Stephen H. Kessler

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Stephen H. Kessler
Born Stephen H. Kessler
1935 (age 82–83)
Criminal charge Murder
Criminal penalty Committed
Motive Insanity
Conviction(s) not guilty by reason of insanity

Stephen H. Kessler (born 1935) 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]


  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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