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20070402: Serial killer gone? Edmonton Serial Killer News
There's an ongoing debate among experts whether a rumoured serial killer has left the Edmonton area.

Since 1975, the bodies of 25 people, many of them prostitutes, have been found in the area around the city.

The last victim found was discovered in May 2006 in a rural area northeast of Edmonton.

Jack Levin, an expert in serial killer from Northeastern University, says that's a long time, but Bill Pitt of the University of Alberta says it could mean there are more killers out there.


20070110: Svekla charged in second prostitute murder Edmonton Serial Killer News
Thomas Svekla, who is already facing murder charges, was charged last week with second degree murder and offering an indignity to a human body in relation to the death of Rachel Quinney, an Edmonton prostitute who was found in a field in Strathcona County two years ago. Svekla faces the same charges concerning the death of another prostitute, Theresa Merrie Innes. Because of a tip from the public, Innes’ body was found in a Fort Saskatchewan home last May. Days after the discovery, Svekla was arrested and charged. The new charges were laid because of the efforts of Project KARE -- an RCMP-led unsolved homicide and missing persons task force. Svekla appeared in Edmonton court Jan. 4 and pleaded not guilty to both charges concerning the death of Quinney. A preliminary inquiry began on Monday at the Fort Saskatchewan provincial courthouse. Originally, the inquiry was scheduled to last three weeks but with the additional charges and Svekla’s not guilty plea, the inquiry is scheduled to last six weeks. Columnist called to testify Edmonton Sun columnist Andrew Hanon, who’s been called to testify in Svekla’s preliminary hearing over the alleged murder of Theresa Innes, said he saw the charges coming. “Given the chilling conversation I had with him (Svekla) two years ago, I’m not surprised by Project KARE’s announcement,” he said. Late in 2004, Svekla asked Hanon to help clear his name in the death of Quinney, a teen prostitute whose body was found in a clump of trees in near Township Road 540 and Range Road 224 that June. Svekla told Hanon he stumbled on Quinney’s body after taking a prostitute out to the country to do crack. He said he later told police about the grim discovery and they’d been suspicious of him since. Svekla reported finding Quinney’s body to police June 11, 2004. Now that he is charged with two murders, police said Svekla could fall into the category of a serial killer. “Having been charged with two deaths with a cooling-off period in between, that does fall within the definition of a serial offender, a serial killer,” said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Wayne Oakes. Last year, police announced they may be looking for a serial killer and offered a $100,000 reward for information that led to a conviction. However, Oakes stressed Project KARE’s $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction for the murder of someone living a high-risk lifestyle remains available. Over two dozen bodies found since 1975 Oakes announced the charge in the Quinney case, but said the hunt continues over the slayings of other local sex-trade workers. The last body found was that of Bonnie Lynn Jack, 37, discovered by a couple walking near Township Road 542 and Range Road 225, in northern Strathcona, on May 16, a week after Svekla was charged in Innes’s death. Police haven’t said how long she’d been dead. “We have maintained right from the beginning that we have reason to believe more than one person is responsible for more than one death,” said Oakes. “Project KARE stands firmly behind that.” Since 1975, the bodies of more than two dozen prostitutes have been discovered in the Edmonton area. Bodies of women have been turning up in Strathcona County since Oct. 1988, when 22-year-old Bernadette Ahenakew was found north of Yellowhead Trail. Last May, 37-year-old Jack was found near Range Road 225 and Township Road 542. Ellie May Meyer, 33, was found near Highway 21 and Range Road 524 in May of 2005. Quinney was found between Sherwood Park and Fort Saskatchewan in June of 2004. In January 2003, 30-year-old Monique Pitre was found near Fort Saskatchewan and 20-year-old Melissa Munch was found just east of Sherwood Park. Prior to that, in 1997 Caralyn King was found in a field just west of what is now the Road King on Broadmoor Boulevard. With files from the Edmonton Sun and Fort Saskatchewan Record.

20070105: Canadian serial killer suspect pleads not guilty Edmonton Serial Killer News
A man Canadian police say murdered two sex-trade workers and allege is a serial killer pleaded not guilty on Thursday to a second murder charge in a court in Edmonton, Alberta. Thomas George Svekla was charged earlier this week in the 2004 murder of Rachel Quinney, a prostitute whose body was discovered near an Edmonton suburb. It was Svekla who reported finding the remains to police. In court on Thursday, Svekla pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, his lawyer said. Last year he also said he was not guilty of the May killing of another prostitute, whose body was found by police in a home near Edmonton. Royal Canadian Mounted Police allege Svekla now fits their definition of a serial killer -- someone who kills twice or more, but with a time lag between the murders. The two murder charges are the first laid by a 50-person police task force investigating the deaths or disappearance of 25 sex-trade workers in the region since 1978. A preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial on both murder charges will begin Monday. It is expected to last six weeks.

20060509: Man charged with murder of Alberta sex-trade worker Alberta Serial Killer News

Police investigating a series of prostitute killings in the Edmonton area have charged a northern Alberta man with second-degree murder in the death of a sex-trade worker.

Thomas George Svekla, 38, of High Level has been charged in the death of a 36-year-old woman, the joint RCMP-Edmonton city police task force known as Project Kare announced Tuesday. Her body was discovered in a Fort Saskatchewan residence on Sunday.

Police have not released her identity, pending notification of next of kin.

Cpl. Wayne Oakes would not say whether Svekla, who is known to police, has been linked to any other cases.

"At this point in time, we have one person charged in one death," he said.

Police said Svekla is known to have recently been in the High Level to Peace River region of Alberta before arriving in Fort Saskatchewan.

Project Kare members are investigating more than 80 cases of missing and murdered women living high-risk lifestyles in Alberta.

Last June, the task force said a serial killer was likely responsible for more than one of those deaths.


20051208: Police stings the key to capturing serial killer Edmonton Serial Killer News
Police stings like one that recently netted a john packing duct tape and rope are key to capturing the serial killer stalking Edmonton’s prostitutes, says a woman who works with sex-trade workers.

“I think it could happen through a sting and that’s why we’re advocating for more stings,” said Kate Quinn, executive director of the Prostitution Action and Awareness Foundation of Edmonton (PAAFE). “Somewhere along the line this person is going to slip up.

These men did. Maybe the killer and killers will slip up.”

In November city cops ran a sting that corralled 42 suspected johns, including a convicted sex offender. Cops recovered rope and duct tape from one man, as well as baseball bats, knives and a machete from others.


20050811: Serial killer probe expands Edmonton Serial Killer News
Team investigating city deaths, disappearances grows 40% The RCMP is adding 10 members to the approximately 25 investigators now working on Project KARE, the police team trying to solve a series of unsolved murders and disappearances of Edmonton area sex-trade workers. "I think it is wonderful they are putting in extra resources," said Kathy King, mother of Cara King, a 22-year-old Edmonton prostitute whose body was found in September 1997. Joanne McCartney, a former Edmonton police officer who works with the Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation, a community action group, applauds the addition of officers, but wonders why it was so long coming. "Obviously, the more members they have investigating the better," McCartney said Wednesday. Project KARE was established in the fall of 2003 to investigate the disappearance or deaths of more than 70 people on the Prairies who were involved in what police call high-risk lifestyles. The most prominent of those cases are the 12 prostitutes who have been found dead in the Edmonton area in the past 16 years. Based on evidence, police believe a serial killer is at work, but they won't say how many women have fallen victim to that person. In June, Project KARE offered a $100,000 award for information leading to an arrest and conviction. "That generated a lot of tips, which now requires more investigators," said Kate Quinn, executive director of the Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation. Project KARE is made up mainly of RCMP officers but includes several officers from Edmonton's police department. They have been sifting through evidence while interviewing an ever-expanding group of people. Since each additional piece of information raises a new series of questions, the job of investigators keeps growing. "Project KARE is a significant and high-profile operation," said Cpl. Al Fraser, an RCMP spokesman. "We're very concerned about the missing and murdered women. There are lots of tips coming in at the moment and the more officers we have following them up, the better chance we have of resolving it," he added. "We're only a phone call or a single tip away. One phone call can make the difference so we need people available who can follow the tips and see where they lead." One of the initial problems investigators sometimes face in a new murder investigation is identifying a decomposing corpse dumped in farm or bush areas outside the city. To aid them in that task, Project KARE has been registering women who work the street, collecting names, identifying marks, the places the women hang out, their dates of birth plus hair samples to make a DNA identification. Last April, that type of information helped police identify the body of Charlene Gauld, whose body was dumped and burned in a forested area near Camrose. In February 2004, Gauld, a drug addict, had registered with Project Kare. A month later, the body of 33-year-old Ellie May Meyer was found in a field east of Edmonton. The identification of Meyer's body was made easier because she also had registered with Project KARE. The RCMP is also assigning 20 more officers to fight organized crime and adding 121 positions overall, using about $17 million allocated to it in the province's budget in April. The 20 new members will target smaller groups who are moving their way up the crime ladder. Thirty new regular RCMP members will be assigned to front-line positions in rural areas. Another 35 members will join either operations control centres in Edmonton and Red Deer or work in the informatics and information technology section. In addition there will be 20 new members added to other sections within the RCMP.

20050628: Police should have drawn serial killer link sooner: victim's mom Edmonton Serial Killer News

 An anguished Moose Jaw woman is speaking out about a daughter who may have been the victim of a serial killer.

 Mary Ella Lake is also raising concerns police in Alberta didn't do enough to protect her daughter Debbie Lake, a 29-year-old mother of three.

Two years ago, Lake learned that she had lost her daughter and that nine-year-old Montana, seven-year-old Russell and five-year-old Harmony had lost a mother.

On April 12, 2003, after being missing for months, Debbie Lake's remains were found 70 kilometres southeast of Edmonton, where she had lived.  Recently, police in Edmonton concluded Lake was one of seven sex trade workers who may have been murdered by a serial killer in the past three years – a serial killer who's still at large.

In fact, police said earlier this month one or more "serial offenders" may be responsible for the murders of as many as 25 women in the Edmonton area since 1975.

Lake wonders why it took police so long to come to the conclusion that a serial killer might be responsible for the deaths.

"Well, there were more girls before my daughter … that ended up like she did," she said. "You would have thought that they would have realized that it might have been a serial killer at that time"

Lake says her daughter took drugs but she wasn't in the sex trade, as the police have said.

Still, Lake says, police may not have have been as vigilant in investigating the killings because the victims weren't considered important enough.

"She was just what they figured was a streetworker," she said.

Lake and her husband have custody of their daughter's children.

"They're hurt, they're still hurting," she said.

Police have offered a $100,000 reward for any tips leading to the arrest of the killer.


20050621: Serial killer probe long overdue: victim's mom Edmonton Serial Killer News

Reacting to news Edmonton police are formally looking for a serial killer, the mother of a slain sex-trade worker says the probe is long overdue.

"It's been eight years," Kathy King told CTV's Canada AM on Monday morning. "I've been waiting for answers for a long time."

King's daughter Cara, a sex trade worker, was found dead in a field near Sherwood Park in 1997.

On Friday, Edmonton police announced that they are on the hunt for a serial killer linked to the deaths of as many as eight women involved in the city's sex trade.

"It is our belief that one person is responsible for more than one offence but not necessarily for all of these murders," RCMP Const. Tamara Bellamy told reporters.

The RCMP-led task force probing the murders, Project KARE, is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the deaths.

Bellamy, who is assigned to Project KARE, told a news conference she expects someone has information that could spur the investigation.

"The person responsible for these homicides is going to be somebody's neighbour. He may be somebody's brother. But he will likely not look like the monster that we see in the movies," she said.

According to the RCMP's behavioural sciences unit, police are looking for a suspect who:

  • drives a truck, van, or a sport utility vehicle, and is comfortable driving in rural areas.
  • may participate in outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, camping -- for which he uses his vehicle,
  • has cleaned the interior or exterior of his vehicle at unusual times,
  • has a past or present link to the area south of Edmonton, particularly the communities of Leduc, Camrose, New Sarepta, or the surrounding communities.

Police admitted it was unusual to release such a detailed suspect profile, but said they believe there are people in the Edmonton area who know the offender and suspect criminal activity.

King thinks police are on the right track, but she is certain a successful investigation will end in the arrest of more than one killer.

"There probably are a number of people that kill individually and there's probably one or two that kill multiply," King told Canada AM.

In her opinion, there's likely not only more than one killer on the loose, "but there may be one serial killer as well."

"There's been too many women found in similar areas," she said.

Since 1983, the bodies of almost two dozen prostitutes have been found in and around the Alberta capital. Police say they are linking the serial killer to just the eight deaths since 1998.

The most recent discovery was in early May, when a murdered sex-trade worker was found in a field in Sherwood Park, east of Edmonton.

The 33-year-old woman, identified as Ellie May Meyer, was found in a field just a few kilometres from the site where two other sex-trade workers, Monique Pitre and Melissa Munch, were found dead in January 2003.

A month before, the burned remains of Charlene Marie Gauld were found down a dirt road near Camrose. She was just shy of her 21st birthday.

The bodies of at least four other prostitutes have been dumped south and east of Edmonton in the past two years, usually in fields.


20050618: Edmonton police announce hunt for serial killer Edmonton Serial Killer News

Edmonton police formally announced Friday that they are looking for a serial killer in the deaths of up to eight women involved in the sex trade.

"It is our belief that one person is responsible for more than one offence but not necessarily for all of these murders," said RCMP Const. Tamara Bellamy.

Project KARE, an RCMP-led task force looking into the deaths, says it's offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death.

Bellamy, who is assigned to Project KARE, told a news conference she expects someone has information that will be helpful.

"The person responsible for these homicides is going to be somebody's neighbour. He may be somebody's brother. But he will likely not look like the monster that we see in the movies," Bellamy said.

The RCMP's behavioural sciences unit said they believe:

  • The suspect drives a truck, van, or a sport utility vehicle, and is comfortable driving in rural areas. The vehicle is likely in good shape, with a significant amount of mileage.
  • The suspect may participate in outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, camping, and uses his vehicle for them.
  • The suspect may have periodically cleaned the interior and exterior of his vehicle, perhaps at times that are unusual for this particular individual.
  • The suspect likely has a past or present connection to the areas south of Edmonton, perhaps Leduc, Camrose, New Sarepta, or the surrounding communities. He may have lived or worked in those areas, has family or friends in the area, or has used the area for recreational purposes.

Police noted that the profile includes a cooling-off period between murders, but concede that the time between killings is getting shorter.

The task force says it usually wouldn't release a profile in a serial killer investigation. However, they think there are people in the Edmonton area who know the offender and may suspect his involvement.

"We're hoping this will generate a flood of calls. We'd love nothing less than for that to happen," said RCMP Cpl. Wayne Oakes.

"We are one phone call away from making an arrest in this file," Bellamy added.

Harvey Cenaiko, Alberta's solicitor-general, rejected any notion the effort to involve the public was born of desperation.

"... This is another tool police services and in this case, the RCMP, can use in a very complicated investigation," he told reporters.

Since 1983, the bodies of almost two dozen prostitutes have been found in and around the Alberta capital.

Police say they are linking the serial killer to just the deaths since 1998. Eight prostitutes have been murdered since then.

The most recent discovery was in early May, when a murdered sex-trade worker was found in a field in Sherwood Park, east of Edmonton. Police would not reveal the cause of death for the 33-year-old woman, identified as Ellie May Meyer.

A farmer tilling a field found the body. Meyer's body was located a few kilometres from the site where two other sex-trade workers, Monique Pitre and Melissa Munch, were found dead in January 2003.

A month before, the burned remains of Charlene Marie Gauld were found down a dirt road near Camrose. She was just shy of her 21st birthday.

The bodies of at least four other prostitutes have been dumped south and east of Edmonton in the past two years, usually in fields.

"I really do believe there are people out there that know," said Kathy King. Her daughter Cara, a sex trade worker, turned up dead in a field near Sherwood Park in 1997. Cara's killer has never been found.

RCMP have admitted there could be a link between some of the killings but have been reluctant to admit they suspected a serial killer.

To date, police have not managed to generate any strong leads in any of the deaths.

On Thursday, Alberta Justice Minister Ron Stevens said he is pushing for a new law so that all convicted johns would be obligated to provide a DNA sample.

He said the idea could help generate a list of possible suspects linked to the deaths.


20050501: Expert believes serial killer behind some Edmonton prostitute murders Edmonton Serial Killer News
A serial killer is responsible for the killings of some city prostitutes, says a Louisiana homicide expert who has been advising the Canadian authorities and has studied key evidence.Detective John Norwood of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police force says he saw enough similarities in the Edmonton cases during a November visit to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Project Kare investigation to conclude the Mounties are on the trail of a serial killer.

Eleven prostitutes have been found around Edmonton in the past 16 years, the latest being Charlene Gauld on April 16th. While her death is still classified as suspicious, the others are unsolved homicides.

Norwood investigated the deaths in Louisiana of more than 10 prostitutes since 1994, ending in the arrest of a suspect in 2004 who was accused of killing five women and admitted to killing three more.

20040919: Who killed Rachel? Edmonton Serial Killer News
Not a day goes by without Delia Quinney thinking of her dear daughter Rachel, who died so unjustly and whose killer still walks free. Like too many others who live with memories of a murdered loved one, she's still waiting for answers. And it still hurts. .."I just don't know what to think anymore," she told the Sun yesterday. "I've got to move on with the rest of my life. It's up and down, up and down - some days good, some days bad." ..Rachel, 19, was one of 10 women whose bodies were dumped just outside Edmonton since 1988, leading to speculation a serial killer is stalking the city. ..Her remains were discovered hidden in a clump of trees in Strathcona County on June 11. In just over two years, four other women with similar high-risk backgrounds have turned up east and south of the city. ..Those cases are all part of RCMP task force Project Kare, which is probing 79 missing-person and homicide files in the region. ..Delia said she's heard nothing from police in recent months to fortify her hope that Rachel's murderer is any closer to justice. .."I know it's going to take time, so all we have to do is wait it out. I don't expect things to happen overnight ... (but) not a day goes by without being reminded of it." ..Though he's not related to any murder victims, another unknown killer haunts Ron Tyrrell, a friend of Hedley Dix, whose son Jason was wrongly accused in the execution-style shooting of James Deiter and Tim Orydzuk at a Sherwood Park recycling plant almost eight years ago. ..Strathcona County RCMP initially mistook the murder scene as an accidental electrocution, allowing the site to be hosed down and forensic evidence washed away. ..After an autopsy revealed bullet holes in the victims, they charged Jason, then 31, with murder. ..He spent 22 months in jail before the case was thrown out in 1998. He later won a malicious prosecution lawsuit worth more than $750,000. ..Tyrrell wonders how much effort Strathcona County Mounties are expending on the botched case these days. .."If you wanted to kill somebody, I suppose you could dump the body out in Sherwood Park - because when's the last time they solved a crime?" he asked in frustration. .."I don't think they want to solve (the double shooting), because they say they already solved it (by charging Dix)." ..

20040628: Police believe serial killer stalking prostitutes Edmonton Serial Killer News
Edmonton police detectives say they believe there is a serial killer stalking the city's prostitutes - and that the man is to be found among johns that the police have already arrested. Detective Jack KRAUS said his research into serial killers indicates that the man responsible has already had a run-in with police. Detective Jim MORRISSEY, said he believes the killer is among the "people we know."..In Edmonton, 350 men have been arrested on prostitution-related charges this year...Edmonton police are helping the RCMP in the investigation into the disappearance of 78 women in Western Canada, most of whom were prostitutes, and all of whom led what is called a "high-risk lifestyle."

20040618: Serial killer likely "ordinary” family man Edmonton Serial Killer News
The suspected serial killer slaying Alberta prostitutes is likely a white, middle-aged family man who is both religious and a sexual sadist, says a renowned U.S. expert on serial killers...Professor Jack Levin, whoís authored numerous books on serial killers, said yesterday it also is likely the murderer lives in the area and was a customer of the victims...“It´s kind of a game”, said Levin, director of the Bostonís Brudnick Centre on Violence at Northeastern University...“When heís not killing, he´s living with his spouse, playing with his children, attending religious services, holding a full-time job or going to college.”..Levin said serial killers don´t look like monsters. “They´re extraordinarily ordinary in appearance.”..There has been 10 unsolved slayings of sex trade workers in the Edmonton area since 1988 in which the bodies either were dumped in the city or surrounding rural areas...If this is one person, then heís gotten away with murder for 15, 16 years,î said Levin. ìWell, thatís a long time to stay on the loose. Heís probably not even a suspect. “He kills on a part-time basis as sort of a hobby rather than a career. Thatís why it happens so infrequently.”..The body of Rachel Quinney, 19, the latest prostitute to be slain, was found last Friday near the Edmonton suburb of Sherwood Park. She is the fifth prostitute whose body was dumped in that area in about a two-year span...Police have not been releasing causes of death, but Levin believes the local killer tortures or rapes the victims before either strangling or stabbing them to death - killing which is more personal than using a gun...The killer gains a sense of power, control, dominance, and really gets little else out of it except he does get a thrill that makes him feel good. He exalts in his victimís suffering...He tries to maximize the pain of the victim before he kills her. That makes him feel good about himself...Levin said the killer also is well-organized. He kills the women and then moves their bodies from the crime scene, dumping them in rural areas where often their bodies arenít found for months...“In this way the killer minimizes the possibility of police coming up with physical evidence,” Levin explained...Levin urged police not to hold back information because tips from the public solve many serial homicide cases...So far police only have said one person may be responsible for more than one of the slayings...The task force of 30 officers investigating the deaths has been reluctant to say why they have come to that conclusion...RCMP spokesman Cpl. Wayne Oakes said police have received 150 tips since Quinneyís name was released earlier this week...

20040617: Police face challenge finding serial killer Edmonton Serial Killer News
Those who prey on transient prostitutes tend to leave little evidence, experts say..EDMONTON -- Police investigations into serial killers who prey on prostitutes are among the most difficult, experts say...Prostitutes, who often have transient, isolated lifestyles, are sometimes not reported missing, which means police face hazy memories in potential witnesses. By the time bodies are found, the trail is often stone cold... Because serial killers target strangers, the police have no social or economic links to follow..."It's tough; it's really tough," said Elliott Leyton, a forensic anthropology professor at Memorial University who specializes in serial killers...Earlier this week, the RCMP identified a body found in a remote area outside Edmonton as that of 19-year-old Rachel Liz Quinney, a mother of two who worked as a prostitute and had been trying to leave the street..."We're still in shock, going through a rough ordeal, very upset, really hurt, really torn apart," her mother, Delia Quinney, said...Police also said for the first time that a serial killer may be responsible for at least some of a spate of murders of city prostitutes...In the past seven years, nine prostitutes have been killed and their bodies dumped in rural areas outside Edmonton, two of them just a few kilometres from where Ms. Quinney's was found... None of the murders has been solved. Police are reviewing other sex-trade workers deaths that do not fit the same apparent pattern...RCMP Corporal Wayne Oakes said investigators are focusing on Ms. Quinney's case and trying to develop a time line..."This is the freshest, this is the hottest case," Cpl. Oakes said...He said investigators, who are canvassing the streets, have received about 50 tips and learned that Ms. Quinney used the street name Candace...Prof. Leyton said multiple murderers who target prostitutes are prolific because they have such easy access to victims..."[Prostitutes are] the classic victims of many serial killers, not least because they're the easiest to get control of; obviously they enter strange cars; not least because they're the easiest to rationalize, that is, 'I'm just sweeping the streets of this kind of trash that don't matter,' " he said...He pointed to Green River killer Gary Ridgway in Washington State and England's Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who both targeted prostitutes...Prof. Leyton said those who target vulnerable women, and all serial killers generally, feel they've been denied their place in society and take revenge against representatives of the group they believe is responsible. They are of normal intelligence and are socially inept...The first task in deciding whether a serial killer is at work is to decide which crimes could be linked, said Kim Rossmo, a criminal-justice professor at Texas State University and an expert on geographic profiling...These predators do not usually leave obvious clues, such as the rare moths in the film The Silence of the Lambs, so that police have to rely on evidence... If they're lucky, it is physical, such as DNA, fingerprints or ballistics..."But you're probably more likely dealing with behavioural similarities, and you have to look at this in terms of probabilities, like these crimes are probably linked and these other ones are possibly linked," said Prof. Rossmo, a former Vancouver police officer.

20040616: Edmonton probe into possible serial killer benefits from new task force Edmonton Serial Killer News
EDMONTON (CP) - The investigation into the death of a prostitute, whom police say may have been a serial killer's victim, will be the first to benefit from the early involvement of officers specializing in missing persons and murders, say RCMP... Rachel Quinney, 19, whose body was found last weekend in bush outside Edmonton, will be the first case in which an RCMP task force called Project Kare will be involved almost right from the start, said Cpl. Wayne Oakes... "From now on, we will see Project Kare brought in at a very early stage," said Oakes... Project Kare is investigating 39 missing persons cases and 40 homicides throughout the Prairies and the Northwest Territories... It grew out of another missing persons project that was established in January 2003... Last fall, Project Kare investigators began studying and comparing massive files on dozens of missing women... Police originally refused to say if a serial killer profile was part of Project Kare. But the work of the investigators enabled police to suggest Tuesday that such a killer may be responsible for a number of bodies found dumped in a wooded area northeast of the Edmonton bedroom community of Sherwood Park... Quinney, who was known to police as a sex-trade worker, had not been reported missing... Since 1988, the bodies of twelve other people - many of them prostitutes - have been discovered within a 17-kilometre radius of the site... Oakes was not able to be specific about what link or links exist between the cases... "We have to be very careful while an investigation is in progress," he said... Project Kare currently has 21 investigators. By the time it is fully staffed, it will have 30... Together with Strathcona RCMP and other officers on the case, there are 40 investigators looking into Quinney's death... Violence against sex trade workers in Edmonton is a huge problem, said Jo Anne McCartney, a former city police officer who now helps those on the street... "These people get robbed and raped and beaten by customers, by drug dealers, by pimps, by other girls all the time because they are there and it's easy to victimize them," she said Tuesday... "Sometimes they're high and they're not going to be able to pick someone out of a lineup right off the bat. They're just easily victimized. Many people believe that they're throwaways.".. McCartney knew Quinney and described her as "a kid in a grown-up's body." Quinney was trying to get off the streets, McCartney said... RCMP are warning women who work in the sex trade to take extra precautions...

20060830: Serial Killer Nurse Donates Kidney To Ex-Girlfriend's Brother NJ Newark Serial Killer News
A serial killer nurse who admitted killing 29 patients donates one of his kidneys to the brother of an ex-girlfriend. Charles Cullen had threatened to skip his sentencing hearing if he was not permitted to be the donor. In February, a judge approved Cullen's removal from prison for the operation. Cullen's public defender, Johnnie Mask, says the kidney went to Ernie Peckham, 37, of Rocky Point, New York. Mask tells The Associated Press, "They have not had a chance to speak" since the operations on Aug. 20. One day after surgery, Cullen went back to New Jersey State Prison. Peckham did not return to his Long Island home for a few days. The New York Daily News reports Peckham is married with four children. He is a metalworker and Cub Scout leader who was an Army reservist. Peckham told The Village Beacon Record that his kidneys began failing after a cut on his finger became a strep infection. Cullen confessed to using drug overdoses to kill 29 patients at nursing homes and hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He was sentenced to 18 life terms in prison.

20060822: Serial Killer Back in Prison after Surgery PA Allentown Serial Killer News
Serial killer Charles Cullen is back in prison tonight, recovering from his recent kidney donation. Cullen had the surgery on Saturday. The kidney went to a relative of one of Cullen's friends. Last year, Cullen said he would skip his sentencing unless he was allowed to donate. A judge agreed to allow the transplant and Cullen appeared before the victims' families. He's serving 18 consecutive life sentences in solitary confinement at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.

20060321: Serial Killer Nurse May Donate A Kidney NJ Newark Serial Killer News
A judge clears the way for New Jersey's worst serial killer to donate a kidney. If Charles Cullen and his doctors meet certain conditions, he may undergo an operation to remove one of his kidneys. The Associated Press reports the organ would then go to the relative of a friend. Cullen admitted to killing 29 patients in nursing homes and hospitals throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Prosecutors agreed to spare him from the death penalty if he identified patients who had been given lethal drug overdoses. The judge ordered that the operation must be paid for by the recipient's insurance company. The state's medical examiners must also certify the doctors prior to the procedure.

20060320: Judge allows serial killer to donate kidney NJ Newark Serial Killer News

A United States judge has agreed to allow New Jersey's worst serial killer to donate a kidney, but the killer and his doctors have to meet conditions.

Judge Paul Armstrong did not say when Charles Cullen might undergo the operation to remove one of his kidneys to be transplanted into the relative of a friend.

Cullen has admitted killing 29 patients with drug overdoses at nursing homes and hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in one of the worst murder sprees ever discovered in the US health care system. He has been sentenced to 18 life terms.

The judge's order, signed on Thursday, stipulates that all operation costs must be paid by the recipient's insurer.
Also, the surgery to remove Cullen's kidney must happen in New Jersey at a hospital certified by the state Department of Corrections, and the doctors who perform the operation must be certified by the state Board of Medical Examiners.

Cullen, 46, had tried for four months to reach an agreement with prosecutors to win permission for the donation.

His lawyer, Johnnie Mask, said the requirements made him "suspicious that someone in the Department of Corrections or at the attorney-general's office does not want this to happen".

New Jersey Attorney General's Office spokesman John Hagerty said the requirements reflect the fact that they are for "a serial killer who is not free to travel willy-nilly".

Cullen claimed to have killed 40 patients over a 16-year nursing career, and has said he killed out of mercy. Not all of his victims, however, were old or very sick.


20060311: Over Killer's Loud Objections, He Gets 6 More Life Terms PA Allentown Serial Killer News
Charles Cullen, a former nurse who committed one of the worst murder sprees in the United States health care system, was gagged with a cloth and duct tape at a sentencing hearing Friday after he began loudly repeating, "Your honor, you need to step down." Mr. Cullen had maintained almost complete silence every time he appeared in court, steadfastly refusing to explain why he killed at least 29 patients in two states. During an emotional sentencing hearing last week in New Jersey, he sat quietly with his eyes closed as victims' families said he was a monster and called him "garbage." But on Friday, facing another round of sentencing, this time for his murders in Pennsylvania, he infuriated the relatives of some of his victims by repeating his bizarre chant hundreds of times over 30 minutes, during which attempts to muffle him proved unsuccessful. "I feel very cheated," said Walter Henne, a relative who showed up in court to address Mr. Cullen and had to raise his voice to be heard over him. "Our last trump card was taken away from us by the childish behavior of Mr. Cullen." A judge ignored Cullen's outbursts and gave him six more life sentences. Mr. Cullen, who was sentenced last week to 11 consecutive life terms in New Jersey, administered lethal overdoses to seven patients in Pennsylvania, and tried to kill three others. Mr. Cullen had tried to avoid showing up at his sentencing hearings in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. On Friday, he told President Judge William Platt of Lehigh County that he was upset that the judge had said in a newspaper article that he was inclined to make Mr. Cullen show up at sentencing. Mr. Cullen then began repeating the statement and refused to stop. Sheriff's deputies wrapped a white cloth around Cullen's mouth, but that did little to muffle him. They added two pieces of duct tape and tried repeatedly to tighten the gag, but Mr. Cullen still managed to drown out some of the relatives and friends who were there to tell him the impact the murders had had on their lives. "We think you are a total waste of human flesh," Mr. Henne told Mr. Cullen on behalf of the family of his mother-in-law, Irene Krapf. It was not clear whether Mr. Cullen heard a word he said.

20060310: NJ serial killer to be sentenced in Pennsylvania PA Allentown Serial Killer News
A week ago, a former nurse who killed at least 29 patients was sent to prison for the rest of his life and confronted by his victims' relatives in New Jersey. On Friday, Charles Cullen was set to sentenced in Pennsylvania, where he was expected to again face relatives of patients he killed. Cullen, 46, pleaded guilty to 29 murders and six attempted murders in both states. He escaped the death penalty after agreeing to help prosecutors in seven counties identify patients to whom he had given lethal drug overdoses. He will serve his sentence in New Jersey. Cullen administered overdoses to seven patients at nursing homes and hospitals in Lehigh and Northampton counties, and tried to kill three others in one of the worst murder sprees ever discovered in the U.S. health care system. Cullen was to be sentenced Friday in Northampton County for the 1998 murder of 78-year-old Ottomar Schramm at Easton Hospital. Although he does not have to be present at that hearing, he has been ordered to attend his sentencing a few hours later in Allentown in Lehigh County, where he was expected to again come face-to-face with his victims' families. Last week, relatives of the 22 New Jersey victims confronted Cullen after he received 11 consecutive life terms, calling him a "monster" and "vermin." Cullen said nothing, his eyes closed. Cullen, who claims to have slain 40 patients over a 16-year nursing career, has said he killed out of mercy. Many of his victims were old and very sick. But the judge who sentenced Cullen in New Jersey told him he "betrayed the ancient foundations of the healing professions." Cullen was arrested in December 2003 after Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, N.J., notified prosecutors about questionable lab results involving patients under his care. The case prompted lawmakers in both states to pass legislation protecting hospitals and nursing homes from legal action when reporting disciplinary actions taken against employees.

20060304: How can a serial killer escape the death penalty? NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

A MALE nurse who admits killing up to forty patients with lethal injections has been spared a similar fate through an extraordinary plea bargain in which he pledged to help to identify his victims.

Charles Cullen, 46, a loner with a history of depression and suicide attempts, will escape the death penalty in return for pleading guilty to at least twenty-nine murders and co-operating with investigators looking into other suspicious deaths.

Cullen says that he poisoned up to forty people with hard to-detect medications — usually the heart drug digoxin — during a 16-year career working night shifts at ten nursing homes and hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

He has told authorities, however, that he cannot remember the names of four of his victims and that he randomly injected insulin into intravenous medical bags without knowing which patient they were for.

Prosecutors in all seven counties where he worked have agreed to spare his life in return for his help in identifying all those he killed.

As the families of victims harangued him as a “monster”, “one pathetic little man”, and “Satan’s son”, Cullen was sentenced on Thursday to 11 consecutive life terms for 22 murders and 3 attempted murders in Somerset County, New Jersey. That meant that it would be 397 years before he became eligible for parole.

He is due to be sentenced next Friday for seven more murders and three attempted murders in Pennsylvania.

Investigations remain open in two other New Jersey counties, complicated by the destruction of medical records and the uncertainty of Cullen’s memory.

Cullen is one of the worst serial killers discovered inside America’s health-care system, but he is not alone. Since 1975 there have been about twenty cases of medical personnel involved in the deaths of patients, including a notorious 1987 case in which Donald Harvey, a nurse, was sentenced to life in prison for killing at least thirty-four patients in Ohio and Kentucky.

Cullen was fired from five nursing jobs and resigned from two others amid questions about his conduct but he always found another job, partly because hospitals kept quiet to avoid being sued.

He went on a murder spree in December 2003, killing 13 patients in less than a year at the Somerset Medical Centre in New Jersey. He was caught when hospital officials discovered unusually high levels of digoxin in the victims.

He told police after his arrest that he had targeted “very sick” patients for what he described as mercy killings.

The facts contradicted his claim. His youngest victim was a 21-year-old student named Michael Strenko, who had been admitted to hospital for a non-fatal blood disorder that required doctors to remove his spleen.

Cullen also killed a 22-year-old car crash victim, Matthew Mattern, who was in hospital with severe burns.


20060303: Serial killer nurse gets 11 life terms for killing patients NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

A nurse who killed at least 29 patients was sent to prison for the rest of his life Thursday after his victims' loved ones angrily branded him ''vermin,'' ''garbage'' and a ''monster'' who ruined lives and shattered their faith in the medical profession.

Charles Cullen escaped the death penalty after making a deal with prosecutors to tell them which patients he killed with hard-to-detect drug injections.

Cullen, 46, pleaded guilty to murdering 22 people in New Jersey and trying to kill three others. He will be sentenced later for seven murders and three attempted murders in Pennsylvania. He has claimed to have killed up to 40 people during a career that spanned 16 years and 10 nursing homes and hospitals.

He received 11 consecutive life terms at a tense hearing in which he came face-to-face with his victims' families for the first time. Wearing a bulletproof vest under his sweater, Cullen sat quietly as relatives wept and yelled at him from a lectern about 15 feet away. Some said they wished Cullen could die as his victims did, by lethal injection.

''I want you to die tomorrow so that you can meet God tomorrow because guess what? There ain't no door out of hell, baby,'' said Debra Yetter Medina, the granddaughter of victim Mary Natoli.


20060302: Killer nurse gets 11 life sentences NJ Somerville Serial Killer News
On the day New Jersey's most prolific serial killer received 11 consecutive life sentences, family members of his victims gave the former nurse a verbal lashing in court.

Some had waited years, and defendant Charles Cullen had filed court papers trying to avoid the confrontation.

One by one, for nearly four hours, two dozen relatives of the dead told a New Jersey judge what Cullen had taken from them.

Some called Cullen names -- "Satan's son" or "monster" -- and told him to "burn in hell." Others simply remembered their lost loved ones.

Judge Paul W. Armstrong then handed down 11 consecutive life sentences. Parole is out of the question, since Cullen, 46, will not be eligible until he has served 397 years.

Cullen has pleaded guilty to committing 22 murders in New Jersey and seven in Pennsylvania. He also admitted attempting to murder six people.

Deaths not mercy killings

Cullen administered lethal doses of medication to patients under his care in nursing homes and medical facilities. He claimed at one point that he was an angel of mercy trying to end his patients' suffering.

But the judge rejected that notion. He said the court "would not countenance the characterization of these crimes as acts of human compassion."

Cullen said nothing during the hearing, sitting beside his attorney with his hands in his lap and his eyes lowered. His lack of visible emotion seemed to enrage some relatives of his victims.

They had plenty to say.

Dolores Stasienko called Cullen a monster for killing her father, Jack Toto, whom she described as a hard-working farmer, mechanic and war veteran.

"Burn in hell, Mr. Cullen, for all eternity," she said.

"Am I boring you?" asked Deborah Yetter-Medina, whose grandmother was killed. "Look at me," she demanded.

"Yes, I was the woman who coined the phrase 'Satan's son,'" she said. "You are Satan's son." Later, she told Cullen: "There ain't no doors out of hell, babe."

Richard Stoecker, whose mother, Eleanor, also was a victim, told Cullen: "Maybe you thought you could play God that day by injecting her, but she planned on living, she was a fighter."

As many as 40 victims

As part of his plea agreement, Cullen has been working with law enforcement officials to identify additional victims. He originally told authorities he killed up to 40 patients during the course of his 16-year nursing career.

Last month, when a deal to allow Cullen to donate a kidney to a friend fell through, he filed court papers seeking to waive his appearance at sentencing. (Full story)

The move outraged victim family members, some of whom have said addressing Cullen is an important part of their grieving process.

"He has to hear that we're human beings and that our father, son, mother, whoever, were human beings," said John Shanagher, whose father, Jack, was killed by Cullen. "Hopefully it will give us some sense of justice that it's, after all this time, finally done."

The judge ruled Cullen had to be present for victim impact statments and sentencing. Cullen will be allowed to donate his kidney now that he has been sentenced.


20060224: Serial killer must face victims' kin NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

Judge rules that killer nurse can't skip sentencing hearing

Serial killer Charles Cullen must listen to statements by relatives of his victims when he is sentenced for 22 murders, a New Jersey judge ruled Friday.

Cullen, a former nurse, had asked the court to waive his appearance at the sentencing March 2.

The move outraged victims' family members, some of whom said addressing Cullen is an important part of their grieving process.

"He has to hear that we're human beings and that our father, son, mother, whoever, were human beings," said John Shanagher, whose father, Jack, was killed by Cullen.

"Hopefully it will give us some sense of justice that it's, after all this time, finally done," he added.

Superior Court Judge Paul W. Armstrong also ruled Friday that Cullen will be allowed to donate a kidney to a friend after he is sentenced.

Where the organ will be harvested remains an issue. Cullen wants to have the operation performed in New York. New Jersey officials say it must be done in that state.

Cullen has pleaded guilty to murdering 29 hospital patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and attempting to murder six others, with drug injections.

As part of his plea agreement, he has been working with law enforcement officials to identify additional victims. He originally told authorities he had killed up to 40 patients in the course of his 16-year nursing career.

Armstrong ruled Friday that Cullen "possesses no fundamental right" by law to be absent from his sentencing, when the court will hear statements by the victims' families.

Cullen had withdrawn his request, but the judge went ahead with a ruling to prevent Cullen from changing his mind later.


20060217: Again, a Serial Killer Plans to Skip His Own Sentencing NJ PA Serial Killer News

A carefully constructed deal between the authorities and the convicted serial killer Charles Cullen to allow him to donate a kidney to a friend in exchange for showing up at his own sentencing has fallen apart, his lawyer said yesterday.

The authorities had hoped this month to sentence Mr. Cullen, a former nurse who has confessed to murdering up to 40 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Many relatives of his victims have been waiting for the day they can face him in court.

But that day, once again, seems far off. At a meeting yesterday, New Jersey authorities and Mr. Cullen's lawyer could not agree on the specifics of the kidney donation, and Mr. Cullen will now fight to skip his sentencing, his lawyer, Johnnie Mask, said.

"There is no deal now," Mr. Mask said. "We're nowhere."

Under New Jersey legal procedures, defendants can apply to skip their sentencing. Mr. Cullen initially indicated he would do this, provoking the ire of prosecutors and relatives of his victims.

But in December, Peter C. Harvey, then New Jersey's attorney general, announced that he had worked out a plan in which Mr. Cullen could donate his kidney if he agreed to come to his sentencing first. A memorandum of understanding was signed, and a transplant team at Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island, where Mr. Cullen's friend is a patient, agreed to do the surgery.

But Mr. Harvey left office in January, after New Jersey's new governor, Jon S. Corzine was sworn in. Officials at the attorney general's office and in the Corrections Department have now decided that Mr. Cullen cannot leave the state for the kidney operation because New Jersey officials do not have the authority to provide security in New York.

Mr. Mask said that prosecutors had yet to come up with a viable plan for the operation to be done in New Jersey. Until they do, Mr. Cullen will do everything in his power, including filing numerous appeals, to avoid his sentencing, he said.

"We're not going to give up what little leverage we have until we know this kidney operation is going to happen," Mr. Mask said. State officials, he said, "have been throwing up roadblocks ever since Harvey left."

John Hagerty, a spokesman at the attorney general's office, said that Mr. Cullen's sentencing has been scheduled for March 2 but that there are issues that could delay that. A presentencing hearing has been set for next week.

Mr. Hagerty said state officials "continue to work with local prosecutors so the sentencing can proceed."


20060113: Serial Killer Using Loophole That Delays His Sentencing NJ Newark Serial Killer News

First, he wrangled a way to avoid the death penalty, even though he confessed to murdering up to 40 people. Then, he tried to dictate the terms of his final court appearance. Now, he is refusing to cooperate.

Apparently, Charles Cullen, a New Jersey nurse who confessed to sneaking into hospital rooms late at night and injecting patient after patient with deadly amounts of drugs, is trying to exert his last bits of leverage from a solo cell in the Somerset County jail before he is sent away for life.

His maneuvering is infuriating the families of his victims and delaying their long-awaited rendezvous in court. It is also making a strange case even stranger, partly because of what was, until now, a little-known legal wrinkle in New Jersey that allows defendants to skip their sentencing.

"Can't we just get this over with?" said Lucille Gall, whose brother Mr. Cullen has admitted killing. "This is a sick little game he's playing."

Most of the prosecutors in the case seem unfazed or, at least, they talk that way.

"We don't need him anymore," said Wayne J. Forrest, prosecutor for Somerset County, N.J., where Mr. Cullen confessed to 13 murders. "We've completed our investigation. We got our guilty pleas. We're done."

John Morganelli, district attorney for Northampton County, Pa., where Mr. Cullen admitted killing one patient, said, "I could go to court right now and get a conviction, with or without his cooperation."

But in Essex County, it is a different story. Mr. Cullen told investigators he thinks he killed five patients at a hospital near Newark. The problem is, he does not remember whom. Until recently, he had been meeting regularly with Essex investigators, studying old charts, peering into old photos, trying to jog his memory.

So far, Mr. Cullen, 45, has pleaded guilty to murdering 29 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania medical facilities. Most of his victims were old and sick.

After he was arrested in 2003, he agreed to help investigators identify all of his victims - he estimated there were up to 40 - in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

But the deal began to fray last month, when Mr. Cullen announced he wanted to donate a kidney to an ailing friend. The authorities said he could do it only after his sentencing, which Mr. Cullen threatened to miss.

Many lawyers said that this was the first time they had ever heard of a serial killer trying to skip his sentencing. Earlier this month, prosecutors indefinitely delayed Mr. Cullen's sentencing, saying they needed more time to investigate the Essex cases and one mysterious death in Morris County. A few days later, Mr. Cullen struck back, saying through his public defender that he was finished cooperating.

"This isn't about a power trip, this is about a kidney," said his lawyer, Johnnie Mask. "Charlie's worried that if the sentencing keeps getting pushed back, it may be too late. He really cares about saving this life, ironic as that may seem."

On Friday, Peter C. Harvey, New Jersey's attorney general, said a new possibility had emerged: Mr. Cullen could be sentenced for the crimes to which he had already confessed, he could donate his kidney and then he could continue cooperating with the authorities on any open cases. "Our goal is to bring finality," Mr. Harvey said.

He added that prosecutors were mulling the options. If talks break down, there is an outside chance the plea agreement could be nullified and Mr. Cullen tried in court, exposing him to the death penalty.

What is giving Mr. Cullen his 11th-hour leverage is New Jersey's criminal procedure rule 3:21-4 (b), which says, "Sentence shall not be imposed unless the defendant is present or has filed a written waiver of the right to be present."

Mr. Mask and other defense lawyers say the law is on their side and that precedent upholds a defendant's right to opt out of sentencing.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, say judges have the ultimate discretion and can order sheriff's deputies to drag Mr. Cullen to court. Both sides vow to press their case aggressively, which only raises the specter of a long appeals process.

And now there's another potential complication. Christopher Bateman, a Republican assemblyman from Somerville, is pushing a bill that would force defendants to come to their sentencing. "It's only right that the families get to inflict a little pain, so to speak," he said.

But all the back and forth seems to be only compounding the pain.

"We want to know how Cullen, a criminal, a murderer, thinks he has so much power to decide what he can do and cannot do?" Tom and Mary Strenko wrote in an e-mail interview. "He is a killer and he has no right to decide anything!"

The Strenkos' 21-year-old son, Michael, was hospitalized in 2003 with a serious but curable blood disease. Mr. Cullen has confessed to killing him. "We are not giving up on this! No way!" the Strenkos continued. "It is as important to us as breathing air to have Charles Cullen once again look into our loathing eyes to personally see and hear the pain and suffering he has caused us for the rest of our lives!"


20060110: Serial Killer, Angry at Sentencing Delay, Stops Cooperating NJ Newark Serial Killer News

The New Jersey nurse who confessed to killing 29 people and has spent nearly two years cooperating with investigators decided abruptly on Tuesday that he would no longer help them.

The nurse, Charles Cullen, 45, was so upset about his sentencing being canceled last week that he is pulling out of a carefully constructed plea deal in which he had agreed to help identify his victims in exchange for not facing the death penalty, his lawyer, Johnnie Mask, said.

The authorities said that his refusal to cooperate could mean that prosecutors will seek the death penalty. It could also mean that many mysterious hospital deaths will not be resolved, leaving family members to forever wonder if their loved ones died naturally or were murdered.

Mr. Cullen has told the authorities he killed up to 40 people, many of them old and ailing patients whom he injected with lethal doses of heart drugs. But he did not remember all their names. So investigators have been struggling to identify them and, until Tuesday, were working closely with Mr. Cullen, sifting through mountains of medical records in the effort to jog his memory to determine exactly whom he killed.

The cooperation may now be coming to an end because of a kidney. In a strange concession to coax Mr. Cullen to come to his own sentencing and face dozens of grieving family members, New Jersey authorities agreed in December to allow him to donate a kidney to an ailing friend, as long as the operation was performed after his sentencing. But last week the authorities delayed the sentencing indefinitely, saying they needed more time to investigate hospital deaths in Morris and Essex Counties that Mr. Cullen may have caused. Mr. Cullen lost his patience, his lawyer said, and decided he would no longer help investigators.

"The deal is off," Mr. Mask said. "He's done. No more cooperation. Period."

"Now it's on the prosecutors' shoulders whether somebody else dies," Mr. Mask added, referring to the man who is waiting for a kidney donation.

Peter C. Harvey, New Jersey's attorney general, called that notion "ridiculous" and said it was not the prosecutors' role to find a new kidney for Mr. Cullen's friend.

"Our job is to protect the victims," Mr. Harvey said.

He also said, "It's strange that all of a sudden this guy has become a humanitarian after killing 22 people in New Jersey."

Paula T. Dow, the prosecutor for Essex County, where Mr. Cullen has admitted to killing several people, said Mr. Cullen's refusal to cooperate was "a clear breach of the plea agreement" and that "it now exposes him" to being brought back to court to face trial and possibly the death penalty.

But the reality of his ever being executed, at least in New Jersey, is slim because the state has not put anyone to death since 1963, and this week the Legislature passed a temporary moratorium on capital punishment. However, Mr. Cullen has admitted to seven murders in Pennsylvania, which does have the death penalty.

The authorities said on Tuesday that they were not sure if Mr. Cullen's action was a ploy to speed up donation of the kidney, or if he truly intended not to cooperate ever again. They added that they were unsure of what they would do next.

The development was the latest twist in a long case that began in 1987 at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. Mr. Cullen had a history of mental illness and suicidal behavior and gravitated to the night shift, where he was known among colleagues as solitary and strange, with a cold bedside manner.

In 1993 he was accused of killing a 91-year-old woman with a single injection of digoxin, a powerful heart drug that became his weapon of choice. But somehow he slipped through the cracks of the medical system and went on to work at 10 places in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania before he was arrested in 2003.

In 2004, he struck a deal with the authorities in both states to plead guilty and cooperate in exchange for at least two consecutive life terms, which in New Jersey meant he would not be eligible for parole for 126 years. But in December, as sentencing approached, problems arose, partly because of a little-known procedural rule that allows a defendant to skip his sentencing. Mr. Cullen said he might do that and deny his victims' families a chance to confront him.

Now it is not clear what will happen, with some prosecutors saying Mr. Cullen will be dragged into court, no matter what, while others are not so sure.


20060102: Serial killer nurse to face the families of victims NJ Newark Serial Killer News
This could be the week that Marie Romero finally gets to look Charles Cullen straight in the eye and tell him how much pain he caused by killing her sister.

Romero’s sister, Catherine Dext, was killed with an injection by the former nurse and admitted serial killer in June 1996 at Hunterdon Medical Center, where she had been admitted with a ruptured spleen.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin Thursday for Cullen, who pleaded guilty to 29 murders and six attempted murders during his 16-year nursing career in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Cullen, 44, has told investigators he might have killed as many as 40 persons, but authorities say that estimate appears to be inflated. Most of the victims were given an overdose of heart medication, usually digoxin.

The former critical-care nurse was able to move from hospital to hospital, despite suspicions he was killing patients, because the institutions did not report their fears to authorities.

The sentencing may stretch out over two days because so many victims’ relatives want to give victim-impact statements.

Cullen had filed papers to waive his right to appear at his sentencing, a move that outraged many of the families.

However, authorities had something Cullen wanted: the right to approve his request to donate a kidney to a relative of Cullen’s ex-girlfriend. With that leverage, authorities persuaded Cullen to agree to appear at the sentencing.

Cullen faces life for each of the New Jersey murders, and won’t be eligible for parole for at least 127 years. In exchange for his plea and agreement to help identify his victims, he escaped New Jersey’s death penalty.

State Attorney General Peter Harvey said he hopes to have all 22 New Jersey cases against Cullen resolved in this week’s sentencing. However, the sentencing could be postponed if no decision is made on whether to also bring charges in several open cases in Essex and Morris counties.

He also escaped death in Pennsylvania, where he still faces sentencing.

A judge there already has ordered him to be present.


20051207: Serial killer wants to donate kidney Serial Killer News

Former nurse Charles Cullen, who admitted murdering at least 29 patients in the Lehigh Valley and New Jersey by injecting them with lethal doses of drugs, wants to donate his kidney to save a life.

Cullen has asked prosecutors to allow him to travel to New York so doctors can perform the surgery, his attorney said Tuesday.

Johnnie Mask, Cullen's public defender, said prosecutors have agreed to let Cullen undergo the operation in New Jersey, but not travel to New York for it.

''I don't know what the objections are'' to doing the surgery in New York, Mask said. ''Security and expense have always been thrown up as an obstacle.''

Doing the transplant in New Jersey would mean a new transplant team and months of additional tests, he said.

In exchange for permission to give the kidney in New York, Cullen is willing to appear in court when he is sentenced to life in prison, Mask said.

''We're pushing prosecutors to do the operation in New York because the [potential recipient] doesn't have seven months to wait,'' Mask said.

Mask would not identify the intended recipient of the kidney, but The Star-Ledger of Newark, citing unnamed sources, reported in Tuesday's newspapers that it is a relative of Cullen's ex-girlfriend.

The man is in his 30s, a father of four and in poor health, Mask added. He lost kidney function as a result of infection.

Mask said the request for a kidney came about two months ago.

''Initially, some parties opposed the whole thing on the basis that Cullen could die on the table,'' he said.

Cullen, formerly of Bethlehem, had previously filed papers to waive his right to appear in court for the sentencing — an action that had enraged relatives of his victims, who want to confront him one more time.

At one point after Cullen's 2003 arrest, Mask said Cullen wanted to be able to explain his actions to his victims' survivors. But his position changed, Mask said, because the victims' families and victim-rights groups have been hostile.

By appearing at a sentencing, Cullen could answer at least some questions about his crimes.

Mask said he hopes to get an answer in the next few weeks on the transplant and any deal related to Cullen's appearance at the sentencings, which could come in the next few months.

Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest would not comment Tuesday on the transplant offer or the deal Cullen has proposed.

In a series of court appearances in northern New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley, Cullen has admitted to 29 murders and six attempted murders over the course of his 16-year nursing career. In the latest plea Monday, he admitted to attempting to kill Somerset Medical Center patient Philip Gregor in 2003.

There could be more pleas in the future, though authorities and Mask agree that the investigations are winding down.

Cullen was arrested in December 2003 and charged with the murder of a patient at Somerset Medical Center and the attempted homicide of another. The next year, he pleaded guilty and agreed to help authorities determine exactly whom he killed in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.


20051206: Serial killer admits another attempted murder while a nurse NJ Somerville Serial Killer News
Serial killer Charles Cullen on Mondy pleaded guilty to another attempted murder at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, in what his attorney predicted would probably be his last plea.

In a proceeding lasting less than 10 minutes in state Superior Court, Cullen, 45, a former nurse, admitted before Judge Paul W. Armstrong to attempting to kill critical care patient Philip J. Gregor of South Bound Brook with an overdose of insulin on June 18, 2003.

"Yes, I did," said Cullen when asked by Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Van Hise if he had administered the insulin to the patient without a doctor's orders. "To cause his death" was Cullen's reply when he was asked why.

The answers have become increasingly rote for Cullen, who has pleaded guilty to killing 29 patients at hospitals in five New Jersey and two Pennsylvania counties and attempting to kill five more between 1988 and 2003.

"News of every heinous act he committed to a patient in his care still shocks and saddens us," said hospital spokeswoman Vicky Allen.

Cullen, shackled and clad in mustard-colored prison scrubs, was brought to the courtroom from the Somerset County Jail in Somerville, where he is being held pending his transfer upon sentencing to a maximum security prison.

He has appeared increasingly gaunt since his arrest and arraignment following a series of suspicious deaths at Somerset Medical Center in December 2003.

Compared with Cullen's earlier appearances, the courtroom was almost empty. although Gregor's widow and sister were present, they declined to comment. "When he's sentenced, I'll have a whole lot to say," said Linda Gregor.

Cullen's plea was part of an April 29, 2004, plea agreement in which he was spared the death penalty in exchange for cooperating with investigators in identifying victims. Investigators have since been reviewing files with him.


20050710: New Revelations about Convicted Serial Killer Nurse PA Bethlehem Serial Killer News

Nurses who worked with serial killer Charles Cullen at a Pennsylvania hospital apparently warned authorities long before his arrest that he was suspected of killing patients.

That's according to a report today in The Morning Call of Allentown.

But Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin says there just wasn't enough evidence at the time to prosecute Cullen for anything.

And the forensic pathologist who investigated agrees.The pathologist reviewed 26 cases of patients who died while Cullen was working at Saint Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem.

He says the only evidence beyond "vague suspicions" was medical histories of people who died -- but who were already very sick.

After leaving Saint Luke's, Cullen worked at Somerset Medical Center in New Jersey, where he has admitted killing patients.


20050520: Cullen tells AG basic security could stop killer nurses NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

The state's worst serial killer is offering authorities tips on how to thwart people who want to follow in his footsteps.

Killer nurse Charles Cullen met for eight hours over two days this week with state Attorney General Peter Harvey, who wanted to find out how to prevent future murders by medical professionals.

Cullen, who says he may have killed as many as 40 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania by injecting them with lethal doses of drugs, told Harvey that tracking who takes medications from dispensaries could prevent hospital workers from killing patients.

"He believes that the best deterrent is the certainty of detection," Harvey told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Friday's newspapers. "Using more video surveillance. Using a swipe card that would allow hospitals to easily track who is withdrawing what medication. These are security controls that can be placed on rooms that house medications."

Thus far, Cullen has pleaded guilty to murdering 24 patients and attempting to kill five others

The meetings Wednesday and Thursday were part of what Cullen agreed to last year when he promised to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in return for avoiding the death penalty. Harvey said he plans to speak again with Cullen.

"Once we complete our discussions with him, we are going to compile a series of recommendations that we're going to give to the Board of Medical Examiners and the nursing board with suggestions of how to better protect patients and hospitals," Harvey said. "We're going to ask for their input and action."

Cullen, a former registered nurse, worked at hospitals and nursing facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over a 16-year career.

Harvey said the 45-year-old Cullen showed some remorse _ an emotion that he has not displayed in court.

"He accepts more responsibility than he expresses remorse, but he certainly does both," Harvey said. "I didn't expect it."


20050511: Siblings assert serial killer nurse murdered father Serial Killer News

The children of a former Madison resident say they have compelling proof that Charles Cullen, serial killer nurse, killed their father with massive doses of digoxin in January 1997 at Morristown Memorial Hospital.

Lynn Popelka of Netcong and Wayne Sarrow of Readington Township paid to have the remains of their father, Henry Sarrow, disinterred from Saint Vincent’s Cemetery in Madison in February and examined, they said on Wednesday, April 13, at the office of their attorney, Anthony J. Macri of Denville.

Cullen, who is in the Somerset County Jail, denies killing the retired postal worker while he worked at Morristown Memorial from November 1996 to August 1997, according to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office. He has admitted to killing 24 patients, from 1988 to 2003, but none at Morristown Memorial, authorities said.

So far, Popelka and Sarrow have sued Morristown Memorial, alleging wrongful death and negligence, said attorney Macri, who added that he expects “a long fight.”

Macri said that autopsy reports have been sent to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, an office the siblings claim was unresponsive to past concerns that Cullen was responsible for their father’s death.

Autopsy Results

Henry Sarrow had been admitted to Morristown Memorial on Jan. 9, 1997, because of shortness of breath, and on Jan. 15 he suffered a fatal heart attack, which the family said was not expected. He was 77.

When Mr. Sarrow’s remains were analyzed after the February exhumation, they were found to have digoxin levels of 230 nanograms per kilogram, when a normal level should be 2 nanograms per kilogram, according to Macri’s office.

The levels of digoxin, a heart medication, found in Mr. Sarrow’s body were 125 times the amount that would be found in someone who was being given therapeutic doses, the family and its attorney assert. Such a scenario would fit Cullen’s preferred method of killing – administering overdoses of digoxin.

Mr. Sarrow had worked as a school crossing guard for the Madison Board of Education after his retirement as a postal worker.

Recognized Nurse

After Cullen was arrested in 2003 on charges that he administered a lethal overdose to one patient and attempted to murder another at the Somerset Medical Center, Popelka reportedly recognized Cullen from news photos as a nurse at Morristown Memorial during her father’s hospitalization.

According to attorney Macri, hospital records show Cullen was on duty during overnight hours before two cardiac episodes Mr. Sarrow suffered at Morristown Memorial, the second one fatal.

Cullen is reviewing records from hospitals where he worked, including Morristown Memorial, cooperating with authorities in exchange for a waiver of the death penalty. He is expected to be sentenced to multiple life terms in prison.


20041231: Serial killer spends time reading and doing “homework” NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

CULLEN scans medical files to determine if any patients were his victims.
Life in the Somerset County jail is a little like life aboard the USS Woodrow Wilson, the submarine where Charles CULLEN spent months isolated in the deep waters of the Atlantic. In jail, CULLEN has limited space, a bunk to sleep in, and three square meals served with military precision. He has reading material, time on his hands, and no place to go: the cold steel walls of the sub (where CULLEN developed an interest in nursing by helping to inoculate his shipmates) have been replaced by the cold stone walls of justice.
The only times serial killer Charles CULLEN leaves the jail is to travel to various county courts to admit he murdered patients at the 10 medical facilities where he worked in New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. CULLEN claims to have killed as many as 40 patients during his 16-year career.
CULLEN has made five such trips so far, pleading guilty to killing 24 patients and attempting to kill five others by injecting them with various medications that he stole from the hospital's drug supplies. There will be others.
In exchange for his cooperation and guilty pleas, authorities waived the death penalty and CULLEN instead must serve at least 127 years in a New Jersey state prison before he is eligible for parole. For now, CULLEN will remain inmate No. 71533 in the Somerset County jail, on the corner of Grove and High streets in Somerville and across from the prosecutor's office where he first admitted his deep, dark secret to detectives after being arrested last December.


20041117: Serial killer nurse pleads guilty to murders in Lehigh County PA Allentown Serial Killer News
Serial killer Charles Cullen pleaded guilty today to six murders and three attempted murders in Lehigh County, bringing the former nurse's tally to 23 deaths in two states...Whispering his replies to a judge's routine questions, Cullen, 44, formerly of Bethlehem, offered no details or excuses to the victims' relatives, dozens of whom packed the Allentown courtroom..."He took something away that was so precious to us and we're never going to forgive him," said Connie Keeler, of Bethlehem, whose father Cullen tried to kill..."He shows no emotion to what he did," she said...Keeler's father, Lehigh Valley radio personality Paul Galgon, 72, died of renal failure at St. Luke's Hospital near Bethlehem nine hours after Cullen injected him with the heart stimulant digoxin. Forensic evidence showed that the digoxin contributed to Galgon's death...Family members were not given a chance to address Cullen today, but are expected to have that opportunity at his sentencing, which may be a year away. Judge William Platt denied Cullen's request to be absent during sentencing, which won't occur until after Cullen is sentenced in New Jersey...Cullen has yet to meet with prosecutors in Essex County, where he worked in the burn unit at St. Barnabas Hospital for four years; or in Hunterdon County, where he worked at Hunterdon Medical Center for two years. His attorney, Johnny Mask, said it appears that Cullen did not kill anyone in Morris County, where he worked in 1997...Cullen has pleaded guilty to murdering patients in hospitals in Somerset County and Warren County, in New Jersey, and in Northampton County, in Pennsylvania. Usually, he injected overdoses into the intravenous bag of terminally ill, elderly patients. His youngest known victim was Matthew Mattern, a 22-year-old patient the burn unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital near Allentown...Cullen will be sentenced to life in prison as part of a plea agreement worked out with prosecutors in both states. He told authorities after his arrest in December that he killed as many as 40 patients in 10 hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey during his 16-year career as a registered nurse. Prosecutors have agreed not to seek the death penalty as long as Cullen cooperates by identifying his victims.

20041106: Pa. judge rejects serial killer's intention to skip sentencing PA Allentown Serial Killer News
A former nurse who has admitted killing 17 patients with lethal doses of medication at hospitals in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania will have to attend his sentencing hearing and face the families of his alleged victims in Lehigh County, a judge has ruled. ..Cullen, 44, is scheduled to plead guilty Nov. 17 in Lehigh County Court to six counts of homicide and three counts of attempted homicide. Families won't be able to confront him at the hearing but will be able to do so when Cullen returns to court for his sentencing, likely next year. ..On Tuesday, Judge William H. Platt told Cullen's attorneys that he will not accept Cullen's waiver of his right to appear at the sentencing. ..Cullen's attorney, public defender Johnnie Mask, said he was not happy with Platt's decision but does not intend to fight it. ..After his arrest in December, Cullen told investigators that he killed as many as 40 people during his nursing career. He has pleaded guilty or been charged in a total of 23 murders and has agreed to help investigators identify his victims in a deal to avoid the death penalty. ..The families of several of Cullen's alleged Lehigh County victims were pleased with the judge's decision. .."He needs to be there to face us," said Connie Keeler, the daughter of Paul Galgon, 72, a St. Luke's Hospital patient authorities said Cullen attempted to kill in 2001. "He should have to look into each of our faces and see the pain we are going through." ..When Cullen pleaded guilty to a single killing in Northampton County in September, the daughter of the elderly victim called Cullen a monster, talked about her father's life, and asked Cullen whether he remembered his victims. ..Mask said the hearing was hard on his client, and he would prefer to avoid them. ..In Lehigh County, Cullen is accused of killing five people and attempting to kill two others at St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill, where he worked from June 2000 to June 2002, and killing one person and attempting to kill another at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township, where he worked from December 1998 to April 2000. ..In neighboring Northampton County, he pleaded guilty to killing one person at Easton Hospital. ..In New Jersey, Cullen has pleaded guilty to killing 16 people and attempting to kill two others at Somerset Medical Center and Warren Hospital. ..Under his plea agreement, Cullen will be sentenced to life in prison in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and will serve the sentence in New Jersey. He will not be eligible for parole for at least 127 years. .

20041030: Serial Killer Seeking to Skip Sentencing PA Allentown Serial Killer News
A district attorney said he is trying to determine whether serial killer Charles Cullen can be compelled to appear in court so relatives of the patients he is accused of killing can confront him if he is sentenced to life in prison...Cullen, a former registered nurse, is expected to plead guilty in the next few weeks to charges he killed six patients at two hospitals with lethal doses of medication. Under the proposed plea agreement, Cullen would be spared the death penalty in exchange for helping to identify his victims...Cullen already has pleaded guilty to killing 17 during a 16-year career at hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey...Cullen has said through his attorney he wants to waive his right to be in court at sentencing...But District Attorney James Martin says he will do research to determine whether there is a legal way to force Cullen to appear. "In all my years doing this, I've never seen a defendant not come to his sentencing," he said...Margory Blakemore, daughter of Edward O'Toole, who died at St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill in 2002, said she and other relatives should have the right to address Cullen face to face. "He should have to hear about how much pain he's caused," she said.. .

Copyright 1995-2005 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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