The so-called “Angel of Death” killer was an inside man, a hospital employee and orderly whose access to unattended hospital patients and means to extinguish their lives proved fatal in double digits for American patients in the Midwest and Southeast. Donald Harvey started his criminal career simply by strangling patients too weak to struggle or using drugs to subdue them when nobody else was near. True to the nature of every serial killer, Harvey continued killing for little or no material gain, and even falsified job information for employment where he could kill again.
Born in Ohio in 1952, Harvey was part of a normal family. Growing up a ‘nice boy”, Donald Harvey won the praise and notice of teachers but not friends. Harvey was not happy to be a factory worker and when nuns noticed his adeptness around the building they suggested instead he train to be a medical orderly. At this time, many religious orders governed medical care in hospitals and medical wards. Harvey enjoyed an advantage to be trained without earning his vocation or showing moral turpitude before being considered for medical training. Soon Harvey would be charged with full care of patients on an unsupervised basis.
A homosexual man, this serial killer came by his moniker of murder because he always seemed to be around when death struck a patient. Yet to the inside atmosphere and world of the nurse or orderly, death was a constant enough attendant to the work life that few made connections until it was much too late for the victims. By using alternate methods in varying deaths converging with patient illnesses and symptoms, much of the initial activity of Donald Harvey passed relatively unnoticed. As medical equipment changed, Harvey disconnected ventilators and poisoned food. Despite discharges from hospitals, Harvey utilized a common trait among serial killers and obtained employment in the same field he would otherwise have been disqualified from.
Donald Harvey effected the deaths of many patients simply by reason of access and opportunity. Harvey may have claimed that his early victims were killed for “empathetic” reasons, but he would hardly have hidden his methods so carefully if such were the case. Like many serial killers, when the method of killing is carefully masked by conditions of reality and circumstance, they can continue to keep killing. Harvey cannot have planned such “empathy” in advance for all his patients without being a serial killer. Almost two decades of murders took place while Harvey quietly fulfilled his ghastly duties.
The young man traveling the corridors of the hospital, smiling at staff and greeting patients by name had another life. His stash of weapons, poisons, drugs, drug delivery equipment, and more accessories of death lay at home. The Angel of Death might come to work with a bag of “supplies” and a gun, and by the end of the day another death had been reported. Harvey fancied himself an occultist, vacillating around Death like a prizefighter. From about 1970 through 1987, Harvey delivered his patients to their greater reward on an ad-hoc basis. No program, stars or lust drove his schedule.
Harvey slept soundly and was not troubled by shame or guilt, he did not need to drink or get stoned to kill. Donald Harvey was termed the Angel of Death because the mortality rate of his patients swung higher every day he worked at the place. But Harvey did not limit his experiments with death to patients. His lover Carl Hoeweler got homemade poisons, and his parents died of mysterious poisonings. Harvey was caught one time leaving a hospital with a bag full of syringes, a gun, and other medical equipment.
Unlike some serial killers, Donald Harvey had a pleasant disposition that put people at ease. Yet Harvey was committed twice, with over 20 electroshock treatments. Donald Harvey might have kept on killing except for his gruesome insistence on an occult leaning and the untoward murder of Hoeweler’s parents. The locales of Cincinnati, California, and Kentucky in the 1970’s and 1980’s were well known for a while as the hunting grounds of the “Angel of Death”. Locals would never take their medical staff on face value again.
In all Donald Harvey claims to have murdered 87 people in all. Legal authorities believe his serial killing resulted in the deaths of between 36 and 57 people. He is currently incarcerated in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility serving four consecutive life sentences for his actions.
Article by Roy Whyte. Visit his Google+ page for more.