John Bodkin Adams

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John Bodkin Adams (21 January 18994 July 1983) was an Irish-born British physician widely believed to have been a serial killer. He was tried in 1957 for the murder of one of his patients but controversially acquitted, while another charge of murder was withdrawn via a nolle prosequi - an act which the presiding judge described as an 'abuse of process' by the prosecutor Reginald Manningham-Buller. According to Scotland Yard files released in 2003, Adams was suspected in the murders of up to 163 of his patients.



According to the police files and testament in court in 1957:

  • Easing the passing of a dying person isn't all that wicked. She wanted to die. That can't be murder. It is impossible to accuse a doctor.[1]
    • To police on being told of the investigation into his actions.
  • That was very wrong... I have had God's forgiveness for it.
    • To police on being confronted about a forged prescription.[1][2]
  • I don't want money. What use is it?
    • When asked about legacies he received from deceased patients.[1]
  • I don't know what you mean. I don't keep a record.
    • To police on being asked for his Dangerous Drugs Register during a police search.[2]
  • Murder... murder... Can you prove it was murder? [...] I didn't think you could prove it was murder. She was dying in any event.
    • To police on being charged.[2]
  • I will see you in heaven.
    • To his receptionist after being arrested.[2]
  • She might be violent.
    • When asked in August 1939 why he injected elderly patient Agnes Pike with Morphine while another doctor was examining her in order to give a second opinion. The patient was being heavily sedated by Adams and her relatives had become concerned.[1]
  • Mrs Thomas has promised me her typewriter, I'll take it now.
    • To Mrs Thomas' cook on 21 November 1952. The patient died the following night.[1]
  • The person who told you that doesn't know why I did it.
    • When asked in 1956 why in February 1954 he had sat with patient Clara Neil Miller for forty minutes with her "bed clothes all off... and over the foot rail of the bed, her night gown up around her chest and the window in the room open top and bottom", while Adams read to her from the Bible.[1]


Wikisource has original text related to:
  • An anonymous poem "Adams and Eves" circulated at the time of Adams' arrest finished:


It’s the mortuary chapel
If they touch an Adam’s apple
After parting with a Bentley as a fee
So to liquidate your odd kin
By the needle of the bodkin

Send them down to sunny Eastbourne by the sea.[1]

  • A mercenary mercy killer who was prepared to sell death.
  • You do realise, doctor, that you have killed her?
    • A nurse working with Adams, when a patient passed away after an injection.[1]


  1. a b c d e f g h Cullen, Pamela V., "A Stranger in Blood: The Case Files on Dr John Bodkin Adams", London, Elliott & Thompson, 2006, ISBN 1-904027-19-9
  2. a b c d e Patrick Devlin, Easing the passing: The trial of Doctor John Bodkin Adams, London, The Bodley Head, 1985
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