Donald Trump was 16 years old when the minced remains of a teen who died in a botched abortion were recovered from a clogged residential sewer line a dozen blocks from his family’s home in Queens.
Investigators told reporters that a fiendish family doctor who moonlighted as an abortionist had hacked and sliced up the body, running some bits through a garbage disposal or flushing others down a toilet.
“Painstaking work,” the medical examiner said. “It must have taken him many, many hours.”
Trump may not have heard about another teenaged victim of a botched abortion, who had been buried under six feet of muck two neighborhoods away when he was 11.
But he must have heard about the teen who was diced into more than 100 pieces five years later. The newspapers recounted in great detail a real-life horror story that began with a pre-dawn meeting at Grand Central Station in Manhattan on Sunday, June 3, 1962.
As had been prearranged, a pregnant and desperate 19-year-old named Barbara Lofrumento and her parents met Dr. Harvey Lothringer at the train station. The parents, Dominick and Rose Lofrumento, handed the doctor $500. Barbara, who was known to her friends at the College of New Rochelle as “Bobby Lu,” uttered what would prove to be her very last words to her father.
“I want to kiss you now, daddy.”
The father returned home to Westchester County as Barbara and her mother set off with Lothringer and his receptionist to the doctor’s home in Jamaica Estates, an enclave where the Trumps also lived at the time.
They arrived around 3 a.m., an hour Lothringer had apparently chosen to avoid being seen—investigators had already placed him under surveillance during more usual waking hours over the previous three weeks for being part of a citywide abortion ring.
Lothringer took Barbara into the examining room. Her mother sat with the 24-year-old receptionist, who was also Lothringer’s girlfriend. Lothringer had recently separated from his wife, who had charged in court papers that he was an abusive “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
After several hours, the mother was still waiting. She reportedly asked the receptionist, “Is something wrong? Is she all right?” The receptionist reportedly replied, “It’s a hard case, but she’s going to be all right.”
Around 7:30 a.m., Lothringer emerged alone into the waiting area. He told the mother that there were some minor complications and he might have to take Barbara to nearby Terrace Heights Hospital for a little oxygen, but there was no cause for worry.
“Everything is going to be all right,” the doctor said by one account. “I’ll get in touch with you later. You better go home.”
The mother did as she was bid. She and the father waited into the afternoon, but heard nothing. They finally went to doctor’ house, saw no sign of him or of Barbara. They tried Terrace Heights Hospital. Nothing.
In the meantime, Lothringer had gone to a neighbor who was a police officer. The doctor said he was going away and his sewer line had become clogged. He gave the cop a key to his house and asked him to call a drain service company.
That Tuesday, a sewer maintenance worker arrived at the doctor’s house and set to clearing the drain and the toilet. He could not have been prepared for what he discovered.
Among the bits the police recovered was a partial set of teeth that matched Barbara’s dental records. Her father identified several scraps of clothing as identical to what she had been wearing the last time he saw her.
The police had been about to arrest Lothringer for two other abortions. They now secured a warrant for his arrest on manslaughter charges.
The receptionist would later tell police that she and the doctor took a train from New York to Detroit, then a taxi across the Canadian border. A plane had taken them from Montreal to Paris and they had traveled by rail on to Barcelona.
When the law caught up with them three months later, the doctor and the receptionist were ensconced in a rented house in Andorra, the tiny country tucked between Spain and France in the Pyrenees.
Newspaper stories announcing Lothringer’s capture reported that authorities back in New York were also hunting for another Queens physician in an unrelated case. Dr. Mandel Friedman had been out on bail charged with a fatal abortion when he performed another on a Florida heiress with the same tragic result.
Upon being returned to Queens, Lothringer pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The charge could have sent him to prison for 15 years had he been just a street mutt and not a Princeton-educated physician.
On the day of sentencing, Barbara’s parents ran late and arrived in the courtroom just after the hearing concluded. Reporters informed them that Lothringer had received a term of just two to eight years, which would make him eligible for parole in just 16 months.
“Oh, my God!” cried the mother, who was dressed entirely in black.
She then fainted.
“This is what I call discount justice,” the father said.
After four years, in 1968, Lothringer was paroled. His first petition for restoration of his medical license was denied, but he tried again and was successful. He apparently decided that his days as a family doctor were over and he became board certified in psychiatry.
In 1978, Lothringer somehow landed a job as a psychiatrist at the Westchester County jail. He was still working there in 1996, when he was asked to evaluate a 17-year-old inmate who had a history of suicide attempts. He conducted a 15- to 20-minute examination, standing in the doorway to the cell while she was perched on the bed.
The inmate, Nancy Blumenthal, complained that the antidepressant she had been taking for a year made her agitated. Lothringer ordered the medication discontinued.
Soon afterwards, Blumenthal hung herself with a bed sheet. A subsequent report found that Lothringer acted “in a vacuum, devoid of important information about her mental health history.”
There remained the question of whether Lothringer could have elicited the information if he had devoted more than a few minutes to his patient. The officials who had hired him in the first place had apparently been aware of his past.
“Everybody had a vague recollection of a controversy because it was highly publicized in the 1960s,” a county spokeswoman told The New York Times.
Reason dictates that the memory of that 1962 horror would be indelible for people who lived in the immediate vicinity of the house where the doctor had minced Barbara Lofrumento and sought to flush the result down the sewer.
Among those folks was the teenaged Donald Trump. He often roared in his gleaming car past the doctor’s house of horror on Union Turnpike.
Trump’s neighbors at the time included 11-year-old Pat Falk, who grew up midway between the Trump home and the scene of the genteel neighborhood’s most heinous crime.
“All the kids were traumatized,” Falk told The Daily Beast of the days after a sewer worker discovered Barbara’s remains.
Lothringer was her family doctor and would make house calls to her home.
“With his black bag and some lollipops and stuff,” Falk recalled. “Everybody called him Harvey. Everybody loved him.”
Falk remembered a particular visit to Lothringer’s office.
“I had been examined a few days before on the same table where Barbara died and was dismembered,” Falk told The Daily Beast.
Her memories of the case are all the more vivid because her father was Lothringer’s lawyer. Young Falk helped her father keep press clippings and remembers taking care not to cut a photo of a smiling a Barbara wearing white pearls.
Falk grew up to become a teacher and a writer. The fate of that other girl has remained so wrenching that she is now finishing a memoir titled The Story of Barbara: Memory of a Botched Abortion.
As for her former neighbor, Trump acts as if he has no memory of it at all, as if it never happened, as if it is no great concern of his should such horrors return to America.
The most shocking aspect of Trump’s shifting positions regarding a woman’s right to choose is that he seems to have given abortion little thought at all beyond whatever might be politically expedient to say at the moment.
As Trump says one thing and then another and then nothing at all, you can go to Grand Central Station in the stillness of the early morning and almost hear 19-year-old Barbara’s parting words to her father.
“I want to kiss you now, daddy.”