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Dr. Harold Shipman and other murdering medics

Updated on July 31, 2012
Dr Harold Shipman
Dr Harold Shipman

Medics who murder

In this article you will read about some of the most prolific serial killers, all of whom were either doctors or medical staff.

Since the Greeks, the Hippocratic oath has been an oath sworn by doctors in which they promise to practise medicine ethically. An extract from, the original oath

“I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgement and never do harm to anyone. I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan”.

Why then are there so many instances of Doctors and Nurses who were killers and serial killers? Meet some of them in this article.


Dr Harold Shipman started his career as a General Practitioner within the National Health Service aged 28yrs in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. Before he had completed his first year of practice he was receiving treatment for pethidine addiction after he had been found forging prescriptions for his own use.

Shipman moved to Hyde in Cheshire and began to work in surgeries around the area, In 1993 he opened his own surgery in Hyde and was a popular local doctor.

By 1998 the local undertaker became suspicious of the large number of Dr Shipman’s patients’ that were dying, and the fact that they had all expressed a wish to be cremated. The undertaker Miss Massey thought that Shipman might be responsible for their deaths but malpractice rather than murder being the tool. The police decided that the case required No further action on 17th April 1998.

Shipman was re arrested on 7th September 1998 after killing another 3 people. His last victim was Kathleen Grundy a former mayor of Hyde. Shipman was the last person to see her alive and recorded her death as old age. Mrs Grundy’s daughter opened her mothers will and found that she had left her £386,000 estate to Dr Shipman. It is this information that precipitated the second involvement of the police.

Police investigated 16 deaths where Shipman had signed the death certificates and found a trail of forged medical notes and diamorphine usage. Shipman was sent to trial on the deaths of 16 women. Entering a “not guilty” plea to all counts the trial lasted from 05/10/1999 until 31/1/2000, when the jury found Shipman guilty on all counts and he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he should never be released. There is No death penalty in the United Kingdom.

Investigations indicated that a total of 459 people under his care died but the Shipman inquiry indicated that there was evidence to link him to about 250 deaths.

Rather than face a life in jail, Harold Shipman hanged himself in his cell on 13th January 2004.

Beverley Allitt
Beverley Allitt

Beverley Allitt

Beverly Allitt was a nurse, she worked in Granthan and Kesteven Hospital in Lincolnshire. No one at the hospital realised that she was an attention seeker who self harmed and kept changing her general practitioner so that her behaviours would not be noticed, or if they were ,not documented owing to the delay in the catch up of medical records.

Allitt’s reign of terror was short 21/2/1991 to 22/4/1991 but during that time she contributed to the deaths of 13 babies and young children. Despite patients making remarkable recoveries when transferred to other hospitals, Allitt was never questioned about how she had nursed each patient. Her main method of murder was to inject each patient with potassium chloride to cause cardiac arrest or with insulin to cause hypoglycaemia. . It was the death of Clare Peck that aroused the suspicions of colleagues. Clare was admitted to the ward with a suspected asthma attack. Clare was put on a ventilator and left with Allitt to nurse her. Within a short time Clare had a cardiac arrest, she was resuscitated and then left alone with Allitt again. Clare had a further cardiac arrest and died. Authorities became concerned about the number of deaths on the ward in such a short period and the police were called in. Investigators found that Allitt was the only member of staff involved with the care of all of the patients. Allitt was arrested in November 1991 and went on trial on 15th

February 1993 for four counts of murder, and further counts of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm with intent. and found guilty by jury on 23 May 1993, being sentenced to 13 concurrent life sentences with a recommendation from the judge that she serve at least 40 years, this was cut on appeal to 30years. Allitt is currently serving her sentence at Rampton secure hospital. Allitt never gave any explanation as to why she killed and tried to kill the children in her care.

The Lainz hospital where the deaths took place
The Lainz hospital where the deaths took place

Waltraud Wagner – The Lainz angels of death.

Beautiful Vienna contained the Lainz General Hospital where many of its patients were elderly and some suffering from terminal illnesses. Owing to this the hospital had a higher than average death rate, just the setting for a murderer to do his job undetected. What made this so unbelievable that there was not one murderer operating there, but a gang of four, who between 1983 and 1989 were responsible by their own admission for over 40 deaths.

Led by Waltrud Wagner the gang consisted of young women Maria Gruber and Berne Leidolf and a grandmother Stephanja Mayer. In the beginning Wagner was asked by an elderly lady to end her pain and suffering which Wagner did by giving her an overdose of morphine. She found that she enjoyed having power over life and death. She was responsible for recruiting the others and when on the night shift they planned who their next targets would be. Methods of killing were either by drug therapy or were a barbaric practice named as oral hygiene treatment. One of the nurses would hold the patient down whilst the other nurse poured water down their throat until they drowned, enduring an agonising death. On examination after death the method of killing was not detectable as although there was fluid on the lungs this is a condition that many of the elderly patients already suffered from.

Initially the gang concentrated on mercy killings, euthanasia as they saw it, to reduce the misery of the individual patients. As the killings became more frequent the sense of power became greater and they started to kill anyone they wanted to. ... perhaps a patient who had messed the bed, or been calling out in the middle of the night annoying the "angels".

It was this power trip that was the end for them. The women were caught when the went out drinking and were boasting to each other about what they did and how successful they were. They were overheard by a doctor who went to the police and they were subsequently arrested.

The women confessed to 49 murders with Wagner taking responsibility for 39 of them. Informal estimates amongst the gang were of 200 but at the trial Wagner insisted that she was responsible for 10 and that they were all mercy killings.

The gang were found guilty on 28 March 1991 after a month long trial. Wagner was convicted of 15 murders,17 counts of attempted murder and two counts of assault. She received a life sentence. Leidolf was convicted of five murders, receiving a life sentence. Gurber and Mayer were both jailed for 15 years for manslaughter and attempted murder.

The state attorney (prosecutor) said

“It’s a small step from killing of insolent, burdensome, patients, and from there to that which was known under the third reich as euthanasia. It is a door that must never be opened again”.

All these women have been released on parole and provided with new identities by the government.

Richard Angelo

Richard Angleo had a short reign of terror 16 September – 11 October 1987 but in that time at least four patients died.

Richard Angelo was a night shift Supervisor at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Long Island in New York. He worked in the intensive care unit with patients who were already very sick. Most of his patients were old and frail and had heart or breathing problems. Sudden deaths were not unexpected.

On 11th October, two patients died, and another feeling very ill managed to push the assistance button and got attention from a different nurse. He told the nurse that Richard Angelo had given him an injection telling him “I’m going to make you feel better”. Noting that there was nothing written on his medical charts the nurse took a urine sample and had it anlaysed. The urine contained Pavulon and Anectine drugs which had not been prescribed to the patient. These drugs caused numbness and breathing difficulties making communication with nurses impossible in most cases.

The nurse immediately reported the issue to the authorities who brought the police in. When they examined his locker they found a hypodermic syringe containing traces of Pavulon. Angelo was out of town attending a medical conference which gave the authorities plenty of time to investigate.

Records showed that there had been 37 emergencies during the six week period whilst Angelo was on duty and that as a result 25 patients had died. An excessive amount when compared to other periods and other shifts.

Psychaiatrists said that Angelos motivation was that he needed to be seen as a hero which was why he worked in an intensive care unit. In his taped confession, he said that his plan was to bring people as close to death as possible and then save their lives so that he would be greeted as a hero by his colleagues and by friends and family of the patient. Sometimes he misjudged the dose needed and they died, but this did not stop him.

Angelo was convicted of two counts of depraved indifference murder, one count of second-degree manslaughter, one count of criminally negligent homicide and six counts of assault. He was sentenced to 61years to life imprisonment.

Gerene Jones

Gerene Jones was a nurse in a paediatric intensive care unit at the Bexar County Medical Center Hospital in San Antonio, Texas.

Between May 1981 and December 1981 the death rate on the unit rose at an alarming rate. Twenty children died of cardiac arrests or of bleeding that staff just could not control. All these children were nursed by Gerene Jones who worked the evening shift from 3pm to 11pm. She joked with her colleagues that if the deaths did not stop she would be called the “Death nurse”.

An inquiry was instigated by the hospital into the amount of deaths. The panel was made up of doctors from the USA and Canada. All staff on the unit were interviewed. A colleague of Jones told the doctors that she suspected Jones of murdering the patients. This was met with surprise by the doctors and by the hospital authorities. The hospital kept the results of the enquiry private, motivated by the threat of possible lawsuits if parents found hat their children had died needlessly. Deciding to remove the problem from their hospital they persuaded both Jones and the colleague who had reported her, to resign! The true extent of Jones involvement will never be known as the hospital authorities destroyed their records to avoid the aforementioned litigation!

In August 1992 Jones got a job with the paediatric clinic in Kerrville, Texas. Several children under her care became very ill with breathing difficulties, but recovered and Jones attracted no attention from other medical staff. On 17th September 1982 a 14 month old baby, Chelsea McClellan was brought into the unit to have a measles and mumps injection. Jones inoculated the child, who immediately had a seizure and died of a cardiac arrest on her way to the peadeatric intensive care unit at San Antonio. Shortly after this several other children on the unit became ill, although they all recovered. The Doctor in charge of the unit sacked Jones and reported her to the authorities who convened a grand jury on 12/10/1982. A further grand jury was convened in Febuary 1983 to look into 47 suspicious deaths at the Bexar County Medical Center Hospital. The jury returned indictments against Jones in May and she was arrested and charged with murder after succinylcholine was found in Chelsea McClellan’s corpse.

Jones was found guilty of murdering Chelsea McClellan on 15 Febuary 1984 and was sentenced to 99 years imprisonment. A second trial in October 1984 saw Jones receive a further concurrent sentence of 60 years for administering drugs to a child.

Amazingly Gerene Jones will be eligible for automatic parole in 2017. This is because of a law in the state which allows prisoners to serve only one third of their sentences as a way of dealing with over crowding. She has applied for voluntary parole several times but each time has been turned down.


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    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Wow, I guess that was the real crux of the case, he was a normal family man and a much loved family doctor whom no one, not even those who worked in the surgery would suspect.

      How awful for those who died, their relatives and of course his family who were innocent; thank you for your comment it really brings this hub to life

    • Joy56 profile image

      Joy56 5 years ago

      can u believe my mum actually worked in Shipmans place. She worked for a different doctor in Hyde, but when the court case was on, they all had to take turns to go in there a day or so a week. My sister died and left a little girl..... We had to wait weeks for funeral, as they were digging up lots of graves, and funeral parlours were closed. The day it was declared he was guilty someone threw a stone in through the window, and it nearly hit my mum...... There was of course so many photographers around for months she had to sneak in through the sweet shop next door, and go in the back way. She was there the day, they found evidence on computer, and also all the trophies he had collected from his victims., were emptied out from his drawer before her very eyes..... otherwise she would not have believed it........

      My boys were in the same class as their boys at West Hill School Stalybridge. They were a much loved family

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Sunny Glitter- thanks for your visit, yes these people really are nuts.

    • Sunnyglitter profile image

      Sunnyglitter 6 years ago from Cyberspace

      OMG these people are nuts! Very interesting hub - bookmarked and voted up.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Fastfreta- thanks for your visit- especially whilst you are on your busy travels. Dont be worried, they are in the minority- just make sure your family are there!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 6 years ago from Southern California

      I've already been afraid of being hospitalized, but after reading this, I'm even more afraid. Whew, scary stuff. Very good attention to detail, CASE1WORKER. Voted up, awesome

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Happyboomernurse- thanks for visiting and leaving your kind comment. Yes, it is the responsibility of all health professionals to keep an eye out for any wrong doings. I think authorities hopefully now are a little more alert to the possibilites of danger from workers in the health service.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Great job of summarizing these terrible killings. As a nurse, I was horrified by the actions of these medical professionals, but it serves as a warning to all the good doctors and nurses that they need to be mindful of potential abuse by co-workers and that they are mandated (at least in America) to report their suspicions of abuse. Some of your cases did illustrate that alert co-workers could avert futher abuse and deaths although it was distressing to see that one "whistleblower" was pressured to resign from a hospital's employment along with the perpetrator and that the hospital chose to destroy records that showed culpability instead of alerting authorities, quote: "Deciding to remove the problem from their hospital they persuaded both Jones and the colleague who had reported her, to resign! The true extent of Jones involvement will never be known as the hospital authorities destroyed their records to avoid the aforementioned litigation!" That was the most shocking thing of all to me!

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      FloraBreenRobison- thanks for your comment- i have a draft on crippen as I am working from the old bailey records so it will be a little while and will be in some considerable depth!

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I see that you have written one on Palmer from a link where we rate this hub. Have you written one on Crippen?

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 6 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      A very good Hub. Interesting to read about all the medical killers and amazing to think that someone like that can kill. It goes to show that you can never tell.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      pegCole17- thanks for stopping by- strange and horrid- glad you found the hub interesting- thanks

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Very interesting article on these people. I had not read of any of them prior to this. Strange events and stranger actions.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      yes i have written a hub on Kervorkian too, but at least his patients actually wanted to die

    • Rob Hanlon profile image

      Rob Hanlon 6 years ago from Epicentre of everywhere

      Doctor Death has just died the other day, he was pro-active in helping patients to pass away.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      dePuy Pinnacle Recall- thanks for stoppin by- yes most are lovely but the odd one really stands out because their misdeeds are so massive

    • profile image

      DePuy Pinnacle Recall 6 years ago

      It's frightening to know that there are health care providers who are serial killers. I feel lucky enough that my doctors and nurses during my DePuy Pinnacle hip implant weren't sadistic. Thanks for sharing this hub.

    • ladyjojo profile image

      ladyjojo 7 years ago

      What you do not have to study???????? so just attend to people without knowing what operations/mediactions to give to them. Really crazy huh.

      Yes there are good ones but few the bad ones have wiped them off completely.

      What would possess the crazy ones above to kill patients it's a demon in the form of a doctor looking for lives/souls. So pathetic

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      ladyjojo- it must be said that there are also some very good doctors- however I was talking to a nigerian doctor and she was saying that they do not have to study again once they are qualified so that they do not keep up with any changes. All countries should have good well qualified doctors to work with people when they are sick- it is a basic requirement- and it should be free

    • ladyjojo profile image

      ladyjojo 7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this very very interesting hub i enjoyed reading it. It's informative.

      You know something a lot of the doctors buy their doctorate and they don't know one hoots about being a good doctor so they prescribe wrong medication .

      They also don't have any humanity about them it's like they are more concerned about getting rid of you without finding out your problem.

      In my country in Trinidad and Tobago we have a lot of them DON'T CARE forever killing babies or mothers after birth and the thing is they get off easy because the law here is just stupid and if you have money you pay your way out.

      No matter what you go to the doctors for in couva hospital they give you and injection and some cheap pain killers and send you off.

      So sad but it's reality. SICK, EVIL PEOPLE WE LIVE AMONGST

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 7 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      You know, i never thought of it that way. Perhaps that IS why i was so well liked by my patients. LOL.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      d.william- thanks for dropping by you must have been a popular nurse once word got around that no one died in your care

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 7 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Interesting article. I worked as a nurse most of my life. thank goodness i never had to deal with any people like these. And i am proud to say that i never had one patient who died while under my care. Just lucky i guess.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Minnetonka Twin- thanks for your comment- Since doing the research I have always viewed doctors as every one else- take one with caution

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 7 years ago from Minnesota

      Talk about your biggest fears coming true. How scary and sad for these unsuspecting patients. You had me totally gripped on this hub.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Schoolgirlforreal- pity this lost didn't distance themselves from the patients- dont dwell on the horrid actions of others just give thanks that you are not like them

      Denise Handlon - so you are a nurse?? guess you will be looking ascance at anyone behaving oddly in the future

      Carrie 450 something must have been odd within their childhood- i think they must think they are doing good for others

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      kinho39- thanks it is disgusting isn't it! thank goodness we think so and that this behaviour is viewed as so

    • carrie450 profile image

      carrie450 7 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

      Very interesting and captivating hub. I've often wondered what kind of childhood these people must have had. Voted up.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 7 years ago from North Carolina the most intriguing way. Great hub! (replies the, eh, eh)

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image

      schoolgirlforreal 7 years ago

      It is awful to hear of these terrible things. If I get upset at someone I try to make distance from them. My hub on talks a bit about this.

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 7 years ago

      interesting hub, case1worker. disgusting too. nice job presenting the facts on these cases.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Freya Cesare

      yes, it is frightening especially the Angesl who were set free.

    • Freya Cesare profile image

      Freya Cesare 7 years ago from Borneo Island, Indonesia

      HAROLD SHIPMAN : suspected already killed 250 victims?

      Beverley Allitt : Killed 13 people in 2 months and still they let her nursing in the hospital again during her prison times?

      The Angels are free? And why authority had to gave them new identity? Isn't it dangerous? How if they kill again?


    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Frightening isn't it!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Awesome Hub. Dr. Death aka Dr. Kevorkian was released in June of 2006 with the admonition he never be allowed to be around old or sick people again. He was housed just a mere 45 minutes from my home...

    • profile image

      kimberlyslyrics 7 years ago

      AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I'm so freaked out which does represent what a wonderful job you did on this hub, truly

      But thanks for tonight's nightmares!

      just kidding!



    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 7 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Unfortunatley there are many many more and there will have to be a part two!

    • theirishobserver. profile image

      theirishobserver. 7 years ago from Ireland

      This is a very interesting Hub - I would like to have read about more in the medical profession who committed such crimes - are there more - if you write more on this subject please let me know as I am facinated by the subject ....Irish

    • Rob Hanlon profile image

      Rob Hanlon 7 years ago from Epicentre of everywhere

      Best to visit the Doctor/Nurse when you are well, then you can act all surprised when they 'find' something wrong with you.

      The saying used to be 'An apple a day keeps the Doctor away' ... I don't see too many apples being consumed these days.

      Excellent Hub, plenty of content to ponder upon.


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