Everyone who worked with Dr. Donald Harvey thought there was something strange about him…
Yet, Donald’s coworkers, couldn’t put their finger around the eeriness that surrounded Donald. This would all change, however, when a police officer noticed a discrepancy in the information Donald provided about a patient, versus what actually happened. The truth would soon be exposed…
Who is Donald Harvey?
Donald Harvey was born in Hamilton, Ohio, on April 15, 1952. He grew up in a poor family, and they moved to a tiny town in Appalachia. According to a psychiatrist who examined Harvey later in life, he was said to have been sexually abused by his relatives, and in the 9th grade, he dropped out of school.
Despite his difficult upbringing, Donald went on to work in the medical profession. At the age of 18, he began his career as an orderly at the Marymount Hospital in London, Kentucky. A few years later, Donald’s coworkers gave him a strange nickname. They started calling him the “Kiss of Death.” This was perhaps due to the fact that the number of patients who died while Donald was on duty was very high.
Donald even joked right back saying, “I got another one today,” implicating that another person had died. Many of these patients were old or in poor health, so their deaths did not raise any cause for concern. That would change, however, in 1987, when an autopsy of one of the men under Donald’s care revealed something suspicious.
A man named John Powell was hospitalized after a motorcycle accident, and Donald was his doctor. John, unfortunately, did not make it and an autopsy was conducted shortly after. While the pathologist was doing the autopsy, he smelled cyanide in John’s stomach and this raised some serious questions…
Cyanide is a poison and all fingers were pointing to Donald to have administered it. He was the last person who saw John, and there was no one else who could have done it. Donald was arrested for John’s murder in 1987 and he hired attorney Bill Whalen to represent him.
Coming To Her Son’s Defense
After his arrest, Harvey’s mother, Goldie McKinley said, “He’s still a good boy. He’s just terribly sick and needs a good doctor.” Goldie’s statement basically confirmed her son was responsible for the death of John Powell. But, would Donald admit it?
While huge questions remained, Donald awaited trial, while the media went wild. One local television news reporter reached out to Donald’s attorney telling him the station was going to broadcast a story saying Donald was responsible for other deaths. This opened a can of worms and Whalen wondered how many other deaths his client was responsible for!
The Truth Shall Set You Free?
Whalen then asked Donald straight out, “Did you kill anybody else?” and he couldn’t have prepared himself for what Donald would say. While in custody at the Hamilton County Jail, Donald told Whalen that he could only estimate how many people he killed. Whalen said, “When I heard him say the word ‘estimate’ I knew I was in trouble.”
The conversation went deeper and deeper, and soon Donald confessed to killing another hospital patient that same day he killed John. Then, he shared the even more horrifying news that he killed another 8 people shortly after. Whalen couldn’t believe what he was hearing…
No Big Deal
Donald went on to describe the details of the killings to Whalen very casually, the same way he would tell you that he had gone out to get a sandwich for lunch. When Whalen asked why he was killing his patients, Donald told him his mass killing spree all started by “accident.”
It Was All An Accident?
Donald said his first patient died accidentally after he hooked him up to a nearly empty oxygen tank. His killings after that became deliberate and methodical. He actually started to like it, and Donald claimed he was helping people. He believed he was providing mercy to sick and old people. But, Ohio prosecutor, Arthur Ney, who handled Donald’s case saw things differently.
No One Was Buying It
“He killed because he liked to kill,” Ney said. Although, Donald denied these statements insisting that he killed purely out of a sense of empathy for the sufferings of those who were terminally ill. Yet, he did admit that many of the killings he committed were due to anger at the victim…
How Did Donald Do It?
As far as how he killed his patients, Donald admitted to poisoning them with substances like cyanide, rat poison, petroleum distillate and arsenic. He mixed these deadly substances into beverages or freshly baked foods like apple pie so his victims wouldn’t know. He also admitted to suffocating patients in their own hospital beds, either with pillows or by oxygen tanks he refused to refill. But, Donald didn’t just limit his victims to helpless hospital patients…
When he suspected his lover and roommate Carl Hoeweler was unfaithful, he poisoned his food with arsenic so he would be too sick to leave their apartment. Shortly after that, Donald killed Carl’s father Henry with arsenic! Then he poisoned two of his neighbors- sickening one by putting hepatitis serum in her drink and killing the other by putting arsenic in her pie. Donald’s killings were endless, but how did they go unnoticed?
How Donald Got Away With It
As far as Donald’s hospital patients, he said he was able to kill so many people so discreetly because the most of the doctors in the hospitals were overworked. They were so busy that a patient could die and the family doctor would not come in and pronounce the person dead. They’d have a resident pronounce the patient dead and send him straight to his funeral home. This terrible system made most of the doctors unaware of what was actually going on…
He Made Them Suffer
Besides poisoning or suffocating his patients, Donald administered fluid tainted with hepatitis B and/or HIV to them, which resulted in a hepatitis infection, but no HIV infection. This caused his victims to become very ill rather than die. Eventually, Donald took their lives, but not before making them suffer…
When the WCPO-TV report aired in June 1987, Harvey gave a 12-hour confession, telling detectives he kept a list of his victims behind the mirror in his home. Donald became an American serial killer and in 2003, he admitted to killing 87 people! Although, unfortunately, many of his claims never led to any charges.
Donald also showed no remorse for his actions. During his trial, he laughed when prosecutors displayed the names of his victims on a board. This infuriated every one of the families of Donald’s victims…
Donald wound up serving 28 sentences at the Toledo Correctional Institution in Toledo, Ohio, where he was admitted on October 26, 1987. He pled guilty to murder charges to avoid the death penalty, but death was still in his cards.
On March 28, 2017, Donald was found in his jail cell severely beaten. A fellow inmate is suspected of fatally beating this serial killer to death, although the accuracy of this is unknown.