Horrific Harvey’s Hellish History of Murder

I found this case to be exceptionally chilling because of the killer’s modus operandi and his temperament. While he was interviewed, the killer was emotionless, yet pleasant and matter-of-fact as he detailed his numerous, sordid crimes. He looked and acted like a calm, ordinary man yet he told a tale of horrific murders. 

John Powell
Cincinnati – 6′ foot tall, 43-year-old John Powell was a good-looking man who worked as a plumber. One day, he kissed Patricia, his wife and three kids good-bye, and set off for work on his motorcycle. It was a rather rainy day and roads were slippery. A car nearby went out of control, causing a severe accident. He hit the brakes to avoid hitting a pick-up truck and lost control of the bike. Severe head trauma put Powell in Drake Memorial Hospital where he remained on a respirator for 8 months. John’s loyal wife never left his side. Alas, during that time, Powell suffered continual bouts of pneumonia. No matter what doctors did, they couldn’t seem to beat it and finally Powell succumbed to the illness. Under Ohio law, a motorcycle accidental always merits an autopsy. Good thing.

serialkillerharvey1-300x300Dr. Lehman
Rookie pathologist Dr. Lehman conducted a Saturday morning autopsy. There must be more pleasant ways to spend a Saturday.  After reading the accident report, Lehman figured this autopsy would be pretty standard. Of course, that’s always a warning sign. After cutting into Powell’s chest cavity, Lehman saw tremendous scarring on Powell’s lungs. Yep. That was pneumonia alright. However, thorough young fellow that he was, Lehman continued with the autopsy, opening the stomach. After the first incision, the smell of bitter almonds filled the room and nearly knocked Lehman out. Bitter almonds? Uh-oh. That’s cyanide, most definitely not a symptom of pneumonia. The odor is almost painful to the nose.  Actually, it was lucky Lehman smelled bitter almonds. Some people can’t. It’s a genetic thing. We’ll say no more about that family tree.

Hmm. Now what? Lehman already had a cause of death, pneumonia. However, now the case had turned into a possible cyanide poisoning. Could the almond smell come from medication? Almond-flavored food? Lehman took fluid samples and sent them to toxicology. Lehman’s first speculation had been right. Powell died of cyanide poisoning. 1 mg was all it took. It doesn’t take much to kill someone with cyanide, especially a person with a comprised immune system. At least it’s a merciful way to go.

Now Lehman didn’t file an accidental death report. This was murder. Cincinnati Homicide launched a full-scale investigation. The first question they had to ask: who stood to benefit from Powell’s murder? Hm. Patricia Powell came to the forefront. Had she been draining money from the family’s life savings and needed to replace it? She could have taken out an insurance policy on her husband. Naturally, she denied it but detectives persuaded her to take a lie detector test. Guess what? She passed.

Donald_HarveyDonald Harvey
Now what? Detectives investigated plumbing clients, motorcycle friends, and anyone else they could find. All were cleared. Creepy thought, but those with the closest contact to Powell during his sick months were the medical staff. Police began to take polygraphs from all the nurses and medical assistants in the ward. One male nursing technician phoned in “sick”: Donald Harvey. As it would happen, Harvey was a regular for Powell’s care. Police picked him up for questioning.

The Confession
On Saturday March 7, 1987,  in a calm manner just before they strapped him up to the polygraph machine, Harvey admitted right away,I killed John Powell.” (25:48) It was easy, he said. He injected cyanide “into the G-tube.” He told police the cyanide was “crystal“, like a “coarse sugar.” Harvey was completely relaxed. He spoke as pleasantly with detectives as if they were discussing the weather instead of cyanide 101. “I remember fixing it with water that morning and shaking it up and dissolving it. It turns brown after it’s dissolved. Had it in a little vial and I only had about maybe 45 seconds. So I went in and I just poured it into the gastrointestinal tube and I went back out.” Police could almost see his chest swell with pride. A job well done, he seemed to be saying.

Harvey was detained at the Hamilton County Justice Centre. Harvey explained sensibly to his court-appointed attorney, William Whalen, that he was “just a mercy killer…because [Powell] was in pain, he would break out in a cold sweat. I was jut thinking about, he won’t get any better. I just thought what I was doing was right.” Perhaps Harvey did believe he was an Angel of Death? While working at Drake, Harvey had indeed acquired the nickname The Angel of Death’,  but it was because he always seemed to be nearby when a patient died”. Homicide investigators went to Harvey’s house and discovered yet another bizarre twist to his story. He had lied about where the cyanide had come from. He had arsenic and cyanide stashed in his cupboard at home. “About 30 pounds of it,” Harvey later admitted quite cheerfully.

Whalen hopped back over to the Justice Centre for another chat with his bizarre client. Whalen asked his client if he had killed A199449anyone else. Oh, yes. Whalen figured maybe 2 or 3. Whalen figured mighty low. Harvey didn’t blink an eye when he told him. “70.” Harvey was discovered as the first – and most prolific – medical serial killer in America.  It wasn’t only hospital patients he killed.

Other Murders and Attempt Murders
When Harvey suspected his lover Carl Hoeweler of infidelity, he poisoned Hoeweler’s food with arsenic so he would be too ill to leave their apartment. In January 1984, Hoeweler broke off the relationship with Harvey. Harvey was angry at the rejection and spent the next two years trying to kill Hoeweler with his poisonous concoctions. Two years? Clearly, Harvey enjoyed watching his former lover suffer from the poisoning. Harvey also tried to kill a female friend of Hoeweler as a way to get his revenge. He poisoned two of his neighbors after a fight with them, sickening one named Howeler, and killing one, named Helen Metzger. He also killed Hoeweler’s father Henry, with arsenic after they too fought.

5bBefore he obtained work at Drake Memorial Hospital, Harvey worked for several years at Drake V.A. Hospital. While leaving work on July 18, 1985, security guards noticed Harvey acting suspiciously. They searched a gym bag he was carrying and discovered a .38-caliber pistol, hypodermic needles, surgical scissors and gloves, a cocaine spoon, various medical texts, two occult books, and a biography of serial killer Charles Sobhraj.   Harvey was permitted to quietly resign from his job rather than being fired. Darn. That might have thrown a cog in Harvey’s poisonous wheel.

Harvey’s History
The DA ordered the county to exhume 10 bodies buried in various cemeteries in the city for medical examination. Harvey wasn’t exaggerating. He really had gone on a successful killing spree. Harvey’s father Ken Rischetelli, insisted that his son was brought up in a loving family environment. David Andrews, principal of the elementary school Harvey attended, reiterated McKinney’s comments: “Donnie was a very special child to me. He was always clean and well dressed with his hair trimmed, arriving to school on the most beautiful golf cart I’ve ever seen in my life. I remember he used to call me Principal Biggun’. He was a happy child, very sociable and well-liked by the other children.”

But former classmates described him as a loner and a teacher’s pet. He rarely participated in extracurricular activities. Harvey wasn’t the most popular boy in class but he wasn’t hated. either. No one seemed to know him very well.

serialkillerharvey-300x198The Plea Bargain With a lump in his throat, Whalen returned to the DA’s office and managed to secure a plea bargain: Harvey would escape the death sentence and instead serve 3 life sentences, plus three terms of seven to 25 years, for the 24 murders he would detail for the prosecution. Two years later, the investigation into the remaining deaths was closed after investigators determined that there was not enough evidence to pursue them. It took 12 hours for Harvey to meticulously relate his 17-year killing history to the prosecution. Names, dates and even patient numbers were solid in his memory. The grocery list was sinister: strychnine (a really nasty one), adhesive cleaner, cyanide, insulin, turning off ventilators, injecting people with HIV, morphine, arsenic, plastic bags (suffocation), pillows (they left marks). It turned out his motive wasn’t to function as a mercy killer. No one kills that many people “out of mercy.” He wanted to be featured in the Guinness Book of World Records. Seriously. After a number of years in prison, Harvey admitted that many of the murders were due to anger at the victims.

In a 1991 interview with a reporter from the Columbus Dispatch, Harvey gave what he believed to be a satisfactory explanation for the killings.
“Why did you kill?”
“Well, people controlled me for 18 years, and then I controlled my own destiny.  I controlled other people’s lives, whether they lived or died.  I had that power to control.”
What right did you have to decide that?”
“After I didn’t get caught for the first 15, I thought it was my right.  I appointed myself judge, prosecutor and jury.  So I played God.”

defending-donald-harvey-bruce-martin-paperback-cover-artKilling was easy for Harvey. He worked in a place where people died on a daily basis. He used poisons that acted very quickly and he kept a low profile. His advice for aspiring serial killers? “Just be nice and polite, I guess.” Harvey actually believes he will be released from prison one day. “I’m only doing 3 twenties…[untrue – he is forgetting the additional 3 terms of 7 to 25 years]…Let’s say I’m 85 when I get out of prison. I can’t say yes or no if I would continue to kill patients or not, because I don’t know. Who knows?”  In 1993 The Associated Press listed the five most prolific American serial killers. Donald Harvey was rated number one, followed by John Wayne Gacy, Patrick Kearney, Bruce Davis and Dean Corll. Personally I would have had Ted Bundy at the top of the list. Had it not been for a new pathologist who refused to perform a perfunctory autopsy on a murder victim, Donald Harvey would still be killing today. Harvey’s first scheduled parole hearing is set for 2047.  He will be 95.   









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Wicked Webb Wove a Wily Web of Lies

Originally posted on Deathly Dames Inc.:

Sussex –  New Hampton – Britain – Dana Lynn Webb (née Holmes)  (also spelled Dena Webb) was an attractive blonde who was twice divorced. No matter. She was determined to find love again. Webb looked for love by advertising in personal ads, claiming she was a “Bubbly Blonde“. There was truth to that but her cutsie ad and pretty smile masked a sociopath driven by greed. Businessmen, teachers, a prison officer and a convicted rapist fell for her charms before she dumped them or  vanished. Detectives believed Thompson successfully conned her victims out of a total of £500,000.

B_feat_widow2-460x242Richard Thompson
was a telecommunications manager. In 2000, he discovered Webb’s ad and soon the two met and began dating. Thompson was quite affluent. He owned a nice home and a yacht. He was a fan of deep-sea fishing.  Webb falsely claimed she shared the same passion. Webb believed wholly in…

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Disastrous Dance of Death Between a Distressed Duo

This tale of woe is rather odd since the youtube video about the case, Happily Never After, and newspapers differ in the identifies of the people involved. Oscar Cruz, Ewing’s husband, is also identified as Alexander Vargas. I’ve chosen to use the identities from the video.

Victoria Lee was born in Carty, Nebraska. She was a golden-haired little tomboy with loving parents. Eventually the family moved to Iowa. An ambitious teenager, she majored in political science at Omaha College. She ran for city council in her hometown and won. Lee also took up ballroom and Latin dancing.

Oscar Cruz, a man 7 years older than Lee, was born into a Mexican family. He loved animals and was very nurturing. Cruz’s parents worried about his well-being since they lived in a rough neighborhood. They sent Cruz to Omaha, Nebraska to live. It was difficult to leave his family but he knew it was the best .Cruz and Lee became friends during college but they didn’t date. Cruz was a farmer by trade. His aim was to own his own farm. He also loved dancing.

At the age of 25, Lee ran into Cruz again at a dance hall. They 50c66b91d49d6_imagewere instantly enamored with each other although Cruz had a girlfriend and Lee had a boyfriend. The two couldn’t date. Eventually these relationships ended and Lee and Cruz became involved with each other. At the dances they attended, they did several sexy dances together. It was obvious to everyone that there was a strong connection between Lee and Cruz. Cruz, however was the jealous type. He didn’t like it when Lee danced with other men. Never mind. Lee was in love and she became engaged to the handsome man. The two seemed to have the world at their dancing feet. Giddy with love, Lee was thrilled when her family welcome Cruz into the fold. They had been friends for several years before they became lovers, a good recipe for a successful marriage.

Once Lee and Cruz were married, it seemed their joy knew no bounds. They considered to be the perfect match. However six weeks after their wedding the unthinkable happened. Lee called police to report that a stranger had intruded on their property and he appeared to be armed with a gun. “Hurry! Please!” she screamed. During a second call gunshots were fired in the background. She screamed, “no! Please don’t! Stop it!” Then a distinctive thud, followed by a falling phone, was heard.

arsonThe deputy and other officers raced to the residence, located near Ewing County. When they finally arrived, they discovered the house was engulfed in flames. Felix Ruez (also identified as Francisco Romez in newspapers)lingered outside the home, seemingly panicked because his two married roommates were trapped inside the residence. Firefighters doused the fire but the house was utterly decimated. Police entered the residence and found two bodies burnt beyond recognition. They were later identified as Cruz and Lee. Ruez on the other hand, had escaped unscathed. Minutes after Lee’s 9-1-1 phone call, another house fire with two dead bodies inside occurred. Strange. Was there a connection the wondered?

Police questioned Ruez. He seemed quite distraught but rather than leave the scene as he had every right to do, he hung around to talk to police. That’s one of those things that make you go hmmmm…  Investigators don’t believe this was a natural fire. Clever bunch. They treated the scene as a homicide. Ruez wanted to give police the impression that he was a good person who wanted to help. He claimed he was awoken earlier in the night when he heard footsteps around the house but he went back to sleep, ignoring the noise. Later he heard a “crackling sound” and opening his door, he discovered the house was ablaze. Naturally the Cruz and the Lee families were devastated. “It doesn’t really seem like she’s gone…I keep waiting for her to walk in the door,” Lee’s mother commented sadly.

Ruez owned the home. Investigators couldn’t find the murder weapon so they ruled out murder-suicide. They surmised that Rauz had shot the couple then set the house on fire to hide the evidence. The coroner quickly reached the conclusion that both people had been shot to death. However police were wrong about Ruez. Months earlier, the couple had moved into Cruz’ residence on the other side of town, which was close to Lee’s former 33-mattyear-old boyfriend, Matt Hinrichsen. Hinrichsen had an anxious detachment disorder. He was furious when he found out about the wedding. He often made threatening phone calls to his ex-girlfriend. “I’m done with you. You’re worthless! You’re a piece of trash!” he yelled into the phone. Lee hoped Hendrickson truly was “done with her” but he kept calling and threatening her. Finally she got a restraining order. She and Cruz even put their house up for sale and moved to Missouri Valley with Lee’s family. Hinrichsen found out where they were and began calling the Lee residence.

Lee finally changed her surname on her social media profile. This made the couple’s mattmarriage highly public. She took Cruz’ name. She was proud to identify herself as Cruz’ wife. Of course this enraged Hinrichsen even more when he discovered the name change. Lee refused to let Hinrichsen upset her but hours after his last phone call, the Cruz’ moved out of the Lee residence and moved in with Raez. It didn’t help. Hinrichsen found the couple and planned their murder. Police learned of Hendrickson’s intrusion into the couple’s life and made an arrest. Hinrichsen was charged with first degree murder in both Cruz and Lee’s deaths. Hinrichsen confessed to his father that he had killed the couple.Police recovered the clothing Hinrichsen had worn the night of the murders and ran DNA tests on Hinrichsen’s clothing and discovered blood and brain grey matter that belonged to Lee and Cruz. Ick.

Hinrichsen used an AK-47 to murder the young couple. He shot Cruz three times. He beat Lee with the gun until she was dead. He then lit the house on fire. At the end of Hinrichsen’s trial in Antelope County, the jury found Hinrichsen guilty on both counts of first degree murder. Hinrichsen felt no remorse. His only regret was that he was caught and imprisoned for the crimes. Hinrichsen received a life sentence with the possibility of parole. He is incarcerated in the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.  His next parole date is set for April in 2024.




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Deathly Dames Inc….

…an introduction….. my new blog that I’ve added to wordpress – it features only female murderers and deadly duos that include a female partner…..do have a visit and feel free to add comments to the blogs….


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Lovely, Lascivious Lynn Loved Making Law Enforcers Languish

Originally posted on Deathly Dames Inc.:

Cobb County – Georgia – 1993 Pretty, 32-year-old brunette JuliaLynn  Womack had what some people call a uniform fetish. She loved cops. If they had a badge and a gun she was a fan. These things represent power and authority and that was a heady combination for our Lynn. Oh, and a wallet didn’t hurt either. Naturally she worked at a police station but it was after hours where Womack got to strut her stuff. One night Womack crossed paths at a bar in Atlanta with Glen Turner. Glen was the opposite of Lynn. Where she was wily and manipulative, he was gullible. Glen wasn’t a handsome man by any means and he  considered himself very fortunate to have Lynn in his life. Other cops avoided her. She seemed sneaky and she was a rough type of woman. Within only 2 months however, the love-struck Glenn became engaged to his girlfriend…

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Krazy Kratto and Kody Killed Kind Costanzo

West Wendover, Nevada – 2011 – 18-year-old Mormon Toni Fratto seems to be a quiet, reserved teenager who minds her own business.  She was highly intelligent and diligent in her work. Alas, that wasn’t to last. She met 18-year-old Kody Patten, who is smitten toni-frattoby the plain, shy girl and the feeling was mutual. Patten became her whole world. He was her first and only love. It wasn’t long before the two became engaged. Fratto’s parents had their reservations: Fratto was very young and Patten was her first boyfriend. Patten also revealed himself to be a “bad boy” and Fratto was too inexperienced to realize this wasn’t a desirable trait in a husband. Naturally Fratto’s parents were concerned.

Patten also had anger management problems. He had a hair-trigger temper and used it on Fratto. It was no wonder that kody-pattenFratto tolerated his behavior: she had no self-worth to mention. At one point during the school year, security cameras at West Wendover High School revealed footage of Patten choking Fratto. However, Fratto had the mental and emotional maturity of a 15-year-old. She didn’t know she was being abused. She didn’t tell anyone.

Fratto’s parents knew nothing about this and they decided to accept the teens’ engagement. They opened their homes and their lives to Patten. They allowed Patten to move in with them, figuring it was a good influence on their future son-in-law. They discussed the Mormon religion with him and tried to welcome him into the fold. They had another agenda. Mrs. Fratto worried that Toni would elope with Patten if she didn’t keep a close eye on the two lovebirds.

There was one fly in the ointment that irked Fratto. Patten still Micaela-Costanzoassociated with 16-year-old Micaela (Micky) Costanzo, a childhood friend. Patten had no interest in Micky, although they had once dated. It hadn’t felt right between the two of them. They were buddies, nothing more, but Fratto didn’t believe him. She warned Patten to cool it with Costanzo and distance himself from his pretty-looking platonic friend. It wasn’t that difficult to understand: Costanzo was much more attractive than Fratto, she was outgoing and very popular. Costanzo tried to reassure Fratto that she had no interest in Patten. In fact, Costanza had a boyfriend of her own. Fratto was having none of it. She refused to believe both Patten and Costanzo’s protests about a mutual, romantic interest. Some people suggested Costanzo had expressed an interest in reuniting with Patten. Who knows?

Lest we think Fratto was the only pathological partner in the relationship, Patten was equally “jealous and possessive and isolating.” Oddly, Patten approached Costanzo one day and cut her arm with a box-cutter. Wisely, Costanzo put a wide distance between herself and Patten. This enraged Patten. Perhaps there was something to Fratto’s fears after all.

Over time, Fratto’s diaries became disturbing. In a frenzy, she wrote at length about her jealousies and suspicions towards Costanzo. Fratto was certain that Patten would leave her for Costanzo. She wrote pages about her hatred for Costanzo and her suspicions about her betrothed. She didn’t, however, write about a desire to kill Costanzo. This may have been her one saving grace when receiving her sentencing during her murder trial.

One afternoon after school, Patten waited for Costanzo after she finished her track meet. He lured Costanzo to his SUV, bound her wrists then pushed her into the back seat, ignoring the girl’s pleas to set her free. Fratto joined him in the passenger seat and they set off for a deserted area called “the gravel pits.” This was no impromptu act – it was a plan that had long been In the making. You know what’s coming next, don’t you? They pulled Costanzo out of the car. Fratto sat on Costanzo’s legs while Costanzo’s childhood friend slit her throat. It was a very personal manner of death. Fratto and Patten stared into her eyes. Fratto hit her on the back of her head with a shovel. Ouch. They could have killed Costanzo quickly and painlessly but Fratto wanted to see her rival suffer. After a quick burial in a shallow grave, the two left, quite proud of their grisly accomplishment.

Costanzo’s parents reported their daughter as missing since frattopatensplitMarch 3.  Police asked around and discovered the jealousy Fratto held toward Costanzo. It was on March 5, 2011, that Costanzo’s body was found in a shallow grave near the Utah border. It wasn’t long before they arrested Patten. After learning about the incident, Fratto’s father pulled her out of bed at night and, while still in her pajamas, forced her to go to the police station and turn herself in. Lucky for Fratto, coming forward about her part in Costanzo’s murder led to a plea deal that prevented her from receiving the death sentence. Fratto claimed she didn’t know why she murdered her peer. She insisted it was Patten’s idea. Ultimately, both Fratto and Patten were indicted for Costanzo’s first degree murder.

In court, Fratto’s defense attorney questioned the Fratto’s decision to allow Patten to live with them. “Knowing what you know about that [school] attack on [Fratto], why would you open your home to [Patten]?”  Toni was very much in love with Kody,” was the only reply Cassie Fratto could provide.  Frankly, I think attacking Fratto’s parents for an errant decision made no sense. It only served to humiliate the Fratto’s even further. After the murder trial, the jury found both Patten and Fratto guilty of first degree murder. The judge stated, “[Micaela] suffered during the attack. It took a long time for her to die. Horrible suffering.”



Weeping, Fratto said in court before her sentencing: ‘I would like to apologise for my actions and the tragedy that has happened. I know what I did was wrong. I’m sorry for what I did to Micaela and for what I did not do, protect her. It does not change what happened. But I do mean I’m sorry.’ It certainly didn’t. Fratto received life in prison with the possibility of parole in 10 years. Seriously.

The Fratto’s refused to give up on their murderous daughter. After her incarceration, every Sunday after church, Fratto’s parents visited her in the Elko County jail. They said since getting away from Patten she had changed and was a better person. I’m so sure. Cassie stated she hoped her daughter will eventually have a productive life. “She has a dream of helping others. She wants to help others who have suffered through abuse, or the pain and anguish of having someone take your life away from you. We have our Toni back.”

Too bad the Constanzo’s can’t say the same thing.


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Elliot Rodger – The Virgin Killer

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