Donald Harvey got what was coming to him, say Cincinnati prosecutor, former police chief and judge

Serial killer slain in prison
Posted at 6:21 PM, Mar 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-31 01:05:57-04

CINCINNATI – Prosecutor Joseph Deters said if he had to wish somebody dead, he would have picked Donald Harvey.

Former Police Chief Larry Whalen said he figured Harvey would be killed in prison, he only expected it to happen a lot sooner.

Former Judge Norbert Nadel said Harvey should have gotten the death penalty and been executed long ago.

No one here seemed to shed a tear that the self-proclaimed "Angel of Death" had met his own demise. Harvey, who admitted killing 24 patients while an orderly at Cincinnati’s Drake Hospital in the 1980s, died this week after being beaten by a fellow inmate at a Toledo prison.

“I don't wish anybody dead, but if you had to, he'd be probably at the top of the list,” Deters said.

“My reaction is that I'm not very upset about it,” Nadel said.

Harvey killed at least 37 people between 1970 and 1987 during his  crime spree here and in Kentucky and claimed he killed as many as 80.

While working at Drake,  Harvey admitted he poisoned patients with arsenic and cyanide and smothered others. He said at first he selected patients for “mercy killings,” but he continued killing because he liked it.

WCPO was first to report Harvey’s serial killings and the story triggered an investigation that put him in prison for decades.

Deters, who worked the case, said he has no compassion for Harvey – alive or dead.

“This was no act of mercy.  This was a man who was totally sane who just enjoyed committing murder,” Deters said on WLW Radio.

Nadel, now county recorder, remembers sitting in court watching Harvey's plea and sentencing.

“He was weird. The whole situation was weird.  He looked weird,” Nadel said. “He had no remorse.  He felt he was doing what was necessary.  He acted like the judge, jury and the executioner.”

WATCH video of Harvey pleading guilty.

Whalen said the prison code meant the odds of living a long life were against Harvey.

 “Criminals who commit crimes against the very young and the very old are not held in high esteem by other inmates, and frankly I'm not surprised at what occurred.  I really didn't think it would take this long,” Whalen said. 

Vida Day, widow of Harvey victim Odas Day, was emotional. She said the experience was a bad, bad time — “terrible” — for all the years she has had to be alone.

WCPO anchor Pat Minarcin broke the story in 1987 with a 30-minute special report. Rick Kennedy,  Cincinnati Post television critic at the time, recalled writing about it.

“I just remember it was unique to just one news outlet and then became this huge national story,” Kennedy said.

RELATED: WCPO helped crack the case.

Kennedy recalls writing that the coverage was questionable for featuring video of bodies being exhumed, but it turned out WCPO’s reporting was ahead of the police and prosecutors.

“I'd have to say when it comes to local journalism, in terms of an investigative piece, I don't know that this city has ever seen anything quite like this because Pat Minarcin and the team at WCPO was definitely leading the investigation,” Kennedy said. 

Kennedy called it “Dateline” before “Dateline.”

I briefly talked with Minarcin to get his reaction to Harvey's death, but he declined to comment.