December 19, 1956: Irish Doctor Accused of 160 Murders!

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A Brief History

On December 19, 1956, Dr. John Bodkins Adams was accused of murdering 160 (or more!) of his patients!

Digging Deeper

Digging deeper, we find Dr. Bodkins practicing medicine in Sussex, England when suspicions began about his practice.

Never considered a “good” doctor, Adams was a poor student and considered a sloppy and inefficient doctor, although for some reason he made spectacular sums of money.  Not being accepted as a worthy peer by other doctors should have been a clue!

Odd facets of Adams practice surfaced, such as being named in at least 132 of their wills.  His nurses and assistants claimed he gave patients injections of unknown medicine and would refuse to tell them what was in the injections.  Unusual to say the least.

It was noticed that many of his patients died unexpectedly, although conveniently for the heir of their fortune!  He was investigated by Scotland Yard and suspected of about 163 murders under the pretext of easing patients’ pain.  He usually ordered nurses out at the time of injections, and also curiously tried to keep family members away from his patients.

At trial in 1957 Adams was acquitted of murder, but was convicted of the lesser crimes of 13 counts of prescription fraud, obstructing the police, failure to keep prescription records and falsifying forms.  Incredibly, the medical profession hindered the investigation and trial!  Under the pretext of patient privacy, doctors did not want to testify and may have illicitly provided Adams with prosecutor’s information to use in his defense.  Patient/witnesses died, nurses’ notes were lost and the trial generally did not go well for the prosecution.  His only punishments were fines and having his medical license revoked.

Adams appealed his license revocation and was reinstated 4 years later.  He returned to the practice of medicine, but was denied immigration to the United States because of the prescription fraud convictions.  Oddly, he was elected president of the British Clay Pigeon Shooting Association!  Another oddity concerning him, was the results of the police search of his house and premises that uncovered him hoarding massive quantities of goods (like automobile tires, alcoholic beverages etc.) “in case of another world war.” He also successfully sued newspapers for libel for the stories they printed about him and kept receiving payments from patients’ estates.

The police and court files concerning this case were ordered sealed for 75 years, another glaring oddity about the whole fiasco.  In 2003, however, the information was released 30 years “early.”  The question that remains, is Why would patients go to this doctor after the trial and all the publicity?

Historical Evidence

For more information on his trial, please read the following:

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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.