True crime 11 Stomach-Churning Cases Involving Poisoning  

Lea Rose Emery
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Poisoning, long considered the murder weapon of choice for women, is also the source of some of the most tragic murders. Both historically and in modern times, poison has been a popular choice for murderers - and a particularly creepy one. Maybe it's the idea that the victim blindly ingests the weapon themselves, or maybe it's because poisoning is almost always committed by someone close to the victim. Maybe it's just the idea of something attacking your body from the inside. 

There are plenty of poison murders - some were committed by serial killers who used poison, while other were just a one-time crime. In every case, one of the worst parts of a gruesome poisoning is how it affects the victim. Convulsions, vomiting, rashes, and even hallucinations and paralysis mean poisoning is not a pretty way to die. But often, these confusing symptoms also mean that poisoning cases appear at first to be just mysterious illnesses, and too many times there is a delay before authorities even know a killer is at work.

Here are some of the most gruesome and nastiest poisonings throughout history, because if regular old murder isn't enough, a hotel designed just for murder should keep you up and scared for the foreseeable future. 


H. H. Holmes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 11 Stomach-Churning Cases Involving Poisoning
Photo: Wiki Commons

Doctor, con artist, bigamist, and of course, serial poisoner, H. H. Holmes definitely qualifies as an all-around bad guy - and one of the earliest serial killers on record. The guy built a hotel for murder, which is both terrifying and a baller move. How many murders he committed is unknown; he confessed to nearly 30 - nine of which were confirmed - but some estimate it could be nearly 200. 

The upper two floors of his hotel were a terrifying labyrinth of stairs to nowhere and death rooms. Not only were various bottles of poison found on the premises, some of the rooms were fitted with gas lines, meaning he could asphyxiate his victims through gas poisoning whenever he pleased. Other victims were cut off from air and left to suffocate, while some died of hunger and thirst. As if that's not sickening enough, he also had lime pits to dispose of the bodies, furnaces to incinerate them, and stretching racks for... well, you can guess. 

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Genene Jones is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 11 Stomach-Churning Cases Involving Poisoning
Photo: YouTube

To say nurse Genene Jones had a need for attention is an understatement. She injected infants and children with digoxin, heparin and later, succinylcholine in order to put them into a medical crises, the idea being that she would then come to the rescue and save the day. Of course, the problem was that in many cases, she didn't.

The number of children that died in her attempt to show off is unknown, but estimated to be as many as 46.  She was eventually charged with killing 15-month-old Chelsea McClellan with succinylcholine and for almost killing Rolando Santos with heparin. Due to misplaced (and maybe even destroyed) hospital records, we'll never know how many children she poisoned and put into medical shock. Or killed. 

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Gilbert Paul Jordan is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 11 Stomach-Churning Cases Involving Poisoning
Photo: Vancouver Police

If you've ever thought you can't get too much of a good thing, an encounter with Gilbert Paul Jordan would be sure to change that. The "Boozing Barber" was a Canadian serial killer who hunted Aboriginal women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, many of whom were prostitutes. He would meet women and pay them for sex or buy their drinks, encouraging them to keep drinking until they passed out.

But he didn't stop there. He would continue to pour liquor down their throats while they were unconscious. Because the resulting death was deemed alcohol poisoning and therefore unsuspicious, it took a while for authorities to catch on. 

When they finally did, he was charged with manslaughter, though he was suspected of many other deaths. As if the story isn't creepy enough, court reports showed that police had been listening outside of his hotel room and heard him saying to a woman:

Have a drink, down the hatch baby, 20 bucks if you drink it right down; see if you're a real woman; finish that drink, finish that drink, down the hatch hurry, right down; you need another drink, I'll give you 50 bucks if you can take it; I'll give you 10, 20, 50 dollars, whatever you want, come on I want to see you get it all down; you get it right down, I'll give you the 50 bucks and the 13 bucks; I'll give you 50 bucks. I told you that. If you finish that I'll give you $75; finish your drink...

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The Internet Diagnosed Zhu Ling as the Victim of Thallium Poisoning


Zhu Ling is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 11 Stomach-Churning Cases Involving Poisoning
Photo: rvacapinta/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

When it comes to the horrific side effects of poisoning, Zhe Ling had them all - except, of course, death. In 1994, Ling, a university student in China, started losing her hair, suffering blurred vision, and having horrible stomach pains before falling into a coma. Her friends shared the symptoms on the Internet, where the public replied with suspicions of thallium poisoning, suspicions later confirmed by doctors.

Though she lived, she suffered significant neurological damage: the poisoning left her unable to speak and partially paralyzed. The poisoner was never found, but her roommate Sun Wei was considered the prime suspect.