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The serial killer compen.., p.22
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       The Serial Killer Compendium, p.22

           R. J. Parker
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  According to historian Pamela Cullen, Dr. Adams had also been a serial killer, potentially killing up to 165 of his patients between 1946 and 1956, and it is projected he may have killed over 450 people, but as he was found not guilty, there was no movement to scrutinize the flaws in the system until the Shipman case. Had these matters been addressed earlier, it might have been more difficult for Shipman to commit his crimes.


  In the early morning of January 13th, 2004, on the eve of his fifty-eighth birthday, a Prison Service statement from Wakefield Prison indicated that former doctor Shipman had hanged himself from the window bars of his cell using bed sheets. Some British tabloids articulated delight at his suicide and encouraged other serial killers to follow his example.

  Some of the victims' families said they felt cheated as his suicide meant they would never have the satisfaction of Shipman's declaration of guilt, or answers as to why he committed his crimes. The Home Secretary, Mr. David Blunkett, noted that celebration was tempting, and said, "You wake up and you receive a call telling you Shipman has topped himself and you think, is it too early to open a bottle? And then you discover that everybody's very upset that he's done it."

  Despite the Sun's celebration of Shipman's suicide, his death divided national newspapers, with the Daily Mirror branding him a "cold coward," and condemning the Prison Service for allowing his suicide to happen. The Independent, on the other hand, called for the inquiry into Shipman's suicide to look more widely at the state of Britain's prisons as well as the welfare of inmates. In The Guardian, an article by Sir David Ramsbotham (former Chief Inspector of Prisons) recommended that whole life sentences be replaced by imprecise sentences as these would give prisoners the hope of ultimate release, lessen the risk of their committing suicide, and potentially make the management of prisoners easier for prison officials.

  Shipman's motive for suicide was never well known, but he had reportedly told his probation officer that he was considering suicide so his widow could receive a National Health Service (NHS) pension and lump sum, even though he had been stripped of his own pension. His wife received a full NHS pension, to which she would not have been entitled if he had died after the age of sixty.

  Shipman had been encouraged to enroll in courses which would have coaxed him to confess his guilt. After refusing, he became emotional and close to tears when privileges, including the opportunity to telephone his wife, were revoked. These privileges had been returned the week before the suicide. Additionally, Primrose, who had consistently believed that Shipman was innocent, might have begun to suspect his guilt. According to Shipman's ex-cellmate, Tony Fleming, Primrose wrote her husband a letter exhorting him to "tell me everything, no matter what.”

  After Effects

  In January of 2001, Chris Gregg, a senior West Yorkshire detective, was chosen to direct an investigation into twenty-two of the West Yorkshire deaths. His report into Shipman's activities, submitted in July of 2002, concluded that Shipman had killed at least 215 of his patients between 1975 and 1998, during which time he practiced in Todmorden, West Yorkshire (1974–1975), and Hyde, Greater Manchester (1977–1998). Dame Janet Smith, the judge who tendered the report, admitted that several deaths that were more suspicious could not be definitively attributed to him. Most of his victims were elderly women in good health.

  In her final report, issued January 24th, 2005, Judge Smith concluded the probable number of Shipman's victims between 1971 and 1998 to be approximately 250. However, in total, 459 people died while under his care, and it is unclear how many of those were Shipman's victims, as he was often the only doctor to certify a death.

  The Shipman Inquiry also recommended changes to the structure of the General Medical Council. They charged six doctors who signed cremation forms for Shipman's victims with misconduct, claiming they should have noticed the connection between Shipman's home visits and his patients' deaths. Not all these doctors were found guilty, however. Shipman's widow, Primrose Shipman, was called to give verification about two of the deaths during the inquiry. She continued to maintain her husband's innocence both before and after the prosecution.

  Dr. H.H. Holmes

  Born: May 16th, 1861

  Place: New Hampshire, USA

  Killing Span: 1888–1894

  Number of Killings: 27-200

  Captured: November 17, 1894


  Born Herman Webster Mudgett, but better known under the alias of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, or Dr. H.H. Holmes. Holmes was a former doctor, and American Serial Killer.

  Both Holmes’ parents, Theodate Page Price and Levi Horton Mudgett, came from the first non-native settlers in the area of New Hampshire. His father was a sadistic alcoholic and his mother a spiritual Methodist who read the Bible to Herman. When he was a youth, he claimed his schoolmates made him view and touch a human skeleton after they discovered he had a fear of the local doctor. Originally, the bullies brought him to the skeleton to frighten him, but Holmes was instead completely captivated by it, and soon became fanatically interested by death.

  Holmes married Clara Lovering of Alton, New Hampshire on July 4th, 1878, and had a son with her named Robert on February 3rd, 1880. Holmes graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in June of 1884 after passing all his tests and requirements. While he was enrolled in University, he would steal bodies from the laboratory, disfigure them, and claim that the people were killed accidentally, in order to collect insurance money from policies he took out on each of the deceased.

  After university, Holmes relocated to Chicago to pursue a career in Pharmaceuticals. While there, he also engaged in many unethical business, real estate, and promotional deals, under the name of H.H. Holmes.

  Holmes lived in Chicago, but his wife and son still lived back in New Hampshire. While he was still married, Holmes met and married Myrta Belknap in Chicago on January 28th, 1887, and had a daughter, Lucy, in July of 1889. He lived with Myrta and Lucy in Wilmette, Illinois, and spent most of his time in Chicago tending to business. He filed for divorce from Clara after marrying Myrta, but the divorce was never finalized.

  In January of 1894, Holmes also married Georgiana Yoke in Denver, Colorado, while still married to Myrta and Clara. Moreover, while married to the three of them, he also had an affair with Julia Smythe, the wife of one of his previous employees. She would later become one of Holmes' victims. To make a count, Holmes, at that point, had three wives and one girlfriend.


  In the summer of 1886, Holmes came across Dr. E. S. Holton's Drugstore at the corner of S. Wallace and W. 63rd Street, in the neighborhood of Englewood. Dr. Holton’s wife took care of the store while he was ailing from cancer. Weighed down by personal distress and the responsibility of managing a business, Mrs. Holton gave Holmes a job. Holmes proved himself an astute employee and when Dr. Holton passed away, Holmes used his well-honed charisma to console the grieving widow. Consequently, he convinced Mrs. Holton that selling the drugstore to him would alleviate the burden of her responsibilities. Holmes’ proposal seemed like a godsend to the elderly woman and she agreed. Holmes purchased the store from her primarily with funds acquired by mortgaging the store’s fixtures and inventory, the loan to be repaid in generous monthly installments of one hundred dollars, which would equate to about $3000.00 per month today. However, Mrs. Holton disappeared mysteriously not long after Dr. Holton died. Holmes told people she was visiting relatives out in California. As people began asking after her return, he told them that she was enjoying California so much that she had decided to live there.

  Dr. Holmes procured a parcel of land across from the drugstore where he built a three-story, block-long building that the neighborhood referred to as the Castle. It was opened as a hotel for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. Part of the formation was used as commercial space while the ground floor contained Holmes's own relocated Drugstore, as well as assorted shops. The upper two floors contained his personal office and over 10
0 windowless rooms with doorways opening onto to brick walls, abnormally angled hallways, stairways to nowhere, doors only operable from the outside, and a multitude of other bizarre and convoluted designs. Holmes frequently altered the plans during the construction phase of the Castle so that only he fully understood the layout of the building. Thus, the possibility of being reported to the police as suspicious was lessened.

  After the completion of the hotel, Holmes required women who wanted to work for him to take out life insurance policies as a stipulation of being hired. Holmes would pay the premiums, but would also be the beneficiary. He tortured and killed some of his victims; others, he locked some in a soundproof bedroom fitted with gas lines that let him asphyxiate them at anytime; and some were locked in a huge soundproof bank vault near his office where they were left to suffocate. The victims' bodies were dropped down a secret chute to the basement where many were carefully dissected, stripped of their flesh, crafted into skeleton models, and sold to medical schools. Holmes cremated the bodies, or placed them in lime pits for obliteration. He had two massive furnaces, pits of acid, bottles of assorted poisons, and even a stretching rack. Through the many connections he had gained in medical school, he sold the skeletons and organs of his victims with little difficulty.

  Schemes, Murders

  Subsequent to the World's Fair in 1893, with creditors closing in and the economy in a general slump, Holmes skipped out of Chicago to avoid his debt. He reemerged in Fort Worth, Texas, where he had inherited property from two railroad heiress sisters. He promised to marry one of them, and then murdered them both. While in Texas, Holmes sought to construct another Castle along the same lines of his Chicago business. He soon abandoned this venture, however, finding the law enforcement climate in Texas unwelcoming.

  Holmes continued to travel about the United States and Canada, and while it seems probable that he continued to kill, the only murders around him that can be confirmed during this period are those of his longtime associate, Benjamin Pitezel, and three of Pitezel’s children, Alice, Nellie, and Howard.

  In July of 1894, Holmes was detained and temporarily incarcerated for the first time for a charge related to horse fraud in St. Louis. He was swiftly bailed out; however, while in jail, he spoke with convicted train robber, Marion Hedgepeth who was serving a twenty-five year sentence. Holmes had invented a plan to deceive an insurance company out of $10,000 by taking out a policy on himself and then faking his own death. Holmes promised to pay Hedgepeth a $500.00 fee in exchange for the name of a lawyer who could be trusted. He was directed to Colonel Jeptha Howe, the brother of a public defender, who commended Holmes’s scheme. Holmes's plan to sham his own death failed, however, when the insurance company became apprehensive and refused to pay. Holmes did not press his claim. He instead concocted a comparable plan with his associate, Benjamin Pitezel, a carpenter with a criminal past who Holmes met during construction of the Castle in 1889.

  Pitezel had arranged to fake his own death so that his wife could collect on the $10,000 policy which she was to divide with Holmes and the shady attorney, Howe. The scheme was to take place in Philadelphia. Pitezel would set himself up as an inventor under the name B. F. Perry, and then be killed and disfigured in a lab explosion. Holmes was to find a suitable corpse to play the role of Pitezel. Of course, Holmes killed Pitezel instead. Forensic evidence offered at Holmes's later trial indicated that chloroform was used in Pitezel's death, seemingly to fake suicide (Pitezel had been an alcoholic and chronic depressive). Using Pitezel’s genuine corpse, Holmes collected on the insurance policy. He then coerced Pitezel's wife into allowing three of her five children Nellie, Alice, and Howard, to stay in his custody. The eldest daughter and baby remained with Mrs. Pitezel.

  Holmes travelled with the children through the northern United States and into Canada – Mrs. Pitezal travelled along an alternate route – all the while using a mixture of aliases and lying to Mrs. Pitezel concerning her husband's death, claiming that Pitezel was in hiding in South America. A Philadelphia detective by the name of Frank Geyer tracked Holmes, and found the decomposed bodies of two of the Pitezel girls in Toronto, Canada. He then followed Holmes to Indianapolis where Holmes had rented a cottage and was reported to have visited a local pharmacy to purchase drugs to kill young Howard Pitezel, and a repair shop to sharpen the knives he used to dismember the boy’s body before he burned it. The boy's teeth and bits of bone were later discovered in the home's chimney. In 1894, Marion Hedgepeth, Holmes’s former jail mate, tipped off the police because Holmes had neglected to pay him off as promised for his help.


  On November 17th, 1894, Dr. H.H. Holmes's murder spree finally ended when he was arrested in Boston after being tracked there from Philadelphia by the Pinkertons. He was held on an outstanding warrant for horse theft in Texas, as the authorities had little more than reservations at this point, and Holmes appeared on the brink of fleeing the country in the company of his unsuspecting third wife.

  After the caretaker for the Castle informed police that he was never permitted to clean the upper floors, police began a meticulous investigation. Over the course of the next month, Holmes's resourceful methods of committing murders and then disposing of the corpses were revealed. A mysterious fire consumed the building on August 19th, 1895. The site is now occupied as a U.S. Post Office.

  Trial, Execution

  As Holmes remained in prison in Philadelphia, police in both Chicago and Philadelphia police started an investigation into his operations; in particular, into the whereabouts of the three missing children, with Philadelphia detective Frank Geyer given the undertaking of finding answers. His pursue of the children, like the search of Holmes's Castle, received extensive publicity. His eventual discovery of their remains fundamentally sealed Holmes's destiny, at least in the public mind. Holmes was put on trial for the murder of Pitezel. Holmes confessed to the murder, and after his conviction, thirty more murders in Chicago, Indianapolis and Toronto, and six attempted murders, were added to his charge.

  Holmes was paid $7500.00 by Hearst Newspapers in exchange for his story. He gave various ambiguous accounts, claiming initially that he was pure, later claiming that he was possessed by Satan. His talent for lying has made it complicated for researchers to ascertain any legitimacy in his statements.

  On May 7th, 1896, Holmes was hanged at the Philadelphia County Prison. Until the time of his death, he remained quiet and cordial, showing very few signs of fear, anxiety, or depression. Holmes's neck did not snap immediately. He died slowly, twitching over fifteen minutes before being pronounced dead twenty minutes after the trap had been sprung.

  Dr. John Bodkin Adams

  Born: January 21st, 1899

  Place: Randalstown, County Antrim, Ireland

  Killing Span: 1946 - 1956

  Number of Killings: 160

  Captured: December, 1956


  John Bodkin Adams was born just before the turn of the century to a profoundly religious family of Plymouth Brethren of which he remained a member for his whole life. His father, Samuel, was a preacher in the local congregation, though by profession he was a watchmaker. John had a brother, William, who was born in 1903, but died at the age of fifteen from the 1918 influenza pandemic.

  Adams graduated in 1921 from Queen’s University in Belfast, although he missed a year of studies due to tuberculosis. His professors thought him a plodder and distant from his fellow schoolmates. From university he was hired straight away by Dr. Arthur Short as an assistant in the British Royal Infirmary. After spending a year there, however, it did not work out for him and he applied for a General Practitioner’s position in a Christian practice in Eastbourne, where he worked for many years while living with his cousin and his mother. In 1929, he borrowed £2000 from a rich patient, William Mawhood, and purchased an eighteen-room house in Trinity Trees called Kent Lodge.

  Adams would regularly invite himself to the Mawhoods' house at mealtime, even bringing his mot
her and cousin. He also began charging items to their accounts at local stores without their consent. Mrs. Mawhood would later portray Adams to the police as “a real scrounger.” When Mr. Mawhood died in 1949, Adams visited his widow uninvited, and took a 22-carat gold pen from her bedroom dressing table, saying he wanted “something of her husband's.” After that he never visited her again.

  Rumor regarding Adams's eccentric methods had started by the mid 1930s. In 1935, Adams inherited £7,385 from a patient, Matilda Whitton. Her will was contested by her relatives, but the court upheld it; a supplement giving Adams's mother £100 was reversed, however. Adams then began receiving anonymous postcards about how he was "bumping off" patients, as he told a newspaper interviewer in 1957. These were received at a rate of three or four per year until the war; they then commenced again in 1945.

  Adams stayed in Eastbourne throughout the war, infuriated at not being sought-after by other doctors to be selected for a "pool system" where General Practitioners would treat the patients of colleagues who had been drafted. In 1941, he achieved a diploma in Anesthetics and worked in a local hospital one day a week where he earned a reputation as a bungler. He would fall asleep during operations, count his money, eat cakes, and even mix up the anesthetic gas tubes, leading to patients waking up or turning blue. His mother died in 1943, and in 1952 his cousin Sarah developed cancer. Adams gave her an injection half an hour before she died.

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