Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Angels of Death: The Female Nurses

Death Shift

By 1981, a year before she was finally stopped, Jones demanded to be put in charge of the sickest patients. That placed her close to those that died more often. She seemed to thrive on the excitement of an emergency, and even on grief when a child didn't make it. She always wanted to take the corpse to the morgue.

It became clear to everyone that children were dying in this unit from problems that shouldn't have been fatal. The need for resuscitation suddenly seemed constant — but only when Jones was around. Those in the most critical condition were all under her care. One child had a seizure three days in a row, but only on her shift. "They're going to start thinking I'm the Death Nurse," Jones quipped one day. In fact, some of the staff called her duty hours the Death Shift.

Then a baby named Jose Antonio Flores, six-months-old, went into cardiac arrest while in Jones's care. He was revived, but went into arrest again the next day during her shift and died from bleeding, the cause of which was unknown. While treating the father for a heart attack, she allowed the brother to carry the corpse. Then she grabbed it and ran down the hospital corridors with the dead baby in her arms. No one could figure out what her behavior meant, but blood testing on the corpse indicated an overdose of a drug called Heparin, an anticoagulant. No one had ordered it.

Another disturbing mystery.

Then Rolando Santos, being treated for pneumonia, was having seizures, cardiac arrest, and extensive unexplained bleeding. All of his troubles developed or intensified on Jones's shift. Finally one doctor stepped forward and told the hospital staff that she was killing children. They needed to do an investigation. Yet the nurses continued to protect their own, especially those in charge. Since the hospital did not want bad publicity, they accepted whatever the head nurses said.

Another child was sent to the pediatrics unit to recover from open-heart surgery. At first, he progressed well, but on Jones's shift, he became lethargic. Then his condition deteriorated and he soon died. In view of others, Jones grabbed a syringe and squirted fluid over the child in the sign of a cross, and then repeated it on herself.

Finally, three months after the initial suspicions, a committee was formed to look into the problem. They decided to replace the LVNs with RNs on the unit, and Jones promptly resigned. To their mind, that took care of the problem.

 

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