Dr. Michael "Double-O" Swango Had a License To Kill

Jonny Llama
  Published on March 15, 2022   
Big shoutout (again) to Special Agent Bruce Sackman. If you have read his book already, Behind the Murder Curtain, please give him a review on Amazon!

Joseph Michael Swango is an American medical doctor and serial killer serving multiple life sentences for murdering patients. Swango's total kill count is unknown with some sources claiming he has killed 60 while others believe the victim count is over 300. Convicted for his crimes, Swango is spending his life inside of an Colorado Supermax prison.

Destroying Dreams

19-year-old Cynthia McGee is believed to be Dr. Michael Swango's first victim. Swango injected her with potassium, which resulted in a fatal heart attack. McGee was a student and Olympic hopeful at the University of Illinois.

19-year-old Cynthia McGee is believed to be Dr. Michael Swango's first victim. Swango injected her with potassium, which resulted in a fatal heart attack. McGee was a student and Olympic hopeful at the University of Illinois.


Cynthia Ann McGee, 19, is believed to be Michael Swango's first murder victim. McGee was attending the University of Illinois under a gymnastics scholarship when in November 1983 was hit by a car while she and her boyfriend were riding their bicycles.

McGee suffered multiple injuries, including a broken pelvis, a broken arm and leg, and minor head injuries. At only 10-years-old, McGee was resilient and determined to heal quickly. It quickly amazed the doctors at how fast she began recovering. Joseph Conway, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, said in his report that "McGee was making a storybook recovery."

Unfortunately for Cynthia, her doctor agreed to have her transfer to a hospital in Ohio, her home state, so she could be closer to family and friends while recovering. It was at the Ohio State Medical Center where she crossed paths with the young and charming serial killer, Dr. Michael Swango.

Cynthia's official cause of death was marked as a heart attack and it was only later that family realized that she was the first of Swango's victims.

Most Likely To Succeed

Swango was exposed early on for his crimes in a segment on 20/20. He denied all allegations.

Swango was exposed early on for his crimes in a segment on 20/20. He denied all allegations.


Michael Joseph Swango was raised in the quiet Mississippi River town of Quincy, Illinois. The blonde-haired and hazel eyed student excelled in his childhood. Voted Most Likely to Succeed, Swango graduated valedictorian of his class in 1972. Nothing could hold back Michael's determination to live an outstanding life.

Swango joined the Marines after graduating, where he served a 4-year stint and was honorably discharged. He was welcome back to his home town where, as a young bachelor, would begin his studies for medical school.

Steve Siebers was one of Swango's classmates who said that Michael was "probably the smartest kid I've ever known." He recalled Michael excelled in his advanced physics class and even surpassed the marks of his peers.

Siebers also stated, which many others would corroborate, that Swango seemed to overreact when someone joked or teased him. He would either fly into a fit of rage or silently plan a revenge plot against his offender.

Training Dr. Death

Police discovered books on poison and arsenic that belonged to Swango.

Police discovered books on poison and arsenic that belonged to Swango. Photo credit Oxygen.com


Michael Swango attended the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. His grades were not as good as expected and he would constantly cram for big exams, which his peers began referring to as "swango-ing." Michael worked part time as a paramedic as well, which may have weighed on his poor performance, which nearly got him expelled. He was held back one year and lost his residency.

Swango attended Ohio State University under a residency in neurosurgery, but only lasted one year. Michael had at least one affidavit held against him from a witness, and hospital nurse, who claimed to see him "putting what appeared to be something into the patient's IV tube line with a syringe."

Michael was fascinated with death and enjoyed calling the recent widows and family of a patient he just snuffed out just to hear their pain and suffering.

Before he was let go from Ohio State, the devious doctor began poisoning his own coworkers with ant poison. On one incident after eating chicken Swango purchased for the group, several doctors became violently ill. Some "vomited so hard they broke blood vessels in their eyes."

Poison Debbies

Greg Meyers was one paramedic that Michael Swango poisoned during his employment as an E.M.T. Swango laced donuts with ant poison and served 4 years in prison.

Greg Meyers was one paramedic that Michael Swango poisoned during his employment as an E.M.T. Swango laced donuts with ant poison and served 4 years in prison. Photo credit - Getty Images


Swango returned home from Ohio State and began working with a local Quincy EMT service. His co-workers were astonished and confused about why a trained medical doctor in neurosurgery would take a lower-paying job of ambulance work. They also noticed several other strange oddities about their recent addition. Swango would always be first out the door on the gruesome calls and would even show up, after hours and off the clock, to take personal photos of car wrecks and other fatal accidents.

It was these quirks that made Swango the target of friendly teasing, but as we know now, he could not put up with any criticisms, especially of people of lower intelligence than his.

One day Michael brought in donuts for the team, which he claimed were "day-olds". However, what soon became apparent was the rat poison sprinkled on top.

Swango watched on with glee as his fellow co-workers vomited from the effects of the arsenic poisoning.

Michael Swango's mugshot after poisoning his paramedic co-workers. Swango used many aliases and forged documents after his release.

Michael Swango's mugshot after poisoining his paramedic co-workers. Swango used many aliases and forged documents after his release


The next evening, Swango tried again to poison his crew, but was arrested after the substances tested contained "twice the lethal dose" of rat poison. Swango served nearly 3 years of attempted manslaughter, but he wasn't finished yet.

When all is said and done, Michael Swango killed 60 patients, although some believe it is over 300. Michael Swango is currently serving 3 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole at ADX Florence.

[arve url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzbRAdynS94" /]

Sources

Behind the Murder Curtain: Special Agent Bruce Sackman Hunts Doctors and Nurses Who Kill Our Veterans (Amazon)
Poison, suspicion and death: The strange odyssey of Michael Swango (Daily Press 26 Feb 1994)
The Shadowy Doctor (The La Crosse Tribune 08 Feb 1994)
Ex-doc Eyed (Daily News 12 July 2000)
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17 comments on “Dr. Michael "Double-O" Swango Had a License To Kill”

      1. Trains are still a thing I live in upstate NY so I have to take a 2 hour train ride into NYC for work every so often. Its uber boring so the podcast gets me through!!

        My obsession with this podcast will never fade. I will be loyal through and through, scouts honor

  1. Yeah, downloads are down a bit. Honestly, this thing has never been too steady, which is why I've been focusing on YouTube a bit more. But even that, it's all a 1%er game with the top influencers making 99% of the lion's share.

    Tiktok is too easy to get followers, but it's hard to monetize. Plus, it makes me weep for humanity's future. As far as the consumer's IQ is concerned, it goes like this:

    • Book/Blog Readers = Smartest, ability to focus and see things through.
    • Podcast Listeners / Audiobook = Also smart, willing to form genuine bonds with the creators. Able to visualize stories.
    • Youtube Viewers = Mixed bag, depending on the niche, but I would peg the consumers on the lower side.
    • TikTok = Goldfish brained creators and consumers desperate for social validation (download the app and you'll see)

    This is all just my humble opinion, but I think I'm pretty accurate, no?

    If there's a market for poorly kept and disgusting feet, then mine would work. If not, I guess I should start researching the next murder....

      1. There is a market for women selling their used undies too. I'm not making that up, a friend told me about it and it's legit. There's even vending machines in Asia where you can buy used panties on the street.

  2. I messaged Jen about that weekend. Let me know what y’all are up to lol.

    And doesn’t everyone put ant poison in their tea to sweeten it?? Haha

    1. Hey, don't listen to that guy below me. He gets jealous when another Carolinian finds us. Yeah, just plan things with her, that would work just fine. I know we will be up there on Easter for sure.

    1. ha. you should be looking around this comment section for the killers among us first. I know what you mean though, but most (99.999%) of hospital workers and first responders do the right thing and have your best interest in mind. But remember that most people won't see the snake before it bites them in the ankle.

      1. Very true!

        Its interesting that healthcare workers could head in completely opposite mind set directions.

        Either extremely opposed to ever “doing harm” has their oath states and it mentally and/or emotionally taking a heavy toll on them as individuals carrying around this burden (I know a firefighter/emt who had to retire early because he became depressed about all lives he witnessed shattered or destroyed).

        OR these works could head in the opposite direction where the overall “power” you have having someone else’s life in your hands overcomes you and you become something more evil.

        OR there are the healthcare workers in the middle ground loving their jobs taking care of hurt or distraught people.

    1. I think the green curtain refers to hospitals in general because it is a stereotype for a hospital to have green bedside curtains that wrap all the way around your hospital bed… i think lol

  3. Omg this sorry was insane.. Jon you always give us such detailed and informed stories I absolutely love this podcast. It is unbelievable how many drs nurses and health care staff are out there hurting and killing the ones they are supposed to be helping and healing.. so sad.

Combat Veteran Operated (please.. no loud noises)
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