Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CryptoWA #20 - Starvation Heights Sanitarium

In 1908 Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard published a book called Fasting For The Cure Of Disease. Her theory on undergoing systematic starvation to overcome illness was considered revolutionary by some, and total quackery by others. Hazzard had enough of a following that she opened a sanitarium in Olalla, Washington, giving it the idyllic name Wilderness Heights. Clients flocked from around the world to try her starvation cure.

But something wasn't quite right about Dr.Hazzard's little institution. Some 40 patients died in her care. True, these were often people who were already desperately ill, but was she really supposed to perform autopsies in her bathtub? It also came to the attention of authorities that jewelry and clothing from Hazzard's recently departed patients often ended up in her own wardrobe.

The first chapter of Wilderness Heights came to an end when a British heiress died at the sanitarium, but not before Hazzard forged her signature in an attempt to gain her estate. A surviving sister testified at the ensuing trial and Hazzard was sent to prison for manslaughter in 1912.

She was paroled just two years later and eventually reopened her sanitarium in 1920 (minus her doctoral credentials). This burned to the ground in 1935, never to rise again.

It's a fitting twist that Linda Burfield Hazzard died in 1938 while undergoing her own starvation therapy.