Deadliest Medical Professionals and Quacks in History
Medical practitioners are considered to be among the noblest and most beneficial of all professionals, with the exception of a few who lurked in the shadows, such as the mysterious Jack the Ripper, who was never identified but still believed to have been a medical doctor. History treats most doctors kindly, even those whose practice, by modern-day terms, seems rather barbaric and extreme. Take Robert Liston, whose speed in amputations made him one of the most sought after surgeons during a time when anesthesia had yet to be invented. He was so quick with his saw, however, that in one instance, he sawed off the finger of an assistant, and cut into a spectator while performing an amputation. All three victims died; two of infection and the spectator from shock, but he was still well-loved. Modern forensics, however, tell us a different story. There were just some medical professionals who forgot the meaning of the Hippocratic Oath.
1. Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death
Proven victims: Over 1,000
As the leading physician for the Nazi experiments conducted during WWII, there is no way of verifying the exact number of victims who died by his hand, but the indirect number is over a million. He was responsible for the gas chambers and crematorium. Seven hundred fifty women in one prison block who were infested with lice were treated by deadly gas. He was especially fascinated with twins, however. His experiments involved sewing gypsy twins together to see if he could create Siamese twins and adding chemicals to their eyes in an attempt to change their eye color. He also ordered fourteen pairs of gypsy twins to his operating table, where he injected them with chloroform directly into the heart, killing them instantly, then began to dissect them, taking note of each body part. He was never captured after the war but is believed to have died in the 1980s. A DNA test taken in 1992 on some remains in WestGermany, confirmed his death.
2. Shiro Ishii, the Father of Germ Warfare
Proven victims: 500 t0 600
For forty years following WWII, Japan was able to keep its own dark secret; the development of biological weapons. Unit 731 was the laboratory of Shiro Ishii, a specialist in microbiology, focused his preliminary work on three contagious diseases; anthrax, glanders, and plague. Victims were kept well fed and healthy during his experiments while he drew 500 cc’s of blood each day to measure the disease’s progress. Once they had become too weak for further use, they became “logs” for one of the three blazing furnaces. Although many of his experiments also included the effects of frostbite, injecting horse urine into the prisoner’s bloodstream, and slow electrocution, his research was considered valuable, landing him over 200 biological patents as a result of his findings. Biological weapons were never mentioned during the warfare crime trials and Ishii died a free man in 1959.
3. Harold Shipman; Doctor Death
Proven victims: 218
Times of war bring out the cruelties in man, but times of peace cultivate the silent killer. Dr.Harold Shipman seemed a mild sort of man with a pleasant bedside manner, but over the course of the years as a practitioner for elderly care, the fatality rate for his patients became disturbingly higher than that of his colleagues. As they were elderly, however, not much thought was put into it until a rather lively and active 81-year-old woman died suddenly in his care. The woman’s daughter became suspicious when she noticed her mother’s will had been altered in the favor of Shipman and demanded an inquiry. It was proven Kathleen Grundy had not died of a heart attack as the good doctor had claimed, but of an overdose of diamorphine. This reopened an investigation that had been closed six months earlier through lack of evidence, and oddly enough, it was the lack of evidence that caused his downfall, and that was the disproportionately large number of patients for which he had co-signed certificates for cremation. Although he was convicted of fifteen counts of murder, he was credited with 218, and possibly many more in his thirty-year career. Apart from the one time he tried to acquire material benefits from death, no other motive could be drawn other than he simply liked to kill. His last murder was the taking of his own life.
4. Hu Wanlin, the Deadly Alternative
Proven victims: 146
Practicing alternative medicine might be a good way to become a serial killer. Without anything more than a basic education, Hu Wanlin decided to set up shop as a medical practitioner while still in prison serving time for homicide, swindling and human trafficking. Upon his release, he set up two hospitals where he treated people through a Chinese traditional method called qigong, a type of faith healing where the healing powers flow from practitioner to the patient with no contact involved. He could have stopped there, but he had also concocted his own herbal remedy that included large quantities of sodium sulfate, which made it more lethal than curative. Credited with 146 deaths and possibly more, he was sentenced back to prison for illegally practicing medicine. Apparently, he’s still trying to perfect his herbal cure. A young college student recently died after drinking Hu Wanlin’s deadly soup.
5. Walter Freeman, the Lobotomy Salesman
Proven victims: 103
Becoming a serial killer wasn’t exactly what Dr. Walter Freeman had in mind when he began practicing and advocating lobotomies for the mentally ill. In fact, he believed he was doing a great service by opening up the skull and severing the frontal lobe from the thalamus the seat of human emotion. Never mind that by his own count, only fifty-three percent of the operations were even mildly successful. One of his famous patients was John F. Kennedy’s sister, Rosemary, who then proceeded to need full-time care for the remainder sixty-four years of her life. Beginning with American veterans, he enthusiastically performed lobotomies on nearly 3,500 patients, with a three percent death rate. That equals 103 physically healthy people who were simply having a hard time getting it together mentally and another 1,500 zombies. His youngest patient was four years old. He thought lobotomies were so wonderful, he even encouraged psychiatrists untrained in surgical methods, to perform lobotomies by driving ice pick-like tools through the patient’s eyes. It wasn’t until the 1960s and the advent of antipsychotic drugs that people began losing their fascination with Dr. Freeman’s lobotomy horrorshow.
6. Harry Howard Holmes of Murder Castle
It’s the kind of tale to beat out all horror stories. Harry Howard Holmes, born Herman WebsterMudget, was so fascinated with surgery, he began his career by practicing on animals. While a medical student at the University of Michigan, he stole corpses to falsify insurance claims. Losing his interest in the already dead, he took over a three-story pharmacy in Chicago, Illinois after the owner mysteriously disappeared. There, he created an elaborate maze of small rooms with secret passages and chambers for torturing his victims. There were also trapdoors and chutes for easy disposal in the basement’s kiln. Some of the rooms were gas chambers for asphyxiating his victims. Swindle then kill was one of his favorite occupations. He had a long resume of fiances who disappeared after their short engagement. To this day, some historians believe he was the elusive Jack the Ripper. The killing spree in London began when Holmes took a leave of absence from his macabre pharmaceutical cures and eyewitness accounts agreed the ripper bore a striking resemblance to Holmes. He was finally apprehended after inviting Benjamin Pietzel in on an insurance scam, then later killing him, along with three of the five Pietzel children. He confessed to 27 murders, but it is suspected there were as many as two hundred. He became the United States’ first official serial killer and was put to death by hanging in 1896.
7. Miyuki Ishikawa, the Baby Killing Midwife
Proven victims: 85
As the hospital director of the maternity ward at Kotobuki, Japan in the 1940s, Miyuki Ishikawahad a lot of impoverished mothers on her hand who showed no signs of ability or willingness to take care of their newborn children. With no social service or charitable structure to lend support, her practical mind told her to simply neglect them. The horror of seeing so many infants starve to death caused many of the maternity staff to quit, but she did entail the assistance of a doctor, Shiro Nakayama, who falsified the death certificates. If it seems like Ishikawa was playing God, she was a materialistic one. She also attempted to solicit large sums of money from the bereaved parents, claiming it was far less than the cost of raising the children. Her activities were accidentally discovered by two policemen who found the remains of five infants. An autopsy confirmed they had not died of natural causes. An investigation uncovered 40 dead bodies in the house of a mortician and 30 more at a temple. A modest estimate of her murder by neglect places the death toll at 103, but it’s suspected there were a great many more. Ishikawa was charged with a crime of omission and spent four years in prison for her misdeeds.
8. Jane Toppan, the Nurse that Loved You to Death
Proven victims: 31
By her own confession, the better she liked you, the longer she prolonged your death. Apprehended in 1901, she willingly confessed to 31 murders, although it was suspected there were at least seventy more. Hiring out her services as a private nurse, she prolonged her patients’ care with carefully measured morphine injections. Once she grew tired of them, they were dismissed with an administrated overdose of her favorite poison. Only one known patient survived her care; her brother-in-law who she kept lingering between life and death before finally deciding she didn’t love him enough to send him to the grave. When confronted with her crimes, she told the court she felt no remorse and would kill more people if she could. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity and spent the rest of her life at the Taunton Insane Asylum in Taunton, Massachusetts.
9. Steven Massof, the Forceful Abortionist
Proven victims: 100+
With a love for performing abortions on second-trimester babies, Steven Massof was incarcerated in 2011 for eight counts of murder, one for a woman who died during an abortion and seven more for the murder of babies who survived the abortion procedure against all odds. He took his lead from Kermit Gosnell, his employer at the Gosnell Abortion Clinic, who he said, snipped the babies at the spine, resulting in decapitation. Massof told the court “it would rain fetuses, fetuses and blood all over the place.” After one employee testified she saw a baby moving in a toilet, and another that she definitely saw babies breathe and whimper before Massof snipped the spinal cord, he confessed to murdering over one hundred babies delivered live. He also confessed to holding women down who had changed their minds and did not want to complete the abortion process. Massof accepted a third-degree murder plea in exchange to providing testimony for Gosnell’s capital murder trial.
10. Waltraud Wagner, Elderly Care Solution
Proven victims: 49
Waltraud Wagner was entrusted to the care of the elderly, but if they got on her nerves, she dispensed with them quickly “to a free bed with the Lord”. After teaching three other nurse sideshow to use insulin and tranquilizers, she was finally apprehended and convicted of a seven-year killing spree at Vienna Lainz Hospital, Austria, that began in 1983 and ended in 1989. Wagner argued her murders were mercy killings of the very old and weak, although some of her methods were not very merciful. One of her methods involved holding the victim down, grabbing the tongue and forcing water into the lungs. Wagner received fifteen years for her crimes, but was set for release in 2008. Two of her accomplishes were convicted of attempted murder and manslaughter.
It seems that the best way to get away with becoming a serial killer is to practice in the medical field.