Autopsy finds killer died from blunt head trauma

Donald Harvey, a health care worker called the Angel of Death by the news media after he killed dozens of hospital patients under his care in the 1970s and '80s, died Thursday after he was attacked in his prison cell in Ohio.

Harvey was serving multiple life sentences at a prison in Toledo when he was attacked in his cell on Tuesday afternoon - he died two days later.

State Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Robert Sellers said Friday that no charges have been filed yet and investigators are continuing to interview witnesses.

Twenty-one of the people Harvey killed were patients at the former Drake Memorial Hospital in Cincinnati, where he worked from 1986 to 1987.

Many of Harvey's victims were elderly and infirm patients at hospitals in Cincinnati and London, Kentucky, where he worked as a nurse's aide, while others were ex-lovers and acquaintances, according to court records.

Harvey, who was 64, was serving 15 life sentences after agreeing to a plea deal in 1987 to avoid the death penalty.

Arthur Ney Jr., Former Hamilton County prosecutor, who prosecuted the cases in Cincinnati, said he did not think Harvey was a mercy killer.

It will probably never be known how many people Harvey killed.

He is believed to have killed as many as 87 people during his 18-year murder spree.

The ghoulishness of his killings - which he described as an act of benevolence and mercy that he provided to the sick and old people - drew global attention.

After calling in sick on the day of his scheduled test, Harvey was brought in by police for questioning and "confessed to having put cyanide in John Powell's G-tube", the report says.

FILE - In this November 2, 1987, file photo, convicted killer Donald Harvey, center, is led back to jail by Laurel County, Ky., Sheriff Floyd Brummett, left, and an unidentified deputy after pleading guilty to eight murder charges and one voluntary manslaughter charge in London, Ky.

He used arsenic and cyanide to poison a lot of them, often slipping it into food. "He killed because he liked to kill".

The authorities first learned of his killing spree nearly by accident when a doctor performing an autopsy on a recently deceased patient, John Powell, detected the telltale scent of cyanide in his stomach cavity. Others died when he let their oxygen tanks run out.

But numerous killings involved his favourite poisons, arsenic and cyanide, which he would administer in food, using injections, or through an IV. He had been hospitalized after a motorcycle accident.

His first parole hearing was due in 2043.

However, former OH prosecutor Arthur Ney Jr. told the court in 1987, "He killed because he liked to kill", according to the New York Times.

  • Salvatore Jensen