A look into the world’s most prolific serial killer: Dr. Death

By: Olivia Knafla

Image taken from: Twelve of the 215+ victims of Harold Shipman. Image provided by the Coventry Telegraph.

Let’s say that you’re about to leave your hospital room to go into surgery. You may feel nervous, you may feel calm, and you more than likely are able to understand that the outcome of this surgery will rely on the work of a doctor or surgeon.

Do you trust this person? Surely you do, taking into account the years upon years of medical training one must experience to work at such a level. Luckily, most of the time, this person is worthy of your trust, being a competent healthcare professional who will do their best to perform a safe and efficient operation.

However, historically, this has not always been the case.

Meet Harold Shipman (also known as Fred Shipman), otherwise known as “Dr. Death”. What sets him apart from other doctors, who have misused their power, is his repulsively high victim count. Throughout his career of roughly 30 years, he managed to kill at least 215 people, possibly reaching up to 400.

Because of this fact, Shipman is believed to be the most prolific serial killer of all time to date. He killed his victims in his place of work – the operating room. He killed his victims by injecting them with dangerously high doses of diamorphine, and evaded capture throughout his career, which lasted roughly 30 years.

A question that many, myself included, may find themselves asking is: how was he caught? How, after getting away with so many crimes for so long, how was he finally locked up?

It wasn’t until the year 1988 that a doctor, by the name of Linda Reynolds, spoke with John Pollard, a coroner in the South Manchester District (in the United Kingdom), about her concerns regarding the alarmingly high death rate among Shipman’s patients. However, after a short investigation that lasted roughly a month, the case was closed due to lack of evidence. Some blame inexperienced officers handling the case, however, it is unclear as to whether or not that can be confirmed.

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