Genene Jones was convicted in 1984 for killing one child and suspected of poisoning up to 60 more infants. Under a state law to reduce overcrowding in prisons, the former Texas nurse was slated for automatic release next year.
District Attorney Nico La Hood calls Jones, “pure evil” and says, “justice warrants that she be held accountable for the crimes she committed.” There is no statute of limitations for murder. So to prevent Jones’ release a task force was created to look into some of the murders that did not go to trial. Prosecutors are hoping for a fresh conviction which would prevent the automatic parole.
The new charges involve a 2 year old named Rosemary Vega who died in 1981. The Baxter County Prosecutor announced Jones was indicted this week by a grand jury following a separate indictment last month for the death of 11 month old Joshua Sawyer, also in 1981. “Our Office will attempt to account for every child whose life was stolen by the actions of Jones. Our only focus is justice.” Bond of one million dollars was recommended by the grand jury to keep her solidly behind bars as the new trial works its way through the court system. Before the deadline for her compulsory release, Jones will be moved back to Bexar County to stand trial.
During the 1970’s Jones worked as a licensed vocational nurse at various pediatric clinics. In 1982, she was convicted of killing Chelsea McClellan, a 15 month old baby. The same case charged her for the attempted murder of 18 month old Rolando Jones. Evidence was presented that both infants had been injected with Dilantin, which is an anti-seizure drug. Some believe that Stephen King’s “Misery” was based on her story.
In her earlier trial, evidence was shown that six children had seizures for no apparent reason while under Jones’ care. According to investigators, she wanted the babies to “suffer distress” so she could save them and appear a hero. Even though there was an unusually high number of deaths at the places Jones worked, additional charges were not filed at the time. She denied doing anything wrong but the jury didn’t believe her.
One October morning in 1981, Pat Belko, head nurse of San Antonio’s Bexar County Hospital pediatric ICU, was given someOne of the facilities RN’s walked into her office at the end of a night shift to tell her many of the ICU’s babies were dying. Of things that should not be fatal. On one shift. Under the care of one nurse, Genene Jones.
Belko had heard the rumors but rather than look into it, scolded the staff for vicious gossip. The RN, Suzanna Maldonado did look into it. When she saw the numbers, she told her boss the ICU’s “census book,” which lists the patients and charts their condition while there, “looks bad.” After checking the log herself, Belko conferred with the unit’s medical director, Dr. James L. Robotham. Together, they agreed an investigation was totally necessary.
Bexar County Hospital started an internal investigation to see if one of their nurses might be killing kids but nothing was done to prevent more from dying. Babies who had been stable stopped breathing suddenly, irregular heartbeat, seizures and other strange problems continued, always on the same shift. The unusual occurrences would happen only when Jones was on duty. Employees began calling it the Death Shift and still nothing was done.
When the investigation report came back two months later, it indicated 10 of the ICU’s patients had died following “sudden and unexplained” complications. Jones was hands on with all 10 at the time they died. The first death that investigators found unusual was Christopher James Hogeda. A very sick 15 month old, he had been in the hospital almost six months with “a severe congenital heart defect, pneumonia, and diarrhea.” He then developed hepatitis causing infection to spread through his system. He died of a cardiac arrest after developing irregular heartbeat. Nine more babies would die in 1981 in Jones’ care.
The report concluded “This association of Nurse Jones with the deaths of the ten children could be coincidental. However, negligence or wrongdoing cannot be excluded.”
By the time the report was finished, Jones was already gone. Without solid convincing proof, the hospital was afraid to fire her, fearing a lawsuit. They also were afraid to tell police or other officials. Instead, they made it a policy to require RN degrees for all nurses which excluded Jones who only held an LVN. As soon as she was gone, the “unexplained events” ceased.
Jones moved on to work for Dr. Kathleen Holland, a pediatrician. In a one month period, seven of Holland’s patients had medical emergencies while attended by Jones. One of these, Chelsea Ann McClellan, didn’t make it. ” Jones is currently serving a 99 year sentence for the murder but unless convicted of an additional murder, will be released to reduce prison overcrowding next year.
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