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Demon Doctors: Physicians as Serial Killers

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 05 October 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:781
  1. Cameron Stark, consultant in public health medicine (
  1. Highland NHS Board, and honorary senior lecturer Highlands and Islands Health Research Institute, Inverness

    Kenneth V Iserson

    Galen Press, $28.95, pp 520

    ISBN 1883620295

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    Iserson writes clearly, although with occasional overtones of melodrama: given the subject matter, this is probably hard to avoid. Herman Mudgett, for example, is thought to have killed more than 130 people in the United States in the 1880s and 1890s. A graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School, he already had a childhood history of torturing and killing animals. While a medical student, he stole corpses and used them in insurance frauds. Working as a pharmacist in Chicago, he used the proceeds of various other frauds to construct a rooming house built to his specification by teams of builders, none of whom knew the whole plan. Mudgett included sound proof and airtight rooms, a dissecting room, an industrial size …

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