Doctors and Nurses Who Kill: Genene Jones, Charles Cullen and More Who Preyed on Their Patients and Others

Genene Jones

Authorities suspect the Texas pediatric nurse, 66, may have killed up to 60 children in her care with fatal overdose injections at hospitals and clinics around San Antonio between 1977 and 1982. She was sentenced to 99 years in 1984 for killing 15-month-old Chelsea McClennan, and another 60 years for nearly killing 4-week-old Rolando Santos.                        But under a law in effect at the time, she is due for release in March 2018. Two new charges that allege she killed an 11-month-old and a 2-year-old in 1981 might put Jones back on trial and keep her behind bars.

Authorities suspect the Texas pediatric nurse, 66, may have killed up to 60 children in her care with fatal overdose injections at hospitals and clinics around San Antonio between 1977 and 1982. She was sentenced to 99 years in 1984 for killing 15-month-old Chelsea McClennan, and another 60 years for nearly killing 4-week-old Rolando Santos.

But under a law in effect at the time, she is due for release in March 2018. Two new charges that allege she killed an 11-month-old and a 2-year-old in 1981 might put Jones back on trial and keep her behind bars.

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H.H. Holmes

The once-respected pharmacist — and subject of author Erik Larson’s 2003 bestseller The Devil in the White City — confessed to at least 27 murders — including the detahs of young women killed at a hotel he built for visitors to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, that he outfitted with hidden passageways and gas jets to asphyxiate guests.                        Holmes was hanged in 1896 in Philadelphia for killing his business partner. His remains recently were exhumed to dispel the rumor that he conned his way into having another prisoner executed in his place.

The once-respected pharmacist — and subject of author Erik Larson’s 2003 bestseller The Devil in the White City — confessed to at least 27 murders — including the detahs of young women killed at a hotel he built for visitors to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, that he outfitted with hidden passageways and gas jets to asphyxiate guests.

Holmes was hanged in 1896 in Philadelphia for killing his business partner. His remains recently were exhumed to dispel the rumor that he conned his way into having another prisoner executed in his place.

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Anthony Garcia

After his 2001 firing from a residency program at Creighton University School of Medicine in Nebraska — and the resulting bad references that kept him from getting work elsewhere — Garcia exacted revenge on those he blamed by killing four people. He stabbed Thomas Hunter, 11, the son of Creighton physician Dr. William Hunter, and the family’s housekeeper Shirlee Sherman, 57, in March 2008.                        Five years later, in May 2013, police found the shot-and-stabbed bodies of Dr. Roger Brumback, the former chair of Creighton’s Department of Pathology, and his wife Mary, both 65. Garcia was convicted of those murders in 2016.

After his 2001 firing from a residency program at Creighton University School of Medicine in Nebraska — and the resulting bad references that kept him from getting work elsewhere — Garcia exacted revenge on those he blamed by killing four people. He stabbed Thomas Hunter, 11, the son of Creighton physician Dr. William Hunter, and the family’s housekeeper Shirlee Sherman, 57, in March 2008.

Five years later, in May 2013, police found the shot-and-stabbed bodies of Dr. Roger Brumback, the former chair of Creighton’s Department of Pathology, and his wife Mary, both 65. Garcia was convicted of those murders in 2016.

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Michael Swango

The former physician admitted to causing the deaths of four people and was sentenced in 2000 to three consecutive life terms without possibility of parole. The book Blind Eye by James B. Stewart links him to 35 suspicious deaths dating to his time as a surgical intern and later neurology resident at Ohio State University Medical Center in 1983.                        Swango spiked food or drink with poisons such as arsenic, or administered an overdose of prescription drugs, and wrote about the joy he felt during his crimes in notebook passages that were read by prosecutors at his sentencing. He is incarcerated in Colorado.

The former physician admitted to causing the deaths of four people and was sentenced in 2000 to three consecutive life terms without possibility of parole. The book Blind Eye by James B. Stewart links him to 35 suspicious deaths dating to his time as a surgical intern and later neurology resident at Ohio State University Medical Center in 1983.

Swango spiked food or drink with poisons such as arsenic, or administered an overdose of prescription drugs, and wrote about the joy he felt during his crimes in notebook passages that were read by prosecutors at his sentencing. He is incarcerated in Colorado.

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Donald Harvey

Harvey claimed to have killed 87 people — not just terminally ill patients under the former hospital orderly’s care, but also roommates, neighbors and lovers. He received four life sentences for killing 25 people, most of them at Drake Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, and eventually was convicted of 36 murders in Ohio and Kentucky between 1970 and his conviction in 1987.                        The label “Angel of Death” stuck to him because he was often at his victims’ bedsides. His confession spared him the death penalty, but on March 28 he was found beaten in his cell at Toledo Correctional Institution. He died two days later.

Harvey claimed to have killed 87 people — not just terminally ill patients under the former hospital orderly’s care, but also roommates, neighbors and lovers. He received four life sentences for killing 25 people, most of them at Drake Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, and eventually was convicted of 36 murders in Ohio and Kentucky between 1970 and his conviction in 1987.

The label “Angel of Death” stuck to him because he was often at his victims’ bedsides. His confession spared him the death penalty, but on March 28 he was found beaten in his cell at Toledo Correctional Institution. He died two days later.

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Jane Toppan

In the late 19th century, the well-liked nurse from Lowell, Massachusetts, began a killing spree using homemade poison to kill at least 31 people. The victims included her landlords, her foster sister, and several of her often elderly patients, whom she allegedly believed she was helping because they did not have long to live.                        “Jolly Jane,” as she was nicknamed, was arrested for murder in 1901, and the next year confessed to the killings. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed for life to the Taunton Insane Hospital. She died in 1938.

In the late 19th century, the well-liked nurse from Lowell, Massachusetts, began a killing spree using homemade poison to kill at least 31 people. The victims included her landlords, her foster sister, and several of her often elderly patients, whom she allegedly believed she was helping because they did not have long to live.

“Jolly Jane,” as she was nicknamed, was arrested for murder in 1901, and the next year confessed to the killings. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed for life to the Taunton Insane Hospital. She died in 1938.

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Charles Cullen

The former nurse was sentenced to 11 consecutive life terms in 2006 after pleading guilty to 22 murders and three attempted murders in New Jersey. He also pleaded guilty to seven murders and three attempted murders in Pennsylvania.                        After his arrest in 2003, Cullen estimated he killed up to 40 patients at 10 facilities over 16 years, but experts calculate he may be the most prolific serial killer in American history, responsible for the deaths of hundreds whose names he can’t recall. He told investigators he administered overdoses to end patients’ suffering. He is jailed at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.

The former nurse was sentenced to 11 consecutive life terms in 2006 after pleading guilty to 22 murders and three attempted murders in New Jersey. He also pleaded guilty to seven murders and three attempted murders in Pennsylvania.

After his arrest in 2003, Cullen estimated he killed up to 40 patients at 10 facilities over 16 years, but experts calculate he may be the most prolific serial killer in American history, responsible for the deaths of hundreds whose names he can’t recall. He told investigators he administered overdoses to end patients’ suffering. He is jailed at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.

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Kristen Gilbert

Prosecutors said the former nurse at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northhampton, Massachusetts, injected large doses of epinephrine, a heart stimulant, into the IV bags of her patients, causing them to go into cardiac arrest. She then responded to the emergency, sometimes reviving patients herself. Four did not survive.                        Gilbert was found guilty in 2001 of four murders and two attempted murders. She currently is serving four sentences without possibility of parole, plus 20 years, at a federal prison in Texas.

Prosecutors said the former nurse at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northhampton, Massachusetts, injected large doses of epinephrine, a heart stimulant, into the IV bags of her patients, causing them to go into cardiac arrest. She then responded to the emergency, sometimes reviving patients herself. Four did not survive.

Gilbert was found guilty in 2001 of four murders and two attempted murders. She currently is serving four sentences without possibility of parole, plus 20 years, at a federal prison in Texas.

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Kimberly Clark Saenz

Also known as Kimberly Clark Fowler, the onetime nurse was found guilty in 2012 of killing five patients and injuring five others at a Texas dialysis center by injecting bleach into their dialysis lines.                        She was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for the murders and three 20-year sentences for aggravated assault. Her defense team is working on an appeal as she sits in prison.

Also known as Kimberly Clark Fowler, the onetime nurse was found guilty in 2012 of killing five patients and injuring five others at a Texas dialysis center by injecting bleach into their dialysis lines.

She was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for the murders and three 20-year sentences for aggravated assault. Her defense team is working on an appeal as she sits in prison.

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Jeffrey MacDonald

The former Green Beret surgeon came to the nation’s attention when, on Feb. 17, 1970, his pregnant wife, Colette, 26, and their daughters, Kristen, 2, and Kimberley, 5, were slaughtered in the family’s Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home. MacDonald said he awoke to face suspects in the apartment, and an Army hearing cleared him of involvement.                        But in federal court he was convicted in 1979 and sentenced to three life terms — a conviction he’s been trying to overturn for 47 years. An appeal was heard in January, and a decision is pending. 

The former Green Beret surgeon came to the nation’s attention when, on Feb. 17, 1970, his pregnant wife, Colette, 26, and their daughters, Kristen, 2, and Kimberley, 5, were slaughtered in the family’s Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home. MacDonald said he awoke to face suspects in the apartment, and an Army hearing cleared him of involvement.

But in federal court he was convicted in 1979 and sentenced to three life terms — a conviction he’s been trying to overturn for 47 years. An appeal was heard in January, and a decision is pending. 

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Elizabeth Wettlaufer

Canadian nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer was sentenced in June to life in prison for killing eight elderly patients with lethal insulin doses.                        She apologized at her sentencing, saying, “I caused tremendous pain and suffering and death,” adding, “Sorry is much too small a word. I am extremely sorry.”                        But the judge was unmoved. “It is a complete betrayal of trust when a caregiver does not prolong life, but terminates it.”                        He added, “She was not an angel of mercy; she was the shadow of death that passed over them on the night shift where she supervised.”

Canadian nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer was sentenced in June to life in prison for killing eight elderly patients with lethal insulin doses.

She apologized at her sentencing, saying, “I caused tremendous pain and suffering and death,” adding, “Sorry is much too small a word. I am extremely sorry.”

But the judge was unmoved. “It is a complete betrayal of trust when a caregiver does not prolong life, but terminates it.”

He added, “She was not an angel of mercy; she was the shadow of death that passed over them on the night shift where she supervised.”

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