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20070711: LA serial killer sentenced to death for 11 murders CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
A former pizza delivery man described as one of the most prolific serial killers in Los Angeles history after being convicted of 11 murders has been sentenced to death.

Chester Turner, 40, was found guilty at Los Angeles Superior Court in April after a four-week trial which heard how he preyed on women largely in the city's run-down South Central neighbourhood during an 11-year reign of terror.

Turner, who denied murder, was accused of killing 10 women as well as the unborn child of one of the victims who was pregnant at the time of her death.

At a hearing in Los Angeles, Turner was handed the death sentence for the 10 murders and handed a 15-years-to-life sentence for murder charges relating to the unborn baby.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Pounders dismissed a defense motion for a new trial, as well as a request to reduce the jury's recommendation in May of a death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

During the trial, prosecutor Bobby Grace said Turner was "perhaps the most prolific killer in the city of Los Angeles."

Turner was caught after being arrested for rape in Los Angeles' homeless district in 2002.

DNA from that case linked Turner to the murders, which were carried out between 1987 and 1998.

Prosecutors said two of Turner's victims, 27-year-old Regina Washington and 29-year-old Andrea Tripplett, were pregnant when murdered.

Turner was charged with murdering Ms Washington's six-and-a-half month old foetus in 1989, but was not charged with killing Ms Tripplett's unborn child.

Turner becomes one of Los Angeles' most notorious killers, joining the so-called "Freeway Killer" William Bonin, who was convicted of 14 murders and "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez who was found guilty of 13 slayings.

 

20070709: Jurors Asked To Imagine Being One Of Serial Killer’s Victims CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
Jurors deciding whether one of Los Angeles' most prolific serial killers should be put to death were asked Thursday to imagine being one of his victims.

Chester Turner, a 40-year-old Arkansas native and former pizza deliveryman, killed at least 10 transient women, two of whom were pregnant, prosecutors said.

He was convicted April 30 of 10 counts of first-degree murder, along with one count of second-degree murder of a fetus. The bodies of his victims were found between 1987 and 1998. He is suspected of killing a 12th woman, but was never charged in that case.

The six-man, six-woman Los Angeles Superior Court panel began deliberating Thursday afternoon on whether to recommend the death penalty. In closing arguments during the penalty phase of trial, Deputy District Attorney Truc Do walked the jurors through the last moments of Turner's victims.

"As she sees his face and looks into his eyes, do they reveal the terror he is about to inflict on her?" she asked.

In a poignant narrative that elicited sobs from family members in the courtroom, Do described how the 6-foot-2, 250-pound man would grab a victim, take her down a muddy walkway or dirt alley, force her down on her stomach, rip off her clothes and climb on top of her.

"She feels like it will never end," Do told jurors. "Is she crying? Is she screaming? Or is she silently holding her fear in, thinking, I will live through this?"

In graphic detail, Do described how Turner raped and strangled his victims.

"Can you imagine?" Do asked. "Those were the final moments of her life. Can you imagine dying like that?"

The gravity of his crimes warranted the death penalty, Do said.

"By taking those 12 lives in the cruel, evil and depraved manner that he did, he has forfeited his right to live in any society, even in prison society," she told jurors. "And the state of California is asking you to return the death penalty because it is simply the right thing to do in this case."

Anthony Robusto, who represents Turner, said life in prison is punishment enough.

"Life without the possibility of parole is exactly that," he said. "It is a severe punishment. He will die in prison and spend the rest of his days behind bars, socially banished. Period."

He appealed to jurors sensibilities, asking them to have "mercy for the merciless, pity for the pitiless."

"You can make the decision that he will die in prison on a day that God decides, not by you, not by a government official, not by the state," he said.

But Do said Turner crossed the line that divided evil and depravity from humanity, and that his "carnage and destruction" had left many victims in its wake, including family members torn apart, who lost mothers, daughters and sisters.

She said the defense offered no reason to spare his life, such as that he was mentally ill or a victim of child abuse, and that his situation was, in fact, a lot better than any of his victims, who were sleeping on the streets of Los Angeles.

Robusto said Turner did not have a normal upbringing, and that when he was 17, his mother threw him out of their home because he was using drugs. Showing a picture of Turner as a child, cradling his baby brother, Robusto said. "Something happened between then and now. Something happened."

He said killing Turner would never bring back his victims.

But Do asked, "If the death penalty is not appropriate for the city's most prolific killer, when will it ever be?"

"The punishment for Chester Turner has to fit his crime, it must be severe as his crimes," she said. "The carnage and destruction he has caused in this case is unprecedented in the city of Los Angeles."

 

20070516: Jury Says Serial Killer Should Die CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
A man described by prosecutors as the city's most prolific serial killer deserves the death penalty for the murders of 10 women and a fetus in the 1980s and 1990s, a jury said Tuesday.

A judge will consider the jury's recommendation and impose a sentence for Chester Turner at a July 10 hearing.

Turner, 40, was convicted last month of the serial killings and special circumstances of multiple murder and murder committed during rape.

During the penalty phase, jurors had only two choices: death or life in prison without parole.

The former pizza delivery man is already serving an eight-year prison sentence for the 2002 rape of a woman near downtown. His DNA in that case linked him to the serial killings, which spanned from 1987 to 1998.

Eight of the killings occurred close to where Turner lived in South Los Angeles, in neighborhoods ravaged by a crack cocaine epidemic and rife with prostitution.

One victim was found slumped over a portable toilet, another in front of a crack house. Two victims were killed downtown.

 

20070509: L.A. serial killer’s mother recounts son’s history CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
After half a dozen women had testified, it was another mother's turn Tuesday to tell how the most prolific serial killer in Los Angeles history had devastated her life.

"Are you the mother of Chester Turner?"

"Yes, I am," said Audrey Turner, who seemed confused and overwhelmed through 59 minutes of testimony in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

She was called to help spare her son's life, as jurors considered whether Turner should be executed for the murders of 10 women, mostly prostitutes, in South Los Angeles in the 1980s and '90s. He was also convicted of an 11th murder, that of the unborn fetus of one of the women.

Turner's mother offered no explanation for her son's behavior. Her responses to defense lawyer Anthony Robusto were mostly monosyllabic.

Asked outside court why jurors should spare her son from the death penalty, Audrey Turner said simply: "Because he's innocent."

Anyone trying to understand Turner's motivation for raping, strangling and killing the women left the courtroom without an answer.

Audrey Turner said her son was a poor student who dropped out of high school, was kicked out of her house for drug and alcohol abuse, then was taken in to recuperate after he had been shot. He was never abused as a child and had no mental problems while growing up, she said.

Turner's brother, Anthony Vick, 26, said his brother was "just like a dad," taking care of him when he was young in South-Central Los Angeles. Turner tracked Vick down one day when he had ditched school and told him to go back to class and "not to be like him," Vick testified.

Audrey Turner's testimony followed testimony from the mothers of six of Turner's victims, who spoke emotionally about their slain children.

Courtroom bailiffs gave Audrey Turner five minutes with her son before he was taken back to jail. Mother and son embraced and chatted. She lives in Utah and is raising Turner's four children. It was the first time they had been together in 10 years.

Turner is a savage predator fixated on violence, dominance and control, from which he derived sexual satisfaction, according to Deputy Dist. Atty. Bobby Grace. If sentenced to die, he will become the 665th person on California's death row. In the last 30 years, 13 have been executed and 12 committed suicide.

 

20070508: Victims’ Family Members Testify in Convicted Serial Killer’s Trial CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
A Los Angeles woman told jurors Monday that it's ``still almost unbelievable'' that her daughter and a longtime friend's daughter were murdered less than six years apart by the same man.

We never realized that our daughters were victims of the same (man),'' Jerri Johnson told the jury that is being asked to recommend whether 40-year- old Chester Turner should be sentenced to death for murdering her daughter and her friend's daughter, along with eight other women and the unborn baby of one of the victims.

Johnson testified that she consoled Mildred White when her daughter, Annette Ernest, was killed in October 1987, and that her friend was there to do the same when Johnson's daughter, Andrea Tripplett, was strangled in April 1993.
``Even now, it's still almost unbelievable,'' Johnson said of the two discovering that the same man was responsible for both of the killings. ``... We were able to cry together and talk together as we had done before.''
Johnson said she and White -- whom she met bowling 25 to 30 years ago -- had to become mothers again to raise the two children each of their daughters left behind.
She called the wait to learn the identity of her daughter's killer ``agonizing,'' saying she was often frightened that she might be looking at a murderer in her own neighborhood because her daughter was killed less than three blocks from home.
White, who preceded her friend on the stand, told the six-man, six-woman jury that her daughter's slaying was ``devastating.''
``I had lost my husband a few years before, but this is worse because a child comes out of you ...,'' White said.
Desarae Jones' niece, Tiviea Wade-Moore, said the long wait for justice motivated her to enroll in law school in an attempt to ``bring justice on the person who murdered my auntie.''
She said she was about 16 when she had to identify a photo of her aunt, whom she said ``played a very strong mentor role despite the problems she had'' with drugs.
Wade-Moore said her family has been ``deeply affected'' by her aunt's killing.
``It's still going to affect us until justice is served,'' she said.
Patricia Jones called her daughter's slaying ``something that you can't ever get over.''
Relatives of other victims said they, too, are still coping with the slayings.
``It's changed my life forever because my kids never had the opportunity to meet her,'' said Sheryl King, whose sister, Anita Fishman, was killed in January 1989.
Fishman's mother, Phyllis, said she misses her daughter to this day.
``I was sure she was going to get off the drugs, get married and have a normal life,'' the victim's mother said.
She told jurors that her daughter came to her in a dream in which she said that her killing was ``going to be taken care of.''
Dorothy Patterson testified that she had a ``very close relationship'' with her mother, Regina Washington, and knew that her mother loved her. She told jurors she has just realized ``that maybe I've been looking for that mother figure'' in her older friends.
``I just cry all the time. I think about her all the time, look at photos all the time,'' she said of her mother, who was 6 1/2 months pregnant when she was killed in September 1989. ``Now, I'll be glad where justice can be served.''
Tacora Leggett, whose mother Natalie Price was killed in February 1995, told jurors it was ``hard'' to grow up without her mother and wishes she was still alive to meet Leggett's 2-year-old son.
Chantell Jackson said that she and others called her aunt Mildred Beasley ``Cookie'' and that family members remain ``devastated'' by the November 1996 slaying.
``It just felt like a nightmare that was never over ... Everyone I saw, I suspected ...,'' Jackson said of the long wait before Turner's arrest.
Bobbie Williams, one of Beasley's sisters, told the panel that her sister had gotten the nickname Cookie ``because she was a sweetheart.''
``It's just mind-blowing to think that good people have to go first,'' Williams said, calling her sister her best friend.
The families of three other victims -- Diane Johnson, Paula Vance and Brenda Bries -- who were slain between March 1987 and April 1998 -- could not be located, Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace told jurors at the start of the trial's penalty phase last Wednesday.
Turner lived within 30 blocks of each of the killings -- with Bries found dead in the Skid Row area, just 50 yards from where Turner was living at the time, according to prosecutors.
The former pizza deliveryman was linked to the strangulations through DNA test results after being arrested and convicted of raping a woman on Skid Row in 2002.
The DNA test results linking Turner to the killings helped to free another man, David Allen Jones, a mentally disabled janitor who was convicted in three other slayings in which Turner is suspected but has not been charged.
During the first phase of Turner's trial, defense attorney Anthony Robusto argued that prosecutors had nothing other than DNA evidence against his client. He said then that authorities cannot prove if Turner was the last one to have a sexual encounter with the slain women, who were ``selling themselves as prostitutes'' to get cocaine or money for the drug.
Robusto told jurors that DNA can stay in a living person's body for up to five days and in a dead body for up to two weeks, and said the killer could have been someone else wearing a condom.
The jury being asked to recommend what punishment Turner should face convicted him on April 30 of 10 counts of first-degree murder, along with one count of second-degree murder of the fetus.
Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations that Turner committed multiple murders and that Vance was murdered during the commission of a rape -- an attack caught on a grainy black-and-white surveillance videotape in which the assailant's face cannot be seen.
The panel is due back in court today for more testimony, with closing arguments expected Wednesday in the trial's penalty phase.

 

20070508: Convicted Serial Killer’s Family Speaks Lovingly About Man CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
A man convicted of murdering 10 women and the unborn fetus of one of the victims was a loving father to his four children, his mother Tuesday told jurors considering whether to recommend a death sentence for her son -- one of the Southland's most prolific serial killers.

"Was he loving with his kids?" defense attorney Anthony Robusto asked Chester Turner's mother, Audrey.

"Yes, he was," Audrey Turner said of the now 40-year-old defendant.

When asked about his relationship with his two daughters and two sons, Audrey Turner responded, "They loved him. They (were) all over him."

She said her son's only contact with his children -- who now range in age from 12 to 15 or 16 -- is through letters, but she told jurors she is not sure if her grandchildren respond to their father.

As for his own childhood, Turner's mother described her son as a "typical boy" who would "get in a little trouble" but was generally good.

Audrey Turner told the downtown Los Angeles Superior Court jury that she split up with her husband shortly after her son's birth and later moved from Arkansas to California with friends.

Her son lived in Arkansas with his father for about a year during grade school, but didn't seem to have any contact with him after that time, she said.

The woman described herself as the sole source of financial support for the family during Turner's childhood, and said she got a second job cleaning buildings at night when her eldest son was about 15.

Audrey Turner testified that her son didn't do well in school, ended up dropping out of high school and worked for a time as a pizza deliveryman.

Turner was about 17 when she asked him to move out of the house after discovering that he was having friends over and that they were drinking and smoking illegal drugs, she testified.

"It was teaching him tough love," Audrey Turner said. "I told him if he couldn't abide by my rules he had to leave."

She told jurors she allowed him to return home after he was wounded in a shooting, and said he proved helpful around the house by doing tasks, including cooking and cleaning.

Turner's half-brother, Anthony Vick, also described his brother as "loving," saying that his older sibling was his primary caretaker for five or six months when their mother was relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah, for work reasons.

Turner was "just like a dad" when Vick returned to California for summer vacations, the defense's second witness told the downtown Los Angeles jury.

Vick credited his brother with keeping him out of trouble, and said Turner once found him at the park on a school day and told him he should be in school instead.

Turner's mother and brother were the only two witnesses called by the defense during the trial's penalty phase, in which jurors must recommend whether he should be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The six-man, six-woman panel -- which heard Monday from 10 of the victims' relatives about their losses -- is due back in court Thursday morning, when attorneys from both sides are scheduled to give closing arguments.

The jury convicted Turner on April 30 of 10 counts of first-degree murder, along with one count of second-degree murder of the fetus.

Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations that Turner committed multiple murders and that one of the victims, Paula Vance, was murdered on Feb. 3, 1998, during the commission of a rape -- an attack caught on a grainy black-and-white surveillance videotape in which the assailant's face cannot be seen.

Along with Vance's killing, Turner was convicted of murdering:

# Diane Johnson, 21, who was found face down and partially nude near the Harbor (110) Freeway on March 9, 1987
# Annette Ernest, 26, whose partially nude body was found face down on Oct. 29, 1987, west of the Harbor Freeway
# Anita Fishman, 31, whose badly decomposed body was found on Jan. 20, 1989, by some children playing in a nearby alley
# Regina Washington, 27, who was 6 1/2 months pregnant when she was killed in September 1989 in the back of a vacant residence
# Desarae Jones, 29, whose body was found on May 16, 1993, at the side of a vacant dwelling
# Natalie Price, 31, whose body was found outside a home on Feb. 12, 1995
# Mildred Beasley, 45, whose body was found in a field area on Nov. 6, 1996
# Andrea Tripplett, 29, who was strangled in April 1993
# Brenda Bries, 37, who was found dead in the Skid Row area on April 6, 1998

Turner lived within 30 blocks of each of the killings -- with Bries' body discovered just 50 yards from where Turner was living at the time, according to prosecutors.

Turner was linked to the strangulations through DNA test results after being arrested and convicted of raping a woman on Skid Row in 2002.

The DNA test results linking Turner to the killings helped to free another man, David Allen Jones, a mentally disabled janitor who was convicted in three other slayings in which Turner is suspected but has not been charged.

He also is suspected -- but not charged -- in another woman's slaying, Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace told jurors last month as the trial's penalty phase began.

During the trial's guilt phase, defense attorney Anthony Robusto argued that prosecutors had nothing other than DNA evidence against his client. He said then that authorities cannot prove if Turner was the last one to have a sexual encounter with the slain women, who were "selling themselves as prostitutes" to get cocaine or money for the drug.

Robusto told jurors that DNA can stay in a living person's body for up to five days and in a dead body for up to two weeks, and said the killer could have been someone else wearing a condom.

 

20070502: Prosecutors Introduce Photo Of Possible 12th Victim Of Serial Killer CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
Prosecutors introduced photos Wednesday of a possible 12th victim believed to have died at the hands of the region's most prolific serial killer as jurors began the task of deciding whether to recommend that he be condemned to death.

The six-man, six-woman Los Angeles Superior Court jury convicted 40-year-old Chester Turner on Monday of murdering 10 women and the fetus of one of the victims.

But during opening statements Wednesday in the penalty phase of Turner's trial, Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace promised the prosecution would "show additional evidence" against the former pizza deliveryman considered the worst serial killer in Los Angeles history.

The new evidence presented for jurors Wednesday came in the form of photos displaying the bloodied, battered body of Elandra Joyce Bunn, a 33-year-old mother whose partially nude body was found in the alleyway behind South Figueroa Street near 87th Street. Although Turner was not charged with her slaying, Grace said blood on a tissue found near the crime scene matched the defendant's DNA.

She had been "strangled, sexually assaulted and discarded in the alleyway," Grace said, "another victim caught in the powerful grip of Chester Turner, one more woman who was an example of Chester Turner's brutality."

Relatives and friends of Bunn packed the courtroom, some shielding their eyes as the grisly photos of her body were displayed.

"This is Elandra Bunn in life, this is Elandra Bunn in death," Grace said, as photos of her body laying in an area of brush -- her pants crumpled at her feet and still wearing the tatters of a torn teal shirt -- flashed in the courtroom.

The gruesome photos were later replaced by one showing a close-up of her smiling face.

"They say that one murder is a tragedy but anything more than that is just statistics," Grace told the jury. "Sometimes when there are a number of people that have been murdered ... we get lost in the enormity of the numbers. The names and the faces of the dead disappear.

"Well, we have seven families that want to tell you that their loved ones were somebody, that they were wives, that they were mothers, that they were sisters and that they were friends. They will tell you these women, these victims, are not statistics, but living, breathing people that died at the hands of Chester Turner.

Defense attorneys waived their opening statements, although they had previously argued that prosecutors had nothing other than DNA evidence against their client.

Turner was convicted of 10 counts of first-degree murder for the strangulation deaths of 10 women -- two of whom were pregnant at the time. He was also convicted of one count of second-degree murder of a fetus. Turner was not charged with the death of the other fetus because under law, a 5 1/2-month-old fetus is not considered viable.

The families of three of the victims could not be located, Grace said, explaining why only seven families would be present for the penalty phase of Turner's trial.

Turner's "thirst for dominance, violence and control" unleashed a murderous rampage that spanned an 11-year period between 1987 and 1998, according to Grace.

"These families have waited, you know the length of their wait, they've waited to bear witness to the lives of these women," Grace said. "They'll tell you their stories. You will hear seven times about how these families got that fateful call to tell them that their loved ones had been murdered. You will hear seven times how the murder of these women have echoed through the lives of their society, family and friends."

One witness, Carla Whitfield, 32, recalled how Turner grabbed her crotch on Oct. 22, 1996, and tried to drag her into an alley as she walked near 7th and Spring shortly after midnight. Asked if she could identify anyone in the courtroom as her assailant, she described the defendant's clothing but appeared too nervous to point directly at him.

Bunns sister, Sheree Jackson, who also testified, said she last saw her alive at a weekend family gathering in June 1987. Bunn, who had suffered from a "pretty intense" cocaine addiction for years, would disappear, often for weeks at a time, Jackson said. Her sister, who was set to begin drug treatment that Monday, instead turned up dead.

Alvin McThomas testified he was 11 years old when he found Bunn's body as he walked to school with friends in the alleyway on June 5, 1987. With a graphic image of Bunn's partially nude body overlooking him, he looked visibly uncomfortable as he described how he ran to tell his uncle, who called police.

Former LAPD officer Scott Lemons and his partner were the first to arrive at the scene around 7:44 a.m. that day. He testified that he was there to protect the crime scene, but under questioning by the defense attorney, testified that he could not account for what might have happened to the body prior to his arrival.

"Is that a good area or bad area at the time of 1987?" Defense Attorney John Tyre asked Lemons.

"The area was frequented by some gangster types who were not good citizens," Lemons answered.

Turner was linked to the strangulations through DNA test results after being arrested and convicted of raping a woman on Skid Row in 2002.

Turner lived within 30 blocks of each of the killings -- with 37-year-old Brenda Bries found dead in the Skid Row area on April 6, 1998, just 50 yards from where Turner was living, according to prosecutors.

urner was also convicted of murdering:

# Diane Johnson, 21, found face down and partially nude near the Harbor (110) Freeway.
# Annette Ernest, 26, whose partially nude body was found face down on Oct. 29, 1987, west of the Harbor Freeway.
# Anita Fishman, 31, whose badly decomposed body was found on Jan. 20, 1989, by some children playing in a nearby alley.
# Desarae Jones, 29, whose body was found on May 16, 1993, at the side of a vacant dwelling.
# Natalie Price, 31, whose body was found outside a home on Feb. 12, 1995.
# Mildred Beasley, 45, whose body was found in a field area on Nov. 6, 1996.

Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations that Turner committed multiple murders between 1987 and 1998 and that Vance was murdered during the commission of a rape -- a February 1998 attack caught on a grainy black-and-white surveillance videotape in which the assailant's face cannot be seen.

The special circumstances make Turner eligible for the death penalty.

 

20070501: Los Angeles serial killer guilty of 11 murders CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
A former pizza delivery man was found guilty of murdering 10 women and one of his victims' unborn babies on Monday, confirming him as one of the worst serial killers in Los Angeles history.

Chester Turner, 40, was convicted at Los Angeles Superior Court after a four-week trial which heard how he preyed on women largely in the city's rundown South Central neighborhood during an 11-year reign of terror.

Prosecutor Bobby Grace said in opening statements Turner was "perhaps the most prolific killer in the city of Los Angeles."

Turner, who denied 11 counts of murder, was caught after being arrested for rape in Los Angeles' homeless district in 2002.

DNA from that case linked Turner to the murders, which were carried out between 1987 and 1998.

"Case after case after case comes back to Chester Turner," the prosecutor said, referring to the DNA evidence.

The prosecutor showed jurors photos of the victims alive and dead, noting that all of them had been strangled.

"These are the victims of a killer," Grace said. "Time has passed, and we've waited for the name of that killer to emerge. Today, we can say the name of that killer -- Chester Turner."

Prosecutors said two of Turner's victims -- 27-year-old Regina Washington and 29-year-old Andrea Tripplett -- were heavily pregnant when murdered.

Turner was charged with murdering Washington's six-and-a-half month old fetus in 1989 but was not charged with killing Tripplett's unborn child during a 1993 attack.

Turner faces the death penalty. The penalty phase of the trial will begin on Wednesday.

Turner also becomes one of Los Angeles' most notorious killers, joining the so-called "Freeway Killer" William Bonin, who was convicted of 14 murders and "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez who was found guilty of 13.

 

20070501: Jury deliberation continues in serial killer case CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
An L-A Superior Court jury returns today for its third day of deliberations in the trial of a convicted rapist accused of murdering ten women and the unborn baby of one victim.
Prosecutors told the jury in closing arguments last week that Chester Turner's guilt had been established "well beyond a reasonable doubt."

But defense attorneys said the murder victims were prostitutes and that D-N-A evidence showing that Turner had sex with each of them doesn't necessarily prove his guilt.

Prosecutors say Turner was finally caught after he was arrested in 2002 for raping a woman in L-A's Skid Row.

Turner faces the death penalty if convicted of the 11 murders between 1987 and 1998 and the special circumstances of multiple murder and murder committed during rape.

 

20070425: Jury Begins Deliberations In Accused Serial Killer’s Case CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
A jury began deliberations Wednesday at the trial of a convicted rapist accused of murdering 10 women and one victim's fetus.

In closing arguments Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Truc Do said Chester Turner's guilt had been established "well beyond a reasonable doubt."
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But defense attorney Anthony Robusto countered that prosecutors have nothing other than DNA evidence against his client and cannot prove if he was the last one to have a sexual encounter with the slain women, who were "selling themselves as prostitutes" to get cocaine or money for cocaine.

The six-man, six-woman jury got the case Wednesday morning after receiving instructions from Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William R. Pounders.

Turner could face the death penalty if convicted of the 11 murders between 1987 and 1998 and the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders.

Turner is also accused of the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a rape in connection with the slaying of 38-year-old Paula Vance, who was killed on Feb. 3, 1998, at 630 W. Sixth St. in downtown Los Angeles. That attack was caught on a grainy black-and-white surveillance videotape, though the assailant's face cannot be seen.

"There is only one man who has repeatedly left his semen in each and every one of these victims and that man is Chester Turner," Do told the jury in her closing argument.

"The evidence in this case is well beyond a reasonable doubt that we have a serial sexual killer in this courtroom," the prosecutor told the downtown Los Angeles jury.

"He left these women in places where there was no dignity," Do said, noting that one victim was left with her head slumped over a portable toilet, another left in the walkway of a crack house and another down a freeway embankment.

The prosecutor called the victims "troubled souls" who were vulnerable as they tried to escape life "with the high of cocaine, but fought for their lives in their final moments."

Turner was linked to the strangulations through DNA test results after being arrested and convicted of raping a woman on Skid Row in 2002, authorities said.

Turner lived within 30 blocks of each of the killings. Brenda Bries, 37, was found dead in the Skid Row area on April 6, 1998, just 50 yards from where Turner was living, according to the prosecutor.

Eight of the killings occurred in South Los Angeles when Turner was living in that area, Do told jurors, noting that a predator "hunts for their prey in their own territory."

Turner's attorney said no one on the defense team was trying to suggest that the victims "had it coming to them," but added that it was important to take their lifestyles into account when considering the charges.

"They have no evidence other than the DNA evidence," Robusto said. "They want you to leap to the next step, and the next step is that he raped and killed them. DNA evidence equals rape and murder. That's what they want you to believe."

Robusto told jurors that DNA can stay in a living person's body for up to five days and in a dead body for up to two weeks, and said the killer could have been someone else wearing a condom.

"Was there any evidence that he was at any of the crime scenes?" the defense lawyer asked jurors. "They want you to automatically infer it because his DNA's there."

The woman Turner was convicted of raping in 2002 was not killed, Turner's lawyers noted, and that attack occurred about four years after the last killing.

In his rebuttal, Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace said that "there were breaks in Chester Turner's carnage" and added that Turner "purposely sought out women who had a drug abuse problem" and who could be lured by cocaine.

"The only constant in all this is Chester Turner. He's the one that comes up every time," Grace said.

One victim, 27-year-old Regina Washington, was 6 1/2 months pregnant when she was strangled with an electrical cord in September 1989 in the back of a vacant residence. Her fetus is listed as one of the murder victims.

Another woman, 29-year-old Andrea Tripplett, was 5 1/2 months pregnant when she was strangled in April 1993. Turner is not charged with killing Tripplett's fetus because under the law at the time, a 5 1/2-month-old fetus was not considered viable.

The Arkansas-born man also is charged with murdering:

# Diane Johnson, 21, found face down and partially nude near the Harbor (110) Freeway.
# Annette Ernest, 26, whose partially nude body was found face down on Oct. 29, 1987, west of the Harbor Freeway.
# Anita Fishman, 31, whose badly decomposed body was found on Jan. 20, 1989, by some children playing in a nearby alley.
# Desarae Jones, 29, whose body was found on May 16, 1993, at the side of a vacant dwelling.
# Natalie Price, 31, whose body was found outside a home on Feb. 12, 1995.
# Mildred Beasley, 45, whose body was found in a field area on Nov. 6, 1996.

The DNA test results linking Turner to the killings helped to free another man, David Allen Jones, a mentally disabled janitor who was convicted in three other slayings in which Turner is suspected but has not been charged.

The Los Angeles City Council approved a $720,000 settlement last October for Jones.

 

20070424: Closing Arguments Begin In LA Trial Of Accused Serial Killer CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
Closing arguments were scheduled Tuesday in the trial of Chester D. Turner, a convicted rapist charged with murdering 10 women and a fetus in Los Angeles between 1987 and 1998.

According to NBC4's Natasha Ghoneim, police described Turner as a drug dealer with prostitute customers who paid with sex.

Prosecutors said for years, Turner remained free, until DNA evidence tied him to the murders in 2003. At that time, according to Ghoneim, the 40-year-old Turner was serving time for rape.

DNA taken from him for the rape case matched a previous unsolved murder and that is how prosecutors say the serial killer case developed against Turner.

The former pizza delivery man is accused of killing 10 women in Los Angeles between 1987 and 1998.

Two of the victims were pregnant, according to Ghoneim.

The women's half naked bodies were discovered on roads and behind vacant buildings in about a four-block radius.

One of the women was 27-year-old Regina Washington. Her body was found in a garage in 1989. She was six months pregnant with a girl, NBC4 reported.

Washington also had an 11-year-old daughter at the time of her death. That daughter attended part of the trial and she spoke with NBC4 just after seeing photographs of her mother's strangled body.

"It took a lot out of me. But I'm glad that justice will be served," said Johnna Edwards, the victim's daugher.

 

20070405: LA trial begins for alleged serial killer CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
The trial of an accused serial killer has begun in Los Angeles, with prosecutors presenting photos of Chester Dewayne Turner's 11 alleged victims.

Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace said Tuesday the prosecution would prove that the 39-year-old was behind the killings in the 1980s and '90s, the Los Angeles Times said.

These are the victims of a killer, Grace said. Today we can say the name of that killer -- Chester Turner.

The prosecution said it has DNA evidence linking Turner to the crimes. The defense is expected to argue that the evidence circumstantial, resulting from Turner's role as a dealer who supplied drugs to some of the victims -- several of whom have been identified as prostitutes or cocaine users.

 

20070404: Trial of alleged LA serial killer begins CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News
A former pizza delivery man accused of being one of the worst serial killers in Los Angeles history went on trial today accused of murdering 10 women and one of his victims' unborn babies.

Chester Turner, 40, appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court as prosecutors told jurors how he had allegedly murdered each of his victims during an 11-year reign of terror.

Prosecutor Bobby Grace said in his opening statement Turner was "perhaps the most prolific killer in the city of Los Angeles".

Turner, who has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of murder, was caught after being arrested for rape in Los Angeles' homeless district in 2002.

DNA from that case linked Turner to the murders, which were carried out between 1987 and 1998.

"Case after case after case comes back to Chester Turner,'' the prosecutor said, referring to the DNA evidence.

The prosecutor showed jurors photos of the victims alive and dead, noting that all of them had been strangled.

"These are the victims of a killer,'' Mr Grace said.

"Time has passed, and we've waited for the name of that killer to emerge. Today, we can say the name of that killer - Chester Turner.''

Prosecutors said two of Turner's victims - 27-year-old Regina Washington and 29-year-old Andrea Tripplett - were heavily pregnant when murdered.

Turner has been charged with murdering Washington's six-month-old fetus in 1989 but has not been charged with killing Tripplett's unborn child during a 1993 attack.

Turner faces the death penalty if convicted.

He will also become one of Los Angeles' most notorious killers, joining the so-called Freeway Killer William Bonin, who was convicted of 14 murders and Night Stalker Richard Ramirez, 13.

 

20051103: LA pizza man serial killer police say CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News

A onetime pizza delivery man who police say is the most prolific serial killer in Los Angeles history has been ordered to stand trial for strangling 10 women.

Chester Dewayne Turner, who is already serving an eight-year sentence for rape, was linked to 10 murders committed between 1987 to 1998 through DNA evidence obtained from sperm found on the bodies.

After a two-day preliminary hearing, Superior Court Judge William Pounders found that there was enough evidence to try Turner, 38, for the 10 murders and set his arraignment for November 15.

Prosecutors may seek the death penalty in the case.

Turner's attorney, John Tyre, told reporters after the preliminary hearing that the DNA evidence did not prove his client murdered the women, most of whom were prostitutes killed in or near downtown Los Angeles.

"If it is his DNA, then it indicates he had sex with these women sometime prior to them dying," Tyre said.

Turner was identified as a suspect in the killing spree after his 2002 rape conviction, which was unrelated to the current case but required him to submit a DNA sample.

The bodies of the 10 women, who ranged in age from 21 to 45, were all found partially nude and strangled. Two of the women were pregnant when they were killed.

Prosecutors said they were investigating Turner in at least two other murders for which another man, David Allen Jones, was convicted. Jones was freed from prison in March 2004 after evidence surfaced linking Turner to those crimes.

Los Angeles police said in a statement that whoever killed the 10 women was "the most prolific serial killer ever identified in the city of Los Angeles."

 

20051101: Suspected Serial Killer Ordered to Stand Trial CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News

A judge today ordered Chester D. Turner to stand trial for the murders of ten women, crimes which if proven could make him one of Los Angeles' most prolific serial killers.

Wrapping up a two day preliminary hearing, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William R. Pounders ruled that prosecutors presented enough evidence to order Turner to trial.

DNA tests from the victims match Turner's DNA, police said.

At one point, police described a videotape from a surveillance camera that showed the rape and strangulation of 31-year old Paula Vance in 1998. DNA linked Turner to Vance's killing police alleged.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Alan Jackson called officers who responded to each of the 10 homicides, which occurred between 1987 and 1998. All of the victims were raped and strangled.

In addition to Vance, Turner is accused of killing Annette Ernest, 26; Anita Fishman, 31; Regina Washington, 27; Mildred Beasley, 45; Andrea Tripplett, 29; Desarae Jones, 29; Natalie Price, 31; Brenda Bries, 31; and one unidentified woman who appeared to be in her 20s.

The onetime pizza-delivery man and cook was serving time in state prison for rape when he was charged with new crimes. Prosecutors said they have not decided whether to seek the death penalty.

The defense is expected to attack the LAPD's handling and storage of DNA evidence.

The crimes of which Turner is accused took place mostly in a 30-block stretch of motels and apartments along the Figueroa Street corridor next to the Harbor Freeway, an area notorious for prostitution, drug crime and violence.

 

20051031: Court Views Chilling Video of Serial Killer in Action CA Los Angeles Serial Killer News

A detective this morning recounted how he found a security camera that shot the only known footage of one of Los Angeles' worst serial killers.

The grainy, chilling video shows a "husky muscular man" forcing a woman onto the ground, raping and strangling her, Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Mark Pampano testified in court today.

Pampano was one of 10 police officers to testify today during a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court about finding some of the dozen victims allegedly killed in South Los Angeles between 1987 and 1998 by Chester D. Turner.

Turner, 38, was in state prison for a rape conviction when he pleaded not guilty to charges in 10 of the 12 strangulation killings. Prosecutors say they have not decided whether to seek the death penalty.

Turner is accused of killing Paula Vance, 31, whose body Pampano described; Annette Ernest, 26; Anita Fishman, 31; Regina Washington, 27; Mildred Beasley, 45; Andrea Tripplett, 29; Desarae Jones, 29; Natalie Price, 31; Brenda Bries, 31; and, one unidentified woman who appeared to be in her 20s.

Police said he may have been involved in as many as 20 homicides, but there is no DNA evidence to link him to that many.

Vance died of asphyxiation in 1998, when investigators did not realize they were looking for a serial killer. One man was wrongly convicted of three of the murders now attributed by DNA evidence to Turner, and released last year.

The killings occurred over 11 years, when Turner moved often, bouncing between prison, skid row missions, girlfriends' apartments and the home of his mother and grandfather. He was in and out of prison for years on various convictions, including theft and drug possession.

For more than a decade, Turner escaped notice amid the largest crime wave in city history, when killings, concentrated primarily in South Los Angeles, sometimes topped 1,000 a year.

The crimes Turner is accused of took place mostly in a 30-block stretch of motels and apartments along the Figueroa corridor next to the Harbor Freeway, an area still notorious for prostitution, drug crime and violence. Police have said they believe there were several other serial killers operating in the South L.A. area frequented by Turner.

If convicted, Turner would rival some of the worst killers in the city's history. "Skid Row Slayer" Michael Player was convicted of killing 10 transients in downtown Los Angeles in 1986. Douglas Clark, called the "Sunset Strip Killer," is suspected of killing 25; he was convicted of six 1980 killings.

Turner's defense is expected to focus on the difficulties of properly maintaining the evidence used for DNA testing that implicated Turner.

 

20041223: L.A. serial killer suspect pleads not guilty LA Serial Killer News
A man who police say may be the worst serial killer in Los Angeles history pleaded not guilty to charges that he murdered 10 women between 1987 and 1998. Chester Turner, 38, could receive the death penalty if convicted, because some of the murders involved the special circumstance of rape and because he is accused of committing multiple murders. He was already serving an eight-year sentence for a 2002 rape conviction when detectives matched his DNA to some of the killings.. .
 

20041027: Pizza deliveryman a serial killer, police say LA Serial Killer News
A former pizza deliveryman now serving a prison term for rape was charged Thursday with murdering 10 women whose deaths were allegedly linked to him through DNA evidence...Police call Chester D. Turner, 37, the city’s most prolific killer. They allege Turner accosted most of his victims in South Los Angeles, raped and strangled them, then dumped their bodies...Turner is expected to be arraigned tomorrow or Friday, said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office. ..The 10 women were killed between 1987 and 1998, authorities said. Their slayings remained unsolved until the police department’s cold case homicide unit began looking into them...In 2002, Turner agreed to submit a DNA sample as part of a no-contest plea to the rape charge, and it was placed in law enforcement databases. A detective allegedly found that it matched evidence found in two murders and began looking for more...Turner is serving an eight-year sentence at a state prison near Stockton. ..Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty in the murders, the district attorney’s office said. ..
 

20041025: Suspect in 22 Slayings of Women Was Frequently in Prison for So-Called 'Non-Violent' Crimes CA San Diego Serial Killer News
A serial felon currently in prison for.rape will soon be arrested in 12 Los Angeles killings to which he is linked by.DNA evidence, and is a suspect in 10 other killings, according to the front.page of Saturday's L.A. Times...ThrowAwayTheKey.org, a national advocacy group that works on behalf of.past and future victims of crime, says Chester Dwayne Turner's alleged rape.and killing spree shows why Proposition 66 would lead to more crime victims.across California...According to the L.A. Times, Turner "has been in and out of prison for.years on various convictions, including theft and drug possession ... Until.the 2002 rape conviction, his criminal record was not a violent one,.consisting mostly of theft and drug-possession convictions and parole.violations. Turner returned to prison seven times after his first felony.conviction for car theft in 1995 ... Several of the murders in which he is.suspected occurred within a few weeks of his being paroled after serving.partial sentences.".."Prop. 66 would stop counting just the type of allegedly 'non-violent'.crimes that Turner was convicted of during his alleged killing spree," said.Michael Paranzino, president of ThrowAwayTheKey.org, from San Diego. "If.anything, this shows that California law is still too weak. After all, this.alleged serial killer is currently set to be released in just 6 years."..Prop. 66 would weaken the state's 'three-strikes' regime that has.dramatically cut the number of crime victims across California. The measure,.funded primarily by a few wealthy men, would create more than 17,000 new.middle-class crime victims over the next 3 years, many of them women and.children..."Rich white men living in gated communities will be just fine if Prop. 66.passes," Paranzino continued. "Studies show it is California's middle and.working-class folks, like the women of color allegedly killed by Turner, who.will be victimized by the 26,000 dangerous felons who will be released under.Prop. 66..."Let's be clear: If Prop. 66 passes, additional women will be raped and.additional children will be molested across California. We just don't know.the victims' names yet."
 

20041025: DNA link traps prolific serial killer, police claim LA Serial Killer News
When Mildred White's 26-year-old daughter, Annette Ernest, was found strangled by the side of a road in South Los Angeles in 1987, she turned to her friend Jerri Johnson for comfort...When Ms Johnson's 29-year-old daughter, Andrea Tripplett, was found strangled behind an empty building in 1993, Ms White was there for her...That friendship cemented by tragic loss took an amazing turn on Saturday when Los Angeles Police Department detectives announced that newly analysed DNA evidence has convinced them that the same man - Chester Dewayne Turner - killed both young women during an 11-year spree of killings and sexual assaults..."I remember comforting her way back then," Ms Johnson recalled. "Later, she was comforting me, never knowing there was any connection between the two."..At a press conference, led by police chief William Bratton and attended by both mothers, detectives said they believe Turner killed at least 13 women in the South Los Angeles area, making him the most prolific serial killer in the city's history...Turner, 37, is serving eight years in Northern California for rape, one of numerous convictions dating back to 1995...Police said DNA evidence links him to deaths as far back as March 9, 1987, when they allege he killed 21-year-old Diane Johnson...Her body was found partially clothed with strangulation marks, a hallmark of the murders that persisted until the April 6, 1998, murder of 37-year-old Brenda Bries, strangled in a portable toilet in South Los Angeles...Police say Turner, a former pizza deliveryman, maintains his innocence in the killings...Detectives Cliff Shepard and Jose Ramirez, of the Robbery Homicide Division's cold case unit, began investigating the case in 2001, building it steadily after they said they found the first DNA link between the sexual assault and killing of 38-year-old Paula Vance on February 3, 1998, and the March 2002 rape that landed Turner in prison...Although they kept checking in with Shepard and Ramirez, neither Ms White nor Ms Johnson had a clue that the same man was alleged to have killed their daughters..."Mrs Johnson called me and said the detectives had tracked someone down," Ms White said. "Do you believe the same guy killed her daughter and my daughter? I'm astonished. I'm going to shake myself to see if it's really true.".."I can exhale half way, but I can't do it all the way," Ms Johnson said. "I know these trials take time, but knowing he won't be on the streets any more really is a relief. When he's convicted, then I'll be able to breathe again."..Detectives will present their evidence to district attorneys this week. They believe it will result in 10 murder charges...
 

20041023: LA police to charge serial killer LA Serial Killer News
Los Angeles officials are expected to charge a prison convict next week with the murders of a dozen women in South Los Angeles during the 1980s and 1990s. .. .The Los Angeles Times said Saturday that DNA tests had linked Chester Turner with the rapes and murders that occurred in South-Central Los Angeles and would place Turner among the most prolific of L.A.'s many serial murderers...Police told the Times the killings primarily involved women who were by and large homeless and involved in drugs and prostitution...The victims were killed between 1987 and 1998 and were sexually assaulted and strangled...Turner himself was frequently homeless in between various stretches in prison for mainly non-violent offenses. Another man had been convicted of three of the killings, but was freed from prison nine years later after DNA tests cleared him..
 

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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