Donald Harvey, a serial killer and former hospital worker who haunted the halls of the sick during the 1970s and 1980s, was murdered in his Ohio prison cell by another inmate this past Thursday.
The 64-year-old was serving multiple life sentences for killing 37 people, most whom were ailing hospital patients. Known as the “Angel of Death,” Harvey has claimed that he killed far more than that, with his estimates going as high as roughly 70 people.
“He’s no mercy killer,” Arthur M. Ney Jr., the prosecutor in charge of Harvey’s case, said in court in 1987, according to The New York Times. “He killed because he liked to kill.”
During his trial, Harvey maintained that he murdered out of mercy and was doing his victims a courtesy. According to The New York Times, he showed zero remorse during the proceedings and even chuckled when presented with the names of his victims on a giant board.
“I felt what I was doing was right,” he told reporters in 1987, according to The New York Times. “I was putting people out of their misery. I hope if I’m ever sick and full of tubes or on a respirator, someone will come and end it.”
Harvey got away with committing such terrible deeds over so many years because “most of the doctors would be so overworked” that nobody noticed, he told CBS News in 2003.
“So busy, that a patient could die and the family doctor would not come in and pronounce the person dead,” Harvey said. “They’d have a resident do that. They just pronounce him dead and send him straight to his funeral home.”
Harvey used a variety of methods to murder his victims, including pillows, oxygen tanks deliberately left empty, rat poison, petroleum distillate, arsenic mixed into baked pies, and cyanide.
The latter is how Harvey got caught. A doctor performing a routine autopsy caught a whiff of cyanide from inside a murder victim’s stomach, and one thing led to another.