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Killers part of OSU’s past

Halloween: A time for ghost stories and urban legends.

Most people on campus have heard of the ghost of Oxley Hall – the woman who still roams the corridors of the building more than a half a century after her death.

But some might not have heard the one about the serial killer in Morrill Tower.

Unfortunately for the students living in the 23-story residence hall, the legend of the Cannon Drive Cannibal is fact, not fiction.

In autumn 1978, Morrill Tower became home to a new class of students who would later go on to become doctors, lawyers and engineers. But one of the most famous residents that year had already begun the career that would take over his life for the next 13 years.

His name was Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer.

Deemed the notorious Milwaukee Cannibal, Dahmer became a resident of Bath, Ohio, when he moved from Wisconsin at the age of eight. Like many other Ohioans, 18-year-old Dahmer enrolled at OSU following his senior year of high school.

But unlike the usual sea of freshmen who come to OSU, Dahmer had a very unique quality: By the time he stepped onto campus, he had already committed his first murder.

In June 1978, Dahmer began his decade-long killing spree when he took the life of 18-year-old hitchhiker Steven Hicks. Dahmer struck the young man in the head with a barbell and buried his body behind his house in Bath Township.

With the weight of the murder on his shoulders, Dahmer walked onto the OSU campus for autumn quarter classes a mere three months later. Little is known about his tenure as a Buckeye.

Dahmer resided in Morrill Tower for only one quarter and never officially declared a major. Although a hold has been put on his transcript and his exact schedule is unknown, it has been rumored that Dahmer was a student in Paul Sciulli’s Introduction to Anthropology class. Sciulli, however, said he cannot confirm this myth.

“With a class of over 600 people, I can’t verify that he was in the class,” Sciulli said.

Dahmer was not officially listed as a member of any university organizations or athletics, and his tenure at OSU was cut short when he failed to enroll in winter quarter classes for the 1979 term.

Although Dahmer’s presence at OSU is not a boast-worthy event, it has left an impact on the university scenery.

“It’s nothing to be proud of,” said Brittany Jackson, a sophomore and resident of Morrill Tower, “but it definitely gives notoriety to the dorm.”

Unfortunately for the OSU community, Dahmer was not the only notorious person to grace the Buckeye campus.

Dr. Michael Swango, the notorious Dr. Death, was connected to at least 35 lethal injections and pleaded guilty to a total of four murders.

A graduate of the Southern Illinois University Medical School, Swango began his tenure at Ohio State when he was offered a yearlong internship, to be followed by a four-year residency at the OSU Medical Center in July 1983. Deemed “Double-O Swango” by his classmates, Swango was known for the observation that many of his patients died while under his care, thus the insinuation that he had a James Bond-like license to kill.

During his time at the medical center, Swango’s ineptitude in the medical field became quite apparent. His work was peppered with accusations of misconduct and poor bedside manner. Included was an investigated incident in February 1984 in which a nurse reportedly saw Swango inject a substance into the intravenous tube of a patient. The female patient was rushed to the intensive care unit just two minutes later when she stopped breathing.

Dr. Carole Ann Miller, an associate professor of surgery at the time of Swango’s residency at the medical center, said in a February 1985 issue of the Columbus Dispatch that Swango had a “lack of interest and of medical knowledge.” Miller refused to comment for this article.

Swango left the medical center and returned to Illinois. There he was accused and later convicted of the non-lethal poisonings of six co-workers in Quincy, Ill. This conviction led to a probe of Swango’s conduct while at OSU.

Although Swango was cleared in the probe of seven patient deaths during his residency, he later confessed to the murder of 19-year-old Cynthia Ann McGee, a patient at OSU Medical Center in January 1984. The confession came in conjunction with that for the murders of three patients at a New York veteran’s hospital in September 2000.

Dr. Michael Swango was convicted for all four deaths and is now serving two life sentences. In a diary entry of the notorious Dr. Death, Swango said the murders were “the only way I have of reminding myself that I’m still alive.”

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