Harvey Indicted for Nine Slayings
Nov. 02, 1987
LONDON, Ky. (AP) _ Former nurse's aide Donald Harvey, who has confessed to killing dozens of patients at hospitals in Ohio and Kentucky, pleaded guilty today to slaying nine patients at a London hospital and was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years.
His Kentucky sentence, handed down by Circuit Judge Lewis Hopper, will run concurrently with life terms he received in Ohio.
Harvey was indicted with eight counts of murder and one count of manslaughter, although he told prosecutors he had killed 13 people at Marymount Hospital in 1970 and 1971.
Laurel County Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Handy said he asked the grand jury for indictments on only those slayings that could be confirmed. Harvey was able to supply the names of three of his victims, and authorities were sure of only six others.
Handy said six of the Marymount patients were killed when their oxygen supply was cut off, two were suffocated with a pillow and the ninth died of a punctured bladder. The manslaughter charge involved a patient whom Harvey turned over so he was face-down on his piloow.
''My heart breaks every time they bring the charge (for each slaying) because they are talking about my brother,'' said Patricia Combs of Cincinnati, Harvey's sister. ''I'm glad it's almost over with, at least this phase of it.''
Harvey received three consecutive life terms in Ohio for killing 25 people, 21 of them patients at at Drake Memorial Hospital in Cincinnati.
Harvey, 35, has said he began killing patients at Marymount. He has also given statements to the FBI about 17 alleged slayings of patients at Veterans Administration Medical Center in Cincinnati.
Had he not been caught finally in Cincinnati, Harvey said, he would have continued killing indefinitely. His streak was ended almost by chance earlier this year after a medical examiner performing an autopsy on the victim of a motorcycle crash smelled the almond odor of cyanide in the man's stomach cavity.
''If I'd injected him through the veins instead I would've been all right,'' Harvey told the Lexington Herald-Leader in an hour-long jailhouse interview Sunday.
Harvey has said the hospital slayings were mercy killings.
''I felt what I was doing was right,'' he said. ''I was putting people out of their misery. I hope if I'm ever sick and full of tubes or on a respirator someone will come and end it.''
Psychologists and prosecutors have said Harvey has a personality disorder that enables him to kill without qualms and is a compulsive murderer who killed because it gave him a feeling of power.
''I've been portrayed as a cold-blooded murderer, but I don't see myself that way,'' Harvey told the newspaper. ''I think I'm a very warm and loving person.''