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10 Shocking True Stories of History's Most Infamous Criminal Doctors

Updated: May 28

### 10 Shocking True Stories of History's Most Infamous Criminal Doctors

Throughout history, the medical profession has been one associated with care, healing, and dedication to human welfare. However, there have been instances where doctors, entrusted with the lives and well-being of their patients, have turned to the dark side. These criminal doctors exploited their positions for nefarious purposes, leaving a trail of horror and mistrust in their wake. Here, we delve into the shocking true stories of ten of history’s most infamous criminal doctors.

#### 1. **Dr. Harold Shipman: The Killer GP**

Dr. Harold Shipman, also known as "Dr. Death," is one of the most notorious serial killers in history. Practicing in England, Shipman is believed to have killed at least 218 patients, although some estimates suggest the number could be as high as 250. Shipman's modus operandi was administering lethal doses of painkillers to his patients. His crimes went undetected for years, partly due to his position of trust and the lack of a centralized system for tracking unusual death patterns. Shipman was finally caught in 1998 and sentenced to life imprisonment. He died by suicide in his prison cell in 2004.

#### 2. **Dr. Josef Mengele: The Angel of Death**

During World War II, Dr. Josef Mengele conducted horrific experiments on prisoners at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Known as the "Angel of Death," Mengele was infamous for his cruel and inhumane medical practices, which included injecting chemicals into the eyes of children, performing amputations without anesthesia, and attempting to change human genetics. His victims were primarily Jews, Gypsies, and other minorities. After the war, Mengele fled to South America and evaded capture until his death in 1979.

#### 3. **Dr. Michael Swango: The Poisoning Physician**

Dr. Michael Swango, an American doctor, left a trail of death across multiple states and even countries. Swango is known to have poisoned patients, colleagues, and even friends. He used various methods, including lethal injections and contaminating food with arsenic. His fascination with death and his ability to manipulate medical systems allowed him to continue his killing spree for years. Swango was eventually apprehended and is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

#### 4. **Dr. Linda Hazzard: The Starvation Doctor**

Dr. Linda Hazzard, who practiced in the early 20th century, promoted a controversial fasting treatment, which she claimed could cure various ailments. However, her methods often led to severe malnutrition and death. Hazzard operated a sanitarium in Washington state, where at least 15 patients died under her care. She was convicted of manslaughter in 1912 after the death of Claire Williamson, a wealthy British woman. Despite her conviction, Hazzard continued to practice alternative medicine until her death in 1938.

#### 5. **Dr. John Bodkin Adams: The Greedy Practitioner**

Dr. John Bodkin Adams was a British doctor who, during the 1940s and 1950s, was linked to the deaths of over 160 patients. Adams, who often treated wealthy elderly patients, was suspected of hastening their deaths to inherit their fortunes. Although he was acquitted of murder in 1957, the case raised significant concerns about medical ethics and the legal boundaries of medical practice. Adams continued to practice until his death in 1983, but his legacy remains one of suspicion and intrigue.

#### 6. **Dr. H. H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer**

Dr. H. H. Holmes, born Herman Webster Mudgett, is often cited as America's first serial killer. Operating in the late 19th century, Holmes built a "Murder Castle" in Chicago, which he equipped with secret passages, gas chambers, and trapdoors. Posing as a legitimate doctor and pharmacist, Holmes lured victims to his hotel during the 1893 World's Fair, where he would then murder them and sell their skeletons to medical schools. Holmes was eventually caught and hanged in 1896.

#### 7. **Dr. Shiro Ishii: The Experimenter**

Dr. Shiro Ishii was a Japanese microbiologist and the head of Unit 731, a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Ishii and his team conducted gruesome experiments on prisoners of war, including vivisection without anesthesia, exposure to extreme temperatures, and the testing of biological weapons. After the war, Ishii received immunity in exchange for his research data, sparking outrage and ethical debates that continue to this day.

#### 8. **Dr. Marcel Petiot: The Nazi Collaborator**

Dr. Marcel Petiot, a French doctor during World War II, exploited the chaos of the Nazi occupation to his advantage. Posing as a member of the French Resistance, Petiot promised safe passage to Jews and other persecuted individuals. Instead, he murdered them and stole their possessions. Petiot was eventually caught and found to have killed at least 63 people. He was guillotined in 1946, but his story remains a chilling reminder of how easily trust can be betrayed.

#### 9. **Dr. Carl Clauberg: The Sterilizer**

Dr. Carl Clauberg, another Nazi doctor, was notorious for his experiments on female prisoners in Auschwitz. Clauberg aimed to develop a method for mass sterilization to further the Nazi agenda of racial purity. His brutal experiments involved injecting caustic substances into women's reproductive organs, causing excruciating pain and permanent damage. After the war, Clauberg was captured by Soviet forces and sentenced to 25 years in prison, but he was released after seven years and later died in West Germany in 1957.

#### 10. **Dr. John Schneeberger: The Rapist Doctor**

Dr. John Schneeberger, a South African-born doctor practicing in Canada, used his medical knowledge to commit heinous crimes. In the 1990s, Schneeberger drugged and raped several patients, including a teenage girl. He evaded capture for years by tampering with DNA evidence, using a blood-filled tube implanted in his arm to produce false samples. Schneeberger was eventually caught and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2000. His case highlights the vulnerabilities in the trust placed in medical professionals.

### Conclusion

These ten doctors represent some of the darkest chapters in medical history. Their actions not only caused immense suffering and loss but also shattered the trust that is essential to the doctor-patient relationship. While these stories are shocking, they serve as crucial reminders of the importance of vigilance, ethics, and accountability in the medical profession.

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