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20070120: Authorities Doubt Tom Tomich Was A Serial Killer NE Omaha Serial Killer News

Tom Tomich took his secrets with him as he leaped to his death from an Omaha high-rise, leaving behind investigators who now say they doubt Tomich was a serial killer.The 50-year-old committed suicide on Nov. 16, a day after his former wife's remains were identified. Soon after that, authorities said they discovered a link between him and a slain Omaha prostitute.In November, Douglas County chief deputy Marty Bilek said, "Tomich is a killer who was also active in the 1980s, and we know now he might have killed again."

Tomich soon was being investigated in the slayings of four prostitutes. But Iowa and Nebraska investigators now said they haven't found enough evidence to implicate Tomich.

The slayings remain unsolved.

 

 

20061129: Prosecutor Confident He Could've Convicted Tomich NE Omaha Serial Killer News

If a man had not jumped to his death the day after his wife’s body was identified, could prosecutors have brought him to justice?The Pottawattamie County Attorney’s Office has declared the case of Lois Tomich’s 1983 death officially closed. The 28-year-old’s body was found in barrel in May near the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Department, but the remains weren't identified until earlier this month. The next day, Tomich’s ex-husband, Tom, jumped from the Rorick Condominiums in downtown Omaha to his death.For Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber, Tom Tomich’s demise was an opportunity lost.

"I was looking forward to this trial. I knew it'd be a tough one, but I felt like we had enough," Wilber said.

Lois Tomich was murdered more than 20 years ago, forensic research showed. As researchers worked to identify her, her ex-husband became the lead suspect."Spouses are always top suspects for us," Wilber said.

Proving the case, however, would have been challenging, Wilber said. The best evidence linking Tom Tomich to the murder was admissions Tomich himself allegedly made.

"I have two different ladies who were involved in romantic relationships with Mr. Tomich that both said over the years, he confessed to them that he put his wife Lois in the barrel, in the water," Wilber said.Wilber said those witnesses were scared of Tom Tomich and reluctant to testify."So, just trying to figure out what do we do to make sure they feel safe and get the information that we need," Wilber said, was a challenge.Had the case gone to trial, Wilber said he believes those witnesses would have come forward. But there would have been other challenges for the prosecution."I'd consider probably one of my biggest hurdles is I have no crime scene," Wilber said.Investigators surveyed the area where the body was dumped but they said they had no idea where Lois Tomich was actually killed. They did, however, know how she was murdered. At a trial, Wilber said, a forensic anthropologist would have testified that Lois Tomich died of strangulation, and the murder weapon had been preserved."There's a piece of wire around the neck," said investigator Leland Bennett. "There was a clothes hanger attached to the wire; hanger used as an anchor to tighten that wire."Bennett said the wire was still imbedded in her vertebrae ."Honestly, if it wasn't for that coat hanger, we'd have never known, because all soft tissue was gone," Wilber said. "It had deteriorated over the years."Wilber said there was also evidence that the killer knew his victim."Obviously, the manner of her death -- the fact she was fully clothed -- this was someone who knew her, had the ability to get up close," Wilber said.The way the killer disposed of the body, in a barrel filled with cement and weighing close to a ton, also gave the prosecutor a clue."It had to be someone who had access to heavy construction equipment," he said."Her ex-husband worked around a construction company at that time, and was involved in certain paving," Leland said.Wilber said he believes he would have eventually gotten the barrel's manufacturer and the type of cement that was used to use in his prosecution.Beyond the physical evidence, Wilber said he was building a circumstantial case against Tom Tomich that included a history of domestic violence. Even his daughter, who was only 5 when her mother disappeared, told investigators about the stormy relationship her parents had."She remembers several beatings and her mom always going to the hospital," Leland said.Wilber said jurors would have heard Tomich's motive for killing his ex-wife."We answered that question when we learned about the relationship she was entering into with his brother, and how that drove him insane, got in a fight, physical altercation with his own brother," Wilber said.Finally, investigators said, Tom Tomich's nervous demeanor when they interviewed him the day before he jumped indicated guilt."He couldn't sit still," Leland said. "(We) caught him in several discrepancies. We knew he wasn't being truthful with us; only simple questions we were asking."Would it have been enough to convince a jury? Creighton University Law School professor Collin Mangrum said it all lies in the testimony."If the jury believes the witnesses, you almost certainly will get a conviction," Mangrum said. "You can talk about a case in the abstract. The prosecutors have to try it. The defense attorney have to put on the best case they can, so to judge it in the abstract is a precarious thing to do."Despite that, Wilber said he is confident he would have won."We had some hurdles to get over, but nothing I thought we couldn't overcome," he said.

 

 

 

20061121: Investigators Look Into Link Between Unsolved Murder Cases NE Omaha Serial Killer News

Several unsolved murder cases in the metro are getting another look as investigators look for any possible connection to Tom Tomich.Investigators said Tomich killed his ex-wife, Lois, in 1983.As details of the case emerged, he jumped to his death last week.

Tomich also has a connection to Debra Ann Barajas who was found dead in Mills County last week.

County records show Tomich bailed her out of jail shortly before she went missing.Tomich has just been called a person of interest in Barajas' disappearance.Those close to Brianne Smith said they wonder whether Tomich has any ties to her murder. She was found dead in June near Glenwood, Iowa.The woman who helped raise Smith said she's especially curious about her last phone call with Brianne.Edie Derry said Smith called her just before she disappeared in April, but Derry did not recognize the incoming phone number."I would say that I think he's connected. It just seems a little strange that all of it came full circle this way," Derry said.The Mills County Attorney said that at this point there's no reason to believe Tomich has anything to do with Smith's death.

 

 

20061120: Woman Concerned Whether Link Exists Between Victim, Tomich NE Omaha Serial Killer News

Law enforcement officials continue to review open murder cases, looking for whether there are ties to a man who committed suicide in Omaha a week ago.Authorities said Tom Tomich was considered to be the man responsible for the death of his former wife, Lois, in 1983 and then putting her body in barrel.Last spring, Tomich bailed Debra Barajas out of jail, according to authorities. On Friday, investigators identified Barajas as the woman found dead in Mills County, Iowa.

The family of Brianne Smith raised questions about her death. Smith's body was found on a road near Glenwood in June.

The woman who helped raise Smith said she does not know whether or not Brianne knew Tomich, but recent discoveries about his past make her wonder."She wasn't a bad girl, she just hadn't found her way home yet," said Edie Derry, who helped raise Smith.Investigators have never determined who killed her.Derry said she is questioning whether Tomich could have been involved."I would say that I think he's connected. It just seems a little strange that all of it came full circle this way," Derry said.Derry said her suspicions peaked when she heard about a connection between Tomich and Barajas."It wasn't that far from where they found Brianne so that in itself seems a little strange," Derry said.Derry also wonders about her last phone call with Smith. She said Smith called her in late April just before her disappearance, but the incoming phone number seemed unusual."She called from a phone number that we didn't recognize so I don't know -- could be a connection, maybe not," Derry said.Derry and her husband are now raising and planning to adopt Smith's two young children."We just tell them that Mommy's in heaven. That's the best we can tell them," Derry said.Derry said that Smith's death has been a surreal experience for their family. She said the focus has been on Smith's children."It'd be nice to have some answers but I think our main focus is making sure these children are brought up happy, healthy, and have good lives," Derry said.

 

 

20061117: Go Behind Scenes Of Homicide Investigation NE Omaha Serial Killer News

Tomich Case Ends In Unexpected Way For Investigators

Investigators who worked six months to solve the mystery of a woman's body in a barrel saw a bizarre twist that ended the investigation on Thursday.

KETV NewsWatch 7 had exclusive behind-the-scenes access to Pottawattamie County investigators since May, when the remains of a woman were found in a 55-gallon drum near the Pottawattamie County Jail.On Wednesday, the woman was identified as Lois Tomich, who disappeared 23 years ago. On Thursday, her ex-husband, Tom, jumped from the Rorick Condominiums in downtown Omaha. Prosectuors said Tom Tomich was the only suspect in his wife's death.

"Lois's killer is Tom Tomich. I don't think there's any doubt we have in our minds," said Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber.

Prosecutors said her ex-husband strangled her with a coat hanger in 1983, then buried her body using equipment from his construction job.Tom Tomich jumped to his death just hours after investigators first questioned him, and just before they said they were about to get a warrant for his arrest.KETV NewsWatch 7 investigator Carol Kloss and photojournalist Pete Soby have been watching the progress of the investigation since May. They learned the anatomy of a cold-case murder investigation.The decomposed body of Lois Tomich was found stuffed in a rusty barrel and stuck in a marshy area of Council Bluffs. The scene is still marked with yellow evidence flags.It was an expert's sketch that first gave prosecutors a face of the victim they'd later identify through DNA as Lois Tomich"The thing that would come to my mind -- this is going to be a hard one," said Leland Bennett, a Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Department investigator speaking with Kloss and Soby shortly after the body was found.Bennett said mushroom hunters discovered the rusty barrel. When they knocked a hole in the barrel, they saw bones.Bennett said he immediately suspected homicide, but the body had been inside the drum for a long time and trying to identify the victim would prove to be extremely difficult.Hundreds of tips came in the first week after the discovery hit the media.The barrel was sent to the Iowa Crime Lab in Ankeny, where a forensic anthropologist reconstructed the skeletal remains. A forensic artist began to paint a picture of who the person was."It's a person who took care of herself. She took good care of herself," Bennett said.Investigators said they could tell it was a female between the ages of 24 and 32 years old who was about 5 feet 8 inches tall and had short, brown hair. She was wearing Lee jeans that had been manufactured in 1983.By September, Bennet said, through process of elimination he had a pretty good idea who the victim was."This lady's name is Lois Fraisonnet," Bennett told Kloss and Soby in the midst of the investigation. "Her married name is Lois Tomich."The Fraisonnet family had reported Lois Tomich missing in November 1983. Her description fit the physical evidence and her facial features matched the artist's sketch, but it still wasn't enough."Even though I've got a photo that's similar, I still got to have DNA," Bennett said.It would be two months before the DNA match came back. Prosecutors waited, knowing if their hunch was right, they said, Tom Tomich was their prime suspect.The ex-husband had a history of violence and one of his subsequent wives told investigators that Tomich had abused her as well."One night he told her that she would end up in a barrel like Lois did," Bennett said.Investigators waited until Wednesday to talk to Tom Tomich, saying they didn't want to tip him off earlier. That interview convinced investigators that they had their man."(We) caught him in several discrepancies," Bennett said. "We knew he wasn't being truthful with us. These were only simple questions we were asking."As prosecutors started the process of getting a warrant, Tom Tomich killed himself. Bennett said he never expected it to end that way."The case is solved, but is it closed? The county attorney's office will have to let us know," Bennett said.Wilber said the case is closed. Minutes before Thursday's news conference, Wilber took some satisfaction in clearing the complicated cold case.The Tomich and Fraisonnet families told investigators that they do not wish to talk to the media.Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker said Tomich's 28-year-old daughter took the news the hardest, having just learned within the last couple of days that both her mother and father died violent deaths.Tom Tomich's past includes a laundry list of run-ins with the law. In the 1970s he had several court dates on drug and DUI charges, records show.Investigators said that just before he killed his wife, Tomich had a fight with his stepbrother, Mark Dawson, who was dating Lois Tomich."This enraged him," Wilber said. "He wasn't going to tolerate his brother living with his ex-wife and raising his child."Tom Tomich was married at least three times. Investigators said he had a history of domestic abuse. One woman he lived with went to court to get a protection order against him for hitting and punching her, records show.

 

 

 

20061116: Mills Co.: Tomich Could Have Played Role In Remains Found NE Omaha Serial Killer News

Remains found in Mills County, Iowa, could possibly have a connection to an Omaha suicide.Documents from Sarpy County show Tom Tomich bonded Debra Ann Barajas out of jail earlier this year. She's been missing since that time. Tomich listed himself as "a friend" on jail documents.Tomich jumped to his death from a downtown Omaha apartment building on Thursday, police said. Tomich was the lone suspect in his wife Lois' death 23 years ago, prosecutors said.

On Tuesday, a farm worker discovered human remains near a field eight miles south of Council Bluffs.

Mills County officials said that if autopsy results show that the remains found this week prove to be Barajas, investigators will consider Tomich a "person of interest" in that case.

 

 

20061116: Pott. Co. Atty.: First-Degree Murder Charges Were In Works NE Omaha Serial Killer News

Dead Man Is Ex-Husband Of Woman Found In Barrel

A man found dead near a downtown Omaha apartment building jumped to his death, investigators said, and was once married to a woman whose body was found in barrel in Council Bluffs, Iowa, last May.

Thomas Tomich was found dead outside the Rorick Condominiums.On Wednesday, Pottawattamie County investigators revealed the identity of a woman whose body was found in a 55-gallon barrel in May. She is Lois Tomich, who disappeared in 1983.

Police said Thomas Tomich committed suicide. His body was found at about 7 a.m. in the parking lot of the building at 22nd Street and St. Mary's Avenue.

Pottawattamie County investigators said they interviewed Thomas Tomich on Wednesday afternoon after his wife's body was identified. They said he was reluctant to offer answers, acted nervous and asked for an attorney. A second interview was scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday."He was very nervous. Even though our questions didn't focus on him being a suspect, he asked for an attorney," said Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker.Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber said his investigation was leading to a first-degree murder warrant for Thomas Tomich. He said more than one person had told investigators that Tomich has talked about putting his wife in a barrel, and Wilber said those people felt scared for their own lives.

Investigation Pointed To Husband

Wilber said the investigation on the barrel showed that Lois Tomich died of strangulation and a coat hanger was found around her neck. He said that suggested to investigators that Lois Tomich knew her attacker because whoever killed her would have had to approach her from behind from close range.Wilber said there had been reports of domestic violence in the Tomich marriage. Shortly before Lois Tomich's death, Wilber said, Lois Tomich had taken up a romantic relationship with her ex-husband's brother. Wilber said the brother had a physical fight over the relationship.

Wilber described the condition of the barrel found by mushroom hunters in May. He said they saw what appeared to be human remains through a rusted hole in the barrel. The barrel was taken to the Iowa Crime Lab in Ankeny.

There, investigators found that the barrel was filled with cement. Analysis done on the cement by the FBI in Quantico, Va., showed that it was a grade mostly available to construction professionals. The weight of the barrel with the cement and body inside was over 800 pounds, Wilber said, and that suggested that whoever dumped the body either had help, or had a large tool to help lift it. Tomich worked for a paving company at one time, and that was another factor that pointed to him in his wife's death, Wilber said.

Case Is Closed

Wilber said Tom Tomich's death ends the investigation into Lois Tomich's death."Tom Tomich was the lone suspect in the murder of his wife. From our perspective, the investigation is now officially closed," Wilber said, before expressing regret that the couple's daughter has now lost two parents to violence.Wilber said the Council Bluffs police briefly reopened Tomich's disappearance case in the 1990s, but couldn't find out if Lois was deceased and had no evidence that her husband may have killed her.Wilber said Omaha police found some paperwork in Tomich's pickup truck at the Rorick. Wilber said he believes it contains life insurance paperwork and could contain a suicide note, but Omaha police are in charge of that portion of the investigation.Danker said Tomich has remarried at least twice and had other childreen.Lois Tomich's family told investigators that they do not wish to comment to the media on the week's events.

Leads Came From Everywhere

Wilber said Lois Tomich's death would never have been confirmed if it weren't for Mother Nature. He said the barrel was initially submerged in water in an area behind where the Pottawattamie County Jail now sits. Enviromental conditions made the area go from wet to dry over the years and revealed the barrel.

After the discovery of the barrel in May, Danker said, calls flooded in from across the nation from the families of missing persons. Wilber said the initial finding that the barrel may have been sitting in Pottawattamie County for five to 25 years didn't narrow the search much.

Details revealed in Ankeny, such as the color of the hair and the fact that the jeans Lois Tomich were wearing were manufacted by Lee Jeans Co. in 1983, started to narrow the possible victims.Investigators said on Wednesday that they took DNA from the Tomiches' daughter to use in a new type of analysis called mitochondrial DNA testing. The test was done in a crime lab in Minnesota. Danker said this is one of the first times the lab has used this particular test, and were it not for that kind of analysis, Lois Tomich would still be unidentified.Wilber said investigators in Ankeny couldn't get enough material from Lois Tomich's body to use standard DNA testing to match her daughter's sample. He said that if the barrel had been found 10 years earlier, investigators would not have been able to identify the victim because the technology would not have allowed it.

 

 

 

 

 

20061115: Body In Barrel Belongs To Woman Who Disappeared In 1983 IA Council Bluffs Serial Killer News

Pottawattamie County investigators said a body found earlier this year in a barrel solves a 23-year-old mystery.DNA analysis from an FBI lab showed that the remains were those of 28-year-old Lois Tomich, of Council Bluffs. Tomich was reported missing in November 1983 by her father.Mushroom hunters found the remains in a 55-gallon barrel north of Council Bluffs near the Pottawattamie County Jail in May.

Tomich was divorced and the mother of one daughter who is now 28 years old, authorities said. Investigators said they took DNA from the daughter to use in a new type of analysis called mitochondrial DNA testing. The test was done in a crime lab in Minnesota.

Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker said this is one of the first times the lab has used this particular test."Any information we can get now -- this case is 23 years old. All we have is what was found out there, so, yes. This case is going to be tough," Danker said. "We not have not been able to find the Council Bluffs police report. It's been 23 years ago, so we don't have specific details as far as specifically the date, and the details as far as what exactly, where she was last seen, who she was last seen by."It's not clear how long Tomich had been in the barrel, Danker said.Investigators are not saying how Tomich died, but said they are confident she was murdered. Danker said some names have been mentioned about who may be responsible for Tomich's death and investigators are checking out all leads.Anyone with information about Tomich or the case is asked to call a tip line at 877-414-1031 or 402-616-5065.Tomich's family still lives in the Omaha metro area. Danker said his investigators spoke with them on Wednesday morning, and said that this is an emotional time for them. Investigators said they explained their findings to the family and answered questions.Investigators said contact was made with both the Tomich family, into which Lois married, and her family, the Fraissinets."It's just tough," Denker said. "When you have a loved one that -- I mean, I'm sure there's closure, but it's final now. Their loved one has been determined that they are deceased."Attempts to reach the Tomich family by KETV NewsWatch 7 were unsuccessful. The Fraissinets were located at their home near Glenwood, and a reporter was told to leave the property.

 

 

20060516: One Woman Thinks Remains May Be Her Sister-In-Law IA Council Bluffs Serial Killer News

Karen Lenz is one of dozens of people who have stepped forward to ask Pottawattamie County investigators to find out whether a woman's body found in a barrel last week might be her sister-in-law.Mushroom hunters found the remains of a woman believed to have been murdered and sealed in a barrel years ago in Council Bluffs. Pottawattamie County officials said on Friday that the body was discovered Saturday, and tests were performed this week to learn more about the victim.Dozens of phone calls have poured into Pottawattamie County authorities since the discovery. Investigators haven't been able to pinpoint exactly when the woman died, opening the door for families looking for closure.

Karen Lenz said her 31-year-old sister-in-law, Barbara, disappeared 17 years ago.

"She had a little 3 year old. She's now 20," Lenz said.Lenz said her sister had been visiting her mother every day in the Missouri Valley Hospital as she struggled with pneumonia."Then she didn't show up for two days. She was very upset, mom was, and set us up to check on her," Lenz said.Barbara Lenz lived about 17 miles northeast of Missouri Valley in Woodbine. When her family checked on her apartment, they immediately became suspicious," Lenz said. "The coffee pot was on -- half full. The purse was there. The car was there. The keys were there. The laundry was half folded, half not."The woman was never found, and her family heard rumors she had been buried in a barrel. That made last week's discovery resonate for the Lenzes, but they've been in this position before."Every time they ask for dental records, hopes goes up, then diminish," Karen Lenz said.Pottawattamie County investigators said their No. 1 priority is to identify the woman, and hope to know more by week's end.

 

 

20060515: Pottawattamie County Works To Identify Body In Barrel IA Council Bluffs Serial Killer News

Dozens of phone calls have poured into Pottawattamie County authorities since the discovery of a body was found in a barrel was announced on Friday.Mushroom hunters found the remains of a woman believed to have been murdered and sealed in a barrel years ago in Council Bluffs. Pottawattamie County officials said on Friday that the body was discovered Saturday, and tests were performed this week to learn more about the victim.The woman was approximately 24 to 32 years old and about 5 feet 8 inches tall. She is believed to be Caucasian, but could have black ancestry. She had straight brown hair.

Wilber said the remains are not those of Tracy Tribble, who is missing and was last seen in her Council Bluffs home on May 3. They are also not the remains of missing Omaha 12-year-old Amber Harris. Wilber said the physical description also does not match that of missing Iowa anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit.

Many of the phone calls taken by authorities over the weekend came from the families of missing persons."A family loses a loved one, they never give up hope they never give up looking, if for no other reason than to get closure," said Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber. "Right now, we're trying to sift through the leads and figuring out which ones are potential good leads and which ones are hopeful."Wilber said the county wants a dental expert to take a look at the victim's teeth, and professionals will also try to reconstruct the woman's face to try to make identifying her easier."Our No. 1 priority is identifying our victim," Wilber said. "I know every time a family even hears a whisper of a story like this it puts a sick feeling in their stomach, because they're wondering could this be it."Wilber said one of the biggest difficulties authorities are having in narrowing the list of possible victims in this case. They're not sure exactly how long the remains have been sitting in the barrel."Our anthropologist couldn't give us a narrow range of times. We've got a lot of potential missing people our victim could be," Wilber said.Wilber said he's confident investigators will be able to identify the woman."If we make an ID, if nothing else, even if we can't prosecute the case, we can give one family some closure," Wilber said.

 

 

20060512: Remains Found In Barrel Near Council Bluffs IA Council Bluffs Serial Killer News

Mushroom hunters found the remains of a woman believed to be murdered and sealed in a barrel years ago in Council Bluffs.Pottawattamie County officials said on Friday that the body was discovered Saturday, and tests were performed this week to learn more about the victim."It's clear to us what we're dealing with is a homicide," said Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber.

A woman's skeletal remains were found north of Council Bluffs near the Pottawattamie County Jail. Some areas nearby are covered in water, while others have dried up. Wilber said it was in one of dry areas that mushroom hunters found the 55-gallon barrel with the remains inside.

"Our belief is that it was put there because it was at least, at that time, under water," Wilber said.Investigators wouldn't say how the woman died. They said she was inside the barrel for years, but aren't sure exactly how long."We've got a window of time from five years to 25 years. We've got a lot to sift through," Wilber said. "We really have two separate investigations going on. Obviously, we want to identify the body. Then, of course, we have a homicide we are dealing with."Investigators were able to recover a size 11 Lee Jeans tag from the victim's clothes. They're hoping manufacturers can give them a production date that could narrow down their search. Wilbur said the victim has extensive dental work, and he hopes a dental expert that could be very helpful in identifying her.The woman was approximately 24 to 32 years old and about 5 feet 8 inches tall. She is believed to be Caucasian, but could have black ancestry. She had straight brown hair.Wilber said the remains are not those of Tracy Tribble, who is missing and was last seen in her Council Bluffs home on May 3. They are also not the remains of missing Omaha 12-year-old Amber Harris. Wilber said the physical description also does not match that of missing Iowa anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit.

 

 

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 1995-2006 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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