Donald Harvey – 1970-1987

By | January 3, 2017

“The next thing I knew, I’d smothered him”


Harvey looks over a list of his victims during an interview at Warren Correctional Institution in Lebanon, Ohio


Born at Butler County, Ohio on 15 April 1952, Donald Harvey was a hospital porter who called himself the “Angel of Death”. He claimed to have murdered 87 people, although official estimates put the tally at slightly more than 50.

In 1970 Harvey landed a job as a porter at the Marymount Hospital in London, Kentucky. During his ten-month employment he said that he killed a dozen people, some to alleviate their suffering and some because he was annoyed at them. One victim rubbed faeces into Harvey’s face so he murdered him. “The next thing I knew, I’d smothered him. It was the last straw. I just lost it. I went in to help the man and he wants to rub that in my face.”

His next murder was that of an old lady whose oxygen mask he disconnected. Over the next 17 years Harvey murdered people at whatever hospital he was working. He used different methodology to keep his actions secret, preferring to use cyanide and arsenic but not averse to overdoses of insulin and morphine, suffocation, turning off respirators, insertion of a coat hanger into a catheter and injecting liquids contaminated with hepatitis B or HIV. Harvey murdered at the Cincinnati Veterans’ Administration Medical Hospital and at Cincinnati’s Drake Memorial Hospital where he had several homosexual affairs.

On 31 March 1971 he was arrested for burglary while drunk and babbled out a confession but the police found no evidence to charge him with anything other than the theft and he was fined. He suffered from depression and, in July 1972, admitted himself to the mental ward of the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky. He was released on 17 October 1972.

He found a job at Cardinal Hill Hospital in Lexington and then another at Lexington’s Good Samaritan Hospital. He said that he resisted the urge to kill there but in September 1975 he returned to Cincinnati, Ohio and the killing began in earnest. He was undiscovered until March 1987 when patient John Powell died and an autopsy found that his death was due to cyanide poisoning. Donald Harvey confessed to 33 murders on 11 August 1987.


Cincinnati, Ohio; Kentucky, USA




On 19 August 1987 Harvey pleaded guilty to 24 murders and was sentenced to life for each killing and fined $270,000. On 7 September he was indicted in Kentucky and confessed to 12 murders. In November he received eight life terms plus 20 years. He is currently at the Warren Correctional Institution in Lebanon, Ohio.


Donald Harvey will not be eligible for parole until 2047 when he will be 95.

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