Most of you have heard of Munchausen Syndrome. It is an odd psychiatric disorder where the person harms themselves or makes themselves ill in order to receive medical care. The payoff seems to be the attention they receive from being the victim of some dread illness or injury. These people will subject themselves to all sorts of medical testing, including some that are dangerous and painful.
A subform of this is called Munchausen By Proxy. In this case the victim is not the person with the mental disturbance but rather someone else. Typically a parent will harm or make ill a child so that the child requires medical care. The payoff is that the parent gets to play victim and receive all the sympathy and attention that goes along with being the co-victim of the disease process or injury. In this case it is the child that is subjected to needless and often dangerous and painful medical procedures.
You’ve also no doubt heard the term Angel of Death. Traditionally this term is applied to nurses, but it can also be applied to doctors and other healthcare personnel, who kill patients as part of some deep psychopathological disturbance. They are often the most dangerous of serial killers simply because they have plenty of ready victims and several methods for doing them in. People die in the hospital all the time so a few extra deaths can go unnoticed for many years and even decades. For tis reason, many of these are among our most prolific serial killers.
But what if one of these Angels decided to do their deeds by proxy? What if they could convince someone else to take their own life? What if there psychopathology was fed by this serial killing by proxy? A pretty disturbing circumstance.
But that may very well be the case with William Melchert-Dinkel. At least this is what prosecutors in Faribault, Minnesota believe. Mr. Melchert-Dinkel has pled not guilty to the charges and the investigation is ongoing but prosecutors believe that Melchert-Dinkel posed as a young female nurse on the Internet and offered sympathy, support, and instructions on how to commit suicide to at least two stressed and depressed people. One a 32-year-old male in Coventry, England and the other an 18-year-old girl in Brampton, Ontario.
Could this be a case of Angel of Death by Proxy?