Donald Harvey (April 15, 1952 – March 30, 2017) was an American serial killer and orderly who claimed to have murdered 87 people, though official estimates are between 37 and 57 victims. Harvey said he started out killing to “ease the pain” of patients. As time progressed, he began to enjoy it more and more and became a self-described “angel of death”. Harvey was serving 28 life sentences at the Toledo Correctional Institution in Toledo, Ohio, having pleaded guilty to murder charges to avoid the death penalty.
Donald Harvey worked in and around the medical profession from the age of 18. He began his career as an orderly at the Marymount Hospital in London, Kentucky. He later confessed that during the ten-month period he worked at the hospital, he killed at least a dozen patients. Harvey was insistent that he killed purely out of a sense of empathy for the sufferings of those who were terminally ill. He also admitted that many of the killings he committed were due to anger at the victim. Harvey kept his crimes from coming to light for over 17 years.
The true extent of his crimes may never be known since so many were undetected for so long. Harvey used many methods to kill his victims, such as arsenic; cyanide; insulin; suffocation; miscellaneous poisons; morphine; turning off ventilators; administration of fluid tainted with hepatitis B and/or HIV (which resulted in a hepatitis infection, but no HIV infection, and illness rather than death); insertion of a coat hanger into a catheter, causing an abdominal puncture and subsequent peritonitis. Cyanide and arsenic were his most used methods, with Harvey administering them via food, injection, or IV. The majority of Harvey’s crimes took place at the Marymount Hospital (now St. Joseph’s – London) in London, Kentucky, the Cincinnati V.A. Medical Hospital, and Cincinnati’s Drake Memorial Hospital.
Harvey did not limit his victims to helpless hospital patients. When he suspected his lover and roommate Carl Hoeweler of infidelity, he poisoned Hoeweler’s food with arsenic so he would be too ill to leave their apartment. He poisoned two of his neighbors—sickening one, Diane Alexander, by putting hepatitis serum in her drink and killing the other, Helen Metzger, by putting arsenic in her pie. He also killed Hoeweler’s father Henry with arsenic.
Harvey was incarcerated in Toledo Correctional Institution, where he had been admitted on October 26, 1987. His first parole hearing was scheduled for April 2043. On March 28, 2017, authorities reported that Harvey had been found in his cell severely beaten. He died on March 30, 2017. His murderer is not known.