Harold Shipman: A British Serial Killer who killed 250 people

Harold Shipman

Harold Shipman: A British Serial Killer who killed 250 people

Harold Shipman, widely known as “Dr. Death,” is thought to have killed at least 250 people. He worked in Greater Manchester, England, at two offices from 1992-1998, killing the entire time.

Harold started working as a doctor in 1970 and killed maybe up to 260 of his patients by injecting them with fatal amounts of drugs after becoming a doctor.

Dr. Harold Shipman emerged as Dr. Death while killing 218-260 patients | Source: BuzzFeed Unsolved Network

Early Life

Harold Fredrick Shipman, better known as “Fred,” was born in Nottingham, England on Jan 14, 1946. , Vera, Harold’s mother, favored him over all her children. She gave him a false sense of superiority when he was young, which ruined most of his relationships and left him alone as a teenager with few friends.

Harold had only a few friends during his teenage having a false sense of superiority | Source: BuzzFeed Unsolved Network

When his mother was diagnosed with fatal lung cancer, Harold took care of her with great affection. He was amazed at how giving her mother morphine eased her pain until she died on June 21, 1963.

Family and Career Life

After the death of Harold’s mother, he was determined to go to medical school. Probably, his inspiration to become a doctor came from his mother’s death. So, he attended Leeds University Medical School to begin training in 1965.

He met Primrose at Leeds University, who became his wife at 19. Soon, Primrose became pregnant with his child. They decided to marry just after one year in 1966.

Harold married Primrose in 1966 | Source: BuzzFeed Unsolved Network

Harold started working as a doctor in Todmorden, Yorkshire, in 1974. At first, he did well as a family doctor, but he had to quit his job as a doctor after his coworkers caught him forging prescriptions for large amounts of drugs. He was given a small fine and found guilty of fraud following the investigation.

Crimes of Harold Shipman

Since Harold claimed to be a caring family doctor, it is hard to say exactly when he started killing his patients or how many died at his hands. His rejection of all charges did not help the police to estimate the exact rate of his crimes.

The only thing that stopped his killing spree was Angela Woodruff, who unveiled the terrible crimes of Harold Shipman. She was the daughter of one of his victims who did not believe the manipulative stories of Harold on the death of her mother.

Kathleen Grundy, Angela’s mother, was a former mayor and widow. She was found dead in her home on June 24, 1998, after Harold had visited her for a routine check-up.

Harold Shipman murdered Kathleen by giving her a high dose of morphine | Source: BuzzFeed Unsolved Network

Angela was a lawyer. She had always taken care of her mother’s business. It remained a surprise to her when she found her mother had left most of her fortune to Dr. Harold in another will.

Angela was sure that the will paper was fake and Harold killed her mother after faking the will to get money. After realizing this, Angela informed the local police, and Detective Superintendent Bernard Postles quickly came to the same conclusion after looking at the proof.

Handwriting experts said Kathleen’s signature was a proof fake. Fingerprints on the fake will showed she had never touched the real will.

Angela Woodruff found the fake will of Kathleen and caught Harold | Source: BuzzFeed Unsolved Network

Trial and Aftermath

Later on, the investigation of Kathleen’s case led to further exposure to Harold’s murderous patients. Police found that Hraold usually changed the medical papers after killing his patients to make sure his story matched the historical records.

Harold did not understand that the computer would record the time of each change to the records. This allowed the cops to figure out which records Harold changed and tampered with.

Authorities looked into the case of Harold for a long time and did many tests and autopsies before charging Harold with 15 counts of murder and one count of forgery on Sep 7, 1998.

Harold convicted for 15 women in 1998 | Source: BuzzFeed Unsolved Network

Finally, authorities revealed the proof of drug stockpiling of Harold in court. It came to know that Harold prescribed too much morphine to patients who did not need it.

It was the government doctor who told the court about the horrible autopsies that showed most of the seats of Harold’s patients were caused by morphine poisoning.

Harold murdered all his patients with an overdose of morphine | Source: BuzzFeed Unsolved Network

Jail Sentence

The court carefully summarized the evidence. The jury was convinced enough by the testimony that official government sources gathered against Harold. The Preston Crown Court found Harold guilty of all charges. It includes 15 counts of murder and one count of forgery on Jan 31, 2000.

Preston High Court convicted and gave a life jail sentence to Harold in 2000 | Source: BuzzFeed Unsolved Network

The judge gave fifteen life sentences for murders and a four-year sentence for forgery. In this way, he faced a whole-life jail sentence. He was imprisoned at Durham Prison.

Victims of Harold Shipman

When news came out that a doctor had killed 15 patients, it shocked the medical community. However, other investigations looked into his patient case list, which extended to more than 250 patient murders.

Separately, an inquiry mission led by High Court Judge Dame Janet Smith looked at the records of 500 patients who died while under Harold’s care. It was a 2,000-page report that revealed it was likely 218-260 murderous patients at the hands of Harold in 1971-1998.

The detailed 2000-page investigative report of Harold revealed his massive murders | Source: Getty Images

Click here to read a horrific story of use of curry and cyanide by Jolly Joseph

Motive of Harold Shipman Behind Murders

The motivations of Harold Shipman behind the murders were unknown. He never confessed his crime, while some people speculated that Harold was attempting to avenge his mother’s murder.

However, others showed that Harold believed he was performing euthanasia. It refers to eliminating older people from society who would otherwise have become a burden on the healthcare system.


Harold moved from Durham to Wakefield Prison in June 2003. He hanged himself in his Wakefield jail cell on Jan 13, 2004, after one year. He had tied bed sheets to the window bars of his cell to hang himself.

Harold hanged himself in 2004 in Wakefield prison | Source: BuzzFeed Unsolved Network

There is still some confusion about where his dead body is. Some say it is still in a morgue in Sheffield, while others predict that his family had custody of his body because they think he might have been killed in his cell and did not want to bury him until more tests were done.


Harold Shipman, notoriously known as Dr. Death, is guilty of the most shocking serial killings in British history. He murdered at least 215 patients, probably up to 260, using lethal injections of drugs operating under the guise of a caring family doctor.

His crimes were uncovered due to the perseverance of Angela Woodruff, the daughter of one of his victims, which led to his arrest, trial, and eventual conviction on multiple counts of murder and forgery.

Harolrd’s motives remain covered in mystery. The heinous actions of Harold left a lasting impact on the medical community and society.

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