Listener discretion is advised, this episode features discussions of abortion, animal cruelty and murder that may be upsetting. We advise extreme caution for listeners under 13. Strychnine is a poison that strikes fast once it enters the gastrointestinal tract and is absorbed into various tissues, victims feel helpless to its silent instruction, but they might not recognize their plight.
Initial symptoms might appear as apprehension, nervousness, tenseness and stiffness conditions. Any anxious woman on her way home from a bar in the dead of night might experience. Tragically, denying those early indicators will prove to be a detrimental mistake.
Within an hour, she might lean against the wall to steady herself, collapsing to her knees. When her motor functions fail, her violent spasms and breathless gasps will overtake her as she realizes her peril is a unique kind. By dawn, her face will contort into a permanent macabre grin.
There it will stay for her dying breath.
This was a shared experience for many of Thomas Neal Cremes victims who had one other thing in common. They were sex workers, conveniently for their murderer. This meant that their sudden deaths usually went unquestioned. This is Medical Murders, a Spotify original from podcast, every year, thousands of medical students take the Hippocratic Oath. It boils down to do no harm. But a closer look reveals a phrase much more interesting. I must not play it God. However, some doctors break that oath.
They choose to play God with their patients, deciding who lives and who dies each week on medical murders.
We'll investigate these doctors, nurses and medical professionals. We'll explore the specifics of how medical killers operate not just on their patients but within their own minds, examining the psychology and neurology behind heartless medical killers. I'm Alastair Madden and I'm joined by Dr. David Kipa, M.D..
Hi, everyone. I'm Dr. Kipper. And I'm looking forward to offering Allaster some medical insight today into our final installment of the case of Dr. Crane, who's managed to push the rules, limits and poison in his nefarious practice of medicine.
You can find episodes of medical murders and all other Spotify originals from podcast for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts to stream medical murders for free on Spotify. Just open the app and type medical murders in the search bar. This is our second episode on Thomas Neal Kreen, a Glasgow born serial killer who leveraged his reputation as a doctor to poisoned working girls in Chicago and London during the 19th century. While it remains unconfirmed exactly how many victims, Krien claimed his known crimes set his body count at seven.
Last week, we explored Cremes crime riddled journey to becoming a doctor and his early born disdain for sex workers. We also scrutinized Cremes lethal poisoning of Daniel Stot, which earned him a lifetime prison sentence in Illinois. Today, we'll examine Cremes ruthless murders in London after his premature release from jail and flight to England, where he earned his title as the Lambeth poisoner, claiming lives under the cover of nightfall. All this and more coming up. Stay with us.
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On the evening of October 22nd, 1891, Lew Harvey walked along the Thames embankment in Lambeth, London, waiting for her corner. Though the area was heavily frequented by sex workers and pickpockets, Lew didn't mind. In recent years, she'd become one of them, accepting pay for evening visits to men of every class. It was hungry work made tolerable by her sharp street smarts. But this evening, Lew's cleverness would be tested. Lou had spent the previous nights with the mysterious man at the Palace Hotel since then, he'd scheduled a second meeting with her, explaining that he had pills for her complexion.
Though Lou wasn't entirely clear on his motives, she never turned down an opportunity to make more cash. This man could very well become an ongoing client.
So she agreed. Now, beneath the shadows of the looming city, the stranger greeted her and the two walked to Northumberland Public House for a drink. Should I take the pills first? Lou asked, before reaching for the wine glass that had been ordered for her, the stranger insisted he would give them to her once they'd left the restaurant.
Though wary, Lou agreed she enjoyed her libation before the two went off to pursue some evening entertainment. This time, they stopped near Westminster Bridge.
The man retrieved two pills from his waistcoat pocket and instructed her to take them.
Lou felt fear rising within her. Something wasn't right. Acting on instinct, Lou hid the capsules in her pocket when the man looked away, pretending to swallow the medicine as he had advised, the man had been fooled. Now contend he canceled his evening plans with Lou and disappeared into the night. With a sigh of relief, Lou reached into her pocket and tossed the pills over the bridge into the Thames. She didn't know it, but she narrowly escaped the grave, the stranger she'd escorted, it was none other than serial killer Thomas Neal Kreen.
Unfortunately, not all of Dr. Cremes victims had been so lucky. For all the women of low social standing that Thomas Snehal Creme dedicated his life to killing, he never faced the grips of law enforcement until he poisoned a wealthy man. Victorian society, shameless in its moral character, only spared legal concern for crimes that affected the esteemed and privileged sex workers did not fall into that category, something Crean knew all too well when he assumed a life as an illegal abortionist in Chicago.
Some of his female patients lost their lives to his botched abortions or suddenly perished after taking his poison laced anti pregnancy pills. Yet police intervention only landed cream behind bars when he crossed 61 year old Daniel Stot engaged in an affair with Stotz wife. Kreen decided to offer the man in the hopes he could make some money on insurance. More than four Paschen Crean killed for greed when he tried to blame Stotz death on faulty pills from a local chemist. He only ended up implicating himself.
On November 1st, 1881, 31 year old Cream was locked away in the Illinois State Prison at Joliet. The moments Cream entered prison, he was looking for a way out, always one to run from his problems, Cream likely sought counsel from whoever in his family would listen. Some claim the Cremes father bribed local politicians. Others say one of Cremes brothers pleaded for clemency. Whatever the case, Governor Joseph W. Phifer commuted Cremes life sentence to just 17 years in 1891 due to Cremes good behavior.
He was released later that year after serving just 10. Indeed, on July 31st, 1891, 41 year old crime was pardoned from the penitentiary. It would go on to become one of the poorest judgments the US legal system would ever make. Cream had big plans following his emergence from prison years, rotting away in an institution, had let his existing biases against women, specifically sex workers, fester somehow, some way he hoped to exact his revenge. But first, he needed cash, conveniently, once Cream was released.
He had a hefty chunk of change waiting for him in Canada. Cremes father had died in 1887 while Kareem was still serving his sentence, and while the inheritance was split between a multitude of siblings, Cream collected some 16000 Canadian dollars today. This would be like receiving roughly 460000 dollars.
To say cream fell to new lust for life would be an understatement, and cream wouldn't waste that passion on the Great White North. In September 1891, shortly after Cream returned to Canada to collect his share of his father's fortune, he set sail for England. By early October of that same year, 41 year old Cream had made it to Lambeth in south London.
At the time, the area was something of a slum. Society's most destitute loitered in narrow streets and unkempt courts. Though Cream wasn't one of them, he would have had two major reasons for taking up residence there. At one 03 Lambeth Palace Road, the first Lambeth, was home to St. Thomas Hospital, where Karim had studied medicine. Some one and a half decades earlier, the second Cremes desired prae sex workers roamed the city by the dozen and cream was out for blood.
His first order of business was tending to his health, which had severely declined during his imprisonment in the Illinois state prison at Joliet.
The long term effects of his alleged syphilis had seemingly worn down his vision, though Cream reportedly had a lazy eye before then, his declining site gave him a near permanent squint and headaches in attempts to alleviate the headaches. Cream consulted with optician James Atchinson, who diagnosed him with hyperalgesia.
It may sound like a complex condition, but today hypergraphia would more likely be referred to as far sightedness on a physiological level, hypergraphia occurs because the eyeball is too horizontally short or the cornea or lens are flatter than normal.
If the eyeball is too short or the cornea and lens aren't curved properly, incoming light rays aren't refracted or bent properly and don't get focused directly on the retina, which is the part of the eye that turns light into neural signals that create visual recognition. This can be physically uncomfortable because it can cause headaches, eyestrain and general ocular pain. These symptoms become especially apparent when people are doing day to day close vision tasks like reading and writing. This can be an aggravating problem that can be fixed currently with eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery.
It's likely the cream was dealing with all of the associated symptoms. Alister and his syphilis could have worsened his eyes. Strange because this infectious disease has the potential to independently impair vision.
In turn, Creem began using spectacles and increased his morphine intake to cope. Morphine wasn't the only drug cream was stocking up on in the hopes of reinventing himself, creams, Sawtell medicines he could give to others to brand himself as a medical expert once more. And it wasn't so impossible to do. Despite his ugly past, Cream was still able to pass himself off as a man involved in the medical profession. Once he'd obtained residence in London, he took to calling himself Doctor Thomas Neil.
He figured out dropping his last name would be best in case anyone ever looked into his past. Oddly enough, Cremes efforts to appear legitimate worked. He quickly became a regular face in town, and his fine suits and silk hat only furthered the general opinion that he was of high social standing. It was no significant surprise for people when Cream boasted to them that he was a practicing physician. Luckily for Lindsay, in the medical field today isn't so readily granted.
In today's world, there are many protections in place to prevent physicians guilty of malpractice from committing further harm.
It's important to look at malpractice as a spectrum where the weight of an offense ideally measures up to its consequences. Generally speaking, malpractice cases are brought to civil rather than criminal courts.
However, there are instances where doctors either intentionally try to harm patients or extort them financially, which constitutes a criminal offense and probably jail time. But being in prison doesn't necessarily mean a doctor's license will be revoked in the U.S.. This disciplinary action is really determined by each state's medical board in regards to a blatant premeditated murder conviction involving malpractice. It's unlikely that a doctor would be allowed to maintain a medical license in any state.
However, there are always extenuating circumstances where doctors can appeal to medical boards, and these appeals are examined on a case by case basis. It's also not unheard of that a doctor will attempt to continue practicing without a license. But there are systems in place to prevent this. For example, each state's medical board documents revoked and reinstated licenses and publishes this information for circulation amongst practicing physicians. Medical boards also notify the federal government to rescind licenses from any restricted or sanctioned doctors who attempt to prescribe prescription drugs like antibiotics and painkillers.
Despite these measures, medical professionals who lose their licenses may try to operate under the radar. There's always a shortage of doctors, too, especially in small communities.
So the people living there are even less likely to check up on these caregivers. This is illegal, of course, but if unlicensed doctors know how to avoid detection and oversight, they can find ways to keep practicing medicine.
This scenario is pretty rare, though, and patients are vastly protected from doctors who've lost their licenses, although in the Victorian era, these safeguards weren't as easy to enforce. So Kreen was able to keep his standing as a doctor and identity he flaunted all around London, local chemist didn't even think twice when he requested powerful drugs from them without prescriptions. Judging by his appearance and apparent knowledge of various pills, the Victorian pharmacists readily doled him cocaine, morphine and strychnine, thinking him harmless.
But behind closed doors, Cream was emptying strychnine tablets into bowls, assembling lethal doses of the drug within weeks of Cremes arrival in Lambeth. He was already armed with enough poison to claim multiple lives, and soon he would.
On a fateful October day, Cream was making his usual rounds around town when he made the acquaintance of 19 year old Ellen Dunsworth. The young woman didn't know it, but in less than one week's time, she'd be dead. Coming up, Green commits his first murder as the Lambeth poisoner. Hi, listeners, it's Vanessa from podcast. If you haven't had a chance to check out my series mythology, you don't know what you're missing. Heroes, Gods, Monsters and Mayhem.
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Gambling problem call one 800 gambler. Now back to the story, in early October 1891, 41 year old Doctor Thomas Nehal Cream arrived in the Lambeth region of London, where he quickly dropped his last name and established himself as a medical professional. Yet for all the ways Creem had reinvented himself, he was much the same person on the inside.
On October 13th, Cremes sent a letter under the alias Fred. Its recipient, 19 year old Allenton with Cream, had encountered the young woman shortly after his arrival in town when he decided to pursue her services. Upon receiving his letter of inquiry, Dunsworth was delighted the fancy scrawling and formal tone suggested the cream would be a high paying client.
More than that, he might even become a regular helping Don with pay her room and board at the cheap lodging house in which she lived so seemingly. Upon her luck, Donath obliged the correspondence. Per Cremes request, she met him at the York Hotel on Waterloo Road at six pm that evening. One hour later at seven pm, Don Werth left that meeting place and headed home. She'd made only a brief visit to the man from the letter, but a peculiar feeling of nausea rose within her.
She couldn't help but wonder if she'd made the wrong decision in seeing him overcome with fatigue and panic, Don Wirth rested her hand against the wall of a darkened court, hoping to catch a moment of respite in what was proving a difficult return.
Suddenly, Ellen fell to the ground in a nearby street merchant who witnessed Longworth's plight, ran to her aid, and she begged him to take her home. Concerned, he agreed. By the time Don Worth was dropped off at the doorstep of her lodging house, she was writhing in pain. Her landlady presumed her condition to be the result of excessive drinking between gasps of air. However, Don Worth claimed otherwise, saying a tall gentleman with crosses, a silk hat and bushy whiskers gave me a drink twice out of a bottle with white stuff in it.
It was unquestionably cream. She was referring to the mention of his cross' or lazy. I was a dead giveaway. But her words couldn't deliver her from suffering. By the time local medical assistant John Johnson arrived at the scene an hour and a half later, Dawn with convulsions was so violent, bystanders struggled to hold her down. Johnson believed such a condition was likely the result of strychnine poisoning.
Ellen Don Wirth's convulsions were undoubtably the result of her muscles responding to the nerve signals that were essentially turned off by the strychnine. As we mentioned in our last episode, strychnine prevents the neurotransmitter glycine from working properly. Glycine inhibits excitatory transmitters that cause muscles to contract and spasm, allowing them to relax. When this nerve signaling function is cut off by strychnine, someones muscles will go into a constant state of contraction. And this prolonged strain leads to spasming and violent convulsions.
Today, treatment for strychnine poisoning requires hospitalization and intravenous fluids to decontaminate the body. It also necessitates medications to counteract the convulsions and muscle spasms. These drugs are imperative because strychnine impacts the muscles that govern respiratory function, which can stop breathing and cause death from asphyxiation or oxygen deprivation. Also, cooling tools like ice packs and cold blankets are used to mitigate potential severe fever reactions. Unfortunately, as a result of this deadly substance, Elliotts muscles eventually began to lose strength and her body would have found it difficult to perform.
Even the most basic life sustaining tasks like breathing a deadly dose of strychnine usually causes death in an hour or less. But higher doses can deliver deadly symptoms in about 15 to 30 minutes. Given the state that no one was in. By the time medical attention arrived, there was really nothing that could be done to save her. Don Worth was dying a painful death. She was rushed to the hospital around nine o'clock, but it was too late. By the time Ellen Dunsworth arrived at the medical facility, she was dead.
A post-mortem revealed large amounts of strychnine in her stomach. There was no question about it, Dunsworth had been murdered. The few details she'd supplied before her death, however, did not inspire great investigation. Little was done to pursue the perpetrator. An unfortunate caveat of Victorian society was the way public standards of female purity prevented sex workers from receiving any type of protection, moral reform movements condemned the industry, so police investigations into the deaths of women who walked the streets were relatively sparing.
The fact that Ellen received a post-mortem exam at all was unusual, but investigators would leave it at that. Unafraid, Crean pursued his next victim. Less than a week after Don Wirth's murder, Kreen persued 27 year old Matilda Clover, the sex worker was caring for an illegitimate child at the time, doing all she could to financially support both of them. She'd also recently attempted to get a handle on her drinking, seeking medical services from a local doctor who prescribed her a bromide of potassium to aid with withdrawal symptoms.
Alcoholism is a difficult condition to treat, as addiction creates tremendously intense dependence in the human body and mind. People withdrawing from alcohol are often agitated and can have nervous tremors or shakes.
Potassium bromide calms its response and helps with the resulting convulsions, bromide of potassium or potassium bromide as a salt that calms the nervous system and is used for its anticonvulsant and sedating properties. It works by fighting with chloride ions to gain access into the brain because chloride ions excite neurons.
Their replacement in competition with bromide inhibits electrical activity in the central nervous system.
Thus, when bromide levels increase and chloride levels decrease, the body becomes calmer and more relaxed.
It's actually still used today in veterinary clinics for dogs who have seizures.
But the big side effect profile in people led to its discontinuation for human medical use in the 1970s.
There are now much better and shorter acting medications that doctors prescribe for recovering alcoholics going through withdrawal.
The most commonly used drug is Librium, a benzodiazepine that has sedating effects on the central nervous system. However, even with them, overcoming addiction can be an overwhelming and uphill battle.
But Matilda Clover would never have an opportunity to see her recovery through.
Sometime within the month of October, she'd made Cremes acquaintance, though he never introduced himself as Dr Cream or even Thomas O'Neil, as he'd done with Don with Cream went by the alias Fred. True to form, he wrote a letter seeking Clover's company on October 20th, and like Dunsworth, Clover obliged. Shortly before 730 p.m. that evening, Clover left her lodging house to fetch the man named Fred. The two soon returned to Clover's room and the man gave her strychnine in pill form.
Then at 10 pm, potentially before she had even taken the pills, the killer left. Clover had no idea yet, but her fate was bleak around 3:00 in the morning, Borders and Clover's lodging house woke to blood curdling screams. Two women who ran the home rushed to Clover's room on the second floor. It was immediately clear that the scream had come from the young woman whose head slumped between the headboard and the wall. Her arched back revealed that Clover had already lost control of her muscles.
Her fits went on for the rest of the night and she vomited and gasp for air the same way Allenton Worth had.
Unfortunately, no medical help came to Clover's rescue until seven a.m. the following morning, Frances Coppen, assistant to a local doctor, MacCarthy attributed Clover's violent convulsions to alcohol poisoning. Though he administered medicine for this condition, it did not work because he treated her for the wrong thing. At nine a.m. on October 21st, Mattilda Clover died. After having Clover's symptoms described to him hours later, another local doctor named Robert Graham signed a death certificate stating, To the best of my knowledge and belief, the cause of her death was primarily delirium tremens.
Secondly, syncope, in layman's terms, delirium tremens refers to severe alcohol withdrawal and syncope refers to fainting or passing out. Both of these causes of death were incorrect.
Alcohol withdrawal and strychnine poisoning are two very different adverse health conditions, but they share a lot of similar symptoms. Some of these include the sweats, extreme agitation and discomfort, disorientation and hypertension, which is high blood pressure. They also both have the potential to incite nausea and vomiting. Although this is rarer and strychnine poisoning, each condition can also induce convulsions, muscle spasms and seizures.
However, the seizures involved have different manifestations with alcohol. Delirium tremens creates muscle shakes from activating the nervous system. This is because withdrawal causes a release of chemicals like glutamate and excitatory neurotransmitter that essentially revs up the body's engine. This, again, is the nervous system as a way of telling an addict that it wants more alcohol to regain a learned and condition state. If the withdrawal is severe enough, the agitating neurotransmitters have the potential to push someone into a seizure.
Strychnine poisoning, as we now know, does something very similar. However, this is due to the blocking of nerve signals in the brain that tell our muscles to stop contracting. This alone can create seizing rigid, muscular stiffness and bodily contortions. Another difference here is that alcohol seizures willette while strychnine seizures sometimes don't. They can actually leave people in lock positions even after they die. In reality, it would be hard to tell the difference between these types of death.
But again, there can be a notable difference in the course and outcome of these respective seizure types. Ultimately, had Dr Graham been at the scene of Mattilda Clover's death, he might have thought to check whether she'd been given a life threatening substance.
But it wasn't so out of the realm of possibility that Clover would be experiencing such severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms as she was known to drink to excess.
But Dr Graham wasn't at the scene of Clover's death, nor had he read the recent newspaper article chronicling a similar death of a different sex worker earlier that week.
So Matilda Clover's death went uninvestigated.
Clover received no autopsy and was buried within the week, she would never have an opportunity to truly realize her intent to better herself. Emboldened by his criminal success, Karim struck again just days later, on October 22nd, he brought Lou Harvey out for an evening on the town when the two reached the Westminster Bridge.
He handed Harvey two pills, which she only pretended to take. Harvey was lucky for her own street smarts that night, as she would have suffered a similar fate to Donath and Clover had she taken the pills.
Cream, however, had no idea that Harvey didn't die, and so marked a flaw in Cremes logic that would eventually lead to his undoing.
In line with his old habits, Crean was keen on writing blackmail letters, though they'd gotten him into trouble. In the past, it seemed as though Cream never learned his lesson.
In the weeks following the deaths of Ellen Duckworth and Matilda Clover, Cream attempted to extort multiple Londoners, claiming he had evidence to expose them for their involvement with the murders.
One of the recipients was a reputable physician named William Broadbent. Crean demanded 2500 pounds for the price of his own silence, claiming in the letter, I am not humbugging you.
I have evidence strong enough to ruin you forever. Another was sent to aristocrat Lord Russell.
Both letters were sent under the alias M Malone. Other extortion messages were also discovered. One accused Mr Fred Smith, a member of Parliament of Ellen Don Worth's murder. The other was addressed to Fred Smith himself, insisting the innocent man cough up a separate sum of money to ensure the senator's silence. The first was mysteriously signed O'Brien detective and the second was signed. H. Fein, fortunately for the guiltless, accused, the police wrote the letters off as the work of a ridiculous, though ruthless, prankster.
None of the accused parties were seriously investigated.
Cream wasn't too happy that his attempts to hustle money were overlooked for the time being, however, he let it slide as his attention was drawn elsewhere.
Somehow in his old age and failing looks, Cream had decided he wanted a wife he could show off in his trips around town rather promptly.
He won the affections of the Refind Laura Sabattini, who had travelled to London to study dressmaking.
In November 1891, 41 year old Krien proposed and the two were engaged. Of course, Laura had no idea that she would soon be betrothed to a murderer.
And though scientifically nuptials tend to steer criminals off their conniving paths, Cream would soon claim another two lives. Coming up, Cremes boastfulness tips off investigators.
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Robin Hood Financial, LLC. Now back to the story in November and December 1891, 41 year old Doctor Thomas Ninel Cream strayed from his violent London life as he enjoyed the affections of his new fiancee, Laura Sabbatini. But their romance quickly dulled for Crean as his focus returned to his finances. While it's unclear if Karim had spent his full inheritance by this point, his lavish life suggests he constantly desired more. His letters of extortion hadn't yielded the results he wanted.
Now, Cream booked a trip to North America to consult with a medicine company about selling their pills in England.
It's hard to say whether Crean's efforts to sell an American drug in England were legal, but they certainly wouldn't be today. There are mechanisms that both prohibit and permit medication exchanges between countries, and these are established by each nation's regulatory agency. The availability of a drug in a specific country has to do with the health guidelines that these individual regulatory agencies mandate. One example that comes to mind is Laetrile, which was a cancer drug that was legal in Mexico in the 70s and 80s but was prohibited in the United States.
This was a medicine that actually got smuggled into the U.S. in high quantities and was a big hit on the black market in the late 70s. Major pharmaceutical companies also have a big say in controlling the legal boundaries of medications internationally as their lobbyists are solidly secured in politics. And governments around the world cremator been seeking medication from an American drug company to sell in England for a few reasons. But profit was at their roots. Whatever the medication was, perhaps it had been proven to be effective and marketable in America.
In many circumstances, people who've had poor luck with conventional treatments will turn to other countries for therapies and procedures not licensed at all. An American drug may also have had some novelty in England at the time, and perhaps Cream wanted to take advantage of a fad. It's even remotely possible that Cream was given an incentive from this American drug company to introduce and peddle their product in England for an underhanded form of promotion. The international trade of medicines has definitely changed a lot over the past several centuries, and drugs are much more heavily regulated than they were in Cremes day.
It's possible that private doctors doled out drugs from pharmaceutical companies and foreign countries back then. But the legitimacy of Krames medication poaching remains rather elusive.
Given his nefarious predilections, Kring didn't care whether his business schemes were legal nor morally upright. He purchased 500 strychnine tablets from a company based in New York. It's entirely possible he hoped to poison more sex workers with this, but we can't be sure. Whatever the case, Cream didn't stay overseas long. In the spring of eighteen ninety two creams Itch to murder returned and by April he was back in London, lurking the streets of Lambeth. It was April 11th when Creem met 18 year old Emma Shrivel and her 21 year old friend Alice Marsh, both worked as sex workers and lived in the same lodging house that evening.
Cream, referring to himself as Fred, requested their company and they quickly obliged, letting him up to their room for a beer.
But they're pleasant evening took a dark turn. Around two, 30 a.m. on April 12th, violence screams pierced the walls of the lodging house, waking its overseer, Mrs. Vote, in utter terror. Mrs. Vogt found shrivel and Marsh contorted and rapidly convulsing in their respective rooms, shrivels foot banged against her bedroom wall as she fought for breath to call out for her dying friend.
In desperate attempts to save them, Mrs. Vogt administered mustard and water, a concoction sometimes used to induce vomiting. Mrs. Votes efforts were futile. Constables rushed both shrivel and march to the hospital. Tragically, Marsh was dead before she arrived.
Shrivels suffered until 8:00 the following morning, by which point investigators were already scouring their rooms for clues.
What they found was an empty tin of salmon and a half burnt postcard in the fireplace. It was likely a calling card. Karim had sent the women before meeting them that evening, but the police had no way of knowing this just yet. They only knew that the tragic circumstances of these two deaths seemed to line up with those of Clandon Wirth's, whose murder the previous October remained unsolved. This was further corroborated by the strychnine found in Travell and Martius bodies during their autopsies.
By that point. One thing was painfully clear to detectives. A poisoner was on the loose in Lambeth. Newspapers whirled around town terming the reckless unknown murderer, the Lambeth poisoner. Cream relished in the public attention his crimes were receiving, though his own identity remained anonymous. Now everyone feared him and that made him feel powerful.
Still, crime wasn't completely satisfied.
He wanted to profit on the debts, so as though his previous attempts at extortion hadn't failed him, Karim pulled out two blank letters and began writing.
One went to the deputy coroner, George Percival, accusing Walter Harper, a student at St. Thomas Hospital, for the deaths of Chavel and Marsh. The other was sent to Dr. Joseph Harper, Walter's father.
In it, Cream warned that he had evidence to pin the double murder of the two sex workers on Walter for his silence and destruction of the evidence. Cream demanded one thousand five hundred pounds.
The letters were promptly turned over to Scotland Yard, police there told the Harpers not to worry, so the Harpers carried on, undaunted by Cremes threats. But as Scotland Yard pored over the puzzle before them, they considered that the blackmail notes were written by the same person who had sent out similar mail the prior year.
Sure enough, when they compared these new letters to those threatening various Londoners under the names O'Brien and Malone, the handwriting was the same. But while the media and civilians pressured detectives to find the killer, investigators needed more information to proceed and that would soon come in the form of an outside source. By April 1892, Kareem was in the company of a new friend, John Haynes, a former New York City detective. Together, they theorized about the Lambeth poisoners crimes.
It wasn't long before Haynes grew suspicious of Cremes strong understanding of the case. Cream blamed his own curiosity and medical expertise. But Haynes wasn't so readily convinced. It seemed to Haynes that Cream had in some way been involved in the murders. So with hopes of getting a juicy lead for Scotland Yard to advance his own professional agenda, Haines kept on listening. At one point, Kreen took Hayne's on a walking tour of the gravel and marsh were murdered. He described in great detail how the poison would have been administered and which pathway the killer likely took home.
Cremes theories sounded a lot more like first hand accounts, and they sent chills up Haynes spine. But there was one other thing about Cremes detailed accounts that didn't sit right with him. Cream claimed another woman, who hadn't yet been implicated as a victim of the Lambeth poisoner, had in fact been killed in the same manner as the others. That victim was Matilda Clover.
Tipped off by this discrepancy, Haynes headed to Scotland Yard, police were initially unsure whether to believe Haynes. After all, the coroner had long since declared Clover's cause of death as alcohol related. But if strychnine was found in her remains, Heinz lead would bring a new subject to the investigation and perhaps a new suspect, a hunt for Mattilda, Clover's corpse ensued.
The acquisition was no small task, Clover had been dumped in a pauper's grave where the coffins of the poor were stashed without so much as a headstone, though tragic, such treatment was common for lonely women and the sex workers among them.
After digging up the 14 other coffins that sat atop Clover's, investigators were able to exhume the body. The autopsy was conducted by Dr. Thomas Stephenson, who detected strychnine in the stomach, liver, chest and brain to confirm his presumption. He sampled some of the strychnine from Clover's body and injected it into a frog.
Within moments, the frog suffered titanic convulsions, rigid limbs and intense respiration, all similar to what Clover had experienced in her final moments. And while a frog is certainly different from a human physiologically, animal responses to certain stimuli can actually reveal quite a bit.
Well, animal testing holds a certain taboo in today's society, understanding human responses to certain medicines have long been approximated with research on various creatures. Among these are frogs. Despite their being members of different animal kingdom classes, frogs and humans share similarities in bodily structure, organ placement and utility and nervous system function.
They also demonstrate lightness in the overall workings of their circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems. In medical research, frogs can often be helpful predictors of how humans will react to certain drugs and treatments. Some cancers found in frogs are comparable to those found in humans, and this can be eye opening for pharmacological research and testing. In addition, there are toxins in immunosuppressants which can be experimented with on frogs that give insight into how humans will potentially react to them.
Although it can be hard to think about, animal testing is very beneficial to understanding human health and disease interventions. One promising alternative to this is the use of stem cells with stem cells. Human organs can be created in laboratories, and researchers are able to see how specific treatments affect them. Not only does this have the potential to minimize or eventually eliminate animal testing, but it also yields more accurate data because the testing involves a human cellular model. Going back to our story, though, Alistar, Dr Stevenson's frog injection technique did effectively reveal that Mattilda Clover died from strychnine poisoning.
This information was damning cream. New Matilda Clover, a woman thought to have died from alcohol withdrawal, had been murdered.
That would have been no reason for him to have this information if he had not killed the young woman himself. Further, an acquaintance of Cremes confirmed that the blackmail letters contained the doctor's handwriting when Scotland Yard looked into Cremes past in America. US police records revealed his conviction for a murder by poison in 1881, that of Daniel Stot. This evidence was enough to proceed. On June 3rd, 1892, 42 year old Kareem was arrested. He seemed rather cocky about his innocence as far as he was concerned, there was no way he could be convicted for his crimes.
But there was one detail cream hadn't accounted for when he'd spoken to Heinz.
He claims the Lambeth poisoner had killed Lew Harvey to only Lew. Harvey wasn't dead. When the sole survivor of Cremes attempted murders saw her name floating around in the newspaper suggesting that she had died, she rushed to Lambeth. She was happy to speak on her evening with a murderer. When the time came for Cremes trial on October 17th, 1892, one year after the slayings of his first two Lambeth victims, lose submitted testimony relating to the night she escaped Scream and his two little pills.
Others confirmed seeing cream around town with various sex workers, coroners, doctors and even the blackmailed parties were called to the stand to air their grievances and insights. Incriminating cream. The prosecution had a multitude of wronged eyewitnesses on their side and the power of truth, there was no way such similar murders could have been committed by different people, especially when Kreen tried to make money on each of them. By way of extortion, though, Cream defended his innocence to the end.
The jury seemed to have a far different opinion. On October 21st, the jury retired for only 10 minutes to make their decision. When they emerged, they had only one word guilty. Sadly, Cremes legal repercussions came too late. This case really reveals how the public standing that comes along with being a doctor once allowed someone to get away with unthinkable evils, including murder. Cream would have had a hard time today because medical oversight has become much tighter, thanks in part to technological advances.
Doctors are now held much more accountable for their actions in dealings with patients, and they're no longer seen as so infallible. I'd also like to hope that murdered sex workers could create a larger outcry today. But unfortunately, this is an issue that still plagues our contemporary world. While it's impossible to say for sure, the cream would have been appropriately held accountable by current laws and effectively prevented from obtaining potentially lethal drugs. It's a fair assumption that he wouldn't have gotten as far as he did.
But Kreen lived in the Victorian age, where he left behind the grim legacy of a man whose hatred so fully consumed him, imposing suffering was his sole joy. These types of villains exist, but they typically never reach such a vile track records. However, even Cremes reign of terror came to an end for the most part. One screen was found guilty, he received a severe sentence this time life in prison would not do. On November 15th, 1892, the executioner led Thomas Snehal Cream to his hanging.
In his last moments, some accounts claim that before the noose caught his throat, Karim said only three words. I am Jack.
The chilling admission has since been interpreted by some historians as Cremes owners for the Jack the Ripper murders, which terrorized London in 1888. It's certainly believable, given that they both operated in London, had evidence, medical training and targeted sex workers. Still, some have disputed the legitimacy of this conclusion, since the timeline doesn't add up, Cream wasn't released from prison in Illinois until July 1891, three years after the five Ripper murders. However, some repair ologists believe it possible that Cream actually had a lookalike to do parts of his jail time for him, this would have allowed Kreen to operate freely in the real world for short periods of time.
As odd as it is, this speculation is corroborated by the fact that earlier in his life, Karim had actually refused to plead guilty in a petty crime, claiming that he was already serving a prison sentence in Sydney. That very jail confirmed that a man of Cremes description had, in fact, served time there.
Whether crime ever had such an accomplice remains unknown, even more probable than a look alike. Cream could have convinced corrupt Chicago politicians to quietly let him out of prison three years before his sentence ended in 1888. Around that same time, Kreen came into money from his father's inheritance, which would have allowed him to bribe officials. Though these are merely suppositions. There is one piece of proof that relies on hard evidence. When experts compared one of Cremes letters with two of the Ripper letters, it seemed unmistakable their handwriting was the same.
The ending to this mystery remains elusive if his victims imparted any lesson, it was to not trust the man named Thomas Neil Krien. Thus, his final words cannot be accepted as an honest confession. Yet perhaps Cremes provision of an unsolvable clue was his truly final act of terror on a London that would never stop wondering. Thanks for listening to medical matters and thanks again to Dr. Kipa for joining me today. Thank you, Alistar. For more information on Thomas Snehal Cream.
Among the many sources we used, we found a prescription for murder by Angus McLaren. Extremely helpful to our research. You can find all episodes of medical murders and all other Spotify originals from podcast for free on Spotify, not only just Spotify, already have all of your favorite music, but now Spotify is making it easy for you to enjoy all of your favorite podcast shows like Medical Murders for Free from your phone desktop or Smart Speaker to stream medical murders on Spotify.
Just open the app and type medical murders in the search bar. We'll see you next time. Medical Murders is a Spotify original from podcast. It is executive produced by Max Cutler, Sound Design by Trent Williamson with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden, Kristen Acevedo, Jonathan Cohen, Alexandra Trick, the daughter, and Joshua Kern. This episode of Medical Matters was written by Lauren Dalil with Writing Assistants by Maggie Admi, Fact Checking by Bennett Logan and research by Chelsea Wood.
Medical Murders Stars Dr. David Kipa and Alistair Murden.