“I’m the Death Nurse”
Ex-beautician Genene Jones worked in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit of the Bexar County Medical Center Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Between May and December 1981 the children in the unit’s care began dying at an alarming rate. Twenty died from heart attacks or uncontrollable bleeding and at the time of their deaths they were all in the care of Genene Jones, a licensed vocational nurse, working the 3pm to 1 1pm shift.
She even joked, “They’re going to start thinking I’m the Death Nurse.” An inquiry comprising doctors from the USA and Canada was set up to look into the deaths and they spoke to all members of staff. They were surprised when one bluntly accused Genene Jones of killing the children. The inquiry’s conclusion was that the hospital should sack Jones and the nurse who had accused her. The hospital, fearful of a lawsuit, demurred but pressure was put on Jones to resign, which she did in March 1982.
On 15 August 1982 Jones found a job working in a paediatric clinic in Kerrville, Texas run by Dr Kathleen Holland. Under Jones’s care, several children fell ill with breathing difficulties. They all recovered and no one thought any more of the incident. On 17 September 14-month-old Chelsea McClellan was brought to the hospital by her parents for a routine injection against measles and mumps.
Genene Jones gave the baby an injection and she went into seizure almost immediately. Chelsea died of a heart attack on the way to San Antonio for emergency treatment. As Jones administered treatment to other children at Kerrville, several became ill although none died. On 28 September Dr Holland sacked Jones.
Finally, the medical authorities took notice and on 12 October convened a grand jury investigation. In February 1983 another grand jury was convened in San Antonio, to look into a total of 47 suspicious deaths at Bexar County Medical Center Hospital. On 25 May the grand jury returned indictments against 32-year-old Genene Jones and she was arrested and charged with murder after succinylcholine was found in Chelsea McClellan’s corpse.
San Antonio, Texas, USA
May 1981-September 1982
Awaiting trial, she said, “I always cry when babies die. You can almost explain away an adult death. When you look at an adult die, you can say they’ve had a full life. When a baby dies, they’ve been cheated.” Genene Jones went on trial for the murder of Chelsea McClellan on 15 January 1984. Found guilty on 15 February, she was sentenced to 99 years in prison. A second trial on 24 October for administering drugs to a child saw her receive another 60 years.
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Genene Jones was born on 13 July 1950 and immediately given up for adoption. Her adoptive father, Dick, was arrested in 1960 for theft of $1,500 and jewellery. He confessed but claimed it had been a practical joke and the charges were dropped. Genene Jones will be paroled in 2017.