Possible Institutional Killer at Stepping Hill Hospital

on July 19, 2011 in Unsubs by

Investigators in Stockport, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom suspect a serial killer is at work in Stepping Hill Hospital. Two men and a women died following what appeared to be a deliberate contamination of their saline drips with insulin.

Another eleven victims were poisoned, but survived. One was in critical condition, but has recovered.

A small army of detectives has descended on the hospital and is planning to question up to sixty staff members.

Dr Chris Burke, chief executive of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, said:

Staff at the hospital brought this matter to our attention and I’ve asked them to continue to be extra vigilant to help safeguard patients. We have increased security both in terms of access to the hospital and access to medicines.

MP for Cheadle Mark Hunter said:

I think the hospital have acted entirely responsibly, acted very promptly calling the police in as soon as they knew there was a problem.

The really important thing now is that the police are allowed to conclude their investigations as a matter of some urgency to provide reassurance to the wider community.

From reading the coverage of the incident, it seems to be British Law that I mention the similarities in this case and that of Beverley Allitt, who killed four children at a hospital in Lincolnshire in the early 1990’s.

There are two main profiles for this sort of institutional serial killer. The first is a so-called Angel of Mercy. This is a person who convinces him- or herself that it is best to end the suffering of certain patients. This could begin as an honest concern or a rationalization, but over time, the unsub becomes addicted to killing.

The other profile is the Angel of Death. This person wants to brings victims to the edge of death, and then “save their life”. Motivations are generally a combination of desires for attention and excitement.

Like all such addictions, the rush becomes harder and harder to attain, and the Angel of Death needs to bring the victim closer and closer to death. Eventually, and repeatedly, the Angel of Death brings his or her victims too close to death, and loses them.

With either of these profiles, having such a huge number of victims in such a short time frame is unusual. And one wouldn’t expect the unsub to jump right to such as prolific rate. Investigators will certainly be looking back at least a couple of years for additional suspicious deaths.

Mrs. SK Podcast suggested an alternative theory: perhaps the saline drips were contaminated at the production facility or during transit. The reports state that the saline was stored in a secure facility, but “secure” is a relative term.

Technically, that would make this a mass killing, not a series, unless there were multiple incidents of contamination.


  • Kristen says:

    Interesting. Haven’t heard of a case like this in a while. There is really an unlikely chance the bag were contaminated before getting to the hospital. The manufacturer likely sends product to multiple places and if no other facilities have issues it is likely in house where it’s occuring. Since insulin isn’t a controlled drug it probably isn’t locked up or monitored as highly as it should be, which means it could be anyone.

    • Brian Combs says:

      It does look like it was done on-sight. Authorities have arrested Rebecca Leighton Wednesday morning. I’m hoping to write it up as a separate blog post, but I’m on holiday (in Scotland, now!), so I may not get to it for a few days.

  • Daniel N says:

    What about a podcast on Genene Jones? Or maybe a series of them on the angel’s of death?

    • Brian Combs says:

      I may well do one on hospital killers in general. If I do an individual, it probably will be Jones. I find her more fascinating than most, and she lives just down the road from me.

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