Charles Cullen: Healthcare Serial Killer
To his interrogators, Detectives Timothy Braun and Daniel Baldwin, Cullen admitted that he had intended the deaths of the patients he'd killed. He told them how easy it had been to go from one place to the next, moving on as soon as suspicions were voiced. Basically, he blamed others for letting him get away with what he'd done. He said that some of his bosses had known the errors that he made that harmed patients, but they'd overlooked them.
Cullen claimed that he had killed patients to end their suffering, which at first blush seemed viable, since he'd often been around critical-care and burn-ward patients, but as the cases were opened and people were named, it would become clear that a number of patients were not suffering and some were even on the mend when he decided to take their lives.
In addition, he'd put insulin into IV bags stored in a closet, apparently just to see what would happen (although the hospital in question later said they'd found no evidence for this claim). He doesn't even know if the contaminated IVs brought anyone harm, but clearly this had nothing to do with mercy. It was malicious mischief, pure and simple.
Cullen also said he'd wanted to quit but had bills to pay and children to support. Yet he made no mention of attempting to look for another line of work. Even his counselor thought he should stop nursing, he said, because he wasn't dealing with his depression very well. He felt he had no choice but to keep doing what he was doing.
He mentioned that he thought that patients were being treated as nonhumans, and that was so difficult for him to watch that he decided to end their suffering. "I couldn't stop myself," he said. "I just couldn't stop."
Cullen was transferred from Somerset County jail to Anne Klein Forensic Center in Trenton, NJ, where he was examined by a panel of professionals. He surrendered his NJ and PA nursing licenses as each state suspended them. That he could have been fired from half of the facilities where he had worked was a serious red flag for the system, and officials moved toward discussions about what could be done to prevent something like this from happening again. Families who believed Cullen was responsible for their loved one's demise began procedures to sue those hospitals that had not reported Cullen for damages. Every hospital that had ever employed Cullen looked over its records, examined its procedures, and prepared to defend itself.
In the meantime, Cullen's background was pieced together.