Stephen H. Kessler

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Stephen H. Kessler
Born Stephen H. Kessler
1935 (age 81–82)
Criminal charge Murder
Criminal penalty Committed
Motive Insanity
Conviction(s) not guilty by reason of insanity

Stephen H. Kessler is a person who was known as the "LSD Killer".


He attended Harvard College and graduated class of '57,[1] and was enrolled in Downstate Medical School in 1964, but was asked to leave because of his unstable behaviour.[2]


He was arrested in April 1966[3] and tried for murder in October, having apparently stabbed his mother-in-law 105 times. Headlines trumpeted him as a "Mad LSD Slayer" and "LSD Killer", based on a statement made during his arrest that he had been "flying for three days on LSD".[4] His LSD usage, a month prior,[5] was not mentioned during the trial proceedings. His drug use was revealed as having been "one-and-a-half grains of phenobarbital" and "three quarts of lab alcohol".[6][7]

Psychiatrists testified that he actually suffered from chronic paranoid schizophrenia and he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.[8]

He was later committed to Bellevue Hospital for mental tests.


  1. ^ Stevens, Jay (1988). Storming heaven : LSD and the American dream (1st Perennial Library ed.). New York: Perennial Library. ISBN 0-06-097172-X. 
  2. ^ "Trials: Two States of Mind". Time Magazine. November 3, 1967. Retrieved 28 April 2012. 
  3. ^ "NY Man 'Flying On LSD' Kills Mother-in-Law". The Daily Republic. Mitchell, South Dakota. 12 Apr 1966. p. 2. Retrieved 12 September 2016 – via 
  4. ^ "A Slaying Suspect Tells of LSD Spree: Medical Student Charged in Mother-in-Law's Death". New York Times. 12 April 1966. p. 1. (subscription required)
  5. ^ Stafford, Peter; technical editor, Jeremy Bigwood ; [foreword by Andrew Weil ; introduction by Dan Joy] (1992). Psychedelics encyclopedia (3rd expanded ed.). Berkeley, CA: Ronin Pub. p. 62. ISBN 0914171518. 
  6. ^ Grinspoon, Lester; Bakalar, James B. (1998). Psychedelic drugs reconsidered (2nd print ed.). New York: Lindesmith Center. p. 173. ISBN 0964156857. 
  7. ^ Stafford, Peter; technical editor: Jeremy Bigwood; foreword by Andrew Weil; introduction by Dan Joy (1992). "The LSD Family". Psychedelics encyclopedia (3rd expanded ed.). Berkeley, CA: Ronin Pub. p. 62. ISBN 0914171518. 
  8. ^ ANDERSON, F. DAVID (October 26, 1967). "Jury Acquits Kessler in LSD Murder". New York Times. p. 57. Retrieved 17 December 2012. (subscription required)

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