The ‘Back’ Doctor

In the 1920’s an American doctor named Thorne came to Derry. He was a chiropractor but known locally as ‘the back doctor’. He set up practice in Pump Street and became quite successful. He usually dressed in a black overcoat, wide brimmed hat and a white scarf.

He was very successful with the ladies much to the distress of his wife. When she would hear of yet another dalliance she would confront him and they had enormous rows which were heard by all the neighbours. As time went on the rows became more frequent and Doctor Thorne once remarked to Thomas Thompson, the man who acted as his chauffeur that ‘she would be the death of him or he would be the death of her’. Over the next few months he repeated the same sentiments several times and Thomas became worried.

One day, Doctor Thorne sent a key to Thomas with word that he was to be collected precisely at three o’clock that same day. The word was not relayed in time and when Thomas went to collect him he got no answer at the door. He went inside and found the doctor and his wife lying dead. Both had been poisoned. At the inquest it was determined that they had a suicide pact. Thomas however believed that Thorne had administered the poison to his wife and then had taken some himself. His intention was that Thomas should find him and that he would be saved. Due to the delay in receiving the message Thomas did not arrive in time.

The couple were interred in a large crypt in the cemetery but the wife’s family in America were not content to leave her body in the same resting place as the man whom they believed murdered her. They had her body exhumed and returned to America.

The story that Thomas told was that Thorne’s ghost was seen and heard in the cemetery until a minister was called to perform an exorcism which laid his spirit to rest.




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