The man, who was known as the ‘greatest British poisoner’ of the twentieth century, died August 1st 1990 in his cell in the Parkhurst prison of a heart attack. Young was born September 7th 1947 in London. His mother died the same year and an uncle and aunt took care of the baby until his father remarried in 1950. According to his sister, who was 8 years older, Graham seemed like a normal child, although it occurred to her that her little brother liked to be alone.
When he got older, it appeared that his intelligence was over the average. This showed his high marks for English and chemistry. What nobody seemed to notice however, was that Young already got interested in the effects of several kinds of poison, and this interest would become an obsession later on.
In his teenage years, Young got to know the nazi-movement and he grew out to be a fervent worshipper of Hitler. He envied Hitler because of the power he had taken and he was determined to reach the same status. His growing knowledge of poisoning would help him to obtain that power over others.
That year, 1961, he started to poison his family members systematically. He didn’t give them lethal doses, but enough to make them feel very nauseous. Instead of spending his money on the usual things, teenage boys buy; he purchased small doses of antimonium and digitalis. He claimed he needed them for experiments at school. That way, he got a gigantic amount of poison; experts estimate he had enough of it to kill 300 people.
Young didn’t only use his family members as laboratory rabbits. Sometimes he just forgot in which food he had put the doses, so it happened several times he suffered from vomiting and cramps himself. He also took small doses to clear himself from any suspicion. He even tested his poisonous fluids and powders on his best friend.
After a while, the diseases that haunted the Youngs started to cause some suspicion. Grahams aunt Winnie was aware of his interests and didn’t trust him. When a psychiatrist was asked to see him, Graham admitted in an indirect way he had control over the health condition of his relatives. They warned the police. May 23rd, a couple of police officers caught Young at home. He realized lying was senseless, so he confessed. He didn’t mention he had given his stepmother a lethal dose.
In his cell, Young tried to commit suicide by hanging himself, but he could be stopped in time. He told a psychiatrist he felt helpless because he didn’t possess any poison. Not even during his trial did he talk about his stepmother whose remains couldn’t be used as evidence, because there weren’t any: she was cremated. Medical experts claimed it would be best to put Young in a psychiatric institution. The judge convicted him to 15 years in Broadmoor, an institution for mental disordered criminals. Nine years later however, Young got out and he even found a job. His supervisor didn’t know anything about his past. The day before he went to work, Young bought some antimonium and thallium. Only a short period after Young began to work, his foreman, Bob Egle, got sick and eventually died. His death came as a shock to his colleagues, especially Young seemed to be very upset. A few weeks later, Egle’s successor, Ron Hewitt, got sick as well. He decided to quit his job and saved his own life that way.
The amount of employees that were showing all the same symptoms grew spectacularly: up to 70 of them suffered from vomiting and diarrhea. Several people had to stay in hospital for a while, but it didn’t come to more deaths. The cause of this odd disease stayed a mystery. A lot of the victims became ill after drinking a cup of tea or coffee that Young made for them, but they didn’t seem to link the one with the other. They just assumed there was some kind of virus going around.
A few months later, the ‘virus’ caught Fred Biggs. He was brought to the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases in London, but it was too late. He died too. At that point, some began to realize there had to be an investigation for the cause of this mysterious disease. Young asked one of the investigators if he had considered the possibility of a large-scaled thallium poisoning.
Some of Young’s colleagues started to get suspicious and wondered if he really was that innocent as he seemed to be. One of them went to see the chief. Young had told him his main hobby was studying the effects of toxic products. They warned the police immediately. When Young’s past was checked for a possible criminal past, the investigators couldn’t believe what they saw; Young got arrested right away. When his apartment was searched, antimonium, thallium and aconitine were found, but they also discovered a diary, which showed an image of the cold, calculated murderer Young was. He described in a scientific way which doses he had given to his victims, the effects of it and whether he would allow them to live or whether he would let them die a horrible death. During the first questioning, Young claimed that his notes didn’t have anything to do with reality, but that he was planning to write a novel. Later on, he did confess. He didn’t have any other motive for the murders than that they gave him power over other’s lives. He didn’t see his victims as human beings anymore, but he thought of them as test objects. When he officially was accused of several murders and even more attempts, he pretentiously reacted that he could have killed them all, but that he chose to let them stay alive.
Young’s trial started June 19, 1972 and lasted for ten days. He pleaded not guilty, still claiming his notes were meant to be used for a novel. Young was found guilty and was convicted to life in a regular prison. His life sentence ended August 1st, 1990.
The Murder of Elizabeth Short, AKA The Black Dahlia
On the morning of January 15, 1947, a housewife named Betty Bersinger was walking down a residential street in central Los Angeles with her 3-year-old daughter when something caught her eye. It was a cold, overcast morning, and she was on her way to pick up a pair of shoes from the cobbler.
At first glance, Bersinger thought the white figure laying a few inches from the sidewalk was a broken store mannequin. But a closer look revealed the hideous truth: It was the body of a woman who’d been cut in half and was laying face-up in the dirt. The woman’s arms were raised over her head at 45-degree angles. Her lower of half was positioned a foot over from her torso, the straight legs spread wide open. The body appeared to have been washed clean of blood, and the intestines were tucked neatly under the buttocks. Bersinger shielded her daughter’s eyes, then ran with her to a nearby home to call the police.
Two detectives were assigned to the case, Harry Hansen and Finis Brown. By the time the duo arrived at the crime scene — on Norton Avenue between 39th and Coliseum streets in Los Angeles — it was swarming with reporters and gawkers who were carelessly trampling the evidence. The detectives ordered the crowd to back off, then got down to business.
From the lack of blood on the body or in the grass, they determined the victim had been murdered elsewhere and dragged onto the lot, one piece at time. There was dew under the body, so they knew it had been placed there after 2 a.m., when the outside temperature dipped to 38 degrees.
The victim’s face was horribly defiled: the murderer had used a knife to slash 3-inch gashes into each corner of her mouth, giving her the death grin of a deranged clown. Rope marks on her wrists and ankles indicated she’d been restrained, and possibly tortured.
By measuring the two halves of the corpse, the detectives estimated the victim’s height to be 5’6 and her weight to be 115 pounds. Her mousy brown hair had been recently hennaed, and her fingernails were bitten to the quick.
The Black Death Plague Doctor:
A plague doctor was a special medical physician who saw those who had the Bubonic Plague. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, some doctors wore a beak-like mask which was filled with aromatic items. The masks were designed to protect them from putrid air, which (according to the miasmatic theory of disease) was seen as the cause of infection. The protective suit consisted of a heavy fabric overcoat that was waxed. A wooden cane pointer was used to help examine the patient without touching.
Nero, Emperor of Rome
Emperor from 54 to 68, his rule is often associated with tyranny and extravagance. Known infamously as the Emperor who “fiddled while Rome burned”, many Romans believed that Nero himself started the Great Fire of Rome in order to clear land.
Known for many executions, including that of his own mother, and the probable murder of his brother through poison, he had Christians burned in his garden at night for a source of light.
The Aztecs: Tlacaxipehualiztli or The Flaying of Men
A springtime festival in honor of Xipe Totec, the god of spring and new vegetation, wo flayed himself so that plants would grow. War captives would have one foot tied to a stone was to fight against a warrior who was fully armed.
After their deaths their skins were flayed and the skins would be worn by the priests of Xipe Totec, to symbolize new plant growth. The priests would wear the skins for 20 days, and during this time they would dance throughout the city, blessing people by touching them with a thigh bone.
The Aztecs: Basic Sacrifice
The Aztecs believed that the gods need to be nourished by human blood, and so part of the Aztec religion was bloodletting. People of higher status were expected to give more blood. The Aztec gods and goddesses also required the living hearts of humans.
Widespread warring took place as the Aztecs sought to bring back those who were bravest to sacrifice. Many times hundreds or thousands were sacrificed at a time. The priest made an incision in the ribcage and removed the heart, threw it into a fire, and pushed the body down the temple.
Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia or Vlad the Impaler or Dracula
Vlad III spent a lot of his rule campaigning against the Ottoman empire and its expansion. The reputation of his cruelty spread all through into Europe within his life time. He became famous for taking pleasure in torturing and killing. Impalement was Vlad’s preferred form of torture/execution. There are many stories of armies turning back in disgust from seeing thousands of rotting, impaled bodies.
Estimates for Vlad’s number of victims ranges from 40,000-100,000.
Bram Stoker’s vampire Count Dracula was inspired by Vlad, and many adaptations of the book his history with the vampire, depicting them as the same person.
Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre
After the fall of the the French monarchy, a nine member Committee of Public Safety was put in place to regulate the amount of crime and riots in France. Robespierre was elected into the council even though he did not seek the position. Although they were thought to be equal, Robespierre became the unnamed leader. He argued that terror was necessary and inevitable for a Republic to properly work.
Robespierre saw the Terror as a time to reveal the enemies within France. The Revolution’s enemies came to include moderates and false revolutionaries, who he claimed to be ignorant of the danger the Republic faced and disguised themselves as active contributors of the Republic while just copying the work of others or impeding upon the progress of true revolutionaries
Robespierre saw no room for mercy, stating that “uncertainty of punishment encourages all the guilty”. Under the Committee of Public Safety, about 1,300 people were guillotined in Paris.
Robespierre was arrested on July 27, 1794. Upon finding out about his conviction, he attempted suicide but ended up only shooting himself in the jaw. He was executed the next day. When the executioner was clearing his neck, he tore off the bandage holding his jaw in place, and Robespierre produced an agonizing scream until the blade fell.
Ivan IV Vasilyeivich aka Ivan the Terrible
In the midst of the Livonian War, Russia was going under, as was Ivan. As time went on, he become more mentally and physically disabled. Within a week he would pass from the most depraved orgies to praying and fasting in monasteries. Because Ivan grew gradually unbalanced, the Oprichniki got out of had and became murderous thugs, killing nobels and peasants. In a dispute with the city of Novgorod, Ivan ordred the Oprichniki to murder all the inhabitats of the city, as many as 60,000 were killed.
Ivan beat his daughter for wearing immodest clothing which may have caused her miscarriage, and when his son (also named Ivan) found out, they had a heated debate which ended in Ivan hitting his son over the head with a pointed stick, causing his death. (the bottom painting is a depiction of this called Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan on Friday, 16 November 1851 by Ilya Repin)
Queen Rabodoandrianampoinimerina I of Madagascar aka Queen Ranavalona I
Ranavalona’s reign was filled with the struggle for Madagascar to remain independent from European nations. This caused Ranavalona to take dramatic steps to ensure the sovereignty of her Nation. She had a standing army of 20,000-30,000 soldiers that often exacted harsh penalties onto resistant communities and performed mass executions. Ranavolna also imposed strict punishments to those thought to have acted in opposition to her will. Some forms of punishment were slavery, being boiled in tar, and being attacked by dogs. The most common was the trial of tangena, in which the convicted is forced to ingest the poisonous tangena plant along with water and three pieces of chicken skin to induce vomiting. If the person vomited up all three pieces, they were innocent, if not, guilty. The ingestion of the poison often killed even those considered innocent.
The population of Madagascar is estimated to have dropped from 5 million to 2.5 million between 1833-1839