Mary S. Sherman

Mary S. Sherman

Mary Stults, the daughter of a voice teacher, was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1913. A highly intelligent student, at the age of sixteen she went to France to study at the L’Ecole de M. Collnot before working on a masters at the University of Illinois. At this time she married Thomas Sherman.

Mary Sherman went on to do graduate work at the University of Chicago. As Edward Haslam points out in Dr. Mary's Monkey: "In 1937, it (University of Chicago) produced the first sustained nuclear reaction for UC physicist Enrico Fermi. This is where Mary Sherman did her post-graduate work. She was trained at the headquarters of nuclear, bio-chemical, and genetic research in America." During this period Sherman did ground-breaking research into botanical viruses which lived in soil.

Mary Sherman became Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, and practiced medicine at UC's Billings Hospital. Sherman's research was brought to the attention of Dr. Alton Ochsner and she was invited to become a partner in the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans where he was carrying out research into the causes of cancer. She was also offered the post of Associate Professor at the Tulane Medical School. Sherman accepted Ochsner's proposal and started work for her new employer in 1952.

Sherman's career prospered and she was elected to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS). Soon afterwards she was appointed as chairman of the Pathology Committee of the AAOS.

Edward Haslam argues in Dr. Mary's Monkey that Sherman was involved in carrying out secret research into developing a vaccine to prevent an epidemic of soft-tissue cancers caused by polio vaccine contaminated with SV-40. This work included using a linear particle accelerator located in the Infectious Disease Laboratory at the Public Health Service Hospital in New Orleans. According to Haslam there was a second-lab working on this project. This was being run by David Ferrie on Louisiana Avenue Parkway.

Mary Sherman was murdered on 21st July, 1964. She had been stabbed in the heart, arm, leg and stomach. Her mattress had been set on fire, but her massive burns could not have come from the smoking mattress. The crime has never been solved. Sherman's death occurred on the day the Warren Commission came to her city (New Orleans) to obtain testimony about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

In 1995 Edward Haslam published Mary, Ferrie & the Monkey Virus : The Story of an Underground Medical Laboratory. In 1999 Judyth Baker revealed her involvement in an anti-Castro conspiracy to individuals outside her family and to CBS Sixty Minutes investigators. In late 2000, newsgroups learned who she was and began speculating on what she had to say. She asserted she had been (at first unwittingly) recruited by Dr. Alton Ochsner and Dr. Mary S. Sherman into a get-Castro project that had the backing of the CIA and of the Mafia in New Orleans.

Judyth was offered a summer medical internship with Dr. Sherman by Ochsner: she accepted, and came to New Orleans in April, 1963. There, she met Lee Harvey Oswald, who introduced her to Sherman's friend, David Ferrie. Judyth accidentally learned about the clandestine side of the project before Ochsner, who was out of town, was able to steer her to the legitimate side. She then became a willing participant in the project. At the same time, Oswald and Judyth began to fall in love. Neither had a happy marriage (Judyth was recently married to a man who promptly left her alone in New Orleans,and who in other ways neglected her). Oswald became linked to the project, partly to be close to Judyth.

According to Judyth Baker the research into the biological weapon was hidden by using two or more secret mini-labs which were set up when Ochsner's Clinic made a massive move into new facilities in March, 1963. Equipment, animals, etc. were 'misplaced' during the move, the second-largest in the history of New Orleans. The basic project was set up March 23, 1962, using conventional facilities, which then expanded out of the loop for its final phases.

Baker adds that Lee Harvey Oswald learned how to handle the materials safely and keep them alive. He volunteered to courier the materials to Mexico City, where a medical student, doctor or intern was scheduled to take the materials to Cuba. Oswald made frantic efforts to get the materials, which had a short shelf-life, into Cuba himself when his contacts failed to appear. The project, in fact, had been called off because of Hurricane Flora, which devastated Cuba at this time. Oswald was ordered to Dallas: his "desire to go to Cuba" was never mentioned again by him. His transit visa to go to Cuba was approved in mid-October, but by then, Oswald had no more need to go to Cuba: he never used the approved visa, which arrived too late to be of any use in saving the biological materials.

Judyth Baker claims that she and Lee Harvey Oswald planned to divorce and marry in Mexico after he had done all he could to help thwart the plans of an assassination ring, which he had volunteered to investigate. He believed he would have the help of the CIA to escape after providing information, but instead, due to his Pro-Castro activities in New Orleans, which had been under the handling of Guy Bannister (in order to identify Pro-Castroites in New Orleans), Oswald became the perfect patsy, even though he was on record as having admired John F. Kennedy.

According to Judyth, Oswald volunteered to continue to penetrate the ring, even when he realized his life was in danger. Oswald could only speculate on who organized the conspiracy. He was aware that Mafia, Texas oil moguls, and conservative racists put up money to finance an assassination ring that seemed to include a wide variety of planners and participants. He was kept from learning the identities of the leaders, but expressed opinions that Carlos Marcello (godfather of New Orleans and Dallas) and his Mafia friends in Chicago and Miami, along with anti-Castroites and elements of the Secret Service and CIA, were well able to assassinate Kennedy, if those at the highest levels in government cooperated to allow the assassination to take place for their benefit. Oswald told Judyth he would do what he could to try to get the mission aborted, and that he had others who were going to help him to abort the assassination.

After the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, Judyth Baker received a phone-call from David Ferrie warning her that she would be killed if she told anyone about her knowledge of these events.

In 2007 Edward Haslam published Dr. Mary's Monkey, an updated account on the death of Mary Sherman. Haslam believes that Sherman was involved in carrying out secret research into developing a vaccine to prevent an epidemic of soft-tissue cancers caused by polio vaccine contaminated with SV-40. This work included using a linear particle accelerator located in the Infectious Disease Laboratory at the Public Health Service Hospital in New Orleans. Haslam argues that Sherman had an accident while using the linear particle accelerator. This explains why her body was so badly burnt. In an attempt to cover-up her secret research, Sherman was stabbed in the heart and then moved under cover of darkness to her apartment. A small fire was then started in an attempt to explain the burns on her body.

Primary Sources

(1) Edward T. Haslam, Dr. Mary's Monkey (2007)

For me, writing this book was difficult, stressful and dangerous. What began as an investigation into this single murder morphed into consideration of epidemics which killed millions of people and which cost billions of dollars. It became an investigation into an underground medical laboratory that was accidentally discovered during an investigation into the JFK assassination - a laboratory which secretly irradiated cancer-causing monkey viruses to develop a biological weapon.

This story seems to have followed me throughout my life, and its recurring pattern is eerie indeed. Had I realized its importance, I would have paid closer attention. What I do remember are fragments that I pieced together later in life: a name here, an incident there, pieces of a puzzle often separated by years of unrelated distractions. I even remember sitting on Mary Sherman's lap once as a child. She and my father worked together at Tulane Medical School in New Orleans. They had taken a British doctor out to dinner and then to our family's home for an after-dinner drink.

When she died in the summer of 1964, I saw my father cry for the first time. As a Navy doctor during World War II, my father had seen more than his share of burned and broken bodies. Someone (I don't know who) had asked him to go to the morgue to look at Mary Sherman's body to get a second opinion on her unusual death. He came home from the morgue that day, fixed himself a drink, sat down in his chair, and cried silently. I wondered what was wrong. My mother told me that a woman he knew from the office had died. It was only later that I learned it was Mary Sherman.

(2) Homicide Report (29th October, 1964)

The undersigned entered Apt. J. from the patio, the only entrance to said apartment, into the living room area. Said apartment was composed of a living room, kitchen, bathroom, study, and a bedroom.... Located in the bedroom, was the body of a white female, apparently dead, later learned to be one Dr. Mary Stults Sherman, WF, 51 yrs., formerly residing 3101 St. Charles Ave., Apt. J., who lived alone....

The body was in a supine position, the head in the direction of the river, the feet in the direction of the lake, and both legs were outstretched and parallel to each other... The left arm was outstretched and parallel to the left side of the body. The right side of the body from the waist to where the right shoulder would be, including the whole right arm, was apparently disintegrated from the fire, yielding the inside organs of the body. There was what appeared to be a stab wound in the left arm and also in the inner side of the right leg near the knee.

The body was nude; however, there was clothing which had apparently been placed on top of the body, mostly covering the body from just above the pubic area to the neck. Some of the mentioned clothes had been burned completely, while others were still intact, but scorched... According to the Criminologist, the mentioned clothes were composed of synthetic material which would have to reach a temperature of about 500 F before it would ignite into a flame; however, prior to this, there would be a smoldering effect.

It appeared that no scuffle took place inside of said bedroom, and nothing appeared to be dis-arranged in the bedroom or throughout the apartment.

(3) James DiEugenio, review of Gerald Posner's book Case Closed (1993)

On page 496, Posner insinuates that the death of Mary Sherman was neither mysterious nor relevant and that "she was killed in an accidental fire." Like John Davis, he lists the year of her death as 1967. Mary Sherman died on July 21, 1964, the same day that the Warren Commission began taking testimony in New Orleans. Posner could have checked the local newspapers on this because her death made headline news for days after. To this day her case is listed as an unsolved murder by the New Orleans police. There was a small fire in her apartment and some smoke, but they were certainly not the cause of death. Her severed arm probably had more to do with it; along with her discarded yet blood-drenched gloves (think about that one), and also the hack marks made from a butcher knife on her torso.

(4) New Orleans Times-Picayune (21st July, 1964)

An intruder forced his way into a fashionable St. Charles Ave. apartment early today, stabbed a prominent woman orthopedic surgeon to death and set fire to her body. Police apparently had virtually no clues to the identity of the slayer of Dr. Mary Stults Sherman...

Homicide detectives said the front door to her apartment had been forced open, her wallet was empty, and her 1961 automobile was missing ... Sam Moran, Special Investigator for the Orleans Parish Coroner's office, said the front door had been forced open and an unsuccessful attempt had been made to open a jewelry box.

Mrs. Levy (a neighbor who lived beneath Dr. Sherman for 12 years) ... usually heard Dr. Sherman when she came in at night, but last night she went to bed early and didn't hear anything.... "If there had been a loud commotion, I know I would have heard it," Mrs. Levy said. "The doctor was quiet, but I always heard her come in and take off her shoes, then padding around in her slippers. Sometimes I remarked to my husband, Doc's home again."

(5) Coroner's Report on the Death of Mary Sherman (July, 1964)

A preliminary examination by Dr. LoCascio on the scene determined that there were several possible stab wounds of the left arm of the body, which had not been deteriorated by the fire. There also appeared to be several stab wounds in the torso. There was also a large wound of the inside of the right thigh just above the knee. From further examination of the body, it was noted by the coroner that the right arm and a portion of the right side of the body extending from the right hip to the right shoulder was completely

burned away exposing various vital organs...

The cause of death was also given to Patn. Knight by Capt. Stevens as follows: 1. Stab wound of the chest, penetrating the heart, hemopericardium and left hemithorax [sic] 2. Multiple stab wounds of the abdomen, with incid wound of the liver. 3. Multiple stab wounds of the left upper extremity and the right leg. 4. Laceration of Labia Minora. 5. Extreme burns of right side of body with complete destruction of right upper extremity and right side of thorox and abdomen.

(6) Precinct Report on the death of Mary Sherman (July, 1964)

The fire smoldered for sometime -long enough to denude an innerspring mattress and burn away the flesh from one of the doctor's arms...

From further examination of the body, it was noted by the coroner that the right arm and a portion of the right side of the body extending from the right hip to the right shoulder was completely burned away exposing various vital organs.

The cause of death was ... 5. Extreme burns of right side of body with complete destruction of right upper extremity and right side of thorax [chest] and abdomen.

The right side of the body from the waist to where the right shoulder would be, including the whole right arm, was apparently disintegrated from the fire, yielding the inside organs of the body.

(7) New Orleans States Item (15th August, 1964)

The murderer set fire to her bed and piled underclothing on her body, setting it afire. The fire smoldered for some time - long enough to denude an innerspring mattress and burn away the flesh from one of the doctor's arms.