Colonel T.C. Sizemore recalls his experiences with--America's Number One Mass Murderer
It was a story that shook the nation, a holocaust in miniature, a human tragedy of horrific proportions that burst upon an unsuspecting public, leaving all of us uncomprehending and chilled to the cores of our beings! Photos provided by Col. T.C. Sizemore
A PLAGUE OF HUNGRY LOCUST
At the epicenter of these cataclysmic events was Booneville, a small town of some 500 souls, in Owsley County, Kentucky, where Donald Harvey was reared. Almost immediately, Booneville became transformed into a media circus. Newsmen desended on the town like a plague of locusts, scouring the region for every scrap of idle gossip,desperate to put new spins on a story that was spinning out of control. In unrelenting hordes they came--obessed, insensitive, disrupting the cadence of life in that tiny, rural comminity.
Indeed, both Donald and his parents were often in our home. Ray and Goldie Harvey, Donald's parents, were fine decent people--both of them well-liked and well-respected throughout Owsley County. A hard worker, Ray worked for Beattyville Wholesale until his death, and was an officer in our local VFW post. Generous and personable, the Harveys often provided us with vegetables raised in their garden. At age 16, Donald Harvey expressed an interest in nursing, and asked me to drive him over to the Pineville Community Hospital, so that he could apply for a job as a nurse's aide. I prevailed upon my good friend, the late Dr. Charles B. Stacy, MD, then head of the Pineville Community Hospital, to intercede on Donald's behalf. Dr. Stacy however, encountered an insurmountable roadblock--Donald lacked a high school education. I learned from school authorities that Donald had made good grades, but that he had never graduated. Although Donald had completed a correspondence course from the American School of Correspondence, this apparently failed to meet the hospital's requirements, and Donald was turned away. But, Donald would not be disuaded from his dream of getting into nursing...
A STRANGER BY THE SAME NAME
Upon reading about the horrid crimes attributed to Donald Harvey, I couldn't bring myself to accept the allegations. Vainly, I reasoned that there had been a mistake, that some stranger by the same name had committed those heinous crimes. But rumor, shock and disbelief became distilled into certainty--when Donald Harvey confessed. Still, I continued to be haunted by this case; I needed to make some sense of those senseless slayings. I wanted to understand how a bright, sensitive, well-reared youth like Donald, could make such a wreck of his life and the lives of so many others. I gained Donald's address at the state penitentiary in Lebanon, Ohio.
MOST PROFICIENT, COLD-HEARTED KILLER
Donald and I exchanged a number of letters, and the contents of Donald's letters were sometimes quite disturbing. He suggested that I obtain a copy of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, a paper that branded him one of the most proficient, cold-hearted killers in American history. Often, too, Donald would boast about those killings, telling me about how he had smothered certain patients, or injected them with lethal doses of medication. "They wanted me to put them out of their pain. I did it," Donald wrote. After an extended correspondence, Donald's letters halted abruptly. However in his last letter, Donald related to me that his lawyer was writing a book on Donald's life, and that eventually a movie is to be made. In an attempt to obtain an update on the Donald Harvey case, I contacted Hon. Tom V. Handy, Laurel County Commonwealth Attorney, and one of the most brilliant and able prosecutors in this state.
DOES EVIL LURK WITHIN HIM?
Life imprisonment! At 40 years of age, Donald Harvey finds himself entombed in a state institution--a fact affording little consolation to the survivors of his nightmare, the families of Harvey's victims. These griefstricken families cloistered in their bereavements are serving life imprisonments of their own. The Harvey family, too, blameless and powerless against the sway of these events, has been unjustly scarred and stigmatized for life. In a larger sense, we have all been victimized.
AN INTERVIEW WITH HIS MOTHER
AUTHORS NOTE: When convicted killer Donald Harvey learned of this story, Harvey stated in a letter to me, "T.C., you said I claimed to have killed 65 patients in your story.