A nurse’s aide said she saw Swango leave a room down the hall and found a syringe in a sink in that room. In November 1994, he went to Zimbabwe and used forged documents to obtain a job at Mnene Lutheran Mission Hospital in the center of the country. Swango was born in Tacoma, Washington and raised in Quincy, Illinois, the middle child of Muriel and John Virgil Swango. Each time, Swango had been the floor intern. Yet investigators suspect that during his crime spree, which spanned 1981 to 1997, Swango may have claimed the lives of as many as 60 patients through poisoning. [1][10] Before he resigned, Cohen sent a warning about Swango to all 125 medical schools and all 1,000 teaching hospitals across the nation, effectively blacklisting Swango from getting a medical residency in the United States. But the trail was cold by time his office learned what had gone on, Morgan said. Swango claimed she suffered heart failure; he had killed her by giving her a potassium injection that stopped her heart. He was also fascinated with Nazis and the Holocaust, according to The Washington Post. A look at California’s November ballot propositions. When released from prison, Mr. Swango applied to residency programs in West Virginia and Iowa, but administrators noticed his falsified records, and his applications were rejected. “It’s somewhat of a shame to see him in this situation,” said high school classmate Siebers. LeDuff, Charlie. In the meantime, Swango had sensed that the net was closing on him; he crossed the border to Zambia and subsequently to Namibia where he found temporary medical work. . He, too, had pneumonia, and he says he developed seizures. He forged a fact sheet from the Illinois Department of Corrections that falsified his criminal record, stating that he had been convicted of a misdemeanor for getting into a fistfight with a co-worker and received six months in prison, rather than the five years for felony poisoning that he served. Swango’s lackadaisical approach to his studies caught up with him a month before he was due to graduate, when it was discovered that he had faked checkups during his OB/GYN rotation. Then came New York, the latest stop in a bizarre 11-year odyssey of a troubled man so determined to be a doctor that he stitched together half-truths and out-and-out lies to manipulate the medical Establishment, exploit the legal system and cajole his way into a world of life-and-death decisions. Reproduction Date: Joseph Michael Swango (born October 21, 1954) is an American serial killer and former licensed physician. Swango dropped out of sight until mid-1994, when the FBI found out he was living in Atlanta and working as a chemist at a computer equipment company’s wastewater facility. He left in 1984. The retired cabinet-maker, who had emphysema, was transferred to intensive care, where he became agitated and began tearing out his IV tubes, his widow said. Swango lost his job in New York when his past was revealed. The Harris and Woods families and a third patient have filed suits totaling $30 million against the State of New York, alleging malpractice and negligence, but Swango has not been sued. On July 11, 2000, less than a week before he was due to be released from prison on the fraud charge, federal prosecutors on Long Island filed a criminal complaint charging Swango with three counts of murder, one count of assault and one count each of false statements, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. I didn’t do anything to harm him or embarrass him.”. . Soon after his arrival, however, staff were alarmed by an unusual number of patient deaths or illnesses, according to the Los Angeles Times. After his release, Swango ended up in New York, where he killed at least three people at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She said she had always assumed that her father had died from natural causes. In an affidavit taken by campus police at least 18 months later, a nurse said she entered a woman’s room to find Swango “putting what appeared to be something into the patient’s IV tube line with a syringe.”. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization. The blond, hazel-eyed student was a clarinet player, school band president and valedictorian. Swango allegedly cheered TV reports of murders, professed his admiration for serial killers and told them that he fantasized about a busload of children being impaled by a tanker, according to the Los Angeles Times. The sentencing judge ordered that Swango not be allowed to prepare or deliver food, or have any involvement in preparing or distributing drugs. On August 23, 1985, Swango was convicted of aggravated battery for poisoning co-workers. He is angry that those accounts have been accepted at face value. “There was ample opportunity for those people we contacted to say, you better think about this.”. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content. By making a deal with prosecutors, he was spared the death penalty, and the government of Zimbabwe agreed not to seek his extradition and pursue charges against him. Weeks later, he died. Michael Swango was valedictorian of his 1972 Quincy Catholic Boys High School class. He spoke well. He saw no action overseas during his service, but his training in the Marines left him with a commitment to physical exercise; when not studying, he was frequently seen jogging or performing calisthenics on the Quincy campus, and he was known to perform pushups as a form of self-punishment when criticized by instructors. License to Kill: Dr. Joseph Michael Swango's Disturbing 'House of Horrors'. Michael Swango attended Quincy Catholic Boys High School, where he was valedictorian of his 1972 class and played clarinet in the school band Quincy Notre Dame. Villano said more than 60 requested his photo. The lab reports were passed on by the Zimbabwe CID through Interpol to the FBI, who subsequently visited Zimbabwe to interview Cotton and the pathologist in Bulawayo, Dr. Stanford Mathe. He had suspected that sudden deaths of some patients were due to Swango, but had no proof at that stage. Brent Unmisig ate one and vomited. asked to leave his medical internship in Ohio after several suspicious patient deaths, he packed up his things and moved to Illinois, where he would be sent to prison for poisoning his co-workers. Swango’s father was a career U.S. Army officer who served in the Vietnam War and was troubled by alcoholism. He was immediately fired. In 1989, Swango, now released from prison, found work as a counselor at the state career development center in Newport News, Virginia. Nonetheless, it was another decade before Ohio State formally conceded it should have called in outside investigators. The FBI believes he may be responsible for as many as 60 deaths, which would make him one of the most prolific serial killers in American history. He usually administered high doses of dangerous drugs to his patients and poisoned his co-workers and acquaintances. I want to see an autopsy report.''. The case was featured on the American crime show Unsolved Mysteries and on National Geographic Channel’s Doctor of Death. A nurse would later tell police she saw Swango injecting an unknown substance into a patient’s IV right before they stopped breathing, according to the Los Angeles Times. In his plea, it is expected that Mr. Swango will also acknowledge that he lied to the hospital investigators in connection with the death of the Ohio State Hospitals patient, Cynthia McGee, 19, in January 1984. And paramedics concede there was another side to him--the calm, cool, consummate professional. After Swango was arrested, Tero ant poison, books on satanism, guns, survival knives and recipe cards for pesticides, botulism and cyanide mixtures were found in his apartment. His whereabouts are unknown. By that time, Swango had fled the country. He was employed until 1991, when he resigned his position to seek out a new position as a doctor. Dr. David Chapman, a classmate who now is a doctor in Springfield, said he and others thought Swango was doing a superficial job working with patients--he would jot down their histories in five minutes, when they should take an hour. All occurred in areas where Swango had worked, Morgan said. The case was featured on the American crime show Unsolved Mysteries[6] and on National Geographic Channel's Doctor of Death. During high school he played clarinet and was a member of the Quincy Notre Dame band. His death would be ruled a homicide, and his family sued Swango in 1986, believing him to be the murderer, according to, An internal probe of Swango brought about no conclusive evidence, but the school still ended his neurosurgery residency, according to, In summer 1984, Swango returned to Quincy, where he obtained a job as an, emergency medical technician with the Adams County Ambulance Service, reported. Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles. Five of his co-workers became violently ill, according to The New York Times. [13], Swango was formally indicted on July 17, 2000 and pleaded not guilty. Five people became ill but no one died. Swango claimed she suffered heart failure; he had killed her by giving her a potassium injection that stopped her heart. At his sentencing hearing, prosecutors read lurid passages from Swango’s notebook, describing the joy he felt during his crimes. The two fell in love and planned to marry once they got settled. The official reason: He didn’t perform well. He was charged in absentia with poisonings. He was forced out after being caught working on a scrapbook of disasters on work time. [14] On September 6, he pleaded guilty to murder and fraud charges before Judge Jacob Mishler. The two military veterans of two generations had one common bond: Michael Kirk, the charming doctor who had prescribed some of their medication and hovered attentively nearby. Eventually, at least one hospital decided to take the initiative in doing just that. Pat Milton, an AP correspondent in Mineola, N.Y., contributed to this report. Soon after his arrival, however, staff were alarmed by an unusual number of patient deaths or illnesses, according to the, A nurse would later tell police she saw Swango injecting an unknown substance into a patient’s IV right before they stopped breathing, according to the, An autopsy would later reveal that a ball of gauze had been placed down DeLong’s throat. Patients. He was immediately fired. Michael Swango. Ex-Doctor Pleads Not Guilty in Murder and Fraud Case. [3] Although no one thought much of it at the time, many of Swango's assigned patients ended up "coding," or suffering life-threatening emergencies, with at least five of them dying. Growing up, Swango saw little of his father and as a result, was closest to his mother. ''I've heard the news this afternoon'' Mr. Siano's stepdaughter, Roselinda Conroy, said today about the plea agreement. Swango seemed to always be on duty whenever these incidents occurred. “He’s trying to find a niche where somebody is going to believe his smiling face and take him at his word,” said Chet Vahle, who prosecuted Swango in Quincy. Valery was called by the FBI to discuss holding Swango; Valery called then Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Basic Agent Richard Thomesen, who was stationed in the Manhattan DEA Office, to discuss the case. He did not mention, however, that he had served time for poisoning colleagues. Because of her considerable clinical expertise, Thomesen was able to review documents and evidence and give a psychological profile of Swango, along with her assessment of why he had committed such crimes. Under intense questioning from the head of Stony Brook's psychiatry department, Alan Miller, Swango admitted he had lied about his poisoning conviction in Illinois. Advertisement. Once again his patients began dying for no explicable reason. The federal indictment came after the victims’ bodies were exhumed and tested positive for poison. While being interviewed by Dr. Alan Miller, director of the Psychiatric Residency Program, Swango volunteered that he had been convicted of battery in a barroom brawl.

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