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.
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
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
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."
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.
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.
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