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Insulin Homicide VS Insulin Suicide- It's Almost ImpossibleDr. Phillip Leveque Salem-News.com
Phillip Leveque has spent his life as a Combat Infantryman, Pharmacologist, Toxicologist and Physician.
(MOLALLA, Ore.) - The recent story of the rich and famous Sunny von Bulow dying after 28 years in an Insulin coma brought back my memories of when I was the Toxicologist for Multnomah County in Portland, Oregon in 1952 while I was a Ph.D. student at the Oregon Medical School. I believe I had the first Insulin homicide in the United States. The sequence of events with Sunny and my case are weirdly similar.
In the von Bulow case it wasn’t stated if Sunny was a diabetic but the record showed that her husband gave her a slight Insulin overdose with short coma the year before. A doctors advice to a diabetic patient is to try to avoid overdose but if it happens eat some sugar right now. This will correct the problem.
Insulin shock therapy was a standard psychiatric procedure starting about 1933 and was popular up to 1950. The good thing about it for psychiatrists (read money) was that they repeated the procedure as many as 50 times over a year or more (beaucoup bucks). Very few deaths occurred as patients were closely monitored.
Insulin controls the blood sugar level by aiding its entrance into all cells. The brain is the most sensitive to low blood sugar levels. The normal blood concentration of glucose is about 100mg./ml.
In diabetics without normal insulin the level can go up into the hundreds or more because it is not going into any cells. If it is not going into the brain, the person gets a diabetic coma.
The person gets diabetic coma starting with sedation, perspiration, salivation and sometimes convulsions and coma. Death is possible but rare. With high dose Insulin coma the blood and brain sugar level drops and a similar sequence of events occurs.
In my case the husband and wife were both nurses and he was known for a wandering eye and hands. She got a cold and he decided to give her Penicillin. It doesn’t work for that but it wasn’t Penicillin anyway. He said she just went to sleep and never woke up which is typical with high dose Insulin coma. This was just like Sunny’s coma.
My case was a suspicious death referred to me and I found NO poisons even after going through the lengthy process twice. The only findings on her body was an injection site on her buttocks. He said it was the Penicillin shot but that could cause severe allergic shock which she didn’t have.
I told the cops that I suspected Insulin. When confronted he confessed.
In Sunny’s case her husband said she was an alcoholic and “pill popper”. She was NOT suicidal. In his stuff was found an Insulin syringe. It was known that he had overdosed her before.
I say that these are too similar to be different. An overdose of alcohol and possibly barbiturates can be lethal. For example it is recommended for Assisted Suicide.
Sunny didn’t die. I believe she was given a high dose of Insulin causing low brain sugar and coma. Her medical costs were $1000 per day for 28 years: $350,000 per year, $9,800,000 (roughly 10 million).
Claus von Bulow was not given a dime of her fortune.
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More information on the history of Dr. Leveque can be found in his book, General Patton's Dogface Soldier of WWII about his own experiences "from a foxhole".
If you are a World War II history buff, you don't want to miss it.
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