Four and a half years before her death, Anastasia Manahan underwent a severe medical crisis. On August 20, 1979, after several days of vomiting and stubbornly refusing help, she was rushed to Charlottesville’s Martha Jefferson Hospital. Dr. Richard Shrum operated immediately. He found obstruction and gangrene in the small intestine, caused by attachment to an ovarian tumor. He removed almost one foot of the intestine, resectioned the bowel, and closed the wound. Mrs. Manahan was a difficult patient. At first, after surgery, she repeatedly pulled tubes from her body. Eventually, her behavior improved. “She remained reclusive, did not like to talk to people, and smiled rarely,” Shrum recalled. “She would sit around with a handkerchief held up to her nose as if she were afraid of catching something.”
Immediately after the operation, Shrum followed standard hospital procedure and sent the tissue he had removed to the pathology laboratory, which retained five inches of the intestine. This tissue was divided into five one-inch segments, and each segment was bathed in a tissue preservative called formalin, sealed inside a block of paraffin wax one inch square and half an inch deep, and placed in a small blue and white box on a shelf filled with other similar boxes containing tissue specimens. The purpose of preserving excised tissue after surgery is purely medical: should the same or a similar condition recur, having actual tissue previously removed can be an invaluable diagnostic tool. In 1979, the Martha Jefferson Hospital pathology laboratory was new, having opened only the year before. “We have kept everything since it opened,” said a hospital employee, “every sample from all patients, regardless of who the patient is.” Once stored, tissue specimens, like written medical records, remain legally the property of the hospital. The hospital, observing a fiduciary obligation to the patient and the patient’s family and heirs, guards these materials fiercely. Any release of records or specimens to anyone other than the patient, family, heirs, or executors, requires a court order.
After Dr. William Maples’ July 1992 announcement that Grand Duchess Anastasia was missing from the grave in Ekaterinburg received international publicity, it was perhaps not surprising that exploratory probes as to whether Martha Jefferson Hospital possessed any of Anastasia Manahan’s blood or tissue samples began. On September 22, Syd Mandelbaum, a Long Island blood analysis expert connected with several major laboratories, wrote to the hospital that he intended to write a book on the use of DNA testing as a forensic tool and wished to include a chapter on Anna Anderson. “As remote as this sounds,” Mandelbaum’s letter declared, “we are trying to obtain a genetic sample … in the form of a blood sample, follicular hair, or tissue culture” to test at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory or at Harvard Medical School. D. D. Sandridge, the executive vice president of Martha Jefferson Hospital, replied to Mandelbaum that “we have nothing here that could be useful to you.” Later the hospital explained this mistake to me as a clerical error: “The wrong person was asked to look for it.”
The right person to ask was Penny Jenkins, the director of medical records, and it was she who dealt with the next two applicants Who inquired about the tissue. The first of these, writing in November 1992, was Mary DeWitt, who described herself as “a student of forensic pathology at the University of Texas” and said that she would like the tissue because she was “writing a paper.” Jenkins assumed that De Witt was a young student, “writing a paper like my daughter in high school. It was not a case of ‘medical need to know’ or ‘patient care,’ ” Jenkins decided, “so I said, ‘No, I can’t help you.’ ” Mary DeWitt, however, did not go away. Instead, she contacted James Blair Lovell, a Washington author who had written the last Anastasia biography, and explained to him that she knew that the hospital had the tissue but that she needed the cooperation of the Manahan family in order to obtain the required court order. Proposing to Lovell that they work together, she offered to pay for a lawyer if Lovell would approach the Manahans. Lovell agreed and obtained a letter from John Manahan’s cousin Fred Manahan, granting him authority to dispose of the tissue. DeWitt retained a Charlottesville lawyer. In the spring of 1993, however, DeWitt wrote to Penny Jenkins that, henceforth, she, Mary DeWitt, would deal with the hospital on anything to do with the tissue, while James Lovell’s role would be restricted to that of a historian recording the process. Lovell, hearing about this letter, became enraged and said to Jenkins, “They’re cutting me out!” Jenkins had to choose. “Because I felt that Jimmy Lovell’s agenda was a little bit cleaner, I decided that we weren’t going to communicate anymore with Mary DeWitt,” she said. Jenkins never heard again from Mary DeWitt, but later she was told that DeWitt was a woman in her forties, the wife of a private investigator.
Two days after receiving her first letter from Mary DeWitt, Jenkins received a telephone call from Dr. Willi Korte, who identified himself as a German lawyer and historical researcher. He told her that he was associated with the Forensic Institute of the University of Munich and was working as part of an international team to identify the Ekaterinburg bones and solve the mystery of Anastasia. “He was very smooth, very charming,” Jenkins remembered. “He dropped a lot of names: Dr. Maples in Florida … Dr. Baden in New York … and others. He told me that his job was to wander around the world looking for comparative tissue samples. He asked whether we had any. I said, ‘Yes, we do have a specimen.’ A short time after that, a Washington, D.C., lawyer, Thomas Kline, of the firm of Andrews & Kurth, called to ask about the tissue. Kline said that Korte, with whom he worked, was out of the country. I repeated to him, ‘Yes, we do have the tissue.’ That was the last I heard from either of them,” said Jenkins. “I never saw Korte again until we were sitting in court. Then he did not speak to me.”
In January 1993, Thomas Kline contacted Fred Manahan, who Kline believed controlled the tissue. Manahan referred Kline to James Lovell. On April 1.6, after several telephone conversations, Kline wrote a three-page letter to Lovell, formally asking for help in obtaining access to Anastasia Manahan’s tissue for DNA testing to be done by the Forensic Institute in Munich. He said that the institute already had access to a number of living relatives of the Imperial family whose blood could be used to make DNA comparisons. To buttress his appeal, Kline cited two scientific articles which dealt with DNA analysis. One was the work of the British Forensic Science Service team led by Dr. Peter Gill. On June 18, Kline wrote to Lovell again to clarify Dr. Willi Korte’s role in the Munich institute’s investigation. Korte, Kline said, was an experienced researcher, not a medical doctor. Kline added that the Munich institute had established working relationships with forensic scientists in the United States, “in particular, Dr. Mary-Claire King, [who] has agreed to work with the Forensic Institute.”
James Lovell found his encounters with Thomas Kline alarming. Unsure of his own legal status, Lovell consulted Richard Schweitzer, a Virginia attorney, who, like Lovell, believed in Mrs. Manahan’s claim to be the tsar’s daughter. Speaking of Kline, Lovell told Schweitzer, “He’s just harassing me to death. He keeps saying, ‘We have to have an answer! We just can’t leave it! We must act! We must have an answer from you right now!’ ” Lovell asked Schweitzer what he ought to do. “Jimmy, you don’t have to do anything,” Schweitzer advised. “You don’t even have to talk to him on the phone.” “So,” Schweitzer said later, “the next time the man called, Jimmy—on his own, I didn’t tell him to do it—did the best thing he could do. When he heard, ‘You’ve got to answer right now, yes or no!’ Jimmy said, ‘Then the answer is no,’ and hung up. Then Jimmy said to me, ‘Do you think I did right? What can they do next?’ And I said, ‘Jimmy, they can’t do anything. They don’t have any standing. They cannot participate in a lawsuit in the State of Virginia unless they have standing. The only person I know of who’s a resident of this state, who can come in and have any connection with this case, is Marina.’ ”
Marina Botkina Schweitzer, Gleb Botkin’s daughter, is a Virginia gentlewoman with a quiet demeanor and soft southern accent. Her Russian origins, not immediately apparent to outsiders, are of profound importance to her. Her great-grandfather, Dr. Sergei Botkin, was the father of Russian clinical medicine and the friend and personal physician of Tsar Alexander II; her grandfather, Dr. Eugene Botkin, played the same role for Tsar Nicholas II and, as a consequence of his loyalty, died with the Imperial family in the cellar in Ekaterinburg. She reads and speaks Russian and German and every day sits down to watch the Vremenya evening news broadcast from Moscow on cable TV. The only daughter among Gleb’s four children, Marina was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Smith College. While working in a law office in Charlottesville, she met her future husband, Richard Schweitzer.
Schweitzer, who, on his wife’s behalf, was to fight a single-handed court battle with a nationwide law firm employing 250 attorneys, is of Swiss descent. His ancestors came to America from the canton of Basel in the early nineteenth century, intending, as religious missionaries, to convert Indians in Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Virginia and served for four years during World War II on antisubmarine duty in the North Atlantic. For a while, he was a member of a secret U.S. Navy raiding team, trained to blow up German U-boat pens. Schweitzer practiced law in the field of international reinsurance and finance and retired in 1990. At seventy-three, he is feisty and, when aroused, fierce. He has a straight back, a sharp face behind rimless glasses, and thinning white hair. His language is lawyerly, but underneath there is an ironic sense of humor. In the lawsuit that was to come, Richard Schweitzer’s opponents tended to patronize him and treat him as a small-town country lawyer. They made a mistake.
The woman called Anna Anderson had been a part of Marina Schweitzer’s life since Marina was five, when her father visited the claimant at Castle Seeon. Marina knew the claimant slightly when Anna Anderson was in America at the end of the 1920s. In the 1950s, Schweitzer said, “when she was living in poverty in the Black Forest, we put money in envelopes and sent it to her by registered mail. Finally, somebody wrote to Gleb and said, ‘Please tell Mrs. Schweitzer to stop sending money because she is taking it to buy meat for the dogs and not food for herself.’ We never stopped. So she was aware of us as people who wanted to help.” After Anna Anderson returned to America in 1968 and became Anastasia Manahan, Marina Schweitzer continued, “we saw her two or three times a year. But it was more because of her closeness to my father than to us.”
In fact, Marina Schweitzer was always somewhat wary of Anastasia Manahan. “She talked to us on the phone a lot … especially when she was having trouble with Jack. I purposefully kept her at a distance because she had a history of quarreling with every person who was close to her. And the truth is we never quarreled. She called me ‘Marina’ and she called Dick ‘Mr. Schweitzer.’ Another reason we did not go there often was that I could not stand the sight of Jack and the way he treated her as a prize possession, something to brag about. I think he did her case more harm than all her enemies put together. He used her to prop up his own ego. One thing that infuriated me was that, before he married her, he took my father and her to his bank and made her swear that she was Anastasia, and then made Father swear that he knew that she was Anastasia.”
Whatever she did—and during her final years, the Schweitzers admit, she was often difficult—Marina and Richard Schweitzer never doubted that the woman they knew was the daughter of the tsar. Her behavior, they believed, was not abnormal for a woman who had been through the experiences she had endured. The crux was her identity “For us,” Richard Schweitzer said, “having known Anastasia all those years, it was a matter of family honor to try our utmost to fulfill her lifelong wish to have her identity as the Grand Duchess Anastasia recognized.”
The Manahan family and James Blair Lovell did not realize, early in 1993, that they were not entitled by Virginia law to control of Anastasia Manahan’s tissue. In Virginia, in cases where there is no will and no surviving spouse or children, an estate devolves on next of kin by blood. John Manahan’s cousins were his wife’s next of kin, but not by blood, and when Martha Jefferson Hospital learned that the matter was being discussed, it politely informed the Manahans of this law. If the Manahans did not have control, then, by extension, they could not assign it to James Lovell, who, in turn, could not pass it to Mary DeWitt, or Thomas Kline, or anyone else.
Informed of this by the hospital’s attorneys, Penny Jenkins began to worry She had already spoken to Richard Schweitzer when DeWitt had hired a Charlottesville lawyer to try to obtain the tissue. At that time Schweitzer had said, “Listen, if these people come to you and you don’t want to give them anything, tell me immediately. I will come to Charlottesville and file an intervenor in Marina’s name, insisting that nothing should be delivered unless the hospital is protected and part of the samples are kept.” Intervenor is a legal term describing a court-approved intervention by an outside party in an ongoing lawsuit. Because Marina was both a citizen of Virginia and a direct descendant of one of the victims of the Ipatiev House massacre, Schweitzer felt sure that she would be permitted to intervene.
After Mary DeWitt disappeared, Schweitzer and Jenkins continued to talk. Jenkins realized that the hospital was vulnerable to an avalanche of demands for the tissue. Again Schweitzer offered to help. He looked up the appropriate statute and, working with Jenkins and the hospital lawyers, began drafting a petition which would permit Martha Jefferson Hospital to release the tissue to a qualified laboratory. The work proceeded slowly. The hospital’s attorneys, Schweitzer remembered, were “hand-holding lawyers, the kind that hold the hands of the trustees, fuddy-duddy lawyers, office lawyers, fiduciary lawyers, desk lawyers who work with wills and estates and never go to court, very thorough and picky and slow. They never met a date with me. They kept changing position, and I constantly drafted and redrafted to meet their demands. Finally, they put it into the hands of a skillful litigator, Matthew Murray, and we got it done. It took from May to September, but if Matt had handled it from the beginning, we’d have been finished in June.” By September, Schweitzer had satisfied everyone and written a nonadversarial document of which the hospital could say, “Yes, this is the kind of petition we want you to pose in court.”
While working with the hospital, Schweitzer also began looking for a laboratory which could test the tissue once it was available. He contacted the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Maryland, but he and they could not agree on terms. In addition, the AFIP had no DNA materials from the Romanovs or Hessians for use in comparing the Manahan tissue. Schweitzer therefore approached Dr. Peter Gill and the British Forensic Science Service, which, of course, possessed not only the DNA profiles taken from the Ekaterinburg remains but also the blood sample from Prince Philip linking him to the bones of the purported Empress Alexandra. During the summer, Schweitzer began negotiating with Home Office solicitors to work out a private commission. Ultimately, a written agreement was signed. Schweitzer made an initial down payment of five thousand pounds and placed another five thousand pounds in escrow in an English bank to be drawn on if needed.
On September 30, 1993, Richard Schweitzer filed his wife’s petition for release of the tissue with the Virginia Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Court. Marina Schweitzer, the petition declared, had standing in the court on three counts: as a Virginia citizen, as the granddaughter of Dr. Eugene Botkin, and as the only resident of Virginia having a prolonged, serious connection with the life and identity of Anastasia Manahan. The basis of his wife’s suit, Schweitzer explained to the court, was that, as Dr. Botkin’s granddaughter, she had a right to know what had happened to her grandfather: “Identification of a putative survivor of the murders [that is, Grand Duchess Anastasia] would assist in the more certain identification of all, including petitioner’s grandfather, Dr. Botkin.” In the petition, Schweitzer did not ask the court to authorize release of the tissues to his wife; he asked only that the court permit access by Dr. Peter Gill to small samples of the tissue so they could be tested. Marina Schweitzer, her husband concluded, was prepared to pay all the costs and expenses of this DNA testing.
Martha Jefferson Hospital took no position on the petition and told the court it would do whatever the court ordered. Informally, Matthew Murray declared, “If the plaintiff can prove she has a right to the tissue and that’s what the court orders, we don’t have any problem with that. We don’t stand to gain or lose anything.” Schweitzer believed that things were going smoothly. “I had even drafted the order for the judge to issue, the way the hospital wanted it,” he recalled. “The judge set a hearing for November 1. I thought we’d sail right through.”
On the afternoon of November 1, 1993, Circuit Court Judge Jay T. Swett, a young-looking man with blond hair, gathered his black robe around him, seated himself high above everyone else in his courtroom, and prepared to deal with the matter of Anastasia Manahan’s tissue in Martha Jefferson Hospital. In front of and beneath him were three lawyers: Richard Schweitzer, attorney for his wife, Marina, who wanted the tissue made available for DNA testing in England; Matthew Murray, attorney for the hospital, who was willing that this happen providing the court approved; and an attorney for the Richmond Times, who wanted to make sure that the hearings were not closed to the press and public. This last matter was quickly dealt with when Schweitzer conceded that all hearings should be in open court and that no court documents should be sealed. There seemed little more to do, and Judge Swett instructed Schweitzer and Murray to get together and draft an order which he could sign. The case, apparently, was concluded; the tissue would soon be available to Dr. Gill.
“Is there anything else the court should know before we move on?” Judge Swett asked.
“Well, Your Honor, there are some other people here who want to be heard because they think they have an interest in this,” replied Matthew Murray.
At this point, a young woman with brown hair pulled back in a ponytail stood up in the back of the room. She introduced herself as Lindsey Crawford, an attorney in the Washington, D.C., office of Andrews & Kurth, where Thomas Kline also worked. “Your Honor, we have a client who wishes and deserves to be heard,” she said. “I have just heard from Prince Nicholas Romanov, the head of the Romanov Family Association, whom most living Romanovs accept as the legitimate pretender to the throne. He has just literally this morning asked me to come and investigate what’s going on here and what effect, if any, this could have on his family.” She asked Judge Swett to hold up proceedings to give her time “to protect his interest and that of the Romanov family.” Crawford added that her firm also represented another client with an interest in the Anastasia Manahan tissue. This was a New York corporation called the Russian Nobility Association.
“Do you have a petition to file?” asked Judge Swett.
“No, we don’t, Your Honor, because our client spoke to me only this morning.”
Richard Schweitzer, recognizing the name Andrews & Kurth, objected to any delay. “The real client of this law firm,” he told the court, “is not any member of the Romanov family or the Russian Nobility Association. It is a Mr. Korte.” Schweitzer pulled out a copy of the letter Thomas Kline had written in June to James Lovell in which Kline described the work of Willi Korte. “This firm, Andrews & Kurth, has been representing Mr. Korte for months before this hearing date,” Schweitzer told the judge. “They have been trying to get hold of this tissue for Mr. Korte’s purposes and to prevent others from getting access.”
For several minutes, Judge Swett pondered. Then he told Crawford that he would hold things up for three days so that she could file a petition. Penny Jenkins, sitting near Lindsey Crawford in the courtroom, heard her say in disbelief, “There’s no way we can do this in three days.” Jenkins also noticed a tall, curly-haired man probably nearing forty, with a sharp nose, sitting next to Crawford. He wore no necktie, had sandals on his feet, and was carrying a backpack. Jenkins realized—“I don’t know how. I just knew,” she said later—that this was Willi Korte. Before the hearing was over, Korte rose and quickly left the courtroom.
Looking back after the case was settled, Richard Schweitzer hypothesized what had happened up to this point: “Andrews & Kurth wanted to block Marina’s access to the tissue and gain exclusive control for their real client. I believed then that this client was Willi Korte. He had worked on acquiring the tissue for months, but, once he had failed with the Manahans and Jimmy Lovell, he didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t come into court in Virginia on his own because he had no standing. He needed a client who would be permitted as an intervenor in our lawsuit. So he and his colleagues in Europe went swinging through the world looking for a client—or a couple of clients. They came up with Nicholas Romanov and the Russian Nobility Association.”
In Europe, one of Korte’s co-workers, Maurice Philip Remy, was trying to involve the Romanov princes in blocking the Schweitzers. Prince Nicholas, who lived in Rome, telephoned his cousin Prince Rostislav, who lived in London, and said he was being pressured to become involved in the Virginia case. Rostislav telephoned New York and Prince Alexis Scherbatow, the president of the Russian Nobility Association, whom he didn’t know, to ask what was going on. Rostislav and Scherbatow spoke for half an hour, and then Rostislav telephoned a London friend, Michael Thornton. “When Rosti got off the phone with Scherbatow,” Thornton said, “he called me and said, Jesus Christ! What is wrong with that man?’ Then he started telling me all the things Scherbatow had said: Schweitzer was a crook … he had a very dubious background … there were things about him that, if we knew, would make our hair curl.… They saw this as a sinister conspiracy to have the claimant recognized as genuine.” Scherbatow also had told Rostislav that Anna Anderson’s tissue must not be tested in England. “The only place it could be properly done,” Scherbatow had said, “was in California by a Dr. Mary-Claire King.”
Thornton’s reaction to Rostislav was “This is all rubbish! For God’s sake, fax Nicholas and tell him to leave this thing in Charlottesville alone. It will be chaos.” Thornton himself then wrote a letter to Rostislav, which Rostislav faxed to Nicholas, saying that it would be a disaster for the Romanovs to become involved with the case. “I said they would be very badly criticized, having rejected Anna Anderson all her life, if they now started to claim parts of her body after her death,” Thornton recounted. “The media would crucify them. Furthermore, I said, it would represent a shift in the long-held policy of the Romanov family, which was that she wasn’t genuine. If you now start claiming parts of her body, it’s going to make everyone think that you’ve made a mistake. The best thing is to stay out.”
Michael Thornton’s message had effect. Prince Nicholas Romanov immediately withdrew as a potential client of Andrews & Kurth, and there was no mention of him or of any Romanov in subsequent court documents.
On Thursday, November 4, Lindsey Crawford was ready as instructed by Judge Swett to submit her petition to intervene. The document named only a single client, the Russian Nobility Association. Crawford had signed the petition, along with Thomas Kline of her law firm, and Page Williams, a Charlottesville attorney hired as local counsel. In the petition, the association represented itself as “an historic [sic] and philanthropic organization whose purpose is to protect the authenticity of the line of the Imperial family of Russia and the events prior to 1917 in Russia.” The association challenged the fitness of Marina Schweitzer to petition for the tissue, saying that she was not related by blood to either “Anastasia Romanov [the daughter of the tsar] or Anastasia Anderson [the claimant].” It denied that identifying the tissue samples in Martha Jefferson Hospital would be helpful in verifying Dr. Botkin’s remains. It agreed that mitochondrial DNA testing might be useful in determining the true identity of Anastasia Manahan but went on to say that “it is essential that any tests conducted on the tissue samples be of the highest scientific integrity which cannot be achieved in the manner requested by Schweitzer” (that is, in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Gill).
In a memorandum attached to the petition, the Russian Nobility Association heaped further calumny on Dr. Gill: his laboratory was said to represent “second-best scientific testing,” and his samples were said to have been possibly “contaminated.” Finally, the association argued (inaccurately, it turned out), “There is no scientific evidence that the tissue samples can be split so that parallel testing could be conducted at two laboratories.” The Russian Nobility Association’s argument was that if the court awarded the tissue to Gill, it would be throwing away any chance of proving the claimant’s identity. The only solution, it urged, was for the tissue to be sent to its nominee, “the foremost genetics scientist in the United States,” Dr. Mary-Claire King at Berkeley.
Attached to the Russian Nobility Association’s petition were affidavits from Prince Alexis Scherbatow, the organization’s president, and Dr. William Maples. Scherbatow’s affidavit mostly parroted the petition. What was significant was that the scientific statements and recommendations in all three of these documents—the Russian Nobility Association petition, its memorandum, and the affidavit of Prince Scherbatow—rested on the affidavit of Dr. Maples. Maples’ statement praised Dr. King and denigrated Dr. Gill. It said that Gill’s finding of 98.5 percent certainty that the Ekaterinburg remains belonged to the Romanovs was “not scientifically significant.” It referred to the heteroplasmy Gill and his colleagues had discovered in Nicholas II’s DNA as “more likely the result of contaminated samples.” It attempted to frighten the court that there would not be enough to go around: “If any blood or tissue samples from Anastasia Manahan are used in mtDNA testing, they are likely to be completely consumed in the process.… Therefore, it is unlikely that there would be sufficient genetic material for the sample to be split and tested by two different laboratories.”
The Russian Nobility Association is an assemblage of descendants of the aristocratic families which once helped to rule Imperial Russia. In the 1990s, it is made up of perhaps one hundred dues-paying members, most of whom are children and grandchildren of men and women who emigrated from Russia at the time of the revolution. If they still lived in Russia under a tsar, many of these people would be called prince and princess, or count and countess. In America, they wear their honorifics only at charity events, hoping to add a little glitter and thus attract Americans impressed by titles. The organization’s primary source of income is a ball every May, which helps to pay the rent on a second-floor apartment on First Avenue where the association’s library of crumbling Russian genealogical books is housed. The rest is doled out to children, needy old people, and the sick.
No one in the world at this time is more expert at tracing the bloodlines of the Russian aristocracy than the president of the Russian Nobility Association, eighty-four-year-old Alexis Scherbatow Scherbatow has lived his life as an emigre. His family lost everything except their lives in the revolution. They moved to Bulgaria; he lived in Italy, graduated from the University of Brussels, came to the United States in 1938, and, during World War II, was a sergeant in the U.S. Army. After the war, he taught history at Fairleigh Dickinson College in New Jersey and translated documents in Russian and Latin for other historians and writers. His views are typical of many Russians of his generation: he hates Communism, is suspicious of post-Communist Russia, and despises England (“They are a bunch of liars in England”). He never accepted Anna Anderson’s claim to be Anastasia. As an argument he cites the fact that he personally saw the grand duchess in 1916, when he was five years old.
Richard Schweitzer responded to the Russian Nobility Association’s intrusion into his wife’s lawsuit by saying that “the issue was not one of the comparative merits of respective scientific facilities. The real issue is whether or not the Russian Nobility Association has any standing whatsoever to participate in any way in selection of a scientific facility. There is no evidence before the court of any such standing.” He pointed out that the association had not filed a certificate of its officers or certified resolution of its directors or trustees consenting to the Charlottesville court taking jurisdiction over its activities in these proceedings. Privately, Schweitzer believed that the officers and membership of the Russian Nobility Association had no idea what was going on. He also was convinced that somebody else was paying the association’s legal bills.*
Schweitzer launched a barrage of documents. He said that he never sought exclusive authority from the court for access to the tissue. He doubted that there was any danger of serious erosion to the tissue samples; he had been told that scientists needed only the tiniest slice, 24/10,000 of an inch thick, from each of the one-inch preserved units. On November 16, he told the court that he would not oppose tests by Dr. King at Berkeley; he would only oppose testing exclusively by Dr. King. On another tack, he said that the Russian Nobility Association should not be given standing in the case because Anastasia Manahan never claimed membership in the Russian nobility; she had always said that she was a member of the Russian Imperial family. Privately, both Schweitzers were contemptuous of Alexis Scherbatow for signing himself “Prince” in his sworn affidavit. “When he became an American citizen, he swore to give up foreign titles,” Schweitzer said. “I find it hard to accept the oath of one who claims a foreign title in an affidavit under oath, if that same person has, on naturalization, forsworn all foreign titles and allegiances. Either one oath or the other has dubious validity.” Schweitzer also poured scorn on William Maples: “Maples’ affidavit is not a credible basis [for selecting a laboratory to do the testing],” he told the court. “He has categorically asserted on public television that Grand Duchess Anastasia could not have survived. He is not a disinterested scientist. Maples is an anthropologist, not a geneticist. He states no expertise qualifying him to set criteria for genetic work.”
Richard Schweitzer was not the only one immediately critical of Dr. Maples’ affidavit. When Mary-Claire King read the affidavit a few days after it was filed, she too was upset. On November 19, she telephoned Peter Gill in England, disassociated herself from Maples’ remarks about Gill’s incompetence, and told him that she would be pleased to work in collaboration with him on the Anastasia Manahan tissue. Later that day, she spoke by telephone with Marina and Richard Schweitzer. By fax that day to King, Schweitzer attempted to spell out his and his wife’s position: they were issuing a privately funded commission to Dr. Gill with no control: “no strings, no spin.” Gill’s report, whatever its conclusions about Mrs. Manahan’s claim to be Anastasia, would go directly to the court and the hospital, not to the Schweitzers. As for a role for Dr. King, Schweitzer told her, “It is not our wish to exclude you from participation with Peter Gill in what should be a purely scientific, totally disinterested series of procedures and conclusions.” Indeed, Schweitzer offered to include King in his own petition to the court. “Unfortunately,” he told her, “your name has been brought into court by a New York genealogical society which has attempted to have the court prevent access sought by us for Dr. Gill. In our view, this is really a law firm action by Andrews & Kurth on behalf of undisclosed parties which have been in the background since March or April 1993.”
During their conversation, King asked Schweitzer to speak to Lindsey Crawford to see whether there was a way that she and Dr. Gill could work in collaboration or, at least, in parallel. The following day, Schweitzer passed this message to Crawford, proposing that Dr. King be included in his wife’s petition and that Andrews & Kurth withdraw from the case. For two weeks, Schweitzer heard nothing; then, on December 4, he learned that Andrews & Kurth had no intention of withdrawing; on December 6, he was told that Thomas Kline was complaining that Schweitzer was interfering with “his” expert. Schweitzer immediately telephoned Kline, who backed down and admitted that Dr. King did not belong to him and that Schweitzer’s contacts with her were entirely proper.
Subsequently, however, Crawford wrote to Schweitzer asking for copies of “all six of the facsimile transmissions to Dr. King.” A week later, Crawford wrote again, sternly demanding that the six fax transmissions be sent to her “upon receipt of this letter. This incident,” she continued, “emphasizes the need to centralize through me all communications concerning or in any way related to the Proceeding.” Schweitzer sent copies of his faxes to Judge Swett but never to Lindsey Crawford.
Meanwhile, Mary-Claire King was putting her own views in writing. On December 7, 1993, she wrote and notarized an affidavit contradicting what Dr. Maples had said about Dr. Gill’s competence. Although her affidavit had been summoned by Andrews & Kurth and was written ostensibly in support of the Russian Nobility Association, King took a separate course. “I have been working for the past seven months on the identification of the skeletal remains of the nine individuals believed to include Tsar Nicholas II and members of his family,” she said. “I have also received blood and tissue samples from descendants of Tsar Nicholas and his wife, Alexandra.* I am in the process of preparing a report on my findings. I am familiar with DNA research into the remains from Ekaterinburg being conducted by Dr. Peter Gill. If there is sufficient mtDNA bearing material, it would be ideal to have two qualified laboratories carry out the mtDNA testing and compare their results. I have spoken with Dr. Gill and would like the opportunity to work collaboratively with him in the analysis of the samples.”
Because Dr. King’s affidavit overturned much of the scientific argumentation on which Andrews & Kurth had based its case, it was withheld by that law firm and not submitted to the court or read by opposing attorneys until three months later.
Meanwhile, the number of parties attempting to participate in Richard Schweitzer’s lawsuit was growing. On November 10, a fifty-six-year-old woman from Mullan, Idaho, Ellen Margarete Therese Adam Kalling, born in Germany on October 23, 1937, and still a German citizen, petitioned to intervene. She was, she swore, “the long-lost daughter” of Grand Duchess Anastasia and Prince Henry of Reuss. She said that in January 1993, only ten months before, she had changed her legal name to Anastasia Romanov. Her argument was “If Mrs. Manahan is proven to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov, then I, Anastasia Romanov, as her daughter, am a member of the Imperial family of Russia.” Therefore, she told the court, she alone had a right to her mother’s tissue, and she alone would decide whether, where, and by whom the tissue would be tested.
Mrs. Kailing-Romanov explained that her mother, later Mrs. Manahan, did not raise her because relatives believed that the grand duchess was incompetent after the murder of her family. Mrs. Kailing-Romanov said that she had been saved from a concentration camp and placed in a German family: “I was told in 1964 … that I was a princess.” She came to the United States in 1968, married an American, and had children. “The truth of my identity was kept from me until June 10, 1990,… [when] I was told that I was the daughter of Anastasia Romanov by Mother Alexandra, abbess of the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. When I did see the pictures in Peter Kurth’s book, I knew this was my story.… Actually, Lovell in his book gave me the right informations [sic],… Now the picture was compleat [sic] and fitting.… The last information came from the book of Edvard Radzinsky.”
To strengthen her case, Mrs. Kailing-Romanov contacted a Charlottesville company called Locators Inc., whose stationery promises “Missing Persons Located—Fast Action—Amazing Results.” The company’s finders fee contract stated that if it was determined that the claimant was entitled to share in the estate of Nicholas Romanov, Alexandra Romanov, and Anastasia Romanov, then Locators Inc. would receive 33 percent of the claimant’s share of the estate. Further, “in the event it is determined that claimant is a lawful heir of Tsar Nicholas II and this in turn results in establishing claimant in a position of governmental authority in Russia,” additional compensation would come in the form of payment of Russian government bonds issued in 1916, “together with accrued interest, as the first official act under claimant’s government.” Mrs. Kailing-Romanov decided that she did not trust Locators Inc. and did not sign the contract.
Subsequently, Mrs. Kailing-Romanov made other declarations to the court: “I am just overcoming arsenic poisoning. My income is below the poverty line.” She asked that all court dates be fixed in advance because “the petitioner does not fly, she only travels by train or by car. The petitioner lives in Idaho, more than 2,000 miles away, and it takes by train more than three days to get to Charlottesville, Virginia. The office of the Tsar is given by God over which the earthly has no power. I, Anastasia Romanov, have a son and he continues the line.”
To Richard Schweitzer, it seemed that the Russian Nobility Association and Mrs. Kailing-Romanov were turning his wife’s lawsuit into a circus. Declaring that Mrs. Kailing-Romanov’s pleading was “too incoherent to merit response,” he suggested the court determine “the competence of the petitioner to represent her own or any other interests” and asked for immediate denial of her petition to intervene. Again, as it had done with the Russian Nobility Association’s petition, Martha Jefferson Hospital, hoping to litigate the tissue matter only once, took the opposite course and asked that Mrs. Kailing-Romanov be admitted as an intervenor.
On December 7, to Richard Schweitzer’s dismay, Judge Swett announced that both the Russian Nobility Association and Mrs. Kailing-Romanov were permitted to intervene in the suit.
* In fact, as Schweitzer suspected, neither the members nor any of the other officers of the Russian Nobility Association were aware of their president’s action. Also, as Schweitzer suspected, the association was not paying its own legal bills. In November 1994, Alexis Scherbatow admitted that the eight months of lawsuits in which the Russian Nobility Association was the nominal client had cost his organization nothing: “Not a cent! Not a cent! Not a cent!” he chortled.
* Undoubtedly, King meant relatives of the tsar and his wife; all of their descendants were with them in the Ipatiev House cellar.
Lt. Col. Michael Goleniewski, the Polish CIA agent who claimed to be Tsarevich Alexis.
Eugenia Smith, the Chicago woman who said she was Grand Duchess Anastasia.
The woman who was later called Anna Anderson in a Berlin hospital, 1925.
Anna Anderson married Dr. John Manahan and became Anastasia Manahan on December 22, 1968. She was seventy-two; he was forty-nine.
Richard and Marina Schweitzer.
Prime Alexis Scherbatow.
Charlottesville, June 21, 1994: Dr. Peter Gill (with glasses) puts Anna Anderson’s tissue sample into a bag for transport to England. He is assisted by technician Betty Eppard. Dr. R. Hunt Macmillan, the hospital pathologist, observes.
Ed Deets (left) and Matthew Murray watch Dr. Gill at work.
The seven Romanov princes in Paris, 1992. Left to right: Nicholas, Dimitri, Michael, Alexander, Andrew, Rostislav, Nikita.
Grand Duke Vladimir, pretender to the Russian throne, 1938–1992, and his wife, Grand Duchess Leonida, in Madrid.
Grand Duchess Maria, the current pretender, and her son, Grand Duke George.
Prince Nicholas Romanov.