Mary S. Sherman

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Mary S. Sherman
Mary Stults

(1913-04-21)April 21, 1913
DiedJuly 21, 1964(1964-07-21) (aged 51)
Alma materEvanston Township High School

Northwestern University

University of Chicago
Occupation(s)Orthopedic surgeon, cancer researcher
SpouseThomas Watson Sherman

Mary Stults Sherman (April 21, 1913 – July 21, 1964) was an American orthopedic surgeon and cancer researcher affiliated with the University of Chicago and the Oschsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans. Her 1964 murder remains unsolved.

Early life and career[edit]

Mary Caroline Stults was born in Evanston, Illinois to Walter Allen Stults and Monica Edith Graham, both singers and music educators.[1] She had initially trained in opera, studying in Paris before returning to Evanston and earning degrees in French at Northwestern University.[2] [3] She taught at the University of Illinois French Institute in Paris and then went on to earn her medical degree from the University of Chicago in 1941. [4][5][6] She married Dr. Thomas Watson Sherman in 1936. [5]

After graduating from medical school, Sherman served as an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Chicago during which time she focused her research on bone cancer and polio treatments. [7][8] In 1949 and 1950, she traveled through Alaska performing medical surveys in remote communities and serving for a time at Mount Edgecumbe hospital on Kruzof Island. [9][10][11]

In 1952, Sherman was appointed to the Ochsner Foundation Hospital as director of the Bone Pathology Laboratory and served as orthopedic surgeon in the clinic. She was also an associate professor of clinical orthopedics at Tulane University’s School of Medicine. [12][5] In 1963 she and a colleague received the Kappa Delta Award for Orthopedic Research for their work studying the causes of clubfoot.[13]


Sherman was the author or coauthor of numerous articles about bone and joint diseases. As examples, her works included:


On July 21, 1964, firefighters responding to a call from Sherman's neighbors discovered her body beneath a burning mattress in her apartment on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans.[18] The coroner classified Sherman's death as a homicide citing lethal stab wounds and severe burns to her upper torso and right arm. [19][20] Police stated that her purse was missing and somebody had attempted to pry open a jewelry box on the premises.[1][12] Her car would be discovered hours later abandoned on a city street several blocks from the crime scene.[12]

While police theorized that Sherman fell victim to a botched burglary or was murdered by an acquaintance, conspiracy theories link her to the alleged Kennedy assassination conspirator David Ferrie and propose that Sherman participated in clandestine scientific research that led to her death. [21][22][23]

In Popular Culture[edit]

Edward Haslam wrote a book about Dr. Sherman titled Dr. Mary's Monkey (2007)[24]


  1. ^ a b "Ex-Chicago Researcher Found Slain". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. July 22, 1964. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
  2. ^ Hassard, Kathy (June 16, 1964). "Traffic Accidents Keep Surgeons in Business". The Vancouver Sun. Vancouver, British Columbia. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
  3. ^ "Northwestern University Commencement Programs" (June 13, 1936). Campus Publications, Series: Northwestern University Digitized Publications, p. 31. Evanston, Illinois: McCormick Library of Special Collections and University Archives, Northwestern University.
  4. ^ "University of Chicago Convocation Program" (June 10, 1941). Campus Publications, Series: University of Chicago Convocation Programs, p. 14. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago.
  5. ^ a b c Aseel, Dib (16 March 2022). "The Pioneering Women of Orthopedic Surgery" (PDF). The Orthopaedic Forum (A). Retrieved 10 February 2023.
  6. ^ "Mary S. Sherman, MD FAOA". American Orthopaedic Association. American Orthopaedic Association. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  7. ^ "100 to Attend Cancer Clinic". Port Huron Times. Port Huron, Michigan. June 16, 1950. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
  8. ^ Sherman, Mary (May 13, 1944). "The Natural Course of Poliomyelitis". Journal of the American Medical Association. 125 (2): 99–102. doi:10.1001/jama.1944.02850200007003. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
  9. ^ "North Star Leaves Friday Evening". Sitka Sentinel and Arrowhead Press. Sitka, Alaska. August 14, 1950. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
  10. ^ "Dr. Mary Sherman Here Briefly". Sitka Sentinal. Sitka, Alaska. October 25, 1950. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  11. ^ "Miss Zena Kizute to Chicago". Daily Sitka Sentinal. Sitka, Alaska. January 30, 1951. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
  12. ^ a b c "Surgeon is Slain, Set Afire". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Associated Press. July 22, 1962. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  13. ^ "Kappa Delta Honors Trio for Research". Miami Herald. Miami, Florida. January 22, 1963. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
  14. ^ MS Sherman and DB Phemister (1947). "The pathology of ununited fractures of the neck of the femur"[permanent dead link]. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 29(1):19–40. PMID 20284683.
  15. ^ MS Sherman and DT Hellyer (1950). "Infantile cortical hyperostosis; review of the literature and report of five cases". The American Journal of Roentgenology, 63(2):212–222. PMID 15402767.
  16. ^ MS Sherman (1951). "The non-specificity of synovial reactions". Bulletin of the Hospital for Joint Diseases, 12(2):110–125. PMID 14905101.
  17. ^ MS Sherman and GB McFarland Jr (1965). "Mechanism of pain in osteoid osteomas". Southern Medical Journal, 58(2):163–166. PMID 14246937.
  18. ^ United Press International (UPI). "Woman Expert in Cancer Slain In Burned Louisiana Apartment". The New York Times, July 21, 1964.
  19. ^ Monroe S. Samuels. Autopsy Protocol, Orleans Parish Coroner's Office, July 21, 1964, p. 1.
  20. ^ Brobson Lutz. A review of Dr. Mary's Monkey Archived 2019-03-20 at the Wayback Machine. New Orleans Magazine, July 2007.
  21. ^ Times-Picayune, NOLA com | The. "In the death of Doctor Mary Sherman, strange myths pale next to stranger facts". Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  22. ^ Wilkes, Donald E. (2010). "Lee Harvey Oswald's Last Lover?". Popular Media. 83. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  23. ^ Haslam, Edward T. (2007). Dr. Mary's Monkey: How the Unsolved Murder of a Doctor, a Secret Laboratory in New Orleans and Cancer-Causing Monkey Viruses Are Linked to Lee Harvey Oswald, the JFK Assassination and Emerging Global Epidemics. Springfield, Oregon: TrineDay. ISBN 9780977795307.
  24. ^ Riddick Jr, F. A. (2023-03-17). "List of Books about Oschner Hospital". The Ochsner Journal. 7 (3): 140–146. PMC 3096393. PMID 21603532.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]