Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder in the Intensive Care Unit

One Police Plaza & an Impasse

Dreher promptly sent the report downtown to the department's Chief of Detectives James Sullivan who passed it up to First Deputy Commissioner Bill Devine (now deceased). "That's when," says the retired chief, "the bullshit harassment started."

Several weeks later on a hot July day, Dreher remembers, he bumped into Devine outside One Police Plaza. The First Deputy Commissioner had some words for the deputy chief. Pointing his finger at the gut of the ramrod-straight Dreher:

"The people of Bronx County elected Mr. Merola," Devine exclaimed, "They did not elect you!"

"Suppose Mr. Merola robbed ten banks," Dreher retorted, "would it still hold that the people of Bronx County elected him and he could do it?"

"That," Dreher said, just "pissed him off more."

According to McKeon and a confidential police report after almost a full year of investigating the deaths at Albert Einstein Medical Center, the team of detectives and ADAs had interviewed 75 nurses and nurses' aides, 10 doctors, 3 patients, re-interviewed dozens and administered 45 polygraphs. Kevin McKeon, Nicholas Iacovetta and the five detectives were unable to come up with a motive or a suspect. Other than the common tie of the patients being under the care of Dr. Weitz, the police had nothing. All their reports, polygraph results and interviews were then interred in file cabinets in the Bronx County Courthouse. The team was disbanded and McKeon and Iacovetta were sent back across the street to the rackets bureau. Within weeks McKeon left the Bronx DA's office for private practice. The Einstein Medical Center homicides investigation was quietly dropped.

The pathologist Dr. Baden, a former Chief Medical Examiner, theorized why the case was dropped:

"Even if they [the investigators] can show it is a homicide there is very little they could do unless they could find somebody to indict, because you can't indict a hospital. Hospital deaths are very difficult cases. Even if you get all your ducks lined-up the DAs are reluctant to proceed with the case, because if they do, juries and judges are loath to convict. There is a whole string of difficulties in prosecuting a case when a health care professional kills someone."

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