Robert George Clements
was a physician and a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons from
Belfast, Northern Ireland.
On 27 May 1947, he murdered his fourth wife, Amy
Victoria Burnett —the daughter of a wealthy industrialist—with morphine
in order to inherit her money. Both he and the doctor he called to
examine his dying fourth wife diagnosed myeloid leukaemia, which was
confirmed by a botched post-mortem. The doctor who carried this out, Dr
James Houston, later committed suicide.
When the police came to arrest Clements they found that he too had
committed suicide, leaving a note:
- "To Whom It May Concern: I can no longer tolerate the diabolical
insults to which I have been recently exposed."
Robert George Clements
(1880-1947) was a physician and a fellow of the Royal College of
Surgeons from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is suspected of the murder
of his fourth wife, who died of morphine poisoning. His first three
wives also predeceased him, raising suspicions that he murdered them as
well. Clements committed suicide before he was caught by the police and
therefore never stood trial.
Clements was born in 1880 in Belfast, Ireland. He
graduated in 1904 aged 24.
Clement married four times. His first wife, Edith,
died of "sleeping sickness" in 1920 aged 40. His second, Mary, died of
endocarditis in 1925, aged 25, and his third, Kathleen, died of cancer.
His last wife, Amy Victoria Burnett, was the daughter of a wealthy
industrialist. She died on 27 May 1947 in suspicious circumstances in
Southport. The previous day Clements had called in another doctor when
his wife fell ill. She was taken to a nursing home where she died the
next day. Both Clements and the other doctor called in diagnosed myeloid
leukaemia, which was confirmed by a botched post-mortem carried out by
another physician, Dr James Houston.
The circumstances of Burnett's death caused people at
the time to question the deaths of Clement's first three wives. All,
with the exception of the third, were wealthy women when he married them
and were almost penniless at the time of their deaths. Clements signed
the death certificates himself and although there was some suspicions
voiced following the death of his third wife there wasn't any
opportunity to perform a post-mortem as her body had already been
When the police came to arrest Clements they found
that he had committed suicide, leaving a note:
"To Whom It May Concern: I can no longer tolerate
the diabolical insults to which I have been recently exposed."
A second autopsy was conducted by a Dr Grace who
deduced that she had died from morphine poisoning. This was confirmed by
Dr J.B. Firth, Director of the Home Office Laboratory in Preston.
Clements is thought to have murdered Burnett in order to inherit her
money. When Dr Houston found out that his post-mortem had missed the
presence of morphine, he too committed suicide.
Clements, Robert George
A British physician and practicing "bluebeard," Dr. Clements was charged with killing his fourth wife and strongly suspected of slaying her three predecessors, as well.
His first two brides were described, respectively, as victims of "sleeping sickness" and "endocarditis," with Clements signing the death certificate in each case. Wife number three seemed perfectly fit when Clements began predicting her imminent death in 1939, but doctor knew best.
After she collapsed and died in Southport, a physician friend of Clements persuaded police to order an autopsy -- but the remains had already been cremated, on orders from the grieving husband. Once again, Clements was on hand to sign the certificate of death by natural causes.
The merry widower acquired his fourth wife that same year, in London. She lasted until May 27, 1947, but this time there was a discrepancy concerning cause of death. A Lancashire pathologist, Dr. James Houston, accepted Clements's word in listing the cause as myeloid leukemia, but an independent examiner noted signs of morphine poisoning.
Police learned, from neighbors, that Dr. Clements seemed to have strange advance knowledge of his wife's "dizzy spells," and further investigation revealed that Clements had prescribed large doses of morphine for a patient who never received the injections.
A second autopsy revealed traces of morphine, and warrants were issued for Clements' arrest. Calling on Clements and Dr. Houston in turn, detectives found both men dead in an apparent double suicide.
Clements had relied on morphine, leaving a note which read: "To whom it may concern ... I can no longer tolerate the diabolical insults to which I have recently been exposed." Dr. Houston, taking his own life with cyanide, left a more plaintive message: "I have for some time been aware that I have been making mistakes. I have not profited from experience."
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial
Killers - Hunting Humans
SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE: CE-inheritance
Medical "Bluebeard," killed wives with morphine injections