21 Evil Doctors And Nurses Who Were Also Serial Killers

Published October 21, 2017
Updated March 12, 2024

These "angels of death," both evil doctors and evil nurses, took lives when they were supposed to be saving them.

Thomas Cream

Thomas Cream
Thomas Neill Cream was a Scottish-Canadian doctor known as the "Lambeth Poisoner." In the 1890s, he poisoned and killed a number of his patients while working in Chicago. Despite being convicted of poisoning a woman and being given life in prison, he had his sentence commuted after his brother bribed the governor of Illinois. He then traveled to London where he poisoned and killed five hookers before he was arrested and executed in 1892.Wikimedia Commons

Jane Toppan

Jane Toppan
While working as a nurse in Massachusetts in the 1880s, Jane Toppan would give her elderly and infirm patients lethal doses of morphine and atropine and crawl into their beds to lie with them as they died. Toppan killed at least 31 victims before she was caught and committed to an asylum for the rest of her life.Wikimedia Commons

Shiro Ishii

Shiro Ishii Angels Of Death
Dr. Shiro Ishii was the director of Unit 731, the department of biological weapons for the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Unit 731 would experiment on Chinese POWs and civilians, giving them deadly diseases and testing horrible biological weapons upon them. The unit would also perform vivisection on live prisoners, and subject them to artificially induced strokes, heart attacks, frostbite, and hypothermia to track how they would die. Ishii avoided war crimes prosecution by turning the results of his experiments over to the U.S. Ultimately, he died of throat cancer at the age of 67 in 1959.Wikimedia Commons

H. H. Holmes

H H Holmes
H. H. Holmes, sometimes called "America's First Serial Killer," was a medical student and briefly practiced as a doctor in Pennsylvania before he killed between nine and 27 people during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Holmes used the secret rooms he had built into his "murder hotel," as well as his medical expertise, to easily kill and dispose of the bodies of his victims, the total of which could ultimately have reached 200. He was eventually hung for his crimes in 1896, and asked that he buried with a cement carrier so that grave robbers couldn't desecrate his remains.Wikimedia Commons

Marcel Petiot

Marcel Petiot Killer Doctor
Marcel Petiot was a doctor in Nazi-occupied France. He would tell his victims, people fleeing the Nazis in Europe, that he had an escape route out of Nazi territory, before injecting them with deadly cyanide and stealing their valuables. He was captured and eventually tried and executed by guillotine in France in 1946.Bettmann/Getty Images

George Chapman

George Chapman
George Chapman was a Polish doctor who moved to London in 1888. Once there, Chapman took four mistresses, despite having a wife back in Poland. He poisoned all four of these women with arsenic, killing them. Chapman was also suspected by the police as a possible Jack the Ripper suspect but was eventually dismissed. Chapman was executed for his crimes in 1903.Wikimedia Commons

Gwen Graham And Cathy Wood

Gwen Graham Cathy Wood
Gwen Graham and Cathy Wood were a pair of nurse's aides at a nursing home in Michigan who began killing their patients as part of a "love bond" that they shared: They killed five victims by smothering them to prove their love to one another. Authorities eventually captured the pair and they were put behind bars in 1989.Police photo

Morris Bolber

Morris Bolber Evil Doctor
Dr. Morris Bolber was a Russian Jewish immigrant doctor in Pennsylvania in the 1930s. Using his medical expertise and mob connections, he would poison women's husbands for a fee. He and the "Philadelphia Poison Ring" killed 30-50 people. Bolber was finally arrested in 1939.Wikimedia Commons

Josef Mengele

Josef Mengele Evil Doctor
Josef Mengele was the head doctor at the Nazis' Auschwitz concentration camp. He would help decide which prisoners were gassed and would perform horrifying experiments (including injections to the eye to change its color, limb amputation, and worse) on other prisoners, many of whom he ended up killing for the purposes of his research. After the Holocaust, he escaped to South America, where he lived out the rest of his days before drowning to death after suffering a stroke while swimming at the age of 67 in 1979.Wikimedia Commons

Linda Burfield Hazzard

Linda Burfield Hazzard
Linda Hazzard was an American doctor during the early 20th century who promoted fasting as a treatment for all ailments. As a result, more than 40 patients died of starvation at her sanitarium in Washington, dubbed "Starvation Heights" by the locals. She was eventually convicted of manslaughter in 1912 and served two years in prison. In 1938 she died of starvation herself.Wikimedia Commons

Miyuki Ishikawa

Miyuki Ishikawa Killer Nurse
Miyuki Ishikawa was a midwife in Tokyo in the late 1940s when she allowed at least 103 of the babies in her care to die because she believed that their parents were too poor to raise them. She received just four years in prison for her crimes.Wikimedia Commons

Lainz Angels Of Death

Lainz Angels Of Death
Irene Leidolf (top left), Waltraud Wagner (top right), Stephanija Meyer (bottom left), and Maria Gruber (bottom right), known as the "Lainz Angels Of Death," were a group of nurse's aides in Lainz, Austria in the 1980s. Together, they killed dozens of patients in their care by giving them overdoses of morphine or by forcing water into their lungs. Each was convicted and given at least 15 years in prison, although all four had been released by 2008.Police photo

John Bodkin Adams

John Bodkin Adams
Between the 1940s and '50s, British doctor John Bodkin Adams was accused of killing off hundreds of wealthy patients, many of whom had left him something in their will. He was eventually brought to trial but was never convicted.Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Michael Swango

Swango Michael
Michael Swango was a medical student in the 1980s and '90s who took numerous residencies at hospitals across the U.S., during which he would both give patients overdoses of drugs to kill them and poison his coworkers with arsenic. He was caught in 1997 and is serving life in prison. Bettmann/Getty Images

Genene Jones

Genene Jones
Genene Jones is thought to have murdered between 11 and 46 infants in her care, while she was working as a vocational nurse in Texas in the 1970s and '80s. She would inject babies in her care with of digoxin, heparin, and succinylcholine, drugs that caused the babies to have heart attacks and die. Jones was sentenced to 99 years in prison, but could have been up for release in 2018 to prevent overcrowding. Thus, prosecutors have been filing other old murder charges against her in order to keep her behind bars. Bettmann/Getty Images

Donald Harvey

Donald Harvey
During the 1980s, Donald Harvey was an orderly at Marymount Hospital in London, Kentucky, where he killed between 37 and 57 of his patients with poison or by giving them infections. He also poisoned his neighbors and one of his lovers. He was sentenced to life in prison and was killed in his cell by a fellow inmate in 2017.Police photo

Harold Shipman

Harold Shipman
Harold Shipman, nicknamed "Dr. Death," was an English doctor who killed as many as 250 of his patients, most of whom were elderly women, by giving them lethal overdoses of pain medication. He was eventually caught in 1998 when he forged the will of one of his victims to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from her. He was sentenced to life in prison and hung himself in his cell in 2004.Greater Manchester Police/Getty Images

Dorothea Waddingham

Evil Doctors Nurses Dorothea Waddingham
Dorothea Waddingham was a matron at an English nursing home in the 1930s who poisoned two of her patients, an elderly mother and her daughter with multiple sclerosis, in order to steal their inheritance. She was caught after an autopsy revealed the deadly overdose of morphine that she had administered to the women. She was tried and hanged in 1936.Wikimedia Commons

Richard Angelo

Richard Angelo
Richard Angelo was a nurse in New York in the 1980s who would give his patients heart attacks so that he could play the hero by saving them. However, eight of the 34 patients that he poisoned with Pavulon and Anectine, drugs that induce cardiac arrest, died. In 1990, he was sentenced to 50-years-to-life in prison.Bettmann/Getty Images

Arnfinn Nesset

Arnfinn Nesset
Arnfinn Nesset was a Norwegian nursing home manager who poisoned up to 138 of his elderly patients with Suxamethonium chloride, an anesthetic medicine, in the 1980s. He was eventually arrested and served 12 years in prison.NF

Jack The Ripper?

Jack The Ripper
Jack The Ripper, as many know, is the name given to the man who killed five prostitutes in the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. He is believed to have been some kind of medical professional because of the surgical precision of his killings. The Ripper would surgically remove organs from his victims including the heart and uterus. The man behind these murders was never caught so whether or not he was truly a doctor remains unknown.Wikimedia Commons

Doctors and nurses have always inspired a strange mix of trust and fear. We give ourselves over to them when we're at our most vulnerable, which in turn makes us uneasy at the thought that they could perhaps exploit that unique position of power.

We allow these people into our most private and defenseless spaces, granting them access to our bodies both inside and out. So we shudder at the idea that their intentions could be anything less than pure.

Perhaps this is why, even among serial killers, those who were doctors and nurses by day chill us to the bone like few others.

Discover some of the most horrifyingly evil doctors and nurses who were serial killers in the gallery above.

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Today, H. H. Holmes lives on in infamy as "America's First Serial Killer," but stories claiming he murdered as many as 200 may not be completely true.

After this look at evil doctors and nurses who were serial killers, learn about famous serial killers and how they met their ends. Then, check out 21 serial killer quotes that will chill you to the bone. Finally, read up on Carl Tanzler, the doctor who fell in love with this patient and then lived with her corpse.

Gabe Paoletti
Gabe Paoletti is a New York City-based writer and a former Editorial Intern at All That's Interesting. He holds a Bachelor's in English from Fordham University.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Paoletti, Gabe. "21 Evil Doctors And Nurses Who Were Also Serial Killers." AllThatsInteresting.com, October 21, 2017, https://allthatsinteresting.com/evil-doctors-nurses-serial-killers. Accessed May 25, 2024.