“I’m going to make you feel better”
Richard Angelo worked the night shift (11pm-7am) as supervisor in the intensive-care unit at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip on Long Island in New York, beginning in April 1987.
Most of his patients were old and frail and had heart or breathing problems, so it was not unexpected that many would die suddenly. On 11 October 1987 two patients died. Another almost passed away but 73-year-old Gerolamo Kucich managed to push the assistance button after Angelo gave him an injection, having told him “I’m going to make you feel better.”
A nurse took a urine sample and had it analysed. The urine contained Pavulon and Anectine, neither of which had been prescribed for Mr Kucich. Angelo’s locker was searched on 13 November and police found a hypodermic syringe containing traces of Pavulon. When police arrived to arrest Angelo the next day he was not at home, but was attending a medical technicians’ conference at Albany. Hospital authorities found that there had been 37 Code Blue emergencies in a six-week period while Angelo was on duty and 25 patients died.
Angelo was arrested on 15 November. He was 26 years old, single, collected rocks and had been in the Boy Scouts and a volunteer fireman. He had a desire to be needed, to be thought of as heroic. He intended to bring his patients to near death before reviving them, when all would praise his skills. Unfortunately, on several occasions he misjudged the dosage.
Good Samaritan Hospital, 1000 Montauk Highway, West Islip, Long Island, New York, USA
Wednesday 16 September-Sunday 11 October 1987
Angelo confessed to his crimes. “I wanted to create a situation where I would cause the patient to have some respiratory distress or some problem, and through my intervention or suggested intervention or whatever, come out looking like I knew what I was doing. I had no confidence in myself. I felt very inadequate.”
Angelo was ultimately convicted of two counts of depraved indifference murder, one count of second-degree manslaughter, one count of criminally negligent homicide and six counts of assault and was sentenced to 61 years to life.