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The Wealthy Banker Who Was Arrested For His Obsession Of Pulling Out Women’s Teeth

In 1930, a society man’ life was ruined after it was discovered that he had been pulling women’s teeth to sate a dark obsession

Andrew Martin
3 min readFeb 13, 2024

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Being wealthy usually means that there is greater access to leisure and fun activities. Nevertheless, that doesn’t matter if someone has hobbies or proclivities that are darker in nature. That was the case with a well to do retired banker from Springfield, Missouri in 1930, who was arrested after it was found out that for years he had been pulling women’s teeth and offering other dental services to appease his obsession despite a lack of training, and in some cases, the consent of his unwitting patients.

On March 22, 1930, The Portland Press Herald carried the story of Elwyn Bentley, a 60-year-old retired former bank president, who was caught committing a very bizarre crime. It was determined that the bachelor, who was described as wealthy and handsome, had been practicing dentistry on the sly over the past decade, treating only women. This was despite having no training or license to do such work.

Bentley, who came from a prominent local family, saw his house of cards tumble down quickly after he was accused of impropriety by 25-year-old Mildred Rankin. She claimed that she had gone to the older gentleman to have her teeth cleaned and was shocked when he ended up removing three of them instead. The incident had actually occurred two years prior, but she was able to get him arrested after encountering him on the street in St. Louis and recognizing him as the dentists from her nightmare experience.

Detained for practicing dentistry without a license and simple assault, Bentley admitted to authorities that he had been working on women’s teeth for years as his favorite hobby. Although he was not equipped with an office, he confessed that he had worked on the teeth of approximately 200 women across multiple states during that time, never charging anything for his services.

When the banker was arrested, a large dental kit and 36 freshly pulled teeth were discovered in the posh hotel room where he was staying. After allowing that he knew he should stop what he was doing because many of his patients had not appreciated his handiwork, he allowed, “I guess I get a thrill out of it.”

The story took a dark turn just a week later. Stewing over his arrest and the shame it was bringing him and his family, Bentley shot himself to death while sitting in a bathtub at his home. His brother discovered his body, and he was buried in a simple grave.

In death, Bentley was remembered for his sweet and temperate personality. However, his obsession with teeth — specifically those that belonged to women, proved to be his undoing. Having been educated at Cornell before taking over the bank founded by his father, most people believed he had the world in the palm of his hand. To the contrary, his dark hobby eventually led to his downfall and the sudden end of his life.

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Andrew Martin

Dabbler in history, investing & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about history, diversity, culture, sports, investing and crypto.