by Jill Lawless, Associated Press
LONDON, England (AP) - Family doctor Harold Shipman, Britain's worst serial
murdered 215 of his patients in 23 years as a trusted
a public inquiry reported Friday.
The inquiry's head, High Court Judge Dame Janet Smith, said there
also a suspicion Shipman had killed 45 more people between 1975
Smith said she had "no clear conclusion" about Shipman's motive.
only one case was there evidence that he killed for money, and
"no suggestion of any form of sexual depravity," she
"It is possible that he was addicted to killing," the judge said.
Some victims' relatives said they didn't think they'd ever know
"It's the eternal question - Why? Why did he do it?" said Jane
whose 81-year-old grandmother was among the doctor's
been far too many questions and not enough
Shipman, 56, was convicted in January 2000 of murdering 15 of his
- all elderly women - by injecting them with heroin. But
police said then
that he may have killed scores more. He is already
serving 15 life sentences
with no possibility of parole, and
prosecutors have ruled out further trials.
Shipman maintained his innocence, and no motive has been
for the crimes of which he was convicted.
He was liked and admired by those who new him in Hyde, a small
in northern England.
"I personally can't reconcile the doctor that I knew that came to
my sister, looked after me when I had my daughter, with the
I know now," Ashton-Hibbert said. "I think that's the
hardest thing, ...
the betrayal of trust."
Smith's yearlong inquiry has investigated the deaths of 494 of
patients between 1974 and 1998. It found that at least 215
of them were
killed by Shipman, most of them by lethal injection.
"The true number is far greater and cannot be counted," Smith
She said in 45 more cases there was strong but inconclusive
had killed the victims. Investigators found too
little evidence to determine
if the deaths of 38 others were natural
In her interim report Friday, Smith said Shipman began his killing
in 1975, a year after he entered practice. His victims, ranging
from 41 to 93, included 171 women and 44 men.
"He betrayed their trust in a way and to an extent that I believe
unparalleled in history," Smith said.
For more than 20 years Shipman was a respected member of the
in Hyde, a working-class town of 22,000 just outside
Manchester in northwest
England. In 1992, he set up a practice in the
town. Between then and 1998
he killed 143 people, Smith concluded in
her 2,000-page report.
But his activities did not arouse suspicion until March 1998, when
doctor, who had been asked by Shipman to cosign some
expressed concern at the number of deaths.
Police concluded there wasn't
enough evidence to pursue charges.
The investigation was reopened months later after the daughter of
81-year-old widow discovered that her mother apparently had
will to leave everything to Shipman. That led to
exhumations and eventually
to Shipman's trial and conviction.
A jury found that he deliberately injected heroin into 15 elderly
- many in good health - during routine checkups in their homes
or at his
office, falsifying computer records to create fictitious
symptoms to explain
Peter Wagstaff, whose mother was killed by Shipman, said he didn't
the doctor's motivation would ever come to light.
"I don't think I've met anybody yet that's ever said they hate
because I don't think they understand the situation," Wagstaff
told a news
conference. "You can't make sense of it all, you can't
come to the right
terminology to say what you think of him."
The inquiry will now consider how Shipman was able to escape
for so long. Smith said it would attempt to come up with
"so as to ensure such a terrible betrayal of
trust by a family doctor can
never happen again."
Its final report is due late next year.