Medicine: They Thought She Was Dead

The maid who arrived in mid-morning to clean the San Francisco apartment of Mrs. Theresa Butler, 60, thought that her employer was dead: she was lying in a half-filled bathtub and could not be roused. The doctor who came at the call of the apartment manager also thought that Mrs. Butler was dead. He could find no pulse, his stethoscope revealed no heartbeat. A mirror held before her mouth and nostrils showed no breathing. The eyes seemed lifeless, and Mrs. Butler's body was cold. Though the doctor estimated that she had been dead for hours, rigor mortis had not set in....

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!