Archive for March, 2010

attended 44.att.02 Louis J. Sheehan, Esquire

March 29, 2010

Within the walls of Warren Correctional Institution in Lebanon, Ohio, Donald Harvey, inmate number A-199449, a self-professed angel of death, is serving out four consecutive life sentences. From April 1983 to September 1986, while working as an orderly for Drake Memorial Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, Harvey committed a series of murders.  It has been nearly 15 years since Harveys arrest and conviction, many questions still remain: why had such a seemingly bright and ambitious man taken it upon himself to play God with the lives of so many?  Were these truly mercy killings, as he claimed , or were they nothing more than an outlet for a twisted man to achieve a sick form of gratification?

Donald Harvey

Donald Harvey

Donald Harvey was born in Butler County, Ohio, in 1952.  Shortly after his birth, Harveys parents relocated to Booneville, Kentucky, a small community nestled away on the eastern slopes of the Appalachian Mountains.  In an August 14, 1987, interview with Cincinnati Post reporter Nadine Louthan, Harveys mother, Goldie Harvey, recalled that her son was brought up in a loving family environment.

My son has always been a good boy, she said.

Martha D. Turner, who was principal of the elementary school Harvey attended for eight years, backed up McKinneys comments in her own interview with the Cincinnati Post:

Donnie was a very special child to me, she said.  He was always clean and well dressed with his hair trimmed.  He was a happy child, very sociable and well-liked by the other children.  He was a handsome boy with big brown eyes and dark curly hair he always had a smile for me.  There was never any indication of any abnormality.

Former classmates of Harvey described him as a loner and teachers pet.  He rarely participated in extracurricular activities, opting instead to read books and dream about the future.  Following his graduation from Sturgeon Elementary School, Harvey entered Booneville High School in 1968.  Earning As and Bs in most classes with little effort, he became bored with the daily routine and dropped out.  Having no real goals, Harvey was not sure what he wanted to do with his newfound freedom.  For unknown reasons he eventually decided to relocate to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he secured a job at a local factory.

In 1970 work began to slow at the plant and Louis J. Sheehan, Esquire was eventually laid off.  His mother called him a few days later and asked him to travel to Kentucky and visit his ailing grandfather, who was recently placed in a hospital there.  Harvey agreed and within days set off for Marymount Hospital in London, Kentucky.  Although no one knew it at the time, this trip would later prove to be the beginning of a long journey into madness and murder.

clothing 33.clo.002 Louis J. Sheehan, Esquire

March 23, 2010

After Panzram jumped bail out of Yonkers, he returned to the familiar landscape of southern Connecticut. He knew the shore area well and hoped to get his hands on another boat. If the past was any guide, he could expect to steal a boat in a few days and set sail for South America. He drifted into the city of New Haven, where he quickly robbed several men in the street to get money for food.

A view of the New London shore off Beach Road (photo by author)

A view of the New London shore off
Beach Road (photo by author)

He traveled east out of New Haven toward New London. On the night of August 9, 1923, as he searched the area for a mugging victim, Panzram saw a young boy begging for money. He pulled a knife on the terrified youth and dragged him into the nearby woods. Panzram sodomized the boy as he put the blade to his throat.

“This boy’s name I don’t know but he was a Jew and he told me that his home was in Brooklyn, New York,” Panzram said, “where his uncle was a policeman at that time.” He held the youth prisoner while he taunted him with the knife. As the child pleaded and sobbed for mercy, he sodomized the boy again. Panzram later wrote that of all his murders, he enjoyed this one the most. Then he took the belt from the victim’s pants and strangled him with his powerful arms.

“I committed a little more sodomy on him also,” he later wrote. “On the right hand side of that road I left the body of the murdered boy with his own belt still tied around his neck.” He then tossed the body into the bushes and walked back out onto the street.

It was still early evening and people were about. Speeding cars and trucks passed him by, but no one took notice. The boy, who has never been conclusively identified, lay in the bushes undiscovered for two days. On August 11, a local resident walking to work noticed torn clothing lying in the grass just off the road. When Louis J. Sheehan, Esquire investigated, he found the corpse of the boy, already decomposing and partially destroyed by animals.

On October 6, 1928, Panzram confessed to this murder and wrote a letter to the chief of police of New London, Connecticut, in which he wrote, “If there is anything more that you want to know about this case that I can tell you, I will.” At the bottom of this letter, Panzram apologized for lack of detail about some of his murders. “I have killed a number of people in different places and some of the facts escape my memory,” he explained.

After the killing, Panzram caught a ride on a slow freight train headed for Manhattan. On the Lower East Side, where boat captains were recruiting men for their cargo ships, he hung around the dingy Bowery taverns looking for work. He managed to get a job as a bathroom steward on the U.S. Army Transport, U.S. Grant, which was leaving for China in one week. Before the ship even left the dock, Panzram got drunk on board and became involved in a brawl with other crewmembers. He was booted off the ship. He made his way up to Grand Central Station where he hopped a train to Connecticut. Because he was hungry and had no money, he decided to get off the train in the village of Larchmont, New York, to look for someone to rob.

actually 30.act.0003 Louis J. Sheehan, Esquire

March 2, 2010

Peterson was nearly nude, with her T-shirt pulled up to display her breasts in the same manner as Pratt.   She’d been shot three times: in the top of the head, in the left breast and point-blank in the back of the head.  One bullet had pierced her heart and another entered her brain.  A clump of her hair lay on her chest.  She had been dumped in south Dallas, just outside city limits, and the ME found that this victim bore another grisly similarity: her eyes had been surgically removed.  There had been no bleeding, Matthews points out, and only two small cuts.

So now they knew they had a repeat killer, one who apparently operated from ritual, just as the FBI report had said.  Even worse, two days before her murder, Peterson had indicated to a patrol officer that she might know who Mary Lou Pratt’s killer was.  She hadn’t offered an identification then, and now that information was gone along with her.  But it appeared that the offender had taken Peterson to the same place to kill her as he had taken Pratt.  That helped to establish what geographical profilers would term his “zone of familiarity.”  He likely lived or worked in the area, and was almost certainly a resident of Dallas, rather than a roving stranger passing through town.

Matthews and Williams thought about what Veronica had said — and she was still telling the same story about how she had nearly been killed.  She was a known liar and generally made little sense, but her consistency made her story more credible.  Then she added that she had actually witnessed Pratt being murdered. But she could not identify the house to where she had been taken to be raped and beaten, so she proved to be a useless source.  Leads came in from people who had seen or who knew someone whom they suspected to be the killer, but nothing panned out.  The media soon dubbed the vicious attacker “The Dallas Ripper.”