Geza de Kaplany

Geza de Kaplany (born June 27, 1926) is a Hungarian-born physician who emigrated to the United States in the late 1950s. In 1963, he was convicted of first-degree murder in California after mutilating his wife with a scalpel and corrosive strong acids, thus causing her death.

Geza F. P. de Kaplany
Geza F. P. Kaplany de Kaplanyhaza[1]

(1926-06-27) June 27, 1926 (age 96)[2]
Mako, Hungary
Other namesThe Acid Doctor
Alma materUniversity of Szeged
Criminal chargeMurder
Criminal penaltyLife imprisonment
Criminal statusParoled
Hajna Piller
(m. 1962; death (hers) 1962)

Early lifeEdit

De Kaplany was born and raised in Hungary, in a wealthy family. He lost the sight in an eye during a beating by his father, who died in 1938. He studied medicine at the University of Szeged and graduated with honors in 1951. He went into practice in Budapest as a cardiologist, but clashed with officials in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956,[3] fleeing after it failed. He visited England and Denmark, writing a book called Doctor in Revolt about his alleged experiences as a freedom fighter in Hungary.[1][4]

He settled in Boston,[5] intending to resume his practice, but discovered that his degree was not recognized. He retrained as an anesthesiologist, interning at Milwaukee Hospital from August 1957 to August 1958. He then attended Harvard and taught anesthesiology at Yale.[1][6] He moved to San Jose, California where he worked at San Jose Hospital.[2]


In June 1962, he met Hajna Piller, also from Hungary. She was 25, a former fashion model, showgirl at Bimbo's 365 Club[7] and beauty queen, daughter of György Piller.[8] The two had a whirlwind courtship and married that August. A few weeks after their marriage, de Kaplany heard from a woman friend[9] that his wife was having an affair.[2]


On the evening of August 28, 1962,[10] de Kaplany carried out his plan to punish his wife for her supposed infidelity. He tied her to the bed in their apartment, played loud music and disfigured her body with a scalpel. He dabbed a mixture of hydrochloric, sulfuric and nitric acid in the cuts, causing her to suffer third degree corrosive burns over most of the front of her body.[11] After three hours, he called police.[12] He told police that he had wanted to destroy her beauty, but not kill her. She recovered enough to give a statement,[13] but died on September 30 in St. Francis Memorial Hospital.[10]

Legal proceedingsEdit

De Kaplany's trial commenced on January 9, 1963.[14] He was initially charged with attempted murder, and was later charged with murder by torture after his wife died.[6] De Kaplany pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyer, Edward de Vilbiss, claimed that he suffered from multiple personality disorder and that the crime was committed by his alter ego, "Pierre de la Roche." Prosecutor Louis P. Bergna[15] brought a witness, Ruth Krueger, a former lover who testified otherwise.[16][17] He was declared legally sane,[18] though medically insane.

He was convicted of first-degree murder, but the testimony of a psychiatrist who claimed that de Kaplany had become a "paranoid schizophrenic with latent homosexual tendencies"[19] because of abuse during his childhood apparently prompted the jury to bring a verdict of life imprisonment on March 1, 1963.[2][19] Superior Court Judge Raymond G. Callaghan formally sentenced him on March 15.[20] He was sent to California Institution for Men.[21]

His license to practice was revoked by the California Board of Medical Examiners on March 9, 1964, for violating sections 2378 and 2383 (moral turpitude and unprofessional conduct[22]) of the Business and Professions Code.[23]

He appealed his conviction in the California state and federal courts, but the Ninth Circuit ultimately upheld his conviction in a 1976 opinion that issued after de Kaplany had already been granted parole and left the United States.[6]


In 1975, de Kaplany was granted parole in a controversial[24] decision marked by accusations that postmortem photographs of his victim were removed from his file by Raymond Procunier, the chairman of the California state parole authority for men, prior to review of de Kaplany's case by the parole board. As a result, the ability to be paroled while under the sentence of life imprisonment was removed.[disputed ]

The parole board under Procunier[25] allowed de Kaplany to travel to Taiwan on November 13, 1975, to work as a medical missionary doctor serving poor patients in a Catholic hospital in Lutsao.[26] De Kaplany left the United States before his prosecutors and the general public knew he had been paroled. Negative public reaction followed, with legislators calling for Procunier's ouster.[12] Procunier resigned the following year, citing "personal reasons".[27]

De Kaplany worked at the Lutsao clinic for the next four years, and remarried. Tired of constant parole checks, he left Taiwan in late 1979 and dropped out of sight.[12] When California corrections officials discovered he was missing, a warrant was issued for his arrest and his name was submitted to Interpol. However, a 2002 investigation by the San Jose Mercury News indicated that California officials were made aware of de Kaplany's whereabouts several times over the next few years, and once even contacted him to warn him, as required by law, about an anonymous threat on his life, yet failed to take any steps to extradite him.[12]

Later lifeEdit

He re-surfaced briefly in Munich, Germany in December 1980, where a hospital fired him from a staff position after a German women's magazine happened to publish an article on infamous crimes including his case.[12]

For a time in 1983, he worked in the U.S. Army Health Clinic in Grafenwöhr, Bavaria.[12]

In 2002, reporters for the San Jose Mercury News located the 75-year-old de Kaplany and interviewed him at his home in Bad Zwischenahn, Germany.[28] Two years prior, he had become a naturalized German citizen, making it impossible to extradite him for the parole violation.[12]


  1. ^ a b c "Doctor Held After Acid Scars Wife". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Aug 30, 1962. p. 16. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Carol Davis; Carol Anne Davis (11 April 2011). "Dr. Geza de Kaplany". Doctors Who Kill: Profiles of Lethal Medics. Allison & Busby, Limited. pp. 23–25. ISBN 978-0-7490-1007-2.
  3. ^ "Nationalist Chinese Officials Didn't Know DeKaplany Was A Murderer Was". Santa Cruz Sentinel. 1 March 1976. p. 11. Retrieved 28 February 2014. De Kaplany is a medical doctor who fled Hungary during the 1956 revolution.
  4. ^ doctor Geza (pseud.); Godfrey Lias (1958). Doctor in Revolt. Frederick Muller.
  5. ^ Boston (Mass.). Listing Board (1921). "Ward 3-Precinct 7". List of residents 20 years of age and over as of January 1, 1959. Vol. 1959- w.3. Boston: City of Boston, Printing Dept. p. 13.
  6. ^ a b c "Geza De Kaplany v. J. J. Enomoto, Director of California Department of Corrections, 540 F.2d 975 (9th Cir. 1976)". CourtListener. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. Retrieved 2014-02-26.
  7. ^ "Jealous Doctor Mutilates Bride, 25". Eureka Humboldt Standard. 29 August 1962. Retrieved 26 February 2014 – via Mrs. De Kaplany married the successful doctor five weeks ago after leaving an engagement as a showgirl in Bimbo's 365 Club.
  8. ^ Martin Fido (25 February 2000). The Chronicle of Crime. Carlton Publishing Group. p. 239. ISBN 978-1-85868-853-4.
  9. ^ "Acid Victim Unfaithful -- Witness Says". Lodi News-Sentinel. Jan 30, 1963. pp. 1, 7. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  10. ^ a b The publishers weekly. Vol. 188, Part 4. 1965.
  11. ^ Arthur E. Westveer; United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation (1997). Managing death investigation (4th, rev. ed.). U.S. Dept. of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. p. 291.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Reed, Dan; Tracy Seipel; Sascha Balasko (Dec 27, 2002). "Fugitive killer's haven". Archived from the original on January 8, 2003. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  13. ^ "Slashed Bride Better". Lawrence Journal-World. September 1, 1962. p. 14. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  14. ^ "Homosexuality Hinted In Acid Torture Case". Lodi News-Sentinel. Jan 9, 1963. p. 2. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  15. ^ Michael Fleeman (2 November 2004). "Chapter 3". Over the Edge. St. Martin's Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-4299-0431-5.
  16. ^ Carolyn Anspacher (1965). The acid test: or, The trial of Dr. De Kaplany. Dawnay. p. 151.
  17. ^ Robert M Kaplan (October 2010). Medical Murder: Disturbing Cases of Doctors Who Kill. p. 154. ISBN 978-1-4596-0373-8. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  18. ^ "Doctor Sane When He Gave Bride Acid Bath". The Miami News. Feb 22, 1963. p. 10A. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  19. ^ a b "Jury Sentences Acid-Slayer Of Bride To Life". Tucson Daily Citizen. 2 March 1963. Retrieved 26 February 2014 – via
  20. ^ "A Stoic De Kaplany Sentenced". San Mateo Times. 15 March 1963. Retrieved 26 February 2014 – via
  21. ^ "Nationalist Chinese Officials Didn't Know DeKaplany Was A Murderer Was". Santa Cruz Sentinel. 1 March 1976. p. 11. Retrieved 28 February 2014 – via In one day, he was released from the California Institute for Men at Chino[..]
  22. ^ Collins v. Board of Medical Examiners 29 Cal. App. 3d 439 Justia
  23. ^ California. Board of Medical Examiners (1966). Directory of Physicians and Surgeons, Osteopaths, Drugless Practitioners, Chiropodists, Midwives Holding Certificates Issued Under the Medical Practice Acts of the State of California: Also Licentiates in Government Service. Board of Medical Examiners of the State of California. p. A–122.
  24. ^ California Journal. Vol. 7. California Center for Research and Education in Government. 1976. The parole board is under fire for releasing Geza De Kaplany, San Jose physician [..]
  25. ^ "Procunier defiant in his defense of Adult Authority". The Independent. 5 April 1976. p. 4. Retrieved 26 February 2014 – via
  26. ^ "Nationalist Chinese Officials Didn't Know DeKaplany Was A Murderer Was". Santa Cruz Sentinel. 1 March 1976. p. 11. Retrieved 28 February 2014 – via Now 49 years old, De Kaplany is a physician at a Catholic hospital in Lutsao, Taiwan.
  27. ^ "Procunier quits week before Senate battle". The Independent. Long Beach, California. Associated Press. 11 June 1976. p. A-6. Retrieved 8 December 2015 – via

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