This kid gets the prize for best self-taught poisonous killer. Graham Young was born in 1947 and died in 1990.He was a young English serial killer who delighted in watching the slow poisonous death of his victims. He was sent to Broadmoor Hospital in 1962 after poisoning several members of his family, killing his stepmother. At the hospital he attempted to poison a number of hospital staff but was unsuccessful in killing them. After his release in 1971 he went on to poison 70 more people, two of whom died.
Young claimed to have a “troubled childhood.” His mother 12 weeks after he was born. Young was fostered out to his aunt. His aunt didn’t like Young. Fred Young eventually remarried, but Young didn’t bond with his stepmother.
Young became fascinated with medication and its contents at a young age. He began reading and studying the ingredients on aspirin bottles. When he was old enough to read, he favored nonfiction accounts of murders, and Dr. Crippen, the infamous poisoner, was a particular favorite. By the time he reached his teens he had developed a fascination with Adolf Hitler, declaring him”misunderstood” . His idolization of Hitler occurred only 14 years after the end of the Second World War. His interest in poison, along with his admiration of the Nazis proved to be a deadly combination.
He read about the occult, claiming knowledge of Wiccans and local covens, and trying to involve local children in bizarre occult ceremonies, which involved sacrificing a cat on one occasion. The disappearance of a number of local cats may have pointed to a more regular occurrence of these ceremonies.
Academically, his only interests were chemistry, forensic science and toxicology. His father innocently encouraged him, buying Young a chemistry set which absorbed his attention for hours at a time. The kit exposed him to his first poison, antimony. By the age of 13, Young’s knowledge of toxicology enabled him to convince local chemists that he was 17 and he procured a dangerous quantity of the poisons antimony, digitalis and arsenic for ‘study’ purposes as well as the heavy metal, thallium.
Keen to put his knowledge of poisons to the test, his first victim was fellow science pupil, Christopher Williams. Young slipped antimony into his friend’s sandwiches. Williams who suffered an extended period of vomiting, painful cramps and headaches after Young, fed him a cocktail of poisons that left medical experts baffled. After Williams become well again, the helpful Young offered him some lemonade, declaring it would help him to remain healthy. It was laced with antimony. Williams was lucky to survive, probably because Young couldn’t fully satisfy his scientific curiosity. Monitoring the illness of his victim when he was sick at home was not feasible. That would never do. So he decided to focus on a group to whom he had unlimited access, being his own family.
In 1961, he started to test poisons on his family making them violently ill. Since February, 37-year-old Molly Young had suffered vomiting, diarrhea and excruciating stomach pain, which she initially dismissed as bilious attacks. Before long her husband Fred, 44, was also suffering, with similar stomach cramps debilitating him for days at a time. Then Young’s sister was violently ill on a couple of occasions that summer. Fred pondered these developments. Could the boy have contaminated his family’s food? He confronted his son but Graham blamed Winifred, who he claimed had been using the family’s teacups to mix shampoo. Naturally shampoo would cause such a poisoned reaction. You know how lethal Herbal Essence can be.Shortly afterwards, Young himself was violently sick at home but his actions were later seen as an attempt to prove his own innocence.
When Young’s elder sister, Winifred, was poisoned by belladonna, Young’s father suspected him, but perhaps hoping he was wrong, took no action. Molly, his stepmother, became the focus of Young’s attentions, gradually becoming more ill until finally, on April 21, 1962, she was found by her husband writhing in agony, in the back garden of their home, with Young looking on in fascination. She was rushed to hospital, where she died later that night. Young seemed fascinated by the development. She was cremated soon after.
Following Molly’s death, Fred’s attacks of vomiting and cramping became more frequent and increasingly severe, and he was admitted to hospital, where he was diagnosed with antimony poisoning. He was lucky to have survived his son’s experimentation, but he couldn’t accept that his son was responsible. It was Young’s school chemistry teacher who contacted the police when he discovered poisons, and copious material about poisoners, in Young’s school desk.
The Arrest and Incarceration
Young was sent to a police psychiatrist and Young was arrested on May 23, 1962. He admitted poisoning of his father, sister, and school friend, Williams, but no murder charges were brought against him for the murder of his stepmother, as any evidence had been destroyed at the time of her cremation. Still only 14, he was committed to Broadmoor maximum security hospital, the youngest inmate since 1885, for a minimum period of 15 years.
Within weeks the death of an inmate, John Berridge, by cyanide poisoning, had prison authorities baffled. Young claimed to have extracted cyanide from laurel bush leaves, but his confession was not taken seriously, and Berridge’s death was recorded as suicide. On
other occasions staff and inmates’ drinks were found to have been tampered with, including an abrasive sodium compound into a tea urn that could have caused mass poisoning had it not been discovered. Young continued to read about poisoning, although he began to keep his obsession well hidden, when authorities made it clear that appearing less obsessed would speed up his release. Wow. How clueless is that?
By the late 1960’s Young’s doctors stated he had been ‘cured’. Young celebrated by informing a psychiatric nurse that he intended to kill one person for every year he had been in Broadmoor; the comment was recorded on his file but it never influenced the decision to release him.
Now Young’s father initially refused to associate with his son. This didn’t bother Young in the slightest. Young found work as a store man at John Hadland Laboratories, a photographic supply firm in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, His willingness to make tea and coffee for his co-workers raised no concerns and when Young’s boss, 59-year-old Bob Egle began to experience severe cramps and dizziness, it was attributed to a virus known locally as the bovingdon bug, which had afflicted a number of local schoolchildren. Other Hadland workers complained of similar cramps, but none were ever as severe as Egle’s who seemed to recover when off work ill, but became sicker than ever on his return to work. He was eventually admitted to hospital where he died, in agony, on July 7, 1971. His cause of death was recorded as pneumonia.
In September 1971, 60-year-old Fred Biggs began to suffer similar symptoms to Egle, and general absenteeism at Hadland increased dramatically. Employees suffered a variety of ailments, including cramps, hair loss and sexual dysfunction. Various sources were considered, including water contamination, radioactive fallout and leakage of the chemicals used at the firm itself, but no real progress was made towards the cause. Biggs was eventually admitted to the London Hospital for Nervous Diseases, but took a long time to die, a cause of some frustration to Young, who recorded his displeasure in his diary. He eventually succumbed, on November 19, 1971, in excruciating pain.
The Trial and Conviction
He was delighted at the media hype that surrounded his trial, and did his best to appear sinister, in an attempt to unnerve the jury and assembled gallery, but was less thrilled with the moniker “The Teacup Poisoner,” which he felt belittled his skills. He thought “World Poisoner” more appropriate. Well you can’t win them all.
Young had not reckoned with the advances made in forensic science in the decade since the death of his stepmother and the effect that the reading of tracts of his diary, in which he cold-bloodedly lists the effects of his poisons, would have on the jury. He was found guilty on all charges on June 29, 1972, receiving four life sentences.
When asked whether he felt any remorse over his sadistic killings, he is said to have replied: “What I feel is the emptiness of my soul.” Young was incarcerated at the maximum-security Parkhurst prison, on the Isle of Wight, the home of Britain’s most serious criminals, usually reserved for those with severe mental conditions. Here he befriended Moor’s Murderer, Ian Brady, who became infatuated with the 24-year old Young, although the attraction was not reciprocated. They spent time together, playing chess and bonding over their fascination with Nazi Germany. Young regularly sported a Hitler moustache.
Young was thrilled when a waxwork of himself was added to the Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors, alongside his boyhood hero, Dr. Crippen.
Young died in his cell on August 1, 1990, aged 42. The official cause of death was heart failure, although fellow inmates, who were always extremely wary of Young, may have poisoned him or, some believed that he grew tired of prison life and poisoned himself in one final gesture of control. I hope he suffered as much as his victims.
Young’s worldwide notoriety brought the effectiveness of thallium as a deadly poison into focus for the first time: it was used extensively as a coating on U.S. missiles fired during the first Gulf War, to devastating effect.
In 1995, a black come
dy about Young’s life, entitled The Young Poisoner’s Handbook was released in cinemas. In November 2005 a 16-year old Japanese schoolgirl was arrested for poisoning her mother with thallium. She claimed to be fascinated by Young, having seen the 1995 film, and kept an online blog, similar to Young’s diary, recording dosage and reactions. Her mother remains in a coma.