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#6 Chemical Paint: Dr. Death II

Updated: May 21

dr death

Hi! Welcome back to another episode of ✨STEM on the Streets✨! If you are new here, my name is Aiza Jamil and this is my partner CAI, together we explore the darkest, criminal streets of STEM. This is part two of Dr. Death, I recommend clicking the button and visiting our previous blog!



A quick note that we will be discussing some sensitive topics that you may or may not be comfortable with, such as drug abuse, murder, etc. So for your own good, if you don't feel comfortable with these topics, I would recommend that you stop reading.


The Spark of the Illegal

In the last episode, we left off with Shipman getting a job at The Abraham Omerod Medical Center so we'll be continuing from there.

Shipman's patients adored him like he was loved a lot however his fellow workers didn't think the same, they felt that Shipman was arrogant and just not the type of person somebody would like to have lunch with. He was settling very well in life but his addiction just got worse, he was high-

(✿◡‿◡)CAI: Intoxicated*

He was intoxicated-

(✿◡‿◡)CAI: Y'know, keep it professional.

-he was HIGH at work

(*  ̄︿ ̄)CAI

-so he was HIGH (on morphine) at work, and sometimes drunk as well but the patients adored him so he wasn't fired. RED FLAG NO.1; like if somebody is HIGH at work and treating patients, ill human beings, that is a risk! The people around this man frustrate me but overall I love this man's story. Now, to nobody's surprise, it only gets worse. He would get his hands on morphine, through his PATIENTS!! Clever but like RED FLAG NO.2!

He would diagnose patients with more medicine than they needed and tell them to give him whatever was extra. That continued for some time until minors found out about it and started asking for "goodies" from him and now he was giving morphine and whatnot to minors (RED FLAG NO. 3).

(✿◡‿◡)CAI: Aiza, we get it, this man is a red flag

Pfft- all cereal killers are

(✿◡‿◡)CAI: I think you mean serial killers.

Listen, I was never known for my spelling or homophones.

(✿◡‿◡)CAI: I can tell, very clearly.

Now if you are done insulting my spelling, shall we continue?

(✿◡‿◡)CAI: Go ahead.

So this continued for some time until Shipman was caught diagnosing extra medicines to one of his patients and taking the extras for himself. Luckily, or unluckily, luckily for him, unluckily for everybody else, Shipman was not caught giving drugs to minors. But they STILL didn't fire him!


dr death

Oh, CAI, I did not expect you to be mad or even paying attention. I thought you were against the crime idea.

(✿◡‿◡)CAI: I am still against it! But I must pay attention to... uh- keep an eye on you so that you don't make spelling mistakes.

Oh really? I mean like I don't blame you if you like the crime topic. Let's not dilly nor dally further (I have always wanted to say that).

Due to these deep dark secrets of Shipman being released, it became a big pressure on his family as he had to pay £600 (which is £5000 today) as a fine and him having to go to rehab just made it harder for them to pay off the fine. But lovely Primrose stuck by him, I feel so bad for her and I believe they should have talked about it and all. Back to the story.

After rehab, when he was back at work, things were obviously not the same as they were before, his co-workers went from not liking him to hating him and losing trust in him. Naturally, Shipman started detesting his workplace, so he moved from West Yorkshire to Hyde. Hyde was a small town with a close-knit society which meant that news spread fast, he didn't like that but at the moment he needed a job and Donny Brook Medical Centre in Hyde was offering him one. Shipman was very open about his past and was officially hired.

He went back to his old ways.

Ok, maybe he wasn't prescribing extra meds to his patients but he was arrogant and unbearable for his co-workers like in his previous job.

And because of this extra monitoring, Shipman came up with the 'innocent' idea: to visit elderly patients so that they wouldn't have to leave the comfort of their homes but still get their doctor's checkups. In reality, the idea was: to send him away without medical professional monitoring so that he could prescribe the extra drugs.

(✿◡‿◡)CAI: Classic, Shipman.


And, fortunately for him, unfortunately for the people around him, this idea worked wonders. And he was able to do it for years!


Joseph Wilcoxon

In 1989, 43-year-old Harold Shipman was loved by all the folk and his home visit idea was working well. On October 6th, the same year, he received a call from a nurse, whom he shared a patient with (63-year-old, Joseph Wilcoxon, he had a wound on his leg and a series of different illnesses which required almost daily visits. A group of different specialists and nurses were visiting him daily.), the call was about how the nurse had found Joseph Wilcoxon fully clothed and dead. He was still warm indicating he hadn't died long ago.

The nurse inquired if he had visited Shipman before her, Shipman said he hadn't but the rest of the staff claimed that he was supposed to visit Joseph. Shipman, again, denied it and said that he was to see Joseph in a few days; the staff went to check the medical records, proving Shipman right.

Shipman ruled Joseph Wilcoxon's death as old age and nothing out of the extraordinary. Shipman later left his job because he found that the new computer systems were too 'complicated' and later opened his medical centre (it was an ego thing, to not answer to the higher up). Later, when he had his medical centre, the first thing he did was install the same computer systems. Turns out, he had found a loophole in his contract which allowed him to take his previous client base with him, that is why he didn't move out of Hyde.


The New Bussiness

Shipman hired Primrose, his wife, as a secretary and business just couldn't have been better. He was absolutely adored by his clients and patients everybody wanted him to be their doctor. He was described as almost celebrity-like in the area. In 1997, on November 24th, Shipman made a home visit to one of his most regular patients, 67-year-old Marie Quin, she was such a regular person that Shipman had his own house key to her house (that is slightly suspicious), so when Shipman entered, he found Quin dead.

This man just called up her family to let them know of the tragic event, casually walked out of the house and locked the door with the corpse still inside. When her family came, they didn't have a house and weren't able to get inside so they had to wait till the EVENING for Shipman to come and unlock the house for them.

(✿◡‿◡)CAI: That must have been awful for them and like, oh, poor them.

Enough with the condolences CAI! We have to finish this today and I have a lot to get through!

(✿◡‿◡)CAI: Aiza, hold on, like imagine-

Yep, that is truly very sad but I don't have the time to imagine this.

So where was I, ahh yes, he ruled her death as a stroke.

Until now 2 patients have died under this man's care. Just two weeks later, another patient had been found dead at the care of Shipman. A 49-year-old woman, Bianca Pomfret, was found dead in her very home by a mental support worker. She didn't have any major issues but she did visit Dr. Shipman for minor issues. Her mental health worker knew that she was depressed but they claimed that it couldn't have been a suicide because she was starting to do better. Her death was very sudden and odd.

The coroners were quite sceptical of what was happening as they had been sent twice now for a body in two weeks and the bodies were found dead fully clothed, on the sofa and in the middle of daily tasks, on top of that they were both Shipman's patients. That is very, very, extremely suspicious. So these coroners told their boss, Debbie Massey, about it and now Debbie was very suspicious about it too.

So Debbie voiced her concerns to two other doctors and they agreed with her, one of them was suspicious about how many cremation requests Dr. Shipman was signing. Now they weren't suspicious as we probably are but as in that Shipman may not be a good doctor.


Ada Warburton

She was a 77-year-old patient of Shipman's and was considered relatively healthy. She lived alone and was a pretty independent woman. So one day, a random day, Dr Shipman decided to 'grace' Ada with a surprise visit and found her dead on the couch and fully clothed. Shipman ruled her death as a stroke and immediately contacted her niece. She was shocked cause Ada was healthy but then became sceptical when she realised that she didn't have Harold's contact. She immediately interrogated him on the fact that she hadn't given him her contact.

Dr. Shipman smoothened things out by claiming that he found Ada's will (as if it were just lying around) and noticed that most of her possessions were going to her so he dug through the phone book, found her number and called her as he believed that she must have been dearest to Ada.

Now back to the doctors, they decided to arrange a meeting together and bring evidence up of how Dr Shipman was not a good doctor and was underqualified for the job. So they compared statistics for a different medical center with his. They found out that the other medical surgery centre had 10,000 patients (over the last two years) and had 14 cremation requests while Shipman with a patient base of 3,100 patients and he had 41 cremation requests. I can't do the math but that is a big difference!

So they filed a report in 1994, 24th of March. The police reassured them that they would conduct an investigation. So they did. And in Hyde, the death records from each medical centre were in the City Hall. So they went and further investigated but they were only given half of the records from Shipman's center. They automatically assumed there must have been a misunderstanding...


Kathleen Grundy

Kathleen Grundy was the final card Shipman played...

Both comic and Lego Batman are awesome.

(✿◡‿◡)CAI: Right now is not the right time, why did you decide it was?

I just thought that things were getting boring so I thought like why not add that in y'know? Also, I just really like Batman as a character, like he is crime fighting, most probably sleep deprived, vigilante... who just happens to have a liking to adopting a bunch of orphans!

(✿◡‿◡)CAI: Lies. You just like him because he is the reason you can say 'I think it is time I tell you why I never reply to your texts at night and why you haven't seen me and Batman at the same time.'

That is a pretty valid reason but we must get back to how Shipman's final title was awarded to him: Dr. Death!

Ahem back to the main event, Kathleen Grundy. So Kathleen was Hyde's previous Mayer and she spent most of her time just trying to contribute positively. She booked an appointment in the morning thirty minutes before when she had to go to her charity workshop or something of that sort.

And surprise, surprise, she wasn't alive and was found dead on the couch fully dressed in her work clothes.

Sometime later, Kathleen's solicitor approached her daughter Angela Woodruff telling her that Kathleen's will was odd as everything she had owned had been given to Dr. Shipman. Shocked Angela went, protested that the will was odd and that her mother would not do something so out of behaviour. She said that her mother would always write her important documents by hand but her will was written with a typewriter. There were a lot of grammatical errors too which was out of order for Kathleen. Angela went and brought important documents with Kathleen's signature and handwriting. It was determined that the will was forged.


The Down-Fall


So the investigation was re-continued because Harold Shipman was the last person to be at her place. The police confiscated Shipman's typewriter and typed the exact same document down- lo and behold, everything in the type write matched even the ink! You would know how they tested for the ink if you can remember the past few episodes (chromatography). There was an autopsy done as well. In the autopsy, it was found that there was an alarming amount of diamorphine later it wad found out that Dr. Death would kill his patients by giving them lethal doses (injections) of diamorphine

This is where toxicology comes in, now there is a tad bit of forensic pathology too but don't mind that. Firstly, because this person is deceased, they would have to use bone samples to find the diamorphine within the system and it is a long process:

Sample Collection
  • Bone Selection: Choose appropriate bone samples. Long bones (such as femurs) are often preferred due to their dense structure and lower likelihood of contamination.

  • Cleaning: Thoroughly clean the bone samples to remove any adhering soft tissue, dirt, or contaminants. This can be done using tools like scalpels and brushes, followed by washing with distilled water and possibly solvents.

Bone Preparation
  • Grinding: Grind the cleaned bone into a fine powder. This increases the surface area for the extraction process, ensuring a more efficient and thorough extraction of morphine.

  • Drying: Ensure the bone powder is dry, as moisture can interfere with the extraction process.

Extraction of Morphine
  • Solvent Extraction: Use an appropriate solvent (often a mixture of organic solvents like methanol, acetonitrile, or a buffered solution) to extract morphine from the bone powder. The bone powder is mixed with the solvent and agitated, often using a mechanical shaker, to ensure thorough mixing.

  • Incubation and Centrifugation: Incubate the mixture for a set period to allow the morphine to leach out of the bone matrix into the solvent. Centrifuge the mixture to separate the liquid (containing the extracted morphine) from the solid bone debris.

  • Filtration: Filter the liquid extract to remove any remaining particulate matter.

  • Solid-Phase Extraction (SPE): Further purify the extract using solid-phase extraction techniques, which help concentrate the morphine and remove other impurities.

Detection and Quantification
  • Chromatography: Use techniques such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) or liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to detect and quantify the presence of morphine in the purified extract. These techniques are highly sensitive and can detect trace amounts of morphine.

  • Calibration and Standards: Run calibration standards alongside the samples to ensure accurate quantification. Standards are known concentrations of morphine that help in creating a calibration curve for precise measurement.

It is a really long process. And we are nearly finished

So Shipman was interrogated, then taken to court where he was found guilty of 15 murders! He had to face 15 life sentences though he spent only two years in prison and committed suicide. What a humiliating way to die, with your own bed sheets. Later on, it was found out that he had killed over 215 people and in theory, 250 people but the other 35 are unconfirmed but are speculated to be his doing. But because of him, we have better medical practice standards or else, I would not trust doctors, at all.

✿◡‿◡)CAI: You still don't.

Just because I get scared and nervous at the doctor's that doesn't mean I don't trust them!


Well, that is all for today, sorry for the extremely long and exhausting blog. But I hope you lot enjoyed this cause I put my blood, sweat and tears into this (mostly tears) but I really enjoyed writing it. Next episode we'll be doing our very first Detective Diaries! And that is all from me, folks!

This is Aiza Jamil signing out!

I am a forensic expert, what is your superpower?


I really enjoy this blog section, it is probably one of my favourites!


May 19

I am now afraid of doctors

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