No one expects their trusted family doctor to be a cold-blooded serial killer. . .

Demon Doctors
Physicians as Serial Killers

Kenneth V. Iserson, M.D.

ISBN: 1-883620-29-5
Approx. 420 pages, Bibliography, index
April 2002
#022 Price: $28.95

The Torture Doctor: H.H. Holmes
Serial killers' common characteristics
Japanese Biowarfare Experiments on Humans
The History of Biological Warfare

Why do doctors become serial killers? How do they kill? Do they share any common characteristics? Have there been many physician-killers in history?

To his surprise, the author found the answer to the last question was "yes." In this first volume of a two-volume series, Dr. Kenneth V. Iserson has assembled eight amazing profiles of some of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries' most heinous physician-serial killers and -mass murderers. These doctors have perverted the noble ideals of their profession, exploiting the trust inherent in the patient-doctor relationship to their own ends.


  • H. H. Holmes, M.D., "the torture doctor," and visit his castle of horrors, where young women died in its labyrinthine interior. This twisted tale gripped the American public at the turn of the century.

  • Linda Burfield Hazzard, "the starvation doctor," who zealously promoted her starvation diet "cures" in the 1920s, killing and robbing many of her patients.

  • Marcel Petiot, M.D., who practiced his dark arts, torturing and killing potential escapees from Nazi-occupied Paris.

  • Ishii Shiro, M.D., Ph.D. and his team of Japanese physician-researchers, who carried out a gruesome, state-sanctioned killing of tens of thousands of people in the name of science

  • Recently convicted Harold Shipman, M.D., who was beloved by his patients and perhaps the most prolific physician-serial killer in history.

The book also describes "typical" serial killers, the science of profiling, and stories of "minor players," physicians who also violated their solemn oath to "do no harm."

About the author: Kenneth V. Iserson, M.D., MBA, FACEP, is a professor of emergency medicine and director of the Arizona Bioethics Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. In his medical career, he has driven ambulances, served in the Air Force Medical Corps, worked with the Baltimore, MD, medical examiner's office, directed the medical activities of the Southern Arizona Rescue Association. He is also the author of hundreds of scientific articles and numerous books, including Death to Dust: What Happens to Dead Bodies, 2nd ed.; Iserson's Getting Into a Residency: A Guide for Medical Students, 5th ed.; Grave Words: Notifying Survivors about Sudden, Unexpected Deaths; Get Into Medical School: A Guide for the Perplexed; and Ethics in Emergency Medicine, 2nd ed. (senior editor). He has been interviewed by numerous organizations, including NPR's All Things Considered and Fresh Air, CBS's Up to the Minute, NBC's Dateline, BBC International, and the Canadian Broadcasting Company, and was recently cited in the New Yorker.

Advance Praise for Demon Doctors: Physicians as Serial Killers:

"A must read. It holds new information about a type of serial killer previously not dealt with in any detail. A wealth of information is presented but, more importantly, the book, Demon Doctors, adds to the knowledge in the field of serial murder. I welcome it to my own library and will recommend it to others. Congratulations are offered to Dr. Iserson for a splendid effort. Remember his name, it will become an important one in this field. "

Ronald M. Holmes
Vice President, The National Center for the Study of Unresolved Homicides, Inc.

"Dr. Iserson skillfully lifts the curtain on this dark side of medicine. He is especially effective in describing the germ warfare atrocities Japanese scientists and medical doctors committed in China. Some of the culprits were psychopaths, but most were ordinary men and women who followed orders. A troubling but important study. Highly recommended."

Sheldon Harris
Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932–45, and the American Cover-Up

"Dr. Iserson raises a warning flag, not only about serial-killing doctors, but also about the laxity of the medical profession in selecting new professionals and weeding out those who are dangerous."

Alan K. Reeter
President, Medfilms Inc.

"Caveat emptor. Patients and others shouldn’t get this book unless they are willing to have their worlds turned upside-down!"

Don Witzke, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Dept. of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

Univ. of Kentucky Medical School at Lexington

"As an avid reader of true crime, Demon Doctors was even more fascinating and horrific because all the murderers were physicians like myself."

Elizabeth Lindberg, M.D.
Director, Urgent Care, University Medical Center, Tucson, AZ

"A fascinating, concisely written, informative text about exceptional crime and criminals. Contains little-known forensic history and excellent detail."

Kris Foti, Ph.D.
Clinical psychologist, First Correctional Medical

"Absolutely fascinating read, dealing as it does with breaches of that rarest of things—absolute trust among strangers. Think about it: in these managed care days, what do you really know about your doctor?"

Steve Nash, JD
Executive Director of the Pima County, Arizona Medical Society

"What the critics say about Demon Doctors: Physicians as Serial Killers:"

"Dr. Iserson's timely book cannot fail to grab our attention as he collates details of the murderous careers of doctors whose victims were (predominantly, though not exclusively) their patients. The result is a catalogue of malevolence that would make for singularly chilling episodes in any documentary about the human capacity for cruelty and disregard for others' lives. . . .Dr. Iserson has performed a remarkable service."

James McGuire, Ph.D.
New England Journal of Medicine, October 17, 2002, Vol. 347, No. 16

"Physicians possess a unique opportunity to commit murder, both with their access to chemicals and their ability to sign a death certificate. . . . Each physician in this study represents a completely motivated and successful murderer. . . . This riveting study of transgression could only be written by someone working with the precision of a physician."

J. Uschuk
Tucson Weekly, Sept. 5-Sept. 11, 2002

For more information on Dr. Holmes' s life of crime and villainy, check out this first-ever feature-length documentary film, produced, written, and directed by John Borowski: H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer,
threaded with on-location footage from Holmes' past haunts, reenactments, expert interviews, and period photography:http://www.hhholmesthefilm.com/


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