Some cases get as far as arrest, indictment, and even a trial, without being resolved. In Columbia, Missouri, according to Associated Press reports, Richard Williams was indicted in 2002 for killing 10 patients 10 years earlier. He is a former veteran's hospital nurse and was charged with administering the paralyzing drug, succinlycholine, a derivative of curare, killing nine men and one woman in his care. Their ages ranged from 58 to 85. The charges were made possible by new technology that detects the drug in people's tissues in a way that was previously impossible. The prosecutors also had over one hundred witnesses. But then charges were dismissed when problems with the test arose. Williams, who had maintained his innocence despite almost two dozen deaths during his shift being classified as "moderately suspicious," was surprised but pleased. Nearly on trial for his life, he was suddenly a free man.
Thanks to new medical testing technology, prosecutors thought they solved a decade-old string of mysterious deaths at a Missouri nursing home when they charged former nurse Richard Williams with 10 counts of first-degree murder in 2002.
The tests found that 10 people who died at the Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital in Columbia, Mo., between March and July of 1992, had been given the powerful muscle relaxant succinycholine, which stops breathing, shortly before their deaths.
An investigation by the FBI and the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Veterans Affairs determined that 41 people died on Ward 4E between May and August 1992 while Williams was on duty. Investigators concluded patients were 20 times more likely to die while Williams was working than while 11 other nurses were on duty.
However, the charges were dropped in August 2003 after newer science called the succinycholine results into question. Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane dismissed the charges because subsequent tests by the FBI and National Medical Services found the unexplained presence of the residue in control samples of tissue meant to provide a standard for comparison.
"I think as far as I'm concerned, it's the end of it, due to my innocence," Williams, now 37, told the Columbia Daily Tribune upon his sudden release from prison.