Meet Dr. Linda Hazzard, mass murderer and thief.
Linda Hazzard, born 1867 in Carver County, Minnesota, was a fiery orator who ran a medical clinic called Wilderness Heights, which the locals dubbed “Starvation Heights.” Dr. Hazzard’s main treatment was radical fasting, also known as starvation.
She created a sanitarium, Wilderness Heights, in Olalla, Washington, where inpatients fasted for days, weeks or months, on a diet of small amounts of tomato and asparagus juice and occasionally, a small teaspoon of orange juice. While some patients survived and publicly sang her praises, more than 40 patients died under her care, most from starvation. Local residents referred to the place as “Starvation Heights”. She assured people that her method was a panacea for all manner of ills, because she was able to rid the body of toxins that caused imbalances in the body.
It has been suggested that during her lifetime, particularly her active years, Hazzard suffered from a mental or emotional illness that has yet to be officially labeled or defined.
Despite her lack of a medical degree, she was licensed to practice medicine in Washington. A loophole in a licensing law grandfathered in some practitioners of alternative medicine who didn’t have medical degrees, including Hazzard.
Fasting had heretofore been considered a quack medical cure, popular with health faddists of the time. In 1908 she published a book, Fasting For The Cure Of Disease, promoting fasting as a cure for virtually every ailment, including cancer.
In 1912 she was convicted of manslaughter for the death of Claire Williamson, a wealthy British woman, who weighed less than 50 pounds at the time of her death. At the trial it was proved that Hazzard had forged Williamson’s will and stolen most of her valuables. Williamson’s sister, Dorothea, also took the treatment, and only survived because a family friend showed up in time to remove her from the compound. She was too weak to leave on her own, weighing less than 60 pounds. She later testified against Hazzard at trial.
Hazzard was sentenced 2 to 20 years in prison, which she served in the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla. She was released on parole on December 26, 1915 after serving two years, and the following year Governor Ernest Lister gave her a full pardon. She and her husband, also an alleged thug, Samuel Christman Hazzard, moved to New Zealand, where she practiced as a dietitian and osteopath until 1920.
In 1920 she returned to Olalla, Washington and opened a new sanitarium, known publicly as a school of health since her medical license had been revoked,and continued to starve patients until it burned to the ground in 1935; it was never rebuilt.
Linda Burfield Hazzard died in 1938 while attempting a fasting cure on herself, which indicates she probably believed in her cure.