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Plead the Belly

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020 - PTB discusses Linda Hazzard, whether Shyloh is a bigamist and how you need to eat

020 - PTB discusses Linda Hazzard, whether Shyloh is a bigamist and how you need to eat

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Linda Hazzard was born in Carver County, Minnesota, in 1867.  She was married Samuel Christman Hazzard at the age of 18 and had two children. In 1989 she left her husband and children to pursue a career in Minneapolis. She killed her first patient in 1902, the same year her divorce was finalized. The coroner thought the cause of death was starvation and tried to press charges but because she wasn’t a licensed practitioner she couldn’t be charged with malpractice.

Hazzard’s husband had been married twice before and hadn’t divorced at least one of his wives before marrying Linda. He was sentenced for bigamy and served two years in prison. When Sam finished his sentence the two of moved to Washington to start over and Hazzard began practicing in Seattle.

Despite having a medical degree she was licensed to practice medicine in Washington. Due to a loophole in licensing law she was in grandfathered as a practitioner of alternative medicine who didn’t have a medical degrees.  She had written several books including Fasting for the Cure of Disease.

She insisted that disease could be cured by fasting, allowing the digestive system to “rest” and be “cleansed,” removing “impurities” from the body and that it cured anything from toothache to tuberculosis. She also believed that the real source of disease was “impure blood” brought on by “impaired digestion.” There were other popular proponents of fasting around at the time. Hazzard said she had studied with one of them, Dr. Edward Hooker Dewey, author of The Gospel of Health.

Locals, including freethinkers and theosophists, embraced her medical theories. Theosophy is considered part of Western esotericism, which believes that hidden knowledge or wisdom from the ancient past offers a path to enlightenment and salvation.

All this lead to her opening a "sanitarium" in Wilderness Heights, in Olalla, Washington. The sanitarium attracted wealthy patients who would fast for weeks or months, eating only small amounts of tomato and asparagus soup and little else. Occasionally, a small teaspoon of orange juice was allowed or even a small orange. These diets lasted for days and included enemas and non-relaxing massages.

Some patients who survived sang her praises but more than 40 patients died under her care due to starvation. Local residents knew the place as "Starvation Heights".

She probably could have continued this for a long time if not for Claire Williamson’s death. In 1912 she was convicted of manslaughter for her death.  Williamson was a wealthy British woman of 33 years, who weighed less than 50 pounds at the time of her death. Williamson and her sister read about the sanitorium in the paper and decided to try it, even though they didn’t have any real ailments.

Hazzard’s husband claimed that the death was due to  drugs given to Williamson during childhood, which had shrunk her internal organs and caused cirrhosis of the liver. He said Williamson was too far gone to be saved.

At the trial it was proved that Hazzard had forged Williamson's will and stole most of her valuables. She took Williamson’s clothes, household goods, and an estimated $6,000 worth of the sisters’ diamonds, sapphires and other jewels.   

Williamson’s sister, Dora, also took the treatment, and only survived because a family friend showed up in time to remove her from the compound. She was too weak to leave on her own, weighing less than 60 pounds. She later testified against Hazzard at trial.

Hazzard was found guilty of manslaughter.

After only 2 years in prison (she was released on December 25, 1915),  she was fully pardoned by Governor Ernest Lister in return for her promise to leave the State of Washington. Apparently, he wanted her out of Washington because of the continuing publicity and pressure from her “friends.”

She reopened her sanitarium in 1920 in New Zealand but it burned to the ground shortly after.

She then returned to Washington in 1920, discreetly setting up a school in Olalla to teach a form of homeopathic medicine, without openly administering her starvation diet to patients. She died in 1938 in Olalla while undergoing her own starvation fasting cure regimen. She was 71 years old.

021 - PTB discusses Anne Hamilton-Byrne, cults and our anniversary

021 - PTB discusses Anne Hamilton-Byrne, cults and our anniversary

019 - (April Fools Episode!) PTB discusses Ed Kemper, Shyloh learning a new word and why we don't cover men

019 - (April Fools Episode!) PTB discusses Ed Kemper, Shyloh learning a new word and why we don't cover men