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I wanted to create a situation where I would cause the patient to have some respiratory distress or some problem, and through my intervention or suggested intervention or whatever, come out looking like I knew what I was doing. I had no confidence in myself. I felt very inadequate.

Richard Angelo, a.k.a. "The Angel of Death", is a convicted Angel of Death-type serial killer who poisoned at least six people in 1987.


Angelo was born on August 29, 1962. His parents were both working in the educational system, his mother being an economics teacher, his father a high-school guidance counselor. Suffering from Hero Syndrome, he became an Eagle Scout and later, after graduating high school in 1980, a volunteer fireman, hoping to gain praise from others for his heroism, the praise he craved. Angelo eventually got a job at one Good Samaritan Hospital at Long Island, New York City, as an emergency medical technician. When he was unable to gain enough praise, Angelo devised a scheme to gain more attention: he would poison the hospital's patients by injecting un-prescribed drugs that would bring them into critical condition, and then he would "rescue" his victims, thus proving his "expertise" to his coworkers and other patients and impressing them as a result. He started his plan in April 1987, poisoning John Fisher and then attempting to save him. However, his plan failed horribly, and Fisher died before he could be saved. Unfazed by the death, Angelo tried again and again and again, poisoning patients at the hospital and then saving them. Some patients were saved; others weren't.

After several months of continuing this cycle, Angelo was finally caught when he injected poison into Gerolamo Kucich while he was awake. After being poisoned, Kucich immediately pressed the call button for the nurses, who rushed to the scene just as Angelo escaped. Kucich's life was saved and he gave authorities a physical description; the police then linked the description to Angelo. His apartment and his locker were searched, and both searches recovered stashes of the drugs Angelo used to poison his victims. Angelo was arrested and charged with multiple counts of second-degree murder. During the trial, two psychologists testified that he had dissociative identity disorder, a type of mental disorder in which a person displays multiple personalities, all distinct. The disorder left him unaware of what he was doing since he had been in a different personality when he poisoned his victims. However, two mental health experts countered that while Angelo suffered from a personality disorder, it was not dissociative identity disorder and therefore he knew what he was doing during the murders. In the end, Angelo was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder, one count of second-degree manslaughter, one count of criminally negligent homicide, and six counts of assault, sentencing him to 61 years to life in prison. He is still incarcerated for his crimes.

Modus Operandi

Angelo poisoned all of his victims by injecting a lethal combination of the paralytic drugs Pavulon and Anectine into their IV tubes. When they went into critical condition, Angelo would come to the scene and "rescue" them. According to Gerolamo Kucich, Angelo told him he was going to "make him feel better". Though it is most likely true in Kucich's case, it is unknown if Angelo said that statement, or something similar, to his other victims.

Known Victims

  • 1987:
    • April: John Stanley Fisher, 75 (was suffering from a stroke)
    • September 16: Milton Pultney, 74 (had gall bladder surgery)
    • September 21: Joseph Francis O'Neil, 79 (suffered from gastrointestinal problems)
    • October 9: Frederick LaGois, 60 (had prostate surgery)
    • October 16: Anthony Greene, 57 (suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    • Unspecified dates:
      • Unnamed victim
      • At least 25 unnamed victims (all poisoned, but rescued in time)
    • October 11: Gerolamo Kucich, 73 (poisoned; was rescued in time; suffered from chest pains)
  • Note: Angelo is suspected of killing a final total of 25 victims..

On Criminal Minds

  • Season One
    • "L.D.S.K." - Angelo was mentioned by Reid, who calls him the best-known case involving Hero Syndrome when it was realized that the unsub shot his victims so he could later save them in the hospital he worked at, suffered from the same phenomenon. Angelo may have also provided some inspiration for the episode's unsub, Phillip Dowd - Both were (budding in Dowd's case) serial killers with jobs as male nurses who suffered from Hero Syndrome and endangered their patients in order to save them later on and subsequently gain respect from their coworkers.