Mrs. Freece Smothered by Roommate at Insane Asylum

Puts Sheet in Her Mouth, Stops Cries

Mrs. Freece, from Lane County, Smothered

Salem [Oregon], Jan. 26 [1908] Because she shouted too much and troubled her room-mate, Mrs. Susan Freece, a patient in Ward No. 10 at the insane asylum, was smothered to death by another woman patient who occupied the same room, between 10:30 last night and 1:30 this morning.  Coroner Clough was notified early this morning, and reported that the incident was unavoidable and held nobody responsible for the woman’s death.

Nannydaddy's photostream/FlickrMrs. Freece, the victim, was received at the asylum from Lane County only last Saturday.  She was very violent and noisy and almost exhausted from screaming, and was unable to defend herself from the attack of her roommate.  At 10:30 last night, Mrs. Mary Martin the night watch, visited her room and gave her an opiate.  Upon making her next round she looked into the room and Mrs. Freece was still asleep, but when she looked in again at 1:30 this morning, the woman had a bed sheet stuffed in her mouth and a pillow over her face and was dead.

When the roommate was asked about the cause of her death she said she did not know that she was dead, but that she had made so much noise during the night that she “just put a sheet in her mouth and a pillow over her head to keep her quiet”  Mrs. Freece was about 52 years of age.”  Eugene Morning Register Jan. 26, 1908, pg. 4, col. 3.  University of Oregon Knight Library Newspaper Collection.

The State Oregon is trying to find families of some 3,500 deceased patients whose cremains have been in storage at the state.  A detailed list of those patients can be found at this website – Oregon State Hospital .  The cremains are from patients who died between 1914 and up to the 1970’s.


About gtoftdahl

Researching in Oregon Newspapers
This entry was posted in Lane County Oregon History and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mrs. Freece Smothered by Roommate at Insane Asylum

  1. Wow! That’s pretty crazy! Then again, it WAS in an asylum, so I guess it’s not THAT crazy!! I loved that the coroner deemed it “unavoidable.”

  2. This was my great great grandmother, not many in the family are aware of much beyond my great grandpa being orphaned about 8 years before this happened. I visited the old state hospital today and it was eerie to think that I was in the place where someone in my direct bloodline had been murdered over 100 years ago. Even stranger, at the memorial on the grounds I found an urn of unclaimed ashes for ‘Angeline Freece’ born 1886 and died in the hospital 1947…I’m pretty sure she was Susan Freece’s oldest daughter, one of my great grandfather’s sisters he never liked to talk about.

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