CINCINNATI -- Serial killer Donald Harvey was allowed to resign from the his job at the Veterans Administration Medical Center because hospital officials conducted an illegal search of his gym bag, a former VA security officer says.
The search kept the VA from prosecuting Harvey for carrying a concealed weapon and other offenses, John Berter said in a copyright article in The Cincinnati Enquirer today.
Harvey pleaded guilty last week to killing 25 people, 21 of them patients at Drake Hospital in Cincinnati, and he received three consecutive life sentences. He also claims to have killed an indefinite number of people while he worked at the VA facility from 1975-1985 and eight people at a Kentucky hospital where he worked.
Berter said Harvey was allowed to resign as an autopsy assistant in 1985 after VA police stopped him and searched a gym bag he was carrying. The search turned up a loaded .38-caliber revolver, hospital supplies and books on the occult.
Berter, the officer who detained Harvey the day of the incident, said the lack of probable cause rendered the evidence unusable.
'They moved too fast and lost the chance to find out what was really going on with Harvey,' Berter told the Enquirer. 'They just wanted to get rid of him and push their problem on someone else.'
Berter said he was also told by hospital Police Chief Daniel Wilson to lie if the case went any further.
Berter was fired in February for what the hospital said was abuse of sick leave. Berter said he was dismissed for his role in reporting allegations of brutality toward patients and visitors by Wilson and others.
Meanwhile, Kentucky authorities met with Hamilton County investigators Thursday in an effort to confirm Harvey's claim that he killed eight people at a London, Ky., hospital.
Tom Handy, commonwealth attorney for Laurel and Knox County, Ky., said the meeting was helpful, but he declined to reveal whether it produced any definite leads for investigators to follow.
Harvey worked at Marymount Hospital in London in 1970 and 1971.
His lawyer, William Whalen, said Harvey has admitted killing eight people while working there as an orderly, and claims to have killed as many as 54 people overall.
Handy said he will not enter into plea negotiations with Harvey until his investigation follows its natural course.
'We will not discuss plea agreements until we have conducted our investigation and we see what it leads to,' Handy said. 'We have to find evidence that confirms what he says and find evidence that he is reliable.'
But Handy admitted the investigation is difficult because traces of very few substances would remain in bodies 16 to 17 years old. Harvey poisoned most of his Ohio victims.
Whalen has said Harvey gave him some of the names of the Kentucky victims, but would not provide them to authorities until they agreed to enter plea negotiations.