Victim Studies 012: Beverly Allitt

on February 20, 2012 in Serial Killers, Victim Studies, Victimology by

Beverly Allitt was charged for murdering 4 children and injuring 9 others. While employed at Grantham and Kesteven Hospital, Lincolnshire, it is believed that Allitt began her murder series in 1991, at the age of 23, and was caught 59 days later in England. Although she was convicted for murdering 4 children, she may have been involved in the deaths of other children within the hospital.

Female serial killers are very uncommon throughout the world. Female serial killers usually murder their victims in low-profile ways, such as through the use of poison or drowning their victims. Unlike many male serial killers, it is very rare for a female serial killer to shoot or stab random victims. The victims of most females are their spouses, the elderly or children. It is because of this victim type that women typically murder in their own homes, nursing homes or in hospitals. In many cases the desire for females to commit murder come from a desire for material gain or in order to get attention from others.

In many ways Allitt fit into the profile of the female serial killer. All of her victims were children between the ages of 7 weeks and 2 years old. They were all given overdoses of insulin or potassium, with the goal to make the children go into cardiac arrest. This method of poisoning was very low-profile, which allowed for Allitt to continue for a long amount of time. Out of the 13 children that Allitt poisoned, 9 survived and 1 of the surviving children currently has permanent brain damage, partial blindness and partial paralysis. After Allitt poisoned a child she would usually run to get help from other doctors and nurses. All of the victims were left at the scene of the crime. If a child was resuscitated, the moment that Allitt was left alone, she would poison the child again or cut off their oxygen supply.
A serial killer who murders those under their care is generally considered to be angel of death. These types of serial killers are usually employed in places where they are caregivers. Typically an angel of death will murder or hurt the people under their care or supervision. There are three types of motivations for this type of murder: mercy, sadistic or to be a hero. A person who murders for mercy believes that their victims have suffered for to long and believe that death would be a comfort to them, whether others believe this to be true or not. A sadistic murderer simply murders victims because they are considered to be helpless. Lastly, there are those killers who harm or murder their patients in order to try to save them so that others can view them as a hero.

Some experts believed that Allitt should have been considered to be an angel of death serial killer because of their belief that she committed murder to be seen as a hero in the eyes of her coworkers and the relatives of the children she poisoned. However, others believe that Allitt murdered because she was suffering from Manchausen Syndrome.

Manchausen Syndrome is a disorder in which a person fakes or exaggerates an illness in order to get attention or treatment from others. Many of people who have Manchausen Syndrome have many different doctors and inconsistent test results. Unfortunately, some the people who suffer from Manchausen begin to run out of sympathy from those around them and replace getting attention from their own injuries with the injuries and illnesses of others, otherwise known as Munchausen Syndrome and Munchausen by Proxy (MHBP).

Throughout her life, Allitt was known to have shown signs of have Manchausen Syndrome. She would often wear bandages and casts when she had no injuries. She would often go to the doctor and claimed of pains and illnesses, despite being healthy. Her would complain of headaches, infections, vomiting, back pain, appendicitis and bad eyesight. Many of the doctors Allitt would go to see eventually caught on to her fake illnesses and began to send her away. As she trained to become a caretaker, Allitt would call in sick many times and is thought to have smeared feces on the wall of a nursing home where she had been trained. Her ex-boyfriends also claimed that on a number of occasions Allitt had claimed she was pregnant, when she was not, or pretended she had been raped.

It is believed that once Allitt began to notice the attention she was receiving from friends and coworkers was negative she began to abuse others and demonstrated symptoms of having MHBP. Allitt would poison a child with insulin or potassium and then rush to save the child. Usually in these cases, those suffering with MHBP will be more content if the person remains injured or ill, but often become upset if they recover. All of Allitt’s murders and attempted murders took place within a 58 day period. It is not known why Allitt started to attack children in 1991, as she had been a caretaker previous to this position.

After Allitt murdered Claire Peck, an inquiry was called to investigate the high amounts of cardiac arrests that had occurred in the past 2 months. When some of the remains of the children were found to have high levels of potassium, insulin and lignocaine it became obvious that someone in the hospital had been murdering the children. Allitt was the only person who had been involved in every episode of cardiac arrest. The police were brought in and in November of 1991 Allitt was arrested and charged with attempted murder and grievous bodily harm. During the trial, Allitt never confessed to any of the murders, which occurs in many cases of MHBP. On May 28, 1993 she was found guilty on all charges and was sentenced to 13 concurrent life sentences. Allitt continued to injure herself while in prison by stabbing herself or pouring boiling water on her hands. She eventually confessed to 3 murders and 6 of the assaults.

Sources:
Beverley Allitt on Wikipedia
Beverley Allitt: Suffer the Children by Katherine Ramsland on TruTV.com
Beverley Allitt on Crime & Investigation Network
Beverley Allitt on Biography.com
Beverley Allitt on SeriakKillerCalendar.com
Serial Killer on Wikipedia
Angel of Death on Wikipedia

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