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Study: AIDS dentist likely serial killer

ROCKPORT, Mass., Aug. 31 -- Florida dentist Dr. David J. Acer, suspected in the AIDS infections of six people, was most likely a serial killer who intentionally infected his patients, a Harvard researcher said Wednesday in a published report. Internationally known behavioral scientist Dr. Leonard G. Horowitz of Rockport, Mass., said his research shows the late dentist's profile matches those of 36 seriel killers studied by the FBI, as well as four others who knowingly exposed people to the AIDS virus. Authorities had assumed the infections to be an 'accident,' but Horowitz said there is now 'substantial evidence' to believe Acer infected the patients on purpose, although Horowitz conceded that evidence was circumstantial. Horowitz, a Harvard graduate researcher, who also has a doctorate in dentistry, said he based his conclusions on a three-year study of previously unreported medical and legal documents. He said Acer infected the patients to 'express a vendetta' against the U.S. Public Health Service and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The scientist said Acer's principal motive was to seek revenge against the health agencies he believed infected homosexuals with AIDS during an experimental hepatitis B vaccination program in the 1970s. The first of at least six people allegedly infected by Acer, Kimberly Bergalis, later died of AIDS. Horowitz said his findings support the theory that Acer murdered Bergalis, even though some media reports claimed the six alleged victims engaged in risky sexual activities and could have been infected elsewhere. Horowitz called such claims 'indefensible.'

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Because there were no other reported incidents of HIV transmission from a health care worker to a patient, officials at first believed the infections were due to inadequate sterilization practices on the part of Acer, who died on Sept. 3, 1990. Horowitz, who reported his findings in AIDS Patient Care, a journal for health professionals involved in HIV/AIDS patients, said Acer's serial killer-like traits included: Social isolation, lack of demonstrated emotion, chronic deceit, denial, anger, alcoholism, pedophilia, being sexually aggressive and assaultive, depression, self-mutilation, rebelliousness against government health authorities and homophobic society, a poor body image, physical fetishes, a dependent and extremely protective maternal relationship, and in his final days, entertaining himself by watching television news accounts about Bergalis, his alleged first victim.

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