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Friday, December 18, 2015

Mr. Mead's Embalming Fluid: In a Famous Case in Court (1892)

Source: Greenwich Graphic. Saturday, January 30, 1892. Page 3.

Undertaker I.L. Mead's embalming fluid played an important part at the trial of Carlyle W. Harris on Wednesday last, charged with killing his wife Helen N. Potts, now occupying the attention of the Court of General Session New York.

The defense set up a claim that the fluid contained morphine and that the poison found in the body of Mr. Harris was that from the embalming fluid.

Professor Witthaus, the most noted chemist of the day testified that he made an analysis of Mr. Mead's fluid and found no morphine of quinine, that the ingredients were harmless in themselves and in no way should it be charged that the morphine found came from the fluid. 

Professor Witthaus testified that he made an analysis of a quantity of Mead's embalming fluid, which he received from undertaker Vannett, and which the latter told him was taken from the same bottle as contained that used in embalming Mrs. Pott's body. In answer to Assistant District Attorney Wellman, Dr. Witthaus stated that in his examination of the fluid he found no morphine or quinine. 

Counsel for the defense objected to the introduction of the testimony on the grounds that it was not proved that the portion of the fluid which the witness analyzed was the same as that used in embalming Miss Potts's body. The objection was overruled. 

Mr. Jerome in his cross examination of Dr. Witthaus, quoted largely from Professor Wormley's work on "Micro-Chemistry of Poisons." Dr. Wittlaus agreed largely with Professor Wormley. 

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