3. 267 West 11th Street – Poisoning

267 West 11th Street-West Village-.Dr. Robert Buchanan-Murder

When Carlyle Harris gave his young wife Helen Potts a morphine overdose in 1892, he made the fatal mistake of failing to account for the contraction of her pupils, a dead giveaway of narcotic poisoning. Even so, he might’ve got away with it if it weren’t for muckraking journalist ‘Ike’ White, who had the body exhumed and tested for morphine. A year later, a man came to the reporter’s office, asking Ike once again to pick up where the police had left off. His employer, the rich madam Annie Sutherland, had died suddenly and her husband, Dr. Robert Buchanan, had upped the stakes and remarried his first wife in Nova Scotia. Did Ike care to investigate?

The attendant physicians told Ike that Annie’s pupils were considerably dilated when Annie died, causing them to rule out morphine poisoning. But an unsatisfied Ike began to frequent Buchanan’s old haunt, Macomber’s bar. Having spent several weeks, and several hundred dollars, at the dive (now a Chinese restaurant), Ike got what he wanted: one night, a drunk Buchanan had asked him,  “Have you ever been to the eye doctor? Have you had drops put in your eyes? Well, the drops are belladonna. Atropine, in other words. They enlarge the pupils.”

Once again, Ike had a body exhumed. Once again, it turned out to be chockfull of morphine, though this time a fair sprinkling of atropine enlivened the mixture. Buchanan went to the chair on July 1, 1895.

Annie Sutherland’s whorehouses were in Newark, but she kept (and died in) a basement apartment in the classic West Village brownstone at 267 West 11th Street.