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The Doctor Who Killed His Patients With Germs

From February 19, 1911


THE DOCTOR WHO KILLED HIS PATIENTS WITH GERMS: For the First Time the Full Story Is Told of How the Russian Physician Panchenko Poisoned for Hire and How His Boasts of His Crimes Led to His Downfall. (PDF)

Well, this is pretty terrifying: a doctor who poisons his patients for the right price. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to see on TV, not real life. Here’s the article’s preface describing the large cast of characters:

On Jan. 30 one of the most sensational cases in modern times came up for trial before the Supreme Court of St. Petersburg. It ended on Thursday night in the conviction and sentence of the criminals.

Aside from its psychological interest, this case is rare and unusual because of the peculiar make-up of the characters who have participated in this terrible drama. It is the case of Dr. Panchenko who poisoned his patient, Vasily Buturlin, with diphtheritic toxin for hire to clear the way for a large legacy for de Lassy, who engaged the doctor to execute the crime.

In this case, which attracted worldwide attention, representatives of the highest society; millionaires, past and present; a specialist of al kinds, the charlatan and quack, Panchenko; poor hangers-on, like the star witness Petropavlovsky, without whose evidence the crime would have remained a secret just like Panchenko’s former crimes; Mme. Murarvieva, who is supposed to have exerted a hypnotic influence over Panchenko; the widow of the murdered man, who was a music hall singer before she married him; all sorts of lackeys, chambermaids, butlers – all these are mixed here as in one of Dostoyevsky’s great crime novels. But of all the characters, small and large, implicated in this crime drama, the figure of the patriarchal looking Dr. Panchenko, who poisoned his patients under the guise of relieving their suffering, who performed criminal operations, and who helped people to commit suicide, stand out in boldest relief.

Panchenko was convicted on Thursday and sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment, which his advanced age will make a life sentence. De Lassy was sentenced for life. Mme. Muravieva was acquitted.

Here’s an idea: a Law & Order spin-off called Law & Order: 1911. Each season can increase the subtitle by one year. The show would take place in that year, and feature crimes ripped from that year’s headlines.

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Written by David

February 15th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in True Crime

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