A former nurse’s aide dubbed the Angel of Death after he admitted killing three dozen hospital patients in Ohio and Kentucky died Thursday, two days after he was attacked and beaten in his prison cell.
Donald Harvey, who was serving multiple life sentences, was found injured in his cell Tuesday afternoon at the Ohio state prison in Toledo, officials said. A patrol report said the 64-year-old was beaten when an unnamed person entered his cell.
Harvey pleaded guilty in 1987 to killing 37 people, mostly while he worked as a nurse’s aide at hospitals in Cincinnati and London, Kentucky. He later claimed he was responsible for killing 18 others while working at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Cincinnati.
A relative of one of Harvey’s victims expressed some regret but also suggested his death might be comeuppance.
“I’m kind of sad to hear it. But he was involved in about 50 people’s deaths, and I guess maybe the good Lord gave him what he deserved,” said Larry Bellamy, of Louisville, Kentucky, whose father-in-law is believed to be Harvey’s second victim.
Cyanide, suffocation cited in killings
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, who was an assistant on the case decades ago, said Harvey caused a great deal of pain.
“It may sound harsh, but the reality is that I do not have any compassion for Donald Harvey,” Deters said.
Harvey told his former attorney the killings began in 1970 when was at Marymount Hospital in Kentucky.
Many of his victims were chronically ill patients and he claimed he was trying to end their suffering.
Harvey used arsenic and cyanide to poison most of his victims, often putting it in the hospital food he served them, prosecutors said. Some of the patients were suffocated when he let their oxygen tanks run out.
Twenty-one of the people Harvey killed were patients at the former Drake Memorial Hospital in Cincinnati, where he worked as a nurse’s assistant.
He was caught after a medical examiner smelled cyanide while performing an autopsy on a victim.
Harvey told a newspaper after he pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty that he liked the control of determining who lived and died.
Former Hamilton County Prosecutor Arthur Ney Jr., who prosecuted the cases in Cincinnati, said Harvey was not a mercy killer.
“He killed because he liked to kill,” Ney said.