Charles Cullen: Healthcare Serial Killer
"He Stuck Me!"
Over the border from Easton in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Helen Dean, 91, was recovering from surgery at Warren Hospital for colon cancer. That was August 1993. This story was featured in detail in the Easton Express-Times and the Reader's Digest. Larry recalled a thin male nurse entering the room and ordering him to leave. He did so, and then returned. The nurse left the room and Larry's mother seemed angry. "He stuck me!" she exclaimed.
But Larry knew that she was not supposed to receive any medication that morning. She pointed out the injection mark on her inner thigh and he used a magnifying glass attached to his knife to inspect it. There was no mistaking the puncture wound. He and his mother reported this incident to some nurses, but no one seemed concerned. And no one bothered to look up Helen's records to see if she was supposed to have received any medication.
The next day, she grew ill and began to vomit. She'd been scheduled to go to a nursing home for physical therapy that morning, but they were unable to release her for several hours. By afternoon, her heart failed and she died.
Larry was shocked. Then he was outraged. He felt certain that his mother had been murdered by the nurse in her room the day before, and he tried to get authorities to pay attention, but an investigation turned up no evidence. It was learned that Cullen had been fired in 1992 from the nursing agency that had gotten him his previous job before coming to Warren Hospital, but it wasn't clear why. He agreed to take a lie detector test, but the results were inconclusive (Alexander indicates that he passed). An autopsy on Helen showed nothing provable, either, in terms of criminal conduct.
Cullen soon resigned, but Larry did not give up. He attempted to find out whatever he could to prove that his mother had been the victim of a nurse who was killing patients. In the end, however, he died before seeing justice done.
An exhumation in 2004 proved the case, and Cullen admitted to it: Helen Dean was among the victims whom he eventually listed.
But from there, he'd started hopping from one institution to another. During a nine-year period, he worked at eight more healthcare agencies, and many more people died unnecessarily. Not surprisingly, Cullen generally preferred the night shift.