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Serial Killer Profile: Harold Shipman

harold shipman


Harold Shipman, born in Nottingham, England on January 14, 1946, was a British doctor that went on to become the most prolific serial killer in the history of the United Kingdom.

Harold Shipman became a doctor in 1974 and started working at a practice in Halifax, West Yorkshire. In 1975 he was caught forging prescriptions of pethidine for his own use and was sent to a drug rehab clinic. He cleaned up and was released and began practicing medicine again in 1977 at Donneybrook Medical Centre in Hyde, Tameside, Greater Manchester. Harold Shipman practiced medicine in the Hyde area until for many years after that and became one of the most respected members of the community.

In March of 1998 a doctor at a clinic near to the one run by Harold Shipman voiced concerns about the high death rate amongst Harold Shipman's patients. The doctor, Dr. Linda Reynolds, expressed concern to the coroner that Harold Shipman was killing his patients either through malpractice or more sinister means. The police did investigate but were unable to find enough evidence to bring charges against Harold Shipman.

On June 24, 1998, one of Harold Shipman's patients, Kathleen Grundy, was found dead at her home. Harold Shipman as the last person to see her alive and was the person that signed her death certificate. Suspicion was raised when Grundy's daughter, Angela Woodruff, discovered that her mother's will had been changed and that it excluded her child and instead left £386,000 to Harold Shipman. When Woodruff took this information to the police it resulted in Kathleen Grundy's body being exhumed. When her body was examined it was found to contain traces of diamorphine. With this evidence, Harold Shipman was arrested on September 7, 1998. When the police searched his home they found that Harold Shipman owned a typewriter that matched the will. He had used it to type up a fake will in which he was left the money.

Once this case came to the attention of the police they then began to investigate other deaths that took place under the care of Harold Shipman. What emerged was a pattern of him overdosing patients with morphine, signing their death certificates, and then forging medical records to indicate they were in poor health.

Harold Shipman went to court on October 5, 1999 and was tried for the murders of Marie West, Irene Turner, Lizzie Adams, Jean Lilley, Ivy Lomas, Muriel Grimshaw, Marie Quinn, Kathleen Wagstaff, Bianka Pomfret, Naomi Nuttall, Pamela Hillier, Maureen Ward, Winifred Mellor, Joan Melia and Kathleen Grundy, over a period from 1995 to 1998. On January 31, 2000, Harold Shipman was convicted of killing fifteen patients with lethal injections of diamorphine and was sentenced to life imprisonment and it recommended that he should never be released.

After his conviction, an investigation was conducted into the killings that concluded that the true number of his victims would probably never be known but that it is likely that Harold Shipman was responsible for the deaths of up to 250 of his patients.

At 6:20 a.m. on January 13, 2004, Harold Shipman was found hanging in his cell. He had killed himself the day before he 58th birthday. It is thought that he picked this time to kill himself because if he died before his 60th birthday his wife would receive a full pension from his work as a doctor. If he lived past the age of 60 she wouldn't have received the pension.