Linda Hazzard

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Linda Hazzard
Linda Burfield Hazzard, FS, DO.png
Linda Hazzard
Lynda Laura Burfield

(1867-12-18)December 18, 1867
DiedJune 24, 1938(1938-06-24) (aged 70)
Cause of deathStarvation due to fasting
Other namesLinda Burfield Hazzard
"Starvation Doctor"
OccupationConfidence trickster, alternative medicine practitioner
Known forHealth fraud through promotion of fasting treatments
Criminal statusimprisonment (1913–1915)
parole (1915)
pardon (1916)
Spouse(s)Samuel Chrisman Hazzard
Parent(s)Montgomery and Susanna Neil (Wakefield) Burfield
MotiveFinancial gain
Criminal chargeManslaughter, forgery
Penalty2 to 20 years in prison
Imprisoned atWashington State Penitentiary, Walla Walla, Washington

Linda Laura Hazzard (née Burfield; December 18, 1867 – June 24, 1938), nicknamed the "Starvation Doctor"[1] was an American quack, fraud, swindler and serial killer noted for her promotion of fasting as a treatment. She was imprisoned by the state of Washington for a number of deaths at a sanitarium she operated there in the early 20th century. Her treatments were responsible for at least 15 deaths. Born 1867 in Carver County, Minnesota, she died during a fast in 1938.


Hazzard was born Lynda Laura Burfield in Carver, Minnesota, one of the eight children of Susanna Neil (Wakefield) and Montgomery Burfield. She had no medical degree, but was licensed to practice medicine in Washington State through a loophole that grandfathered in some practitioners of alternative medicine without degrees. According to her book The Science of Fasting, she studied under Edward Hooker Dewey, MD, a champion of fasting.

She created a "sanitarium", Wilderness Heights, in Olalla, Washington, where inpatients fasted for days, weeks, or months on a diet of small amounts of tomato and asparagus juice and occasionally a small teaspoon of orange juice. While some patients survived and publicly sang her praises, dozens died under her care. Hazzard claimed that they all died of undisclosed or hitherto undiagnosed illnesses such as cancer or cirrhosis of the liver. Her opponents claimed that they all died of starvation.[2] Local residents referred to the place as "Starvation Heights". She assured people that her method was a panacea for all manner of ills, because she was able to rid the body of toxins that caused imbalances in the body.[3]

During her medical career, Hazzard wrote three books about what she claimed to be the science behind fasting and how it could cure diseases. The first was Fasting for the Cure of Disease (1908),[4] followed by Diet in Disease and Systemic Cleansing (1917). A 5th revised and amplified edition of Fasting for the Cure of Disease was published in 1927 under the title Scientific Fasting: The Ancient and Modern Key to Health.[5]

In 1912, she was convicted of manslaughter.[6] for the death of Claire Williamson, a wealthy British woman, who weighed less than 50 pounds at the time of her death. At the trial, it was proven that Hazzard had forged Williamson's will and stolen most of her valuables. Williamson's sister, Dorothea, also took the treatment, and, it is alleged, only survived because a family friend showed up in time to remove her from the compound. It is suggested that one of them managed to smuggle a telegram to alert the family; however, by the time of arrival, Claire had already died. Dorothea was too weak to leave on her own, weighing less than 60 pounds. She later testified against Hazzard at trial.

Hazzard was sentenced to 2 to 20 years in prison, which she served in the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.[7] She was released on parole on December 26, 1915, after serving two years,[8] and the following year Governor Ernest Lister gave her a full pardon.[9] She and her husband, Samuel Chrisman Hazzard (1869–1946), moved to New Zealand, where she practiced as a dietitian and osteopath until 1920.[7]

In 1917, a New Zealand newspaper from Whanganui reported that she held a practicing certificate from the Medical Board of the state of Washington.[10] Because she used the title "Doctor" she was charged in Auckland under the Medical Practitioners Act for practicing medicine while not registered to do so, found guilty and fined £5 plus costs[11] (approximately NZ$600[12] plus costs or US$462.13[13] plus costs in 2014).

In 1920, she returned to Olalla, Washington, and opened a new sanitarium, known publicly as a "school of health" since her medical license had been revoked,[7] and continued to supervise fasts until it burned to the ground in 1935; it was never rebuilt.

Hazzard died of starvation in 1938 while attempting a fasting cure.[7]

Earl Edward Erdman Diary[edit]

On March 28, 1910, Earl Edward Erdman, a City of Seattle Civil Engineer, died of starvation in the Seattle General Hospital. He had kept a diary which detailed Hazzard's treatment during the preceding weeks that provides an insight into the treatment Hazzard prescribed to her patients.[14] The following are excerpts from his diary:

February 1 – Saw Dr. Hazzard and began treatment this date. No breakfast. Mashed soup dinner. Mashed soup supper.

February 5 through 7 – One orange breakfast. Mashed soup dinner. Mashed soup supper.

February 8 – One orange breakfast. Mashed soup dinner. Mashed soup supper.

February 9 through 11 – One orange breakfast. Strained soup dinner. Strained soup supper.

February 12 – One orange breakfast. One orange dinner. One orange supper.

February 13 – Two orange breakfast. No dinner. No supper.

February 14 – One cup of strained tomato broth at 6 p.m.

February 15 – One cup hot strained tomato soup night and morning.

February 16 – One cup hot strained tomato soup a.m. and p.m. Slept better last night. Head quite dizzy. Eyes yellow streaked and red.

February 17 – Ate three oranges today.

February 19 – Called on Dr. (Dawson) today at his home. Slept well Saturday night.

February 20 – Ate strained juice of two small oranges at 10 a.m. Dizzy all day. Ate strained juice of two small oranges at 5 p.m.

February 21 – Ate one cup settled and strained tomato broth. Backache today just below ribs.

February 22 – Ate juice of two small oranges at 10 a.m. Backache today in right side just below ribs.

February 23 – Slept but little last night. Ate two small oranges at 9 a.m. Went after milk and felt very bad. Ate two small oranges 6 p.m.

February 24 – Slept better Wednesday night. Kind of frontal headache in a.m. Ate two small oranges 10 a.m. Ate one and a half cups hot tomato soup at 6 p.m. Heart hit up to ninety-five minute and sweat considerable.

February 25 – Slept pretty well Thursday night. Ate one and a half cups tomato broth 11 a.m. Ate one and a half cups tomato broth 6 p.m. Pain in right below ribs.

February 26 – Did not sleep so very well Friday night. Pain in right side just below ribs in back. Pain quit in night. Ate 1 and a half cups tomato broth at 10:45 a.m. Ate two and a half pump small oranges at 4:30 p.m. Felt better afternoon than for the last week. ...

This diet continued more or less unchanged until his hospitalization on March 28. He died that afternoon, just before his coworker was to transfuse blood.

Deaths attributed to Hazzard[edit]


  • Lenora (Mrs. Elgin) Wilcox [15]
  • Daisey Maud Haglund (Mother of Ivar's restaurant founder Ivar Haglund) – The official cause of her death was stomach cancer. Her inability to eat would have caused her to starve to death even without Hazzard's assistance.[16]
  • Ida Wilcox[7]


  • Blanche B. Tindall[15]
  • Viola Heaton[15]
  • Eugene Stanley Wakelin – Died from a bullet in the head on Hazzard's property. Whether she was responsible for the shooting remains unknown, though it is speculated to be the case.[7]



  • Frank Southard[7]
  • C.A. Harrison[7]
  • Ivan Flux[7]
  • Lewis Ellsworth Rader[7]
  • Claire Williamson[7]


  • Mary Bailey [2]
  • Ida Anderson [2]
  • Robert Gramm [2]
  • Fred Ebson – Supervised by another fast enthusiast[2]


  • Linda Hazzard

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Perper, Joshua A.; Cina, Stephen J. (2010). When Doctors Kill: Who, Why, and How. Copernicus Books. pp. 33-35. ISBN 978-1-4419-1368-5
  2. ^ a b c d e Olsen 2005.
  3. ^ Holmes, Ronald M., and Stephen T. Holmes. Serial Murder. Third Edition ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc, 2009
  4. ^ Hazzard, Linda Burfield (1908) [1908]. Fasting for the cure of disease. New York City: Physical Culture Publishing Company. ISBN 9781542371636. OCLC 1006893429 – via Internet Archive.
  5. ^ Hazzard, Linda Burfield (2007) [1927]. Scientific fasting: The ancient and modern key to health. Kessinger Publications. ISBN 9780548076231. OCLC 320121905 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ "Starved in Sanitarium" Newspaper The Toronto World. Date 5 February 1912
  7. ^ "Woman Fast Doctor Released on Parole". The Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California. December 21, 1915. p. 10. Archived from the original on December 4, 2018. Retrieved December 4, 2018 – via
  8. ^ "Dr. Linda Hazzard Is Given Pardon". Oregon Daily Journal. Portland, Oregon. June 4, 1916. p. 14. Archived from the original on December 4, 2018. Retrieved December 4, 2018 – via
  9. ^ Personal, Wanganui Chronicle, Volume LX, Issue 17037, July 16, 1917, Page 4
  10. ^ Unregistered physician, New Zealand Herald, Volume LV, Issue 16877, June 15, 1918, Page 8
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 30, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Convert New Zealand Dollar to United States Dollar - NZD to USD Currency Converter". Archived from the original on 2017-10-17. Retrieved 2015-01-02.
  13. ^ "Erdman Diary Tells Methods of Treatment". The Seattle Daily Times. August 14, 1911.
  14. ^ a b c d "Dr. Hazzard Attacks Medical Profession in Latest Pamphlet". The Seattle Daily Times. September 30, 1911.
  15. ^ "Starvation Caused Woman's Death: Condition of Stomach Cancer Made it Impossible for Mrs, Fannie Haglund to Retain any Food Whatever for Many Weeks". The Seattle Daily Times. February 27, 1908.
  16. ^ "Unlicensed Prectitioner Kills", The Wellington Daily News, Wellington, Kansas, August 8, 1911, pg 4.

Further reading[edit]

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