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Beverley Allitt, also known as the "Angel of Death," is one of Britain's most notorious female serial killers.
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The Police Superintendent assigned to the investigation, Stuart Clifton, suspected foul play and he examined the other suspicious cases that had occurred in the previous two months, finding inordinately high doses of insulin in most. Further evidence revealed that Allitt had reported the key missing to the insulin refrigerator. All records were checked, parents of the victims were interviewed,
and a security camera was installed in Ward 4.
Suspicions were raised when record checks revealed missing daily nursing logs, which corresponded to the time period when Paul Crampton had been in Ward 4. When 25 separate suspicious episodes with 13 victims were identified, four of whom were dead, the only common factor was the presence of Beverley Allitt at every episode.
By July 26, 1991, police felt that they had sufficient evidence to charge Allitt with murder, but it wasn't until November 1991 that she was formally charged.
Allitt showed calm and restraint under interrogation, denying any part in the attacks, insisting she had merely been caring for the victims. A search of her home revealed parts of the missing nursing log. Further extensive background checks by the police indicated a pattern of behavior that pointed to a very serious personality disorder, and Allitt exhibited symptoms of both Munchausen's syndrome and Munchausen's syndrome by Proxy, which are both characterized by getting attention through illness. With Munchausen's syndrome, physical or psychological symptoms are either self-induced or feigned in oneself to gain attention, while Munchausen's by Proxy involves inflicting injury on others to gain attention for oneself. It is fairly unusual for an individual to present with both conditions.
Allitt's behavior in adolescence appeared to be typical of Munchausen's syndrome and, when this behavior failed to elicit the desired reactions in others, she began to harm her young patients in order to satisfy her desire to be noticed.
Despite visits and assessments by a number of health-care professionals while in prison, Allitt refused to confess what she had done. After a series of hearings, Allitt was charged with four counts of murder, 11 counts of attempted murder, and 11 counts of causing grievous bodily harm. As she awaited her trial, she rapidly lost weight and developed anorexia nervosa, a further indication of her psychological problems.
After numerous delays due to her "illnesses", (as a result of which she had lost 70 pounds) she went to trial at Nottingham Crown Court on February 15, 1993, where prosecutors demonstrated to the jury how she had been present at each suspicious episode, and the lack of episodes when she was taken off the ward. Evidence about high readings of insulin and potassium in each of the victims, as well as drug injection and puncture marks, were also linked to Allitt. She was further accused of cutting off her victim's oxygen, either by smothering, or by tampering with machines.
Her unusual behavior in childhood was brought to light and the pediatrics expert, Professor Roy Meadow, explained Munchausen's syndrome and Munchausen's by Proxy syndrome to the jury, pointing out how Allitt demonstrated symptoms of both, as well as introducing evidence of her typical post-arrest behavior, and high incidence of illness, which had delayed the start of her trial.
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