Category: Serial Killing
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Date: 1970 - 1987
Crime: Believing himself to be an 'Angel of Death', killed elderly patients at several different hospitals where he worked as an orderly. Currently serving consecutive life sentences for the murders of 36 patients by poisoning, suffocation and tainted injections of Hepatitis, he claims to have killed at least 87 victims.
Biography: Donald Harvey was born into a loving family in Ohio in 1952, later moving to a small community in Kentucky. Adults described the young Harvey as a happy child, sociable and well-liked by other children. Contrarily, former classmates described him as a loner and a teachers pet. He ended up dropping out of high school and for unknown reasons moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1970, he went back to Kentucky to visit his dying grandfather in the hospital. It is believed that this was the trigger for his future crimes. He spent so much time at the hospital, the nuns who worked there asked him if he wanted to stay on as an orderly. His job required him to spend countless hours, alone with his patients and it is unclear what exactly caused him to snap. Three months after starting his new career in the hospital, he committed his first murder, smothering a stroke victim. Three weeks later, he killed again, disconnecting an oxygen tank of an elderly woman. By the end of his first year, he had killed more than a dozen patients. The next several years, Harvey briefly served in the military, was discharged, and began bouncing from job to job. It is widely believed that during this time he was trying to find the right job where he could continue his killing. Finally, in 1975, he went to work at the Cincinnati V.A. Hospital. He was almost caught in 1985, when security guards searched his gym bag as he left the hospital. Inside he had a .38 pistol, syringes, and other drug paraphernalia. Instead of investigating him fully, they offered him the opportunity to resign quietly, with nothing ever added to his employment record. Several months later, Harvey went to work at Drake Hospital and resumed his routine. Finally, in 1987, after the death of a comatose patient, the coroner detected traces of cyanide and the subsequent investigation pointed to Donald Harvey. He eventually confessed to his killings.