Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Charles Cullen: Healthcare Serial Killer

Early Alert

He was on that shift at the Liberty Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Allentown, PA, when another incident occurred. This time, someone took the fall, but it wasn't Cullen.

On May 7, 1998, writes Alexander, Francis Henry was in the hospital suffering from the repercussions of a serious car accident. He was in a great deal of pain. Nurse Kimberly Pepe was in charge of his case, and when he died, it was found that he'd received an unauthorized dose of insulin. They confronted Pepe and she denied that she'd given him any insulin. She had not checked his blood, she said, as reported in the Express-Times, because he had no history of diabetes. His medical history had indicated Parkinson's disease. Authorities instigated an investigation, which was ultimately inconclusive. Nevertheless, Pepe was fired.

Charles Cullen, mugshot
Charles Cullen, mugshot

Angry, she filed a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, pointing out in her suit against the hospital that Cullen had been in the room as well: he had a patient there.  In addition, he was suspected of stealing drugs.  She insisted that she had been wrongly dismissed and discriminated against as a woman.

While the hospital later claimed that it had not been investigating Cullen at the time, he was in fact fired that same year for an issue related to medication delivery schedules. He went from there to Easton Hospital, while Pepe was left to stew over what she perceived as unfair handling of her case. In October 2001, her case was finally settled, which included a confidentiality agreement to prevent her from discussing it.

Liberty did notify the PA Department of Health about the medication error, but had no power to discipline Cullen. They didn't pass along their concerns (were not required to), and no one contacted authorities beyond the initial report.

With Cullen's arrest in 2003, Pepe was vindicated.

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