We've compiled a list of ten of the most demented and evil doctors in history for a taste of real-life spookiness. In positions of power these medical "professionals" were able to take advantage of their patients for their own twisted purposes, breaking the Hippocratic Oath and making them notorious for their heinous crimes.
Harry Howard Holmes
"H. H. Holmes" by Unknown - Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
Born under the name Herman Mudgett, Harry Howard Holmes was one of the first documented serial killers and was the first doctor to be hung in America in 1896. While attending medical school at the University of Michigan, Holmes stole and mutilated numerous cadavers from the university hospital. After disfiguring the bodies he would claim their death as an accident and collect insurance from policies he had created in the names of the deceased. Once he graduated from medical school, Holmes went on to purchase a hotel that he renovated into a giant torture chamber. After torturing his victims to death, their bodies would be dumped into the basement where Holmes would dissect them, strip them of flesh, and assemble their bones into model skeletons that he even sold to medical schools. His official body count is 27, but police admitted that there were so many dismembered and decomposing body parts in Holmes' basement that it was difficult to figure out how many victims actually died at his hand.
John Bodkin Adams
"John Bodkin Adams 1940s" by http://www.strangerinblood.co.uk/. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia
Though never actually convicted, John Bodkin Adams is widely believed to have killed at least 160 of his patients who died under suspicious circumstances while in his care. Of the 160 patients who died, 132 of them left money and valuables to Adams in their wills. Many of these wills were later found to be written by Adams himself, but by 1956 Adams was the wealthiest doctor in Britain due to all that he had fraudulently inherited from his patients. Police investigated Adams' practice after receiving a tip from a friend of one of his deceased patients. The investigation revealed that he would often give his patients a special injection of unspecified substances shortly before their deaths. Further indicating his guilt was the fact that he would order his nurses to leave the room before injecting the patients. Though Adams was acquitted of his murder charges, he was charged for fraud and stripped of his medical license. After 2 failed attempts, Adams got his medical license back and continued to practice medicine until he died of natural causes.
Michael Swango sitting at his trial.
Michael Swango is said to have murdered between 30-60 people during his career as a doctor. While attending medical school, Swango's classmates noticed his bizarre fascination with death and gore. In 1983 Swango became an intern at the university hospital at Ohio State University, when nurses he worked with began to notice the alarming rate at which his patients were unexpectedly dying. His colleagues also noticed that whenever Swango prepared coffee or shared food with the staff, many of them would become violently ill. After leaving a pitcher of iced tea alone in a room with Swango, his coworkers tested the iced tea and found it contained ant poison. Swango was convicted of poisoning his patients and colleagues, but after his 4-year sentence ended he went back to practicing medicine under an alias where he continued poisoning patients and paramedics he worked with. A second investigation began, and Swango fled to Zimbabwe to escape any criminal charges but was later arrested while trying to re-enter the United States and eventually plead guilty to murdering 3 patients. He is currently serving life in prison with no chance for parole.
Shiro Ishii by Masao Takezawa (Bulletin of Unit 731(an article not for sale)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
A microbiologist and surgeon, Shiro Ishii was an exceptional student who worked his way through the ranks at the Army Medical Hospital in Tokyo until he was promoted to Surgeon General of battalion unit 731 during the second Sino-Japanese War. Unit 731 was dedicated to bacterial warfare and during his time serving the Imperial Japanese Army, Ishii took human experimentation to a new level. Ishii tested his biological weapons on Chinese POWs and civilians alike, and he is said to have murdered tens of thousands of people with his inhumane experiments that created weapons to expose people to horrible diseases such as anthrax, cholera, and the bubonic plague. He also subjected victims of his sadistic experiments including vivisections, forced abortions, simulated strokes, heart attacks, and hypothermia. Ishii was arrested by the Allies at the end of WWII but was negotiated his freedom in return for giving the U.S. all information gained from his experiments.
Dr. Carl Clauberg
A lesser known Nazi doctor, Carl Clausberg was the Chief Doctor and a gynocology professor at the University of Königsberg before being approaching a Nazi general to conduct experiments in concentration camps. His experiments, which he carried out at the Auschwitz concentration camp, were focused on the mass sterilization of his patients with the goal of finding a cheap yet simple way to sterilize Jewish women. One of the ways he did this was by injecting a woman's uterus with acid or formaldehyde without any anesthesia - after which he would remove the damaged ovaries to be sent to Berlin for further testing. In some cases he would have his patients killed in order to dissect them. It is estimated that 300 women died from Clauberg's experiments and a further 700 were left barren. Clauberg was arrested after the Allies defeated the Nazis but died of a heart attack before his trial started.
Walter Freeman II
Dr. Walter Freeman
Dr. Walter Freeman is probably best known for the botched lobotomy he performed on Rosemary Kennedy, which left her incontinent and unable to care for herself until her death. During his medical career Freeman performed harmful lobotomies on over 3,400 patients although he had no formal surgical training. He traveled from medical school to medical school, performing lobotomies in his personal van, which he termed the "lobotomobile", in order to train medical students on the controversial operation. Freeman charged a mere $25 for the procedure, and his favored technique was to insert metal picks into a patient's eye sockets and twist them from side to side until the connections to the frontal lobes of the brain had been severed - all without anesthesia andwithout him wearing gloves or an operating mask. Many of his patients suffered mental disabilities after his work was done and about 15% of his patients died during the procedure. At least 100 patients died of subsequent brain hemorrhaging after the procedure. Dr. Freeman was eventually banned from performing surgery and died of natural causes in 1972.
"Portraitpetiot" by Unknown - Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
Marcel Petiot was a French doctor and serial killer who is suspected of killing around 60 people during his lifetime. After serving in WWI, Petiot went to medical school and began as an intern in a psychiatric ward - although he himself had been diagnosed with various mental illnesses during his time in the army. After his internship, Petiot forged fake credentials to attract patients and built a reputable practice amid rumors of illegal abortions and overprescribing addictive drugs. The truth about Petiot was not revealed until neighbors complained to police of the foul stench of the smoke coming from his home's chimney. Upon investigation, police discovered charred human remains littered about the basement and coal fireplace of Petiot's home. Petiot was found guilty of murder and was sent to the guillotine in 1946, a few days after his conviction.
"Jane Toppan" by Unknown - http://dianaruntu.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/20-wanita-paling-berbahaya-sepanjang-sejarah/. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
Born under the name Honora Kelley, Jane Toppan was an American registered nurse who killed at least 31 of her patients by lethal injection with morphine. As a nursing student Jane messed around with dosages of patients' medications to see what would happen, although she was able to successfully hide her dark obsession with death from her peers. After she became a RN Jane began overdosing her patients with morphine. Toppan's murderous activities were discovered after she killed a man and two of his daughters, who she had been caring for as a private nurse. The third daughter went to the authorities, who quickly apprehended the nurse. Upon her arrest Toppan made no attempt to hide her guilt, confessing to 31 murders and providing details for the investigation. Toppan is quoted to have said that her principal ambition in life was to murder more helpless people than anyone else in the world. Because of her mental history (she had attempted suicide multiple times) she was spared imprisonment and was sent to a mental hospital where she lived until her death in 1938.
Beverly Allitt was a State Enrolled Nurse in Britain who worked in the children's ward at Grantham and Kesteven Hospital, where she attacked 13 of her child patients over a period of 59 days by injecting them with lethal doses of insulin. She also injected her patients with air bubbles that entered their bloodstream, causing the death of 4 children and injury of 6 more. After her crimes were discovered, Allitt was convicted of 4 counts of murder and 11 counts of attempted murder and received 13 life sentences in imprisonment. There is speculation about why Allitt felt compelled to kill her victims, but after being imprisoned she was diagnosed with Münchausen syndrome to explain Allitt's desire to harm her patients.
"Josef Mengele" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia
Probably the most notorious doctor on this list, Josef Mengele has been nicknamed the Angel of Death for the heinous medical crimes he committed during WWII in Nazi concentration camps. Mengele was an SS Oficer as well as a physician, and he was well known for selecting which prisoners were to be sent to the gas chambers, which would be sent to work, and which would be sent to his lab where he would perform forced human experiments on them. These experiments included unnecessary amputations, deliberately injecting prisoners with an infectious disease, forced abortions, organ removal, and many more. Many of Mengele's experiments were performed on children prisoners, as he was particularly interested in heredity. Most of Mengele's patients died either during his experiments or shortly thereafter. Mengele's inner nature was incredibly cruel and sadistic; he showed no remorse for his barbarous experimentations or for the people he sentenced to death. After the war Mengele evaded capture and trial by fleeing to Africa where he lived until his death.