Marie Swift in 1941 was 23, working at a pants factory in Crisfield, engaged to be married to Herman Ward and pregnant. In April her body would be found by Clarence Taylor a little off the road in a wooded section about two miles outside of Crisfield. Eventually her death would be determined to be caused by the effects of a blotched abortion.Marie Swift came from a large family, with 13 brothers and sisters she was the oldest of the 14 children. She was the daughter of Charley and Elizabeth Swift. Charley worked as a waterman and farm laborer and with fourteen children the word impoverished would describe the family.
Before her Saturday wedding to Herman Ward on Monday night at about 8:30 PM Marie went to the home of Addie Wilson for an illegal abortion. Addie was a 48 year old mother of four, oyster shucker, whose husband, Bill, had taken off leaving her with the four kids some years before. Marie would die about 9 PM that night. Addie tried to move the body but it was too heavy so she went to get her 16 year old son, Clarence, and he helped her load the body into the car and drove with his mother to dump it by the roadside. They returned to their house and cleaned up and burnt evidence.As was told earlier, Clarence Taylor while riding his bicycle to work discovered the body about dawn. In the investigating of the scene around the body, Marie’s purse was found. Marie had black hair but found on her purse after her death was a lock of blonde hair. An autopsy was done on the body and the cause of death was determined to be from the effects of a blotched abortion.
Clarence Wilson would be the first to break down under interrogation and confess. His mother, Addie, would confess next, after 7 hours of questioning. Addie would bring the boy friend, Herman Ward, into the crime. The Somerset County Circuit Court would sentenced both, Addie and Herman, to five years in the Maryland House of Corrections Addie was convicted of “manslaughter” and “abortion and conspiracy.” Herman was convicted of “abortion and conspiracy”. There was no true bill found against Clarence Wilson.So there you have it, the child died, the mother died, two people were sent to jail and two very poor families received notoriety I am sure they didn’t want.