to sort of deal with that a little bit. And up through the war. There's a great deal of. Mobilization, so you have for the first time workmen's compensation laws passed for instance in urban centers that will be more attention to helping immigrants find their way through settlement houses. You'll have the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League two years after they said their vows. The mining heiress filed for divorce, and the opulent mansion was sold to a local druggist and then nineteen eighteen. The flu. And the world held its breath. In late September, they have a state board of Health Meeting on September twenty eight, and they talk about the fact. Influenza must becoming because they've already seen what's been happening in the east. In fact, they're joking about for wants to. East has something that we can't get that? We don't even want, but they actually admit that there's no question. It's coming I mean even the Chamber of. Commerce prejudice, but they'll support whatever the state board of health decide to be done and very soon after on October eighth. They decided that they have to close everything down. Theaters, schools dancehall Sunday, schools churches fanned weddings and funerals. They require daily reports from physicians. They call for ventilation on Streetcars, and they actually begin to enforce bans on public spitting, and they actually threatened to arrest anybody seen spitting and very quickly literally by the middle of October, healthcare in spokane stretched to its limit. Because we're in the midst of a war, already, a lot of doctors and nurses have left communities all over the country serve in the armed forces them so there you're up there in American training camps here in the states, but they're not available to billion population. So this is a little bit crazy because what we're dealing with right now. Is this flu pandemic? But they had not only the flu pandemic. World War happening at the same time. That's incredible, but the politics seemed to be very similar people fighting for human rights equity, and it feels like what's going on today. It's scary. I mean it. It is scary it is. It's it's incredible. How closely this real and you'll see as we continue the story, it continues to sound so similar. Kim The way you are setting up this scene of the crime I don't know what's going to be more disturbing the similarities in politics in these two pandemics, despite one hundred years, and we're not even dealing with the World War and your case involving Dr Han and that was one other thing that had to be canceled sendoff. SENDOFF celebrations for young men heading off to war, the mayor of Spokane actually issued a statement saying that he would arrest anyone caught at a sendoff celebration, no matter their rank or wealth status. Wow, so on October sixteenth, the city seizes the Lion Hotel to quarantine the sick and take care of people without access to medical care like we're seeing right now in the Seattle area. They have a Kent Motel that they took over to put people in nurses working twelve to fourteen hour shifts constantly they are completely stretched to their limits, and that's when they hit the first peak on October twenty third. There were three hundred new cases in spokane in a single day. Wow! Just like we're expecting to see with the corona virus, this flu of nineteen, eighteen came in waves by November. Things looked like they might be coming down. The city of Spokane began to start opening a few things backup. Folks started venturing out a little bit, and then pretty quickly. They regretted it. There was a second peak in early December and while the city never went into full quarantine. At home what we're seeing now they put up placards on the doors of anybody who got sick, so that visitors could be warned of what might be inside and they also to the anti on the closures as well that something that Bristow says did not sit well with folks. By the time we get to December a lot of people are resisting this. Not Unlike what we're beginning to see right now. So that, in fact, they have a board of Health meeting on December sixth, and it's absolutely rock US I. Mean there are people there you know hooting and hollering from the back of the meeting, and they actually able to have an effect on the kind of orders that come out of that public health meeting in December where we feel a lot of frustration, a lot of. Of Resistance their petition circulating in the city about wanting to be allowed to have gatherings again, it's one of those circumstances in which influenza comes in these kind of waves, and so you don't know when you're really going to be free and clear, and the hard part is convincing people when later waves come on that they have to continue to adhere to the public health restrictions. And let's just throw one more thing into the mix here in the of this epidemic and all this uncertainty, there is some good news world. War One comes to an end November eleventh nineteen eighteen. Our boys are finally coming home. So you have military. Let's be mobilized. Thing families being reunited that had been separated. Some cases from wasn't a year. You have people returning home for more. Who may have some disabilities? And you have six hundred seventy five thousand Americans who died. So you have a population that is an unfamiliar kind of instability. Coming off of what was also really unfamiliar moment in American Life the first war. There's a great desire among a lot of people those who have not suffered safe from the flu of Nineteen Eighteen Nineteen nineteen. Were really anxious to just have things. Go back to the way they were. Let's get back to normal and that's really what this whole history lessons about that feeling of exhilaration that things might finally get back to normal, but that's being tempered by this epidemic. That continues to kill people on a daily basis. Remember we've got those public. Getting are still banned, so they're not supposed to be meeting. Soldiers with big welcome home parties. They're not supposed to be lining up at the port. Is the Navy carrier polls in with? With their homesick sailors, all the frustration with all these restrictions is just growing and growing a volcano. That's about to Burr, and how is the news spreading and disseminating? Now that we have social media it's it's almost like were on overload on information and the latest updates I mean we're constantly down to the second. How did they manage and control a population as they are trying to do right now? With the media I did ask Professor Barstow about what their media looks like at the time, and how did they? They disseminate information and they did have daily newspapers, and they had several of them in most towns, the size of spokane you'd have several daily newspapers that come from different organizations. Some of them would be news media outlets bet like unions would have their own newspapers and just different. You Know Lacey Pe- might have a newspaper in that town so different organizations would have their own publications. There's actually a lot of information that was disseminated to the public, both local stories, but also national and international news. It was really interesting. Interesting talking to answer like how much of a kind of a metropolis spokane already was at this time it was. It was definitely sounds bigger than what I would expect. Yeah, I mean. It sounds like people got the got the message like you've got stay at home but I mean not graduating high school. Graduation is a little bit different than seeing your loved one. WHO WAS A soldier? Come back and wanting to be with them I mean that would be really hard to stay away, right? It's all about perspective. So by nineteen, nineteen, the flu is still hitting the world really hard, but not quite as hard as it had been, and by the roaring twenty s, the wealthy in particular, were ready to come roaring back to the life they knew before the epidemic before the war, and before the reform era they remember the good old days of the gilded era when showing off, your wealth was a favourite pastime of the upper class and the. The more outrageous you could be the better and Dr Rudolf. Han was a bout as outrageous as you could get from the minute, he purchased that South Hill Mansion with his very young, very attractive life. In Nineteen, twenty four, he went nuts. He made what was already an opulent estate, even more opulent, adding a swimming pool, ornate, gardens and statues walkways, massive rock sculptures. He created secret passageways and hidden spaces all throughout the house. There's something about Dr Han that you need to know. He was not actually licensed physician. He was trained as a barber. Isn't that where they had back in the day where there were you were both a doctor and Barbara, you know with the poll that had the color stripes of red and white, signifying that they cut hair and perform surgeries that was like a hundred years earlier than the okay. By this time in history, there was the AMA existed. There was medical licensing that had to happen. You know you had to have a state license from the state in order to practice medicine, you had to go to medical school. So what you're saying is Dr. Han was a great gatsby character. Oh, absolutely, yeah. He calls himself a doctor because he completed a medical correspondence course. He learned how to provide electroshock therapy to his wealthy clients. He would treat everything from a basic upset stomach cancer. He also reportedly performed secret of. In the basement! As you can imagine. He was really well paid for all of this rumor. Has It that he buried a lot of his illegal earning somewhere on the property and Present Day treasure hunters will sometimes be found on this property. Looking really you would think that he would be secretive with all of these illegal activities, but it was actually just the opposite like most of the wealthy folks in the nineteen twenties. He wasn't ashamed of being rich proud of it, and he flaunted his wealth. That was his favorite hobby. He owned racehorses expensive cars boats. He loved aeroplanes. The book Washington Myths Legends by Author Lynn, Brag. She describes the Raucous parties that he would throw one time. He got in one of his fancy cars and drove it straight into the swimming pool. At another party infamous world, war two pilot Jimmy doolittle not only did fly overs, but he actually would dive his plane toward the mansion that would scare the bejesus out of all of the doctors fancy guests. Did he have a practice or did he do his surgeries in the house? Did it all in? And that's why he had although secret passageways. Yeah, he had a lot of nooks and crannies that he created, and he did a lot of the medical procedures in the basement grade with so many people coming and going from what was now becoming known as the Han Mansion it was no secret of what was happening there, but the cops always looked the other way. The first time the mad doctor would ever be taken to court wasn't until one thousand, nine, hundred, twenty nine, and it was over a noise complaint. So. Are Starting to become more widely popular at this point, the doctor though was hard of hearing, so he built a radio tower in the middle of his property with these enormous speakers, and he could actually hear the music from anywhere on his four acres. Unfortunately that meant his neighbors could hear to at all times of the day and night when he was partying. Dr Hawn perceived in the community. You know. Was He like the beloved wealthy? Patriarch who is a benefactor and hands out turkeys to the town on Thanksgiving. He's a pillar of the community. He is a doctor. He's well respected, and as a matter of fact I asked Professor Var so about this I was curious about where medical knowledge was at this point in history, and also about what the feelings were about doctors themselves. Themselves how well respected they were, and this is what she had to say. Radical knowledge was quite advanced. We had what's called the bacteriological revolution in the second half of the nineteenth century, where they're actually finally able to identify Syria through a microscope, they find technology. That's capable of seeing something that's small by the time the first or begins they. They know the causal agents for a lot of diseases from Uganda plaguing. Tubing cough and. Dysentery and malaria. So there is a burgeoning sort of professionalism of the medical field itself to the time you get to nineteen twenty. There certainly is a sense that. When the influence of the comes in one, thousand, nine hundred, and they cannot see the virus, but they have a theory that it is something that's even smaller than a bacterium that they get see, and they understand this is an airborne disease droplet spread disease. Just as we understand covert nineteen. They understood that all in nineteen eighteen. So that isn't as well established. It's highly regarded in the community They are people who carry great respect in their communities would be seen in most cases as Educated because it would have gone to medical school, so they would be people rate status so even though he never had his medical license. It's very likely that no one knew that. I'm sure they didn't because obviously, he only got into trouble for the noise complaint so far, that's the only. Way. They were able to get an injunction to get him to stop playing his loud music. Later that same year he was back in court. He was actually charged with performing illegal abortions, but the jury decided there was insufficient evidence, so he was just lead off now. Interestingly, you won't find any of this information about illegal activity in the documentation from the National Register of historic places, even though they do go through biographies of the people who lived in the mansion. You also won't find a single line about the death of his pretty young bribes. Really Rudolph and Sylvia Hawn had a tumultuous marriage. Marriage they filed for divorce three separate occasions according to Lindbergh's book in Nineteen thirty, two Sylvia claim to be the victim of frequent abuse. She told the court that Rudolph had threatened to run her through with a sword, and even chased her around the house with a weapon, but after just a few months apart, the couple remarried, they apparently said keeping in touch by telephone, which is getting too expensive. How did they get together? And you said she was sixteen years younger than him. How old was he at this time? When he was having these lavish parties, she was twenty four years okay. So sixteen was the original owners who. Hey See all the was twenty four years younger than Rudolf part of the reason why there's sort of this mystery around the Han mansion is because it wasn't just rudolf on his wife. That were a little bit abnormal. Basically everybody who's lived at that home has had a really interesting life so. Into these parties to do you know. Were they happy? Together was I. mean obviously there was turmoil, but they divorced got back together divorce. COBB at three different times there there, there's some strong emotion there. Yeah, I think it was one of those like super strong love hate relationships I. Love You so much and I hate you so much, and there's just so much emotion, and they did not follow the laws of prohibition. There is always drinking happening at the Han Mansion. These lavish parties included lots of booze so I. Think you know obviously that contributes to behavior. That probably isn't very safe. When was prohibition, God? You have to let alone I can google it. Because, there's just a lot. A lot going on. A lot of illegal stuff happening under the guise of like socially mobile people, so prohibition was nine, thousand, nine, hundred, twenty, two, nineteen, thirty. Okay, so they're smacking it right at this back in the middle of it so just a few months after remarrying couple was back in court again this time. It was criminal court. The doctor had broken ribs and Sylvia admitted that she caused the injury. Both of them were charged with drunk and disorderly conduct, but only Sylvia was found guilty in nineteen, thirty, four, the couple filed for divorce, and then reconciled again, and then on May second nineteen forty. We get to the scene of the crime. Cops called the Hod Mansion about a woman found drenched in blood in an upstairs bedroom. Now if you look at the city register of historic places in Spokane, you'll read that this was a suicide. That's what the quarter decided after doing a coroner's inquest. But. Let me tell you about the scene of the crime, and you can make your own conclusions. When the cops arrived the race, horses out grazing on the front lawn as they often were, and the doctor was drunk, he told the cops that he had been outside on the front porch. When he heard a single gunshot, he rushed inside up the stairs and found his wife lying in that pool of blood, a Luger. Pistol still clutched in her hand and bullet wound through her right ear. But that wasn't the only shot fired. There were bullet holes all over that room. In fact, lock had been shot off the bedroom door. A coroner's inquest conducted ruled that death was a suicide but Carolyn. What do you think first of all you know? Women fairly commit suicide by using a gun. The other thing is all of the other bullets. If she was going to do it, she wasn't gonNA. Shoot the lock off the door. She wasn't gonNA shoot multiple bullets all around the room like the more interesting question is. What did the doctor do to to the coroner to sign off on that? And, in this time in this period of time again back to my conversation with the professor, she was explaining to me that there was a lot of cooperation between the upper-class and police during this era, and it had to do with the battle between large companies and unions, and just the politics and the economics of the time the cops were often called to help wealthy business owners with their problems, so it's very possible that the mad doctor had some friends over at the. The Police Department who were willing to look the other way for him, and you know maybe for money, maybe just for favors who think that it's yet another recurring theme with this story is that is still like that today, right? I mean if you've got enough to pay for a really great attorney. Chances are looking much better than if you're poor and you know in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yeah, it's. We're certainly seeing the class divisions the economic divisions. Than that we're seeing now and I don't know which is more extreme. What was happening then or what's happening now? I think that back then it was much more accepted to be super over the top and flawed. Your wealth which I don't think is as popular now, but I do think that the upper upper class are even more upper upper class now than we know so. So. What was the media's response to this? Because we have the law enforcement, but hopefully the media probably gave him a hard time. I'm assuming well. He was in the newspaper when he would be in court. He was also in the newspaper where he would have parties, so it was almost like that love hate relationship like he had his wife, he probably also had with the media. So, the man doctor was eventually convicted of manslaughter years later, but not for his wife's death, the daughter of a wealthy farmer had bled to death after one of Hans illegal abortions, and while the doctors found guilty, he was so old by this time that the judge decided any jail. Time would be a death sentence which he didn't think was appropriate for manslaughter. Off with a thousand dollar fine and a promise that he would never practice medicine of any still had no no medical degree. They never did never had a license. No nothing so we know what this guy's history was. I mean it's just there's so many questions Cam that I don't think we're going to find answers to I. Guess maybe if you don't know those answers. What drew you to this particular story because I've just enjoyed it. It from beginning to end watching your intro. You're like what drew you to this case. Well I think with the crime. One of the things that we like to do is talk about how where something happened. When something happened affected the outcome of the crime or the investigation, and in this case you can clearly see. There was a murder that took place. I'M GONNA. Go out on a limb here. Call it murder. You know the. The quarter said it was a suicide. The let's just call it like it. Is that that the police look the other way to coroner? Look the other way that everybody looked the other way. And it just tells you so much about what was happening. In that time, people were so. Focused on their own problems remember we've got. The pandemic is still happening. We have soldiers who have or have not returned home to their families. A lot of them have been wounded or maybe didn't return at all the country. The people who live in America right now are so focused on just finding stability and normalcy in their own lives, that I just don't think that they really had the energy or the time or the desire to worry about what Dr Han was doing over in his crazy man. There's a double standard for the rich and for the for the poor. You know they're. They're they're always has been, and hopefully I mean I. don't want to sound like a downer, but I. don't WanNa. Say there always will be, but well it reminds mighty that history is like a pendulum. You go so far one way that there's pushback and then you go back right, so we have yes extreme closures, everybody, stay home, nobody leave your houses at. It's like Whoa. Wait a minute. That's way too much and then everybody protests and gets angry, and then it's like okay. Okay, okay, nevermind mind, remind everybody come out and do whatever the hell you want will then. We wind up having the roaring twenty s where the wealthier just going crazy. And spending money and all this illegal activity, all these things are happening and. Then eventually. We kind of swing back the other way again and start becoming more conservative, and it's just it's the same kind of pendulum back and forth that we see even politics I. Mean you look at President Obama? And all of his reforms that he made while he was in office, but there was a lot of pushback from the conservative side it who didn't like all of these progressive changes that were happening, and so we have this pushback. We went way far to the other. We have super-conservative. super-conservative Donald Trump now in the White House, and who knows what's going to happen in the next election cycle, but I can only imagine we might swing back the other way it'll be I. DON'T WANNA say it'll be interesting to see what happens because I feel like we're living it and like those people who just wanted to get back to their lives and unfortunately because of what was happening. It sounds like Dr. Hong got away with murder. You don't have to be a forensic genius to to. That that wasn't a suicide based on the evidence, that was left behind. So, what was his legacy oh? You're GONNA love us. So as as you could probably already tell, our story is quite over yet. So? He was told to practice anymore, so guess what he did with that operating table and electroshock equipment that was in his basement I. don't even want to I feel like this is going down the Kellogg story like maybe there's going to be some diet plan that he like pawns off on people. What what did he do? Know donated all of his equipment, ticking Zag a university for those of you who don't know. Gonzaga is a prominent private Catholic University. In Spokane. We were planning before cove. Cove it nineteen to do an RV trip a road trip to eastern Washington Spokane area, and this would have been the place that we would have I would have wanted to go see to see what this like. This is. The story that I wanted to cover on a road trip to spokane, so I'm Joe. I'm doing it anyway. We may not be able to go to spokane because the stay at home order, but I can still do this story so after he donated his equipment to. He decided he could no longer live in that. South Hill Mansion! He moved into a downtown. Spokane Hotel and it was there in his two story apartment that has sound found him with a two foot antique bayonet. Piercing his heart. There was a big diamond missing from Hans Hyphen. His Wallet was left empty and it sounds like this could have been a robbery gone wrong. In fact, there was an ex con who later admitted to killing the doctor during a robbery, but again with his history. This makes you wonder if there wasn't more to his death as well well, it sounds like Karma of me big time Yup the fact that he was killed with an antique bayonet. I find it hard. Hard to believe that some ex-con who was going to commit a robbery grabbed an antique bayonet to do it with well and think about all the illegal abortions he performed including the prominent farmer, whose daughter died under the care of Dr Han and isn't it just poetic justice that he was stabbed through the heart I thought you were going to say that. He killed himself by putting it. I thought you were going with this like I'm a terrible person. I mean maybe, but I don't know if I put it at two foot bayonet through my own heart. That sounds pretty rough. You know and then what happened to the jewelry right so knows it sounds like he got what he deserved. So what is coming up in our next episode? In our next episode of scene of the crime, we'll take a look at the ongoing investigation into the murder of federal prosecutor. Thomas Wales now whales was murdered in his Queen Anne home in two thousand one, but this is far from a case. Kim. The Department of Justice is still actively investigating and also still has that reward of a million dollars for information, leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder. Law Enforcement believes that Wales was taken out by a Hitman but why? Another great, case, Caroline. Really interesting, just a quick reminder. If you're enjoying scene of the crime shirt with your friends, sure with your family, anybody that you know that might enjoy true crime. You can find us at scene of the crime podcast DOT com. You can also find us on facebook. Twitter Instagram, all the social media channels up. Please again feel free to share. Subscribe to our podcast and ask your friends to subscribe to. I'm Kim Shepard with Carolina's Oreo and this is the scene of the crime.