2nd murder case for ‘Angel of Death’
Texas prosecutors aim to stop release of nurse suspected in baby deaths
A Texas nurse once dubbed an “Angel of Death” killer has been indicted in the 1981 death of an 11-month-old child whom she allegedly injected with a toxic dose of anti-seizure medication, authorities said.
Genene Jones, 66, was indicted by a grand jury Thursday, more than three decades after Joshua Sawyer’s death. Authorities suspect that Jones, who is serving a 99-year prison sentence in the death of another child, might have killed as many as 60 young children during her time as a pediatric nurse from the late 1970s to early 1980s in the San Antonio area, according to a statement from the Bexar County district attorney’s office.
“As people are well aware, I believe children are a gift from the Lord,” District Attorney Nico LaHood said in the statement. “Genene Jones did not see children in this regard. She is pure evil and justice warrants that she be held accountable for the crimes she committed. Our Office will attempt to account for every child whose life was stolen by the actions of Jones. Our only focus is justice.”
It was not immediately clear whether Jones has an attorney in the case.
Authorities have long suspected that Jones was connected to a series of infant deaths at a San Antonio hospital and a private clinic in nearby Kerrville.
Prosecutors said evidence shows that in December 1981, Jones gave Joshua a lethal dose of Dilantin, or phenytoin, an antiseizure medication, while working in the pediatric intensive care unit at the former Bexar County Medical Center Hospital in San Antonio.
The Washington Post reported in 1983 that investigators were pulling hospital records to determine what had caused the dozens of unexplained deaths, and grand juries in two cities were hearing testimony in the case.
The next year, Jones was convicted of murder and sentenced to 99 years in prison for the 1982 death of 15-month-old Chelsea McClellan, who was injected with a potent muscle relaxant. Twice, Chelsea’s parents had taken her to the clinic in Kerrville where Jones then worked, and both times the child had seizures during treatment, The Post reported at the time, citing court depositions.
Chelsea’s mother said at trial that Jones had given the child what Jones said were two common immunizations, then the child “went limp, like a rag doll.”
“She started acting funny. She was whimpering,” Petti McClellan told jurors in 1984, according to The Post. “She tried to say, ‘Mama,’ and she couldn’t get it out.”
During the investigations and trial, authorities considered numerous motives — including Jones’s possibly intending to destroy her doctors’ reputations, and a desire to make children ill and then restore them to health. “She killed Chelsea McClellan for her own enrichment,” prosecutor Nick Rothe told jurors. “Her ego needed to have critically ill kids, so in Kerrville, Texas, you could have a pediatric . . . intensive care unit with her in charge.”
Also in 1984, Jones was sentenced to 60 years in prison for injury to another child. Jones had administered Heparin, a blood thinner, to then-4-week-old Rolando Santos, who survived, prosecutors said.
Jones has been serving two concurrent sentences.
Jones is scheduled for release from prison in Gatesville in March 2018, according to online records from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, pursuant to mandatory release regulations from the time of her conviction. But before that, prosecutors said, Jones will be extradited to Bexar County, where she will stand trial in the new case.
Genene Jones, second from right, about to enter court in Texas in 1984 in connection with the death of a child in her care.