Cincinnati's Most Prolific Serial Killer Featured in New Book by the Inspiration for 'Silence of the Lambs,' 'Criminal Minds' and 'Mindhunter' Agents

Donald Harvey is one of four serial murderers featured in the forthcoming 'The Killer Across the Table' by Mark Olshaker and former Special Agent John Douglas, who's known as "the father of modern criminal profiling"

Apr 29, 2019 at 3:56 pm

On May 7, a new book is being released that looks at the horrific crimes of four of the most notorious serial killers ever, including Donald Harvey, a Cincinnati-area orderly/nurse who is known as one of the most prolific serial killers in modern American history.

The Killer Across the Table was co-authored by writer and documentary filmmaker Mark Olshaker and former FBI special agent John Douglas, who's been called "the father of modern criminal profiling" and was the inspiration for the agents in The Silence of the Lambs, long-running TV series Criminal Minds and the Netflix series Mindhunter, which is based on a book by Douglas and Olshaker.  

The Killer Across the Table examines four serial killers who Douglas has interviewed and deals with his interrogation techniques and what was learned by the interviews.

"Step by step through his interviews, Douglas explains how he connects what was going on in each killer’s mind before, during and after his heinous acts with the evidence left at the crime scenes, and contrasts these encounters with those of other deadly criminals to show what he learns from each one," a press release says of the book.

Between 1970 and 1987, Harvey killed as many as 87 patients while he worked at Cincinnati's V.A. and Drake hospitals (as well as at St. Joseph's hospital in London, Kentucky). Dubbed the "Angel of Death," Harvey killed his victims in a variety of ways, including by poisoning with arsenic, cyanide and morphine, suffocation and inserting a coathanger in a catheter. Harvey was convicted of 37 murders and sentenced to 28 consecutive life sentences. In 2017, Harvey was found beaten to death in his cell at the Toledo Correctional Facility by a still-unknown assailant.

Below is an excerpt from part of the book published by

When Harvey was finally apprehended and interrogated, I was asked to observe the interrogation and provide on-site consultation as to how to get him to confess. As it turned out, though, Harvey spoke freely to the FBI agents questioning him. The interrogators were interested in his motivation so they could help put together a coherent case for trial. I was interested not just in his motivation but also in his actual behavior before, during, and after each crime. How and why did Harvey become the person he was? How did he learn to kill so efficiently, and what factors went into his going undetected for so long? Was he born with homicidal impulses or were they the result of a dysfunctional upbringing that demanded some form of displaced retaliation or retribution? What could have been done to stop him and what can now be done to keep crimes such as his from happening again? This was what I hoped to get out of the interview.

Read more of the Harvey portion of the book here.