October 2, 1889
|Other names||"Herr Doktor"|
|Criminal penalty||Involuntary commitment|
Span of killings
Frederick Mors (2 October 1889 – after 1916) was an Austrian serial killer who, while employed in a nursing home in New York City, killed eight elderly patients by poisoning. When questioned by police he was very cooperative, readily admitting to the murders. After being arrested, Mors was diagnosed as a megalomaniac and committed to an insane asylum from which he later escaped.
Born Carl Menarik, Mors immigrated to New York City from his native Austria-Hungary in June 1914. Through the Immigrant Free Employment Bureau, the German-speaking Mors gained employment as a porter for the German Odd Fellows' Home in Unionport, New York (now the Bronx). The home housed 250 orphans and 100 elderly men and women. Soon after beginning to work there, Mors exhibited signs of megalomania: he would wear a white lab coat with a stethoscope around his neck, and insisted that the elderly residents, whom he terrified, address him as "Herr Doktor." Inexplicably, though he terrified the older residents, both the younger residents and visitors seemed to like him and enjoy his company.
In the four-month period from September 1914 to January 1915, 17 residents—an unusually high number—died at the Home. Mors had used arsenic and chloroform, to murder at least eight of the elderly residents, though he later claimed he was "putting them out of their misery". He committed his first murder using arsenic, purchased from a local druggist. Encountering some difficulties with this method, he later switched to the use of chloroform. Fearing foul play, the administration called the police in to investigate.
Early in the investigation, police learned of the fear the elderly patients and staff had for Mors. On these grounds he soon became the primary suspect of the investigation. When questioned, Mors readily and calmly admitted to killing eight of the seventeen patients that had recently died. He claimed that these were mercy killings and that they had been nuisances. In detail, he described his method as:
"First I would pour a drop or two of chloroform on a piece of absorbent cotton and hold it to the nostrils of the old person. Soon my man would swoon. Then I would close the orifices of the body with cotton, stuffing it in the ears, nostrils and so on. Next I would pour a little chloroform down the throat and prevent the fumes escaping the same way."
Mors also claimed that the home's superintendent had encouraged him to kill the more ill and more elderly patients.
The district attorney declined to prosecute Mors, finding him to be criminally insane, and committed him to the Hudson River State Hospital, pending deportation to Austria. Mors escaped from the institution in the May 1916. His fate is unknown.
- Lane, Brian; Wilfred Gregg. The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers. Berkley Books. p. 265. ISBN 0-425-15213-8.
- Nash, Jay Robert (1992-07-10). World Encyclopedia of 20th Century Murder. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781590775325.
- Blum, Deborah (2011-01-25). The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York. Penguin. ISBN 9781101524893.
- "Serial Killer Frederick Mors | Ephemeral New York". ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2016-10-10.