Harold Shipman 1970, a convicted British serial murderer like Gordon. F. Cummin, studied medicine at Leeds School of Medicine before beginning his career as a doctor in 1970. He administered deadly dosages of analgesics to at least 215 and potentially to 260+ of his patients between then and the time of his arrest, which occurred in 1998.
Harold Frederick Shipman, better known as “Fred” or “Harold Shipman 1970,” was born on January 14, 1946, the middle child in a working-class household. His overbearing mother, Vera, was his primary caregiver. A feeling of inferiority that permeated all of his subsequent interactions led to him being an isolated teenager with few friends as a result of what she implanted in him at such an early age.
During the latter months of his mother’s life, she had lung cancer, and he volunteered to take charge of her care, amazed by the therapeutic impact morphine had on her suffering. A year after her death, he was accepted into Leeds University’s Medical School for training, despite having previously failed his admission tests. He completed his hospital internship before beginning his medical study two years later. Primrose, his future wife, was 17 months pregnant when she and he married while he was still a loner at the age of 19.
At the age of thirty-four, he was married with two children and working as a family doctor in Todmorden, Yorkshire, before developing an addiction to the drug Pethidine. After being detected forging prescriptions for huge quantities of the substance in 1975, he was compelled to quit the practice and attend a drug rehabilitation facility. He was found guilty of forgery and sentenced to a modest fine.
Later, Shipman joined the staff of Donnybrook Medical Centre in Hyde, where he established himself as an accomplished doctor who was respected by patients and colleagues alike, despite a reputation for arrogance amongst younger employees. This man worked there for over two decades, while other healthcare professionals showed just a passing interest in his conduct.
Doctor Shipman’s patients seemed to be dying at an extremely high rate, and they always died in identical poses: fully clothed, generally sitting up or lying down on the sofa. This murder operator is very different than that of Jack the Ripper. The local funeral director observed this trend and began to investigate more. As a result, he sought out Shipman’s advice and was reassured by the physician that there was nothing to worry about. Another doctor, Dr. Susan Booth, found the similarities worrisome and called the coroner’s office, which in turn called the police.
Despite a secret probe, Shipman was cleared, since his documents looked to be in order. As a result, no proof of Shipman’s past criminal or medical history was found throughout the investigation however, he wasn’t as intense as Peter Sutcliffe a necrophilic serial killer. After a more extensive inquiry, Shipman was found to have manipulated the medical records of individuals to support their cause of death. It’s very hard to determine precisely when Shipman started murdering his patients, or even how many people died as a result of his actions since he hid behind his role as a compassionate family doctor.
His denial of all allegations also didn’t help the police. Angela Woodruff, the daughter of one of the killer’s victims, was only able to put a stop to his murdering spree because she refused to believe the justifications offered for her mother’s death. 81-year-old widow Kathleen Grundy was discovered dead on her couch the day after Shipman had visited her, on June 24th, 1998. In light of Shipman’s advice, Woodruff followed her daughter’s requests and buried Grundy in line with her intentions. Woodruff, a lawyer, had managed her mother’s business since she was a child, so she was surprised to learn that her mother had left the majority of her assets to Dr. Shipman in a separate will.
It seemed to Woodruff that the paper was counterfeit and that Shipman had killed her mother, creating her will so that he might inherit her money. She notified the authorities, and Detective Superintendent Bernard Postles immediately came to the same conclusion after looking through the material. Her corpse was excavated and a postmortem confirmed that Grundy died from a morphine overdose taken within three hours of Shipman’s visit to her. Medical records, a strange collection of jewelry, and an ancient typewriter that had been used to create Grundy’s falsified will were discovered during the search of Shipman.
The medical records seized by the police immediately made it clear that the case would involve more deaths than just the one in question, so the focus shifted to deaths that would be the most fruitful to investigate, such as those who had not been cremated and died after Shipman had visited them at home. In a vast number of cases, Shipman advised families to cremate the remains of their loved ones, arguing that no further research into the reason for death was required, even though the cause of death was previously unknown to the families.
Shipman would offer electronic medical records if they questioned his cause of death statements in cases where they raised doubts.
Police later found out that Shipman, in most cases, would change these medical notes right after he killed the patient to make sure his story matched up with historical records. Shipman didn’t realize that the computer would time stamp each change to the records, so police could figure out which records had been changed. During a long investigation that included many exhumations and autopsies, the police charged Shipman with 15 counts of murder on September 7, 1998. They also charged him with one count of forgery.
It began on October 5, 1999, when Shipman’s trial began in Preston Crown Court. Shipman’s defense team tried to have him tried in three separate phases, with physical evidence in each case, and the Grundy case, where the forgery made it different from other cases. All of this was thrown out, and the trial went on with the 16 charges in the indictment, which were the only ones that could be tried. There were no fatal illnesses present in any of the fifteen patients Shipman murdered, thus the prosecution claimed that he killed them because he relished having power over life and death. The first witness was Woodruff.
Despite Shipman’s defense’s best efforts, the jury was pleased by her forthrightness and her portrayal of her unwavering commitment to uncovering the truth. Next, the pathologist for the government guided the court through the terrible postmortem results, in which morphine intoxication was the primary cause of death in most cases. Analysis of Grundy’s fingerprints found no evidence of her handling the will, and a handwriting expert discounted her signature as a clumsy fake.
Later, a police computer analyst testified that Shipman had manipulated his computer records to manufacture symptoms that his deceased patients never experienced, in most instances within hours after they died. After hearing the testimonies of additional victims and their loved ones, Shipman’s character flaws became more apparent. While his lack of compassion, disregard for family wishes, and reluctance to revive patients were bad enough on their own, another fraud was discovered: He would call the emergency services in the presence of relatives, pretend to do so, and then cancel the call out when he discovered that he had died. No calls were made, according to the phone records.
In the final stage, evidence of his drug hoarding was introduced, including false prescribing of morphine to patients who did not require it, over-prescribing of morphine to patients who did require it, as well as evidence of visits to the homes of recently deceased patients to collect unused drug supplies for “disposal.” When it came to portraying Shipman as a committed healthcare worker, his condescending tone throughout the trial did little to help his defense. He did not win any favors with the jury, despite their efforts, because of his arrogance and continually shifting accounts, especially after he was caught in blatant lying.
Although no one had witnessed Shipman kill any of his patients, the jury was sufficiently persuaded by the testimony and evidence presented, and they unanimously found Shipman guilty of all charges, including 15 counts of murder and one count of forgery, in the afternoon of January 31, 2000. Among the punishments handed down by the court were fifteen life sentences for forgery, as well as a four-year term for forgery that was reduced to a “whole life” sentence, thus eliminating the prospect of parole.
Shipman was jailed at Durham Correctional Facility. In the medical world, the discovery that a doctor had murdered 15 people was shocking, but it proved unimportant in the context of subsequent investigations that went deeper into the doctor’s patient case-listing history. A clinical audit done by Professor Richard Baker of the University of Leicester looked at the number and pattern of fatalities in Shipman’s practice and compared them to those in the practices of other doctors and other practitioners.
It was discovered that the mortality rates among Shipman’s senior patients were much higher than the general population that they were grouped at certain times of day and that Shipman was present in an excessively high number of instances.
He may have been responsible for the deaths of at least 236 patients throughout 24 years, according to the findings of the audit. An inquiry commission chaired by High Court Judge Dame Janet Smith examined the records of 500 patients who died while under Shipman’s care, and the 2,000-page report concluded that it was likely he murdered at least 218 of his patients, although Dame Janet offered this figure as an estimate rather than a precise calculation because certain cases did not provide sufficient evidence to allow for certainty.
While some report that his corpse is still in a Sheffield morgue, others think that his family has control of his remains, believing that he was killed in his cell and delaying his burial until more testing is completed.