On April 9, 1983, arrest warrants were issued in Costa Mesa, California, charging Tony Protopappas, a local dentist, with murdering three of his patients over the past six months.
The warrant set bail at half a million dollars, but the amount was reduced to $300,000 after Protopappas surrendered on April 12, putting up his Laguna Beach home as collateral for the bond.
According to the charges filed against him, Protopappas had deliberately overdosed three female patients, causing their deaths in his office.
The first to die, on September 30, 1982, was 23-year-old Kim Andreassen, an 88-pound dialysis patient whom Protopappas injected with nine different anesthetic drugs, during an operation to remove her wisdom teeth. Catheryn Jones, age 31, was next, dispatched on February 13, 1983. The final victim was 13-year-old Patricia Craven, murdered six days later.
On July 31, 1984, after four months of testimony and five days of intense deliberation, a jury convicted Protopappas on three counts of second-degree murder.
Three months later, on October 22, he was sentenced to concurrent terms of fifteen years to life on each conviction. Summing up the case, the judge said, "It's very difficult and very sad. Dr. Protopappas's life is basically destroyed forever."
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia
of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans
Coast Dentist Is Sought In Deaths
of 3 Patients
The New York Times
April 10, 1983
An arrest warrant has been issued for a 37-year-old
dentist, charging him with murder in the deaths of three patients.
The warrant, which sets bail at $500,000,
was signed Friday by Judge Stephen Stewart of the Orange County
Municipal Court. The three-count complaint accuses the dentist, Tony
Protopappas, of killing Kim Minna Andreassen on Sept. 30, Cathryn Louise
Jones on Feb. 13 and Patricia Marguerite Craven on Feb. 19.
Dr. Protopappas's lawyer, Robert Coviello,
said the dentist would surrender to face the charges. All three patients
were anesthesized by Dr. Protopappas shortly before death, the
Not Guilty Plea Entered, By Dentist in 3
The New York Times
April 14, 1983
A 38-year-old dentist charged with murdering
three patients with anesthetics surrendered Tuesday and pleaded not
guilty in a court appearance.
Dr. Tony Protopappas gave himself up five
days after an arrest warrant was issued for him.
He was booked on the three murder charges
immediately after his arraignment in Orange County's Harbor Municipal
Judge Selim Franklin set bail at $500,000
but said he would lower the amount if Dr. Protopappas put up his Laguna
Beach home, a mountain cabin and his office building as collateral. The
defense attorney, Stanford Shaw, estimated the property was worth
The Deputy District Attorney, Jim Cloninger,
opposed a bail reduction, saying ''it would be a logical conclusion''
that Dr. Protopappas might try to flee prosecution.
Dentist convicted in patient deaths rejected again
in parole bid
June 3rd, 2008
A former Costa Mesa dentist who made national
headlines in the early 1980s when he was convicted of second-degree
murder in the deaths of three patients was rejected last week in his
latest bid for parole.
Tony Protopappas, who operated a
high-volume, heavily-advertised dental clinic for nine years until he
was convicted in 1984, will not be able to re-apply for parole until
Protopappas, now 61, admitted for the first time
during his parole hearing at Folsom Prison last Thursday that he killed
the three victims, said Deputy District Attorney Matt Lockhart,
who opposed Protopoppas’ release.
But Protopappas declined to elaborate on exactly what
he did that caused the deaths of his patients. Lockhart argued that the
ex-dentist was attempting to take responsibility for his crimes to
enhance his chance for parole without providing substance.
In less than four months during late 1982 and early
1983, two women and a 13-year-old girl died after they were put under
anesthesia while under Protopappas’ care.
Protopoppas was not accused of deliberately killing
the patients, but of
using anesthesia procedures he knew were inherently dangerous and likely
to cause death.
He was sentenced to 15-years to life in July 1984
for the deaths of Kim Andreassen, 23, Patricia
Craven, 13, and Cathryn Jones, 31. He has been
turned down for parole ever since.
Protopappas admitted during prior parole
consideration hearings that he had been abusing cocaine and alcohol for
two years before the deaths.
RACE: W TYPE: S MOTIVE: PC-nonspecific
Dentist who deliberately overdosed three female patients, age 13-31,
three concurrent terms of 15 years to life, 1984.
Russell with Dr. Tony Protopappas at the Old Folsom Prison in 2007.