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20060903: Suspected serial killer still on prowl MA Marlborough Serial Killer News
The mother-in-law of a victim of a suspected suburban serial killer is crying for justice and blasting police for letting the 3-year-old case go cold. “I am very angry. I think this is a cold case,” said Valentina Montalvo, whose daughter-in-law was the first of three Worcester women found dumped on Interstate 495. Betzaida Montalvo’s skeletal remains were found on Sept. 24, 2003, in a shallow grave behind the Hillside School in Marlboro. She was 29 years old. Five days later, the remains of Carmen Rudy, 28, were found in the same area. Six months after that, and less than two miles from that location, just over the Hudson line, a town worker found the remains of a third woman - 33-year-old Dinelia Torres. All three are believed to be the victims of a serial killer who preyed on petite Hispanic women and then dumped their bodies off I-495. A headstone for Betzaida Montalvo’s grave - written half in Spanish, half in English - is being etched with funds from the state’s Office of Victims Assistance. Her son, Eddit, 10, is being raised by Valentina Montalvo in her Worcester home. Life goes on, Montalvo said, but with little hope of ever knowing who killed her daughter-in-law, she said. “I don’t think they are investigating this anymore,” she said. Authorities insist that’s not so, with one source going so far as to say that police are moving closer to naming a person of interest in the case. “It’s still an active investigation,” said Emily LaGrassa, spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney. Still, police have made no announcements in months, and Montalvo, 67, said no one has called to give her any new information. “I drove down to the Marlboro police station a few months ago, and they said they had nothing new. Since then, I know nothing,” she said. “I fear there is a guy out there that could do this to other women.” One prominent Boston criminologist acknowledged that it may take “a stroke of luck” to catch the killer. “Most of these serial murder cases are solved by a stroke of luck,” said Jack Levin, director of the Brudnick Center on Violence at Northeastern University. “Let’s hope this guy makes a mistake before he kills again.”
 

20050925: Serial killer remains at large MA Marlborough Serial Killer News
Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said in an interview that the serial killer whose victims were found in MetroWest two years ago this month may strike again, leaving a crucial clue that could lead to his capture.
     Fresh evidence or a sudden recollection of a witness may be the last hope for investigators who have run into a wall in the case of three women whose bodies were found in Marlborough in September 2003 and Hudson six months later.
     "I think that's a possibility," Coakley said in an interview this week. "We don't know who did this. We don't know where he is -- he could be in jail, in another country laying low. But the lack of anything happening since (the bodies were found) doesn't dissuade us from the (serial killer) theory. We either need to develop some new leads or get some breaks."
     Time has not been on investigators' side since the skeletal remains of Carmen Rudy and Betsy Montalvo were found in the woods behind Marlborough's Hillside School. In March 2004 in Hudson -- less than two miles from the Hillside School -- the remains of Dinelia Torres were found.
     Coakley said investigators need a break.
     "I do think there are people out there that have information about this that will be helpful," she said. "We will get that information at some point."
     What detectives have said is that all three women worked as prostitutes on the streets of Worcester to support drug habits. In addition, the three victims were all petite, Hispanic mothers, similar in physical appearance.
     And, Coakley said, the locations where the bodies were found also back the serial killer theory, given that two women were presumably dumped behind the Hillside School -- probably at the same time, police have said -- in what was a wooded area.
     Then, Torres' remains were found in Hudson -- not even two miles away -- also in a wooded area. Both locations are within minutes of Interstates 290 and 495.

     Aside from those similarities, Coakley said detectives have very little to go on.

Statistically, one of those (pieces of evidence) will help us solve this case," she said. "We have a good record here, but there are some cases that are just difficult to solve.

     "It's a difficult case with the lack of forensics, and it's difficult in terms of their last trails -- those trails are cold."
     Coakley said in this case, because each victim was missing for nearly a year before their body was found, those critical last steps, such as where they last went or who saw them last, is missing.

Lacking that information makes solving this case even harder.

     "Pulling that information together is difficult," she said. "We don't ever put these cases away. There's no statute of limitations on them. At the moment, it's still a very active case in this office.
     "New cases do come along, and although it may seem to a family that their case has fallen off the map, it does not mean for us that it is a cold case," Coakley said.
     Coakley makes no promises, but said she has faith in her own staff and in the officers and detectives from Marlborough, Hudson and Worcester who have a hand in the case.
     With nearly 20 years experience in the Middlesex DA's office -- six as the DA -- Coakley said the forensics and evidence detectives have gathered so far may not hold the answers.
     In addition to science, Coakley said patience plays a role in these difficult cases.
     "We have done a ton of interviews in this case," she said. "We have an ongoing list of unsolved homicides in this office, and periodically we sit down, especially if there's any new developments. We ask ourselves, 'Are there people we need to talk to, re-interview?
     "We are still working on this, and we're hoping for a breakthrough," she said. "The people in this office are committed to doing their work. You never forget.
     "It's our job to investigate and hold people accountable when they commit a crime," Coakley said. "When we can't do that, that is frustrating. It means that we haven't done our job, try as we might. That's why we don't put these cases away. Not just from a public safety aspect, but because there's always the hope that something new will break."

The confidential tip line established for this case remains active. Anyone with information is asked to call 617-679-6611.

 

20050827: Funeral held for women believed to be serial killer's victim MA Framingham Serial Killer News
A woman thought to be a victim of a serial killer has finally been laid to rest.The family of Dinelia Torres held a funeral service yesterday, 18 months after Torres' remains were discovered near where two other women's remains were also found.

At the funeral, Torres' two sons and two brothers knelt at her casket, as her mother, Carmen, and 14-year-old daughter Jessica wept.

Carmen Torres had to be held up by her sons.

Torres, who was 33 when she died, is believed to be the victim of a serial killer who preyed on petite, Hispanic women and then dumped their bodies off Interstate 495.

Torres's remains were found in Hudson, about a mile from where the remains of 29-year-old Betzaida Montalvo and 29-year-old Carmen Rudy were found on the grounds of a school.

Since Torres' body was found, detectives and investigators have been studying her remains for clues.

There have been no arrests in any of the three killings.
 

20050110: Authorities say woman was not serial killer victim MA Marlboro Serial Killer News
A body found in a wooded section of town was that of a woman allegedly killed by her husband, and was not the victim of a suspected serial killer who dumped the bodies of three other women nearby, investigators said Monday.

Maria Hartogensis, 46, suffered a broken neck allegedly at the hands of her husband, Richard A. Hartogensis, 41, who was arrested and is scheduled to be arraigned on a murder charge Tuesday.

Hartogensis was wearing blood-stained clothing when police went to his house Monday after his wife's body was identified, Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said. She said police also found human blood and signs of a struggle inside the home.

Authorities believe Maria Hartogensis was killed Saturday. The couple was married for about two years.

The body was discovered in a wooded area of Elm Street late Sunday morning by a woman walking her dog.

Three other women's bodies have been discovered in Marlboro and neighboring Hudson since September 2003.

"We do not have any evidence to believe it is related (to the other three killings), and we have no evidence to connect to them," Coakley said. "Those three killings are still unsolved."

The remains of Betzaida Montalvo, 29, were found on the grounds of the Hillside School in Marlboro on Sept. 24, 2003. Five days later, the remains of Carmen Rudy, 29, were found just feet away. The remains of Dinelia Torres, 33, were found about a mile away in Hudson on March 3, 2004.

 

20041216: Dearth of clues stymies police on serial killer case MA Worcester Serial Killer News
Evelyn Rudy wakes up each morning hoping the day will bring word that authorities have arrested Carmen Rudy's killer, that she can lay to rest her fear that other women may suffer her daughter's fate...''Every day I think this will be the day," said Rudy, who lives in Worcester. ''But then I think maybe this is one of those cases that will never get solved."..Nearly 15 months after the remains of Carmen Rudy, 28, and Betzaida Montalvo, 29, were found in shallow graves in the woods behind a Marlborough boarding school, the circumstances of their deaths are still a mystery. The remains of a third woman, Dinelia Torres, 33, were discovered in Hudson last March...All three women were prostitutes with drug problems who lived in Worcester's Main South neighborhood. All were petite mothers of Hispanic descent, standing between 4 feet 11 and 5 feet 1. All received services from a Worcester social service agency. Montalvo and Rudy were childhood friends...The victims' similarities and the proximity of their bodies prompted the Middlesex district attorney's office to speculate that the three women were slain by a serial killer. Today, authorities still struggle to piece together the women's final days in search of a break in the case...''We anticipated at the outset that this would be a difficult case to solve," said Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley. ''The problem with a case of this age is the lack of forensic information on the cause or manner of death."..Coakley said that several investigators in her office, along with state and local police, were working on the case, and that they are ''obviously concerned" that the killer could strike again. But she said she was not optimistic the killer could be found without new information...''We're working with a thin set of facts," she said...She declined to comment on whether authorities had enlisted a criminal profiler, and said her office had not called in the FBI or specialists on serial killers...Forensic analysts were unable to determine from the autopsy results how the women died because the remains had decayed, but authorities are treating the deaths as homicides. They do not believe the women were killed where their bodies were found...Coakley said the lifestyles of the victims make it harder to pinpoint the circumstances surrounding their disappearances. The women were estranged from friends and family...Rudy disappeared in September 2002. Montalvo vanished from Worcester in April 2003, and Torres was last seen in Framingham in August 2003...Steven Egger, a former homicide investigator and an associate professor of criminology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, said serial killers often prey on the ''near dead," vulnerable people living on society's margins...''They tend to be powerless," he said. ''Who's going to miss a prostitute? Who's going to miss a homeless person or a vagrant?"..Egger praised the district attorney's office for linking the murders, saying investigators often avoid doing so to defuse public fear. Labeling a string of homicides serial killings raises visibility and public pressure, and spurs communication among departments, he said...Egger, the author of four books about serial killers, said most are male and do not know their victims. Egger said most serial killings ultimately are solved, although it often takes years. Typically, suspects are caught when they ''get cocky and make a mistake," he said...Coakley said authorities in recent months have received less information from the public about the case, but said investigators continue to give it high priority...''It's certainly not a cold case by any means," she said...Coakley said she doubted that the death of a pregnant prostitute, missing for 11 years before her body was found in Chelmsford in March, was related to the recent killings. She has not ruled out a connection with a 40-year-old Worcester woman whose remains were found in September in a trash barrel in York, Maine, and who also had a history of prostitution arrests. She said her office was not involved in the Maine investigation...Jack Levin, director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University and the author of several books on serial killers, said there are unsolved prostitute slayings in almost every city across the United States...''The most common victim of a serial killer is a prostitute," he said. The cases are tough to solve because missing person reports are filed late and police rarely find the crime scene. Levin said that most serial killers are white, middle-aged men, and they typically attack people of their own race...Levin said because the victims have been women who led hazardous lives on the street, there is minimal public pressure to solve the crime. ''The average person west of Boston doesn't feel unsafe," he said...In Worcester, Peter Stefan, a funeral home director who knew the victims through his volunteer work at a homeless shelter, said their deaths have not been enough to deter women from soliciting strangers...''That fear seems to dwindle day by day," he said. Stefan said he is urging Worcester officials to build a shelter for homeless women, which he believes would help draw potential victims off the streets. Stefan questioned whether authorities would pour more resources into the investigation if the victims weren't part of the urban underground...Coakley said investigators are doing all they can to solve the crime and are frustrated by the lack of an arrest...But Evelyn Rudy echoed Stefan's concerns about the investigation. ''Sometimes I think she's not their first priority because of her lifestyle," Rudy said of her daughter...She said the capture of her daughter's killer would ease her family's pain. ''She's in all our hearts and minds." ..
 

20040926: Will location of victim lead to her killer? MA Worcester Serial Killer News
Investigators say a key to solving the mystery of Wendy Morello's death will be discerning how the 40-year-old Worcester woman's body ended up in York and what ties she - and the person responsible for her death - may have had to Maine...A passerby found Morello's body in a plastic trash barrel Sept. 13, just off a rural York road not far from the Route 1 outlets in Kittery...Police believe she died somewhere else two to four days earlier. They worry that her death may be the result of a serial killer responsible for the deaths of three other Worcester women, who were known to have sold sex to buy drugs...The similarity with the other three deaths is inescapable. All were petite women, like Morello, who had worked as prostitutes on downtown Worcester's south side. ..Some students clearing a trail on the grounds of their private middle school in Marlboro, 15 miles from Worcester, found the skeletal remains of Betzaida Montalvo on Sept. 24, 2003. A police search followed, and that led to the discovery five days later of the remains of Carmen Rudy in the same area...On March 3, 2004, the skeleton of Dinelia Torres was found in a wooded area of Hudson, near a driving range on town-owned land just over a mile from the other two...Authorities do not believe any of the women were killed where their bodies were found, which makes solving the cases difficult...As there is no crime scene, so there is no evidence to be retrieved. There is even no conclusion yet as for the cause of death...Worcester police setup a hotline these days, hoping to establish communication with the city´s prostitutes.. .
 

20040917: Serial Killer, Maine Body Link Probed MA Worcester Serial Killer News
The body of a Worcester woman has been found in Maine, officials say. ..Investigators are looking into whether Wendy Morello, 40, of Worcester, Mass., could be the victim of a serial killer. The bodies of three other Worcester women, Betzaida Montalvo, Carmen Rudy and Dinelia Torres, were found in the past year in Massachusetts -- one in Hudson, and two in Marlborough. ..York police say they believe Morello was killed somewhere else and dumped in a wooded area in York, just miles from Interstate 95. .."We, as of this time, have identified the female victim that was found on River Wood Drive as Wendy A. Morello," said York Police Chief Doug Bracy. ..Morello's body was discovered in a trash can by local resident walking their dog Monday night. ..Maine state police confirmed that they are looking into the possibly that Morello's death could be related to the deaths of three other Worcester women. .."We are aware of the investigation that is going on in the Worcester area. We are looking at the possibilities of any similarities in comparisons between the cases. Again, it is just too early to tell," saidMaine State Police Lt. Brian McDonough. "We have just identified her today. We are trying to do the follow-up and her background the best we can. It is too early to do any comparison like that." ..Investigators say they are withholding some information they consider key in the investigation. .."We are going to be withholding the cause, or manner or death, for the integrity of the investigation. We think it is important to keep that confidential at this time," said McDonough. ..Meanwhile, NewsCenter 5's Steve Sbraccia reported, Worcester Police are also working on the case. ..Worcester police say Morello was known to them, but they are not saying whether her death is linked to the deaths of the three other Worcester women. .."This girl is a little bit older than the others, physical description was similar in size, 5 foot 1, not a big person, dark hair. Those are the only two similarities that we would have to say would be close to all of the victims," said acting Worcester Police Chief Paul Campbell. ..Morello was reported missing by her daughter Sept. 13.
 

20040418: Digging through unsolved cases of 2 decades MA Worcester Serial Killer News

Over the past quarter century, investigators in central Massachusetts have seen a pattern of unsolved murders: all women, mostly young, left by roadsides, along railroad tracks, under bridges, in parks or woodlands, some in shallow graves, others laid on the ground. Whether it is one serial killer or many has been a question that investigators have struggled with for years.
The deaths of Betzaida MONTALVO, Carmen RUDY and Dinelia TORRES, three women whose remains were found in Marlboro and Hudson last year and earlier this year, are examples: It is unclear how the women died, when they died or how their remains arrived at the sites where they were found.
The deaths of MONTALVO, RUDY and TORRES are being investigated as the work of a serial killer preying on women from the hardcore streets: streetwalkers addicted to drugs, with no, or very loose, ties to their families and community.
The other 22 women found murdered in the region over the last 25 years may never be solved because of the lapse of time.

Some of the Central Massachusetts victims were substance abusers, transients and known streetwalkers, but there is no discernible pattern, and the women don't appear to fit into a single mold or category.
The 25 women came from various backgrounds. Some were young, vibrant and in high school at the time; others lived in low-rent apartments or on the streets of the city.
A trend among the victims was their ages. Most of them were 20 to 35. The age range is consistent with statewide figures that show that 320 women ages 25 to 35 were slain between 1976 and 2000, according to Alan Fox of Northeastern University, who maintains a database of homicides in Massachusetts for the Department of Justice.
Of the 25 women, about half had ties to drugs or prostitution and homelessness. They were found under dingy overpasses, on dirt roads and in parks.
The deaths are similar to the late 1980s serial killings in New Bedford, where nine women, all with drug and prostitution backgrounds, were discovered near roadways.

 

20040325: Third victim of possible serial killer identified MA Marlborough Serial Killer News
Pictures left: Betzaida MONTALVO, Carmen RUDY, Dinelia TORRES ..Her remains were the first found and the last identified. And now that investigators have come up with "Jane Doe No. 1's" real name, they are even more convinced they have a serial killer on their hands...Betzaida MONTALVO (aka Maritele BURGOS), of Worcester, was last seen by a male friend in April 2003. Hers were the first of three sets of female remains discovered in the woods off Interstate 495..But while the other two women proved easier to identify, it took seven months before investigators were able to identify MONTALVO using dental records..District Attorney Martha Coakley said Thursday that MONTALVO, a mother of three, was roughly the same age, height and physical build as the two other victims. She was 29 when she disappeared and would have celebrated her 30th birthday on March 14..All three were petite Hispanic women from Worcester with a history of drug use and prostitution...MONTALVO was the first of two women whose bodies were found last September on the sprawling, wooded campus of the Hillside School in Marlboro. Several days after her body was discovered by students and teachers clearing a bike path, investigators found the remains of Carmen RUDY (29) who had disappeared a year earlier..Then, in early March, a contractor working in a wooded area of adjacent Hudson found the body of Dinelia TORRES (33)..RUDY and TORRES had been treated at the same drug treatment center in Worcester, though it was unclear if they knew each other. Police are investigating whether MONTALVO also attended that rehab program.
 

20040325: Authorities identify third suspected victim of serial killer MA Marlborough Serial Killer News

Pictures left: Betzaida MONTALVO, Carmen RUDY, Dinelia TORRES Her remains were the first found and the last identified. And now that investigators have come up with "Jane Doe No. 1's" real name, they are even more convinced they have a serial killer on their hands.

Betzaida MONTALVO (aka Maritele BURGOS), of Worcester, was last seen by a male friend in April 2003. Hers were the first of three sets of female remains discovered in the woods off Interstate 495.
But while the other two women proved easier to identify, it took seven months before investigators were able to identify MONTALVO using dental records.
District Attorney Martha Coakley said Thursday that MONTALVO, a mother of three, was roughly the same age, height and physical build as the two other victims. She was 29 when she disappeared and would have celebrated her 30th birthday on March 14.
All three were petite Hispanic women from Worcester with a history of drug use and prostitution.

MONTALVO was the first of two women whose bodies were found last September on the sprawling, wooded campus of the Hillside School in Marlboro. Several days after her body was discovered by students and teachers clearing a bike path, investigators found the remains of Carmen RUDY, 29, who had disappeared a year earlier.
Then, in early March, a contractor working in a wooded area of adjacent Hudson found the body of 33-year-old Dinelia TORRES.
RUDY and TORRES had been treated at the same drug treatment center in Worcester, though it was unclear if they knew each other. Police are investigating whether MONTALVO also attended that rehab program.

 

20040307: Worcester area man denies knowing Dinelia Torres MA Marlborough Serial Killer News

Months before she disappeared, the woman whose decomposed remains were discovered in Hudson earlier this week filed a restraining order against a man. The man identified as Robert J. TOUPIN was ordered to stay away from Dinelia TORRES, 33, of Worcester in a restraining order on file at Worcester District Court.

Reached at his Oakham home Friday evening, Toupin said he doesn't know Torres.

"I've never heard of her," said Toupin, who noted there are two other people in his family with the same name.

Toupin, who owns R.J.T. Construction in western Massachusetts, also said he is married.

A telephone message left with Torres' family in Framingham was not returned yesterday.

In an earlier interview, family said Torres had worked as a construction worker and as a hairdresser in her sister-in-law's salon over the past decade.

Asked about Toupin, Paul Melaragni, a spokesman for Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley, said, "The investigation is wide open."

On Wednesday, Coakley said a serial killer may be responsible for the deaths of three women found since September in the Hudson-Marlborough area.

Dental records identified the remains of Carmen RUDY, 28, of Worcester after her bones were found in the woods behind the Hillside School in Marlborough.

The identity of Jane DOE 1, who was found near Rudy's remains, has yet to be determined. Forensic anthropologists at the Smithsonian Institute are trying to re-create her face based on skeletal remains.

Melaragni would not comment on Toupin or the possible serial killer theory.

"We certainly couldn't comment on a suspect," he said.

There were no signs of police presence yesterday on the grounds of Hillside School or on Brigham Street where Torres' remains were discovered.

 

20040304: Third Body Found In Hudson Woods MA Marlborough Serial Killer News

Brigham Road, suspiciously close to where the remains of two other women were found across the town border in Marlboro, Mass., last fall. There is one important difference: The latest victim was dragged to the spot, not buried. The other two victims were found in shallow graves. Only one was identified as Carmen RUDY, 29, of Worcester, Mass., last seen in September 2002. Police created a facial reconstruction photo of the other victim. She has not yet been identified.
Police are hoping evidence found near the body discovered in Hudson, Mass., will help them identify the latest victim.

Investigators believe the latest victim died three to nine months ago. Hudson police said their own missing reports offer no clue to her identification.

 

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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