Sure Yale has produced a record number of Supreme Court justices, Princeton and Harvard a multitude of senators and governors. But when I’m showing off, who do I point to among the University’s alumni? Besides Darth Vader and O-Ren Ishii, the answer is Dr. Death and the Unabomber. That’s right, there have been a lot of crazy people who have stepped on the “M” over the past 100 years or so. This legacy of bloodshed is mostly glossed over, as you won’t see anything renamed the Kevorkian School of Medicine anytime soon, but the University has to acknowledge its offspring nonetheless.
Dr. Death, or as he probably likes to think of himself, Dr. Angel of Sweet Mercy and Relief, graduated from the University’s Medical School in 1952. He began a practice so unusual it was granted its own term, medicide, in which he would physically assist chronically ill patients with their deaths. At one point in 1998, he even showed a lethal injection on “60 Minutes,” daring his critics to arrest him. They were more than happy to oblige, and he was imprisoned for second-degree homicide up until June of this year. Now released, Kevorkian plans to move to Mexico, relax on the beach and maybe open up a little surf shop.
You might not have heard of the man who assassinated President James Garfield in 1881. Although Guiteau didn’t actually attend the University he’s worth including because he lived with his uncle, the mayor of Ann Arbor, for a while and applied to the University multiple times, only to be rejected. A blatant plagiarist, half-ass lawyer and all-around insane person, Guiteau shot Garfield twice because he felt the commander in chief hadn’t properly recognized his contributions to his campaign. Garfield died 11 weeks later as a result of the infections that developed when the doctors treated his wounds with unwashed hands and unsterilized instruments.
The ultimate Diag protester, Ayers attended the University in the sixties. But he wasn’t content with holding signs and handing out pamphlets; he blew things up. He bombed the Capitol building, the Pentagon and the State Department. He also killed two of his friends and his girlfriend when a future liberty-dispensing device exploded in his hideout. Posthumously, he preaches his message of progressive education through non-detonating books and a website, www.billayers.org.
Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb
The first truly sensationalized mass media murder, these two teens killed 14-year-old boy in what became one of the most famous crimes of the 1920s. Having read far too much Dostoyevsky, the two brilliant men (Leopold spoke five languages; Loeb was Michigan’s youngest graduate ever) thought themselves Nietzschean supermen, above the moral codes of man and able to commit perfect crimes after which they would feel no remorse. Subsequently, the two broke down immediately when questioned and blamed each other for the killing, not realizing the irony of the situation, because they apparently had only read the first three-quarters of “Crime and Punishment.”
Oh Teddy, couldn’t you have just gone to MIT? Perhaps the most notorious character on the list, Ted Kaczynski, more commonly known as the Unabomber, received a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University back in 1967. A decade later, he began to soil the names of eccentric loners in the woods everywhere by mailing bombs across the country for 15 years. He killed three people and injured 23, leaving the world to wonder why he couldn’t have just channeled his tormented brilliance into something more typical, like wearing tinfoil clothes or having an unnatural affinity for cats.