W. R. C. Latson

From Kook Science

W. R. C. Latson
W. R. C. Latson - portrait.jpg

Born 17 March 1866(1866-03-17)
New York
Died 11 May 1911 (45)
New York City, New York

William Richard Cunningham Latson (March 17, 1866 - May 11, 1911) was an American physician specialising in dermatology and self-described "esoteric psychologist" interested in Asian (Orientalist) mysticism. Latson was the editor of Health-Culture magazine, which was advertised as holding a line "opposed to drugs, vaccination and operations," and wrote extensively on physical culture, autointoxication, hygienic dietetics (including vegetarianism and raw foodism), and certain materials of interest in New Thought circles.

Selected Bibliography


Press Coverage

Latson's Death (1911)

  • WH (14 May 1911), "GIRL MYSTIC SEEKS TO JOIN DEAD MASTER - Disciple of Physician who Killed Self Tries Same Means of Ending Life.", Washington Herald (Washington, D.C.): 10, 

    New York, May 13.— "Allah pity the living."

    Weak, and for the first time despairing lest another opportunity may not be given her to end her life, Alta Marhevka, ardent young student of the mystic lore of her dead "Goura," Dr. William R. C. Latson, thus summed up her condition this evening as she lay upon a cot.

    As she had warned the authorities, Miss Marhevka, who had renounced the Jewish faith to delve with Dr. Latson into the depths of Oriental mysticism, attempted to rid herself of her "earthly habiliment of base clay."

    The attempt failed, and as she lay upon the hospital cot the young girl turned all the powers of her brilliant mind upon accomplishing the one thing that she holds most dear, death.

    "I must go to join him soon," the girl cried. "My soul is fettered, stifling within these narrow confines."

    "I have it," she exclaimed excitedly. "I told them that I did not do the deed. That was true. I do not believe in lying. But I will lie in a small affair in order to incompass a larger destiny. I will tell them when they take me to court Monday that I did the deed. Then perhaps they will send me to death."

    The girl seemed greatly disappointed when informed that she must probably be placed in an asylum in the event of a "confession."

    "Then," she said excitedly, "I must accomplish my end soon. Perhaps I shall get a chance to-night. If I do the master and I will be together once more. This time I know he will love me with all his soul."

    The girl has partly convinced the authorities that Dr. Latson was murdered. The body of the mystic, with a bullet wound in the neck, was found on Thursday night in his Oriental apartments at 660 Riverside drive.

    The girl, who career has been curiously interwoven with that of the dead man since she was a child, was the last person to see the doctor alive, and by her own admission, the first to view his body.

    Coroner's Physician O'Hanlon said tonight:

    "I think this case presents one of these peculiar conditions of love as is patrayed in the character of 'Svengali' in Du Maurier's 'Trilby.' The subconscious influence might have been so strong that the girl might have killed her teacher without realizing her act."

  • RPST (17 May 1911), "DENIES DEATH PACT. Nurse of Dr. Latson Says His Teaching Salutary.", Richmond Palladium and Sun-Telegraph (Richmond, VA): 2, 

    Still pale and sick but defiant and self-possessed Alta Marhevka, the trained nurse who tried to kill herself with gas after her employer, soulmate and preceptor, Dr. W. R. C. Latson — her "god-man" she calls him — had shot himself, was brought from the Washington Heights hospital and arraigned in Harlem court on the charge of attempted suicide. She denied any pledge to die with her soulmate.

    After the girl had made a disjointed statement in her own behalf, magistrate Herbert told her that in view of her admission he must hold her for special sessions in bonds of $500. He sent her back to the hospital, a prisoner, until 3 o'clock.

    In the meantime a friend of hers, Harry D. Gue of 606 Sixth street, Brooklyn, had provided bail and on her reappearance Magistrate Herbert let the girl go. She left the court in company of Gue and his wife.

    "We will give Miss Marhevka a home with us until she has recovered from the shock of her recent experience and has secured employed," said Gue.

    Miss Marhevka almost collapsed on her way to court the first time and after her arrival there she fainted.

    When she had been revived she borrowed a pencil and upon the back of an advertising circular she wrote this statement for publication:

    "I want to say to the world that my attempt upon my own life was not the result of any silly pact with Dr. Latson, nor had it anything to do with Dr. Latson's teachings. That these teachings were salutary and helpful, I hope to show as soon as I am strong enough to get back to my books, my work. I can account for my act only by the fact that I was physically ill for many weeks, and that condition the shock of my discovery last Thursday only heightened."

  • NYTr. (1 July 1911), "JURY CALLS IT SUICIDE - Alta Marhevka Tells of Finding Body of Dr. Latson, 'Man God.' EXPERTS FAIL TO AGREE - Verdict is Returned, However, Without Leaving the Box, and Girl Secretary Goes Free.", New York Tribune: 7, 

    Without leaving the jury box in the Coroner's court yesterday afternoon a jury decided that the death of Dr. William R. C. Latson in his home, at No. 660 Riverside Drive, was caused by a self-inflicted bullet wound.

    The doctor's body was found in his apartment on May 11, a bullet hole in his head. That he did not inflict the wound himself was declared yesterday by Coroner's Physician O'Hanlon and Professor John H. Larkin, of Columbia. They said it was not reasonable to suppose the wound could have been self-inflicted.

    Miss Alta Marhevka, the last person in the doctor's apartment before his death and who attempted to commit suicide soon afer his death, was one of the witnesses at the inquest. Miss Marhevka admitted she had tried to kill herself when she heard Dr. Latson was dead and said he was calling her to follow him. She was held by the police because of Dr. Latson's death. She had spoken of him as her "Man God."

    Dr. S. W. Smith, of the J. Hood Wright Hospital, testified that he found Dr. Latson's body on a couch in the library, and that he had been dead at least three hours. He said he found a revolver underneath the body.

    Professor Larkin testified he found no evidence of powder marks near the bullet wound, but that the course taken by the bullet was most usual for a bullet self-inflicted.

    Alta Marhevka, who was Dr. Latson's secretary, was called to the stand by Coroner Feinberg. She said she went to Dr. Latson's apartment and tried to get in on the evening of the day Dr. Latson's body was found. The door was locked, and she went in through a window. She found the doctor on the floor, and after opening the door stepped outside to tell the janitor's son Dr. Latson was ill. She said she did not see any blood, but after a time decided the doctor was dead and started to telephone to the Coroner.

    In answer to a question from Assistant District Attorney Rubin Miss Marhevka said the doctor had always kept a revolver in his apartments, but he never talked of suicide, but, on the other hand, he never condemned anyone for self-destruction. When she entered the apartment, she continued, she had a premonition that something was wrong with Dr. Latson. She did not make a close examination of his body, but left the room to get help. She later admitted there were a number of blood stains on Dr. Latson's shirt, and that his revolver was not to be seen. She told the Coroner she believed Dr. Latson still lived.

    Lieutenant Jones, pistol expert of the Police Department, when called by the Coroner, said he thought the case was one of suicide.