12 Criminally Insane Real-World Medical Professionals

At the foundation of the entire medical field lies the all-encompassing single premise: Do no harm. While there have been a number of medical professionals throughout history who have gone slightly against the grain with good intentions in order to achieve great discoveries, there have also been those who only sought to do harm. These individuals walked into hospitals with deadly intentions, often abusing and killing their patients. The motives of murder by a medical professional aren’t easy to comprehend, but these are history’s 12 most criminally insane real-world medical professionals.



Dr. Cecil Jacobson

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Cecil Jacobson showed promise in his career early on — given the odd nature of his studies. Working on a project involving cases of pregnant women who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, his research brought him to experimenting on baboons. He successfully impregnated a male baboon by implanting a female baboon’s egg into the ape’s abdominal cavity, and almost let it carry to term. Seems strange, but it was all for a good cause, right? Aside from enraging PETA, things really got out of hand about 30 years later when he was sentenced to five years in jail for malpractice. He was found guilty of various acts; falsely misleading patients to believe they were pregnant was just the start of it. One once occasion he went as far as inseminating a woman — who had a sterile husband — with his own sperm. He was officially the father of eight legitimate children, but through his crimes the estimated number is upwards of 75.



James Arthur Ray

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James Arthur Ray was one of the many Oprah-approved self-help gurus, but he took that particular pop-culture luxury a bit too far. He peddled a ritual of “cleansing” that was so ridiculous, it ended in several deaths. The grueling rituals stretched for days at a time, and included lengthy stays in sweat lodges — all while he raked in thousands of dollars per session. More than 20 customers suffered heat-related illnesses, but how did Ray react? Witnesses heard him tell customers that it was “a good day to die,” as he encouraged customers to keep pushing, despite profuse vomiting. In October 2009, three customers died during sessions, and in February 2010 he was finally charged with manslaughter, negligence, and fraud — but of course he’s pleading Not Guilty to all that.



Dr. Earl Bradley

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February 22, 2010: Pediatrician Earl Bradley is charged by Delaware officials with sexually abusing 103 patients over a 10 year period. Altogether, between child endangerment, assault, and rape, Bradley managed to rack up 471 felony counts. To add further insult to injury, he recorded most of the incidents on film — with one such video’s discovery leading to his arrest. Guess he should have found a better hiding place than in his office.



Dr. Harold “Frank” Shipman

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Dr. Harold “Frank” Shipman was, for a long time, considered a respected practitioner in his community — despite his arrogance. It wasn’t until 1998 that sufficient evidence was gathered to convict Shipman of murdering his patients. Suspicion arose when people started to notice an unusually high mortality rate, as well as cremation forms, among Shipman’s patients. It was discovered that he intentionally overdosed his patients — now victims — and would then sign their death certificates before forging their medical records to make everything appear normal. Shipman was initially found guilty of killing 15 patients by lethal injection of diamorphine, but it was later discovered that his victims numbered upwards of 250 — or more. Though he was sentenced to a full life term, Shipman committed suicide by hanging, in early January 2004. â€¨â€¨

Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard

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Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard was yet another snake-oil peddler who had a special “method” of cleansing, but she did her work back in 1907. Back then, it was hard to find someone who hadn’t been swayed by the latest and greatest medical “discoveries.” Hazzard set up shop in Seattle, Washington, and offered many variations on her published special method of forced starvation. She presented herself as the only licensed “fasting therapist” in the country, and lured in unsuspecting patients with promises of fantastic health benefits. As Hazzard’s methods caused her patients to grow weaker, she gradually convinced them to turn over their bank accounts and powers of attorney. Several died in her “care” as she became all the richer. In 1911, she finally targeted the wrong lady — a patient who managed to survive the “fasting” stood witness at Hazzard’s trial for murder. Unfortunately, she was only found guilty of manslaughter, and ended up serving a measly two years in prison.



Dr. Josef Mengele

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Noted German physician and SS Officer in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during World War II, Dr. Josef Mengele is probably history’s most notorious “Angel of Death.” Though he earned two doctorates by traditional means, Mengele chose to continue his studies on heredity by using the prisoners in the concentration camp as human guinea pigs. He showed a particular interest in studying twins, dwarfs and other physical abnormalities that the prisoners presented. Many of the tests Mengele conducted were unspeakably cruel, but included amputations, brutal “surgeries,” shock treatments, and outright killing pairs of twins to study their postmortem anatomy in depth. He escaped after the war, and was hunted as a war criminal for the rest of his life — but he evaded capture, living in Brazil until his death in 1979. It’s rumored that he continued his studies on twins — although in ways far more humane — while he resided in Brazil. The area in which he was known to live and visit has an abnormally high occurrence of blonde-haired, blue-eyes twins to this day. It cannot be explained.



Shiro Ishii

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Shiro Ishii was a Japanese microbiologist who was in charge of Biological Warfare Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Under the cover of “water-purification work,” Ishii began testing his germ warfare agents on prisoners of war and Chinese civilians. It’s estimated that tens of thousands died in his experiments, and that wasn’t even the worst of it. Ishii also conducted physiological experiments on humans that included impregnation by rape, often followed by forced abortions, STD infections by rape and injection, induced or simulated strokes, induced heart attacks, and finally, induced frostbite as well as hypothermia. All in the name of science.



The Re-Birthers

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Rebirthing is another term for attachment therapy, commonly used amongst foster or adoptive parents and caseworkers. It’s usually considered a controversial category of alternative child mental-health interventions used to treat attachment disorders suffered by adopted children. We say controversial, because it seems to spark a bit of interest any time it kills the patient — as there have been at least six documented cases of child fatalities. In 2000, a ten year-old girl died of asphyxiation when her rebirthing session went horribly wrong. The girl, Candace, was wrapped tightly in layers of blankets, and then forced to struggle — in order to be “reborn.” The child had to fight against the combined weight of her therapists and adopted mother — totaling almost 700 pounds. Candace couldn’t make it out of the suffocating blanket rolls, and died. Her “therapists” were only sentenced to 16 years in prison, and the rebirthing method was banned in Colorado after the incident.



Donald Harvey

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Self-professed “Angel of Death,” hospital orderly Donald Harvey went undetected for quite a while before his murders came to light. He claims to have murdered 87 people, though official estimates have only been able to put that number at around 36 to 57. Harvey used numerous methods to kill; including arsenic, cyanide, insulin, suffocation, miscellaneous lesser-known poisons, morphine, powering down ventilators, administration of fluid tainted with hepatitis B and/or HIV, and finally: Insertion of a coat hanger into a catheter, causing an abdominal puncture. Real angel, this guy. Despite some of the more creative methods employed, cyanide and arsenic were his favorites. He’s currently serving four life sentences for his heinous crimes.




Dr. Michael Swango

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Dr. Michael Swango’s issues were first discovered when he attended Southern Illinois University Medical School — he had a strange fascination with watching people die. He was nearly expelled from the school after faking several check-ups, but the university allowed him to graduate under condition that he repeat missed course work. He then managed to get a surgical internship at Ohio State University, despite the terrible recommendation he received. Nurses noticed that many healthy patients under his care were dying mysteriously, and he was eventually sentenced to five years in prison after sufficient evidence was brought against him. After serving his sentence, Swango was able to get a job at another hospital by falsifying records, and continued in his dangerous ways until he was caught a second time, and finally arraigned in 2000. Though he only confessed to three murders this time around, he is currently serving a life sentence — and the true extent of his evil will never be known.



Dr. H.H. Holmes

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Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, graduated from the Univerity of Michigan Medical School in 1884. His main hobby was stealing cadavers from the school laboratory to later disfigure and set up to fraudulently claim insurance money with — but it didn’t end there. Holmes built a three block-long “Castle,” as the neighborhood locals called it, where he began torturing, suffocating, raping and experimenting on his victims.  The best part? He often liked to dissect his victims, strip the flesh, and craft them into skeletal models, which he then sold to medical schools as legitimate study tools.



U.S. Public Health Service

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In 1972, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study became public. Over a period of 40 years — from 1932 until 1972 — the U.S. Public Health Service took 399 poor black sharecropper men, all of whom were infected with syphillis, and gave them various experimental treatments. This doesn’t seem too strange, until you get to the part where the government had the nerve to do all this in secret. They did not tell any of the men that they were infected. The human guinea pigs were simply told that they had “bad blood,” a general term used back then to describe several illnesses, including anemia, syphilis, and general fatigue. Although penicillin, used to treat syphilis, was discovered in 1947, that particular treatment was withheld from the men. So, what did were the Tuskegee scientists after? They wanted to study how the disease spread and killed the infected. They acted in the hopes that they could gather more data during autopsy that would show how blacks reacted differently than whites to syphilis. It wasn’t until 1997 — 25 years later — that the government formally apologized for their actions.