Serial Killer/Doctors: It All Started 120 Years Ago

So, 12 decades ago this month . . .

Holmes Legacy

Dr Henry Howard Holmes

. . . If any house in America should ever be legitimately haunted, the one located at 601 West 63rd Street on Chicago’s South Side, certainly could have been.

Before it was leveled in 1938, the building was simply known as “The Murder Castle” to the local folks. To this day, 78 years later, no one knows how many poor souls were murdered by the doctor who built the place and then made it a point to prowl the hallways. Investigators suspect as many as 100 people walked in but never walked out. Most – but not all – were women. It is believed that they were asphyxiated by gas, or choked or beaten to death. Their bodies were destroyed in basement pits poured full of quicklime and acids. Some of their skeletons and body parts were sold to medical schools by their med-school-trained murderer, who became quite the expert in profiting from the deaths of innocents.

And the expert? Well, he went by the name of Doctor Henry Howard Holmes, although his real name was Herman Webster Mudgett.

Holmes Murder Castle

The Murder Castle: Only the lucky guests live to check out

Seen from the street, what became known as The Murder Castle was simply a huge unattractive building that took up half a city block – one of the architectural monstrosities frequently found in large cities in the 1890s. But the interior – multi-floored with nearly 100 rooms; honeycombed as it was with secret passageways and walled-up rooms and doors that led to nowhere – was the epitome of a seriously nightmarish abode.

It is quite true – looking back – that Doctor H.H. Holmes is well-deserving of his rank as America’s first known serial killer. And the fact that he was trained as a surgeon merely made him a more efficient killing machine. Historians like to reserve the term “monster” for an especially nasty few. A human “monster” ranks above lesser criminals and lesser killers. A monster must meet certain spooky-movie requirements. The poor victims – for one – must be killed over and over in predictable ways; they must be numerous and preferably attractive females; surely the killer will do macabre things to their innocent bodies. The monster ideally inhabits a foreboding house. And finally, he should be some type of “mad scientist” working away feverishly well into the dark of night.

H H Holmes Handiwork

Welcome. The doctor will be with you in a minute or two . . .

And it just so happened that the monster of The Murder Castle possessed all these qualifications and more. He was – they say – a surprisingly nimble swindler; a cheat and a forgerer. He was extremely well-dressed and always well-spoken. He pyramided money by pulling fraud after fraud on anybody with cash. Young, good-looking and funny, he conned business men and seduced lovely young women right out of their shoes – at least three of whom were unknowingly married to him at the same time. Holmes was a practitioner of hypnosis; a fancier of the occult; a devious liar; a skillful manipulator of surprisingly convoluted scams. But above all, he was a killing machine:

  • He caused the disappearance of a little boy in Mooers Fork, New York
  • He killed another little boy in Philadelphia with drugs
  • He murdered the widow Holton and her young daughter, too
  • He killed his mistress, Julie Conner, who was married to one of his employees. He killed her young daughter Pearl too, and sold their skeletons to medical schools
  • Killed his fiancée Emeline Cigrand and sold her bones to LaSalle University Medical School
  • He murdered his girlfriend Minnie Williams and her sister Annie, too
  • He killed his best friend Benjamin Pitezel and all three of his children
  • He killed untold dozens of hotel guests

All of this and a whole lot more, accomplished before age 35, when he was finally convicted and hanged.

The best guess is that Holmes’s murder spree began when he was hired by Doctor E.S. Holton, who owned a pharmacy on Chicago’s South Side. Not long after he started working there, oddly, Doctor Holton passed away. Holmes convinced the widow to sell the drug store to him.  Once the papers were filed, Mrs. Holton mysteriously vanished. Holmes told everyone who knew her that the widow had moved to California to live with relatives. Unfortunately, she left no forwarding address. He was as sad at her departure as they were. They all agreed she was a wonderful lady.

Holmes' Victims

He killed many. Here are but five

Historians now believe the Holtons were very likely Holmes first victims.  Oh, sure, he had been caught stealing cadavers while attending University of Michigan’s medical school. But those people were already dead. So after he owned the pharmacy, he bought the property across the street.  He told everyone he intended to built a hotel in time for the World’s Fair in 1893. And he did. He was really looking forward to filling his hotel with happy guests.

Holmes designed the strange interior himself. He had construction crews install secret passages, trap doors, a dungeon-like basement and torture rooms. Some of the rooms were designed to be air tight so they would function as gas chambers.  Others had metal walls and flame-throwers built into them to burn victims to death.  There was a crematorium and an acid pit for disposal of bodies.  It was all coming together.

 After the “hotel” opened, Holmes had to hire  more staff – nearly all female. The doctor had them take out life insurance policies, naming him the beneficiary. Most of his unknowing victims were blonde women with no local families. They were excited to work for the handsome young doctor. And he didn’t even charge them rent!

And then he started killing them, one by one. And the insurance checks came rolling in – one by one. Life was grand. The suits and  bowler hats he wore were made of the finest materials to be found in Chicago.

Alice, Howard & Nellie Pitezel

Little Nellie & Howard; Mom Alice Pitezel

The doctor particularly enjoyed getting creative murdering people.  And of course he had his gas chambers and ovens for disposal.  He frequently used his large, air-tight vault near his office, where he would send staff members in to gather a file, then lock them in until they just stopped breathing.  He used poison sometimes too, and when they were dead – usually at night – he would flay their flesh from the bone so he could sell the skeletons to medical schools.  The doctor soon discovered he could sell the organs too.  Anything he couldn’t use would be cremated or dessicated in the acid pit in the dungeon. After his arrest, police were horrified to discover his basement workshop splattered with blood and bits of flesh. He had shelves with bottles of poisons, acids and some truly nasty chemicals. He had a table “stretch-rack” for torture.

All gleeful endeavors must come to an end, of course, and Holmes’ days as a free man were numbered.  The smell of the crematorium had the neighborhood talking, for one thing. He left Chicago after the World’s Fair because he couldn’t afford to pay the creditors.  He put caretakers in charge of the building with strict orders not to venture to the top floor, or the basement. That’s where the torture rooms were. He moved to Texas for a time, intending to create another murder hotel, but he really didn’t like Texas much. He ended up in St. Louis, where he was arrested for a previous horse theft, during which time he got the idea to make money by faking his own death. But by this time insurance companies had noticed an awful lot of people had named him their policy beneficiaries.

Holmes’ downfall came when a former cellmate revealed that he was in Boston, where he was arrested on an outstanding warrant for the horse theft in Texas.  As police dug into Holmes’s background, they learned from the custodians of the Chicago hotel that they were never allowed to clean the top floor or the basement. The police investigated and found the macabre remains of Holmes’ victims.

Holmes News Clip

The wicked Doctor Holmes is not exactly the pride of the University of Michigan Medical School. Of course, they are the ones who allowed him to continue his study, AFTER they caught him stealing bodies from the cadaver vault.

In jail for over a year, eventually Holmes grew weary of the cage in which he sat. He knew full well he would never see daylight again. So he confessed to 27 murders. But because of all the missing person reports in the years Holmes was operating the “Murder Castle,” law enforcement believed the true number might be closer to 100-200 victims. He was found guilty of the 27 killings he admitted to, and was hanged on May 7, 1896 at the Philadelphia County Prison.

The doctor’s very last request was to be buried in concrete.  He was terrified that he might be dug up by profiteers and dissected after death. After all, he knew how dehumanizing dissection could be. It was downright Satanic.

Stranger than strange to the very end, the top floors of “The Murder Castle” – where the nastiest of deeds occurred – were destroyed by a mysterious fire in August 1895, a year before Holmes was put to death.

Just as strange, the last caretaker of the hotel committed suicide. His family reported to police that the poor man was “haunted” for weeks and weeks. He had to kill himself to stop all the screaming he could hear, behind doors where no one was.

And so he did. And that made the poor caretaker the very last victim of Doctor H.H. Holmes. He was murdered by a Lucifer in a lab coat.

For those interested, here’s more:

http://maamodt.asp.radford.edu/Psyc%20405/serial%20killers/Mudgett,%20Herman%20_2012_.pdf

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Florida MD & Wife Jailed for Their Drug-Scheming Reindeer Games

Dr Edward Neil Feldman

Dr Edward N Feldman and wife Kim. They felt the need. The need . . . for greed.

The good doctor gets 25 years in prison; office manager/wife gets 4 years.

In the beach city of Tampa Florida we now know that month after month, year after year, an elderly physician would routinely scribble out narcotic prescriptions to drug addicts. Quite a number of them overdosed and at least 16 of them died. And so finally, when Doctor Edward Neil Feldman, age 76, was handcuffed and taken away, he tried to defend his behavior in court last February, by arguing that a whole lot of people had “fooled” him to get the drugs.

Because after being a physician for half a century and physically assessing a hundred thousand patients – well, he’d never quite figured out how to tell which ones were faking their pain, and which ones were actually hurting.

The jury said ‘fraid not to his innocent grandpa act: they convicted him of Illegal Narcotic Trafficking – the result of which was directly tied to 3 dead people: Joey Mayes, age 24, Ricky Gonzalez, 42, and Shannon Wren, 42. The 13 other overdose deaths could not be firmly blamed on Feldman the Fooled. For one thing, many addicts have learned to get drugs from more than one doctor.

“The government had 16 dead people to choose from in this case. You don’t get to say you’re blind when you’ve got your head in the sand. You don’t get to say that you’ve been fooled when you refuse to take the blinders off.” (Federal Prosecutor Shauna Hale in her closing argument)

The doctor’s wife, Kim Xuan Feldman, age 66, was found guilty too,  along with her husband, on 5 counts in a $5,000,000 drug and cash conspiracy. But only the MD was charged and convicted for the deaths. In each case, the prosecution was able to prove that he prescribed heavy pain medication for no true medical reason, and beyond the scope of accepted treatment. And not documenting treatments and prescriptions in patient charts for decades? Well that was just stupid arrogance.

Like nearly all other of the quarter-million criminal physicians since 1950, freaky Feldman most likely figured he would never get caught.

After all, this was the government’s second effort at trying this case. The first time last November ended in a mistrial. 

The Tampa Bay Times reported last year that pill bottles bearing Feldman’s name were found at many scenes where people had popped the doc’s pills – then rolled over and died.

The Florida Department of Health, which oversees the Board of Medicine, reports they have multiple cases pending against his license – cases put on hold until the felony charges were resolved. The doctor was already under order to not treat patients.

During the trial, the prosecution argued that Feldman’s prescriptions had far more to do with his greed than patients faking pain. The prosecutor said the MD handed out addictive drugs for years like they were candy, and ignored signs that clearly showed drug abuse.

Feldman’s defense lawyer told jurors that the doctor had been unfairly targeted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and was guilty of nothing more than incomplete recordkeeping.

Our Observations:

Note to doc: remember your 10 years of medical training? Remember that part about all those patient chart notes you took?

As so often happens with these lab coat loons, this wasn’t Edward Feldman’s first Felony conviction.  In 2004 he was found guilty of taking illegal cash payments from an MRI clinic. Yes, he was paid by the MRI people to send patients for testing – all paid for by insurance companies, of course – most of whom were in no need of an MRI exam at all.  This resulted in a brief suspension of his medical license and probation in lieu of jail time. He was stealing insurance money but, hey! He’s a doctor. It wasn’t like he was – you know – a common criminal.

Slaps on the degreed wrists for felony-level garbage behavior. As a society, how would you say that’s working out for us so far?

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Florida Jury: Psych Doc ‘Guilty’: Tried to Kill Her Ex-Husband

Dr Alexis Touchton-Williams 3

Dr Alexis Touchton-Williams

In a regrettable case we reported on last Fall, Doctor Alexis Touchton-Williams was arrested last September, and found guilty of Attempted Murder this week, in the shooting of her former husband, Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Williams.

Jurors in the city of Gainesville needed less than 3 hours Thursday afternoon to convict the doctor of Second Degree Attempted Murder, as well as Assault with a Deadly Weapon. The prosecution argued for First Degree Attempted Murder, because they believe the evidence showed Touchton-Williams planned the shooting prior to her former husband’s arrival, which happened on February 6, 2015, at her home. Frank Williams told deputies that his former wife looked at him in a strange way as they were talking  and then with no warning, pulled out a handgun and shot him. The bullet struck him in the arm.

The doctor was arrested by Alachua County Sheriff’s deputies on an original charge of Battery with a Deadly Weapon, and held on a $200,000 bond. When the charge was changed to Attempted Murder, the bail was raised to $950,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Williams, age 54, underwent surgery for the single gunshot wound to his arm. He was expected to fully recover.

At the time of her arrest, the doctor, age 39,  told deputies that her ex-husband showed up at her house drunk, to pick up their 5-year-old daughter. She said he assaulted her, so she shot him in self-defense. Frank Williams verified that he arrived to pick up the little girl, but said the discussion quickly turned to how they would divide ownership of a large piece of property they owned jointly. He said her face suddenly turned into a strange expression and that – he testified – was when she picked up the gun and fired once.

The shooting happened in front of their 5-year-old daughter. It is not known whether the little girl testified about what she saw, but the jury said they did not believe the doctor’s version of events.

Gainesville Psychiatry

At the time of the shooting, Doctor Touchton-Williams was the president of Gainesville Psychiatry in the city of Tioga. Frank Williams is a well-known federal prosecutor.

Touchton-Williams was handcuffed and taken to jail immediately after the judge read the verdict. She is expected to be sentenced in late July and faces the possibility of many years in prison.

Here’s more:

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20160526/ARTICLES/160529745/1002/news01?Title=Ex-wife-found-guilty-in-shooting-of-federal-prosecutor

Muslim MD Abandons Family and Patients; Joins Islamic Terrorists

 “Praise be to God for this terrorist act. God kill off their enemies, military and civilian, men and women, adult and children.” (Doctor Issam Abuanza) 

Question of the Day: How many Muslim physicians in the West are Islamic terrorist sympathizers?

DR ISSAM ABUANZA

Dr Issam Abuanza

An alarming story breaking in England this morning is that a National Health Service  doctor, who lived with his family in Sheffield, suddenly abandoned his wife and children to join Islamic terrorists in Syria.

Doctor Issam Abuanza – a Palestinian by birth – worked as a medical staff member at Scarborough Hospital before walking out on his family and job 18 months ago.

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A spokesman for the York Teaching Hospital Trust – which operates Scarborough Hospital – has told reporters that a physician by the name of Issam Abuanza had been employed there before suddenly leaving. He said Abuanza would have gone through the standard background assessments before he was hired. He had no suspicious history.
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Abuanza, age 37, attended medical school in Baghdad, Iraq in the years 2000-2003, and was issued a medical license in England in 2009. His family says there are totally stunned that he was able to hide he has been a  terrorist sympathizer without them knowing.

His wife has refused to discuss the case at all. His sister Najla, however, told a BBC News reporter this:

“We have no idea how he became like this or who showed him the path to terror. My dad spent all his money on his education and look! This is what he does.”

His family professes embarrassment and shame that their doctor posted “God bless this act of terrorism” on his Facebook page when the Charlie Hebdo attacks happened in Paris in January, 2015. The attacks at the headquarters of the satirical magazine killed 12 magazine staff members murdered by two Islamists shouting “Allahu akbar”.

In other posts, Abuanza has pronounced that America is “Godless”. On another social media site he said he wished that a Jordanian pilot, burnt alive by ISIS savages, had taken longer to die.

Here’s more:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/parents-nhs-doctor-who-left-8043086

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Air Ambulance Crash Case Won’t Go to Trial

A legal settlement has been agreed to in the case of a tragic EMS helicopter crash

MERCY AIR MED CRASH

The deadly remains of Mercy Air Med EMS air ambulance in Iowa

Pilot Gene Grell

Pilot Gene Grell

In Sioux City Iowa the parties involved in a multi-million dollar lawsuit have settled their case, involving  an emergency helicopter crash that killed 3 responders in a northern Iowa cornfield.

 

Paramedic Russek Piehl

Paramedic Russ Piehl

The helicopter had 3 people aboard: Paramedic Russ Piehl; Emergency Nurse Shelly Lair-Langenbau, as well as the Pilot Gene Grell when it went down at 9 pm on January 2, 2013, near the town of Ventura when it was en route to pick up a patient.

The helicopter operator was contracted to Mercy Medical Center in Mason City under the name Mercy Air Med.

The NTSB investigation team determined that ice build-up on the aircraft was the cause of the crash. They say that particular helicopter – a Bell 407 – was not equipped for, and should not have been flying in, freezing weather.

N Shelly

Shelly Lair-Langenbau, RN

The lawsuit was filed by the family of Nurse Shelly Lair-Langenbau against Med Trans Corporation in the months following the crash. The trial in Sioux City Federal Court was scheduled to start on June 6 when the settlement was reached. Details of the agreement have not yet been released.

Here’s another look at the ugly reality of EMS helicopters:

Iowa medical helicopter crash was second on same day

Fugitive Idaho Doctor Found Hiding in a Motorhome

Dr Rafael Beier 2

Dr Rafael W Beier

Northern Idaho physician  Rafael W. Beier was finally tracked down yesterday. FBI agents say he was hiding in a motorhome on his property in the city of Kingston, where he was handcuffed and taken back into custody.

Federal agents had been searching for the criminal doctor for about a week.

Beier, age 62, was found guilty of 66 federal drug charges last week. During the trial, the prosecution was able to prove that Beier illegally sold narcotic prescriptions of oxycodone and hydrocodone, to people who were not patients and had no medical need for the painkillers. 

During the trial, the jury saw the prescriptions written by the drug-dealing MD;  a video of him discussing drug sales with a witness; and they listened to an audio recording of an undercover informant buying a prescription from the lab coat loon in a bathroom. Witnesses testified they routinely sold drugs for Beier. They testified that Beier knew full well they were not patients – but drug dealers.

Beier had failed to appear at  U.S. District Court in Idaho last week, prompting the FBI to declare him a fugitiveHe was arrested by the  North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force, with the assistance of Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Department.

He surrendered to law enforcement after being confronted by a police dog. He could get 20 years in federal prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

Here’s another look at this case:

Drug dealing doctor found guilty of 66 crimes, disappeared at end of trial — caught hiding at home

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