Stanford University cover-up revealed: How did poisoning by strychnine become 'natural causes?'

Jane Stanford's love of spiritualism could have been key in why her murder was covered up.
Jane Stanford's love of spiritualism could have been key in why her murder was covered up. Photo credit KCBS Radio

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – In Monday's episode of "Bitter Academia," the fourth installment in the true crime podcast series, we learn about the final moments of Jane Stanford, a member of Stanford University's founding family.

For more, stream KCBS Radio now.

Jane Stanford, a woman who believed for most of her life that death wasn't truly the end, found herself on the receiving end of strychnine, a deadly poison, while on vacation in Hawaii.

While doctors present at the time of her death and later the coroner's jury would easily conclude that her death was due to the poison, that wouldn't be the narrative that would follow her through history.

The narrative that she died due to natural causes can be largely attributed to the president of the school at the time, David Starr Jordan, trying to hush up the true cause of her death.

The most likely reason for his subterfuge was to shield the school from any scandal if she was murdered, and any formal inquiries if she was found to have died by suicide.

Since Jane was so known for her love of spiritualism, the argument could have been made that she had poisoned herself, to rejoin her loved ones. If so, it could be argued that she wasn't in her right mind. And that could put her will and estate in jeopardy.

In this episode, we learn more about the machinations behind the cover up of Jane's death, and what made spiritualism so popular during her time.

To truly understand Jane's experience, I participate in a seance myself. And it doesn't turn out quite like what some might assume.

If you haven't heard the first three episodes, you can catch up here.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: KCBS Radio