2nd mur­der case for ‘An­gel of Death’

Texas pros­e­cu­tors aim to stop release of nurse sus­pected in baby deaths

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY LIND­SEY BEVER lind­sey.bever@wash­post.com

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.

TED POW­ERS/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Genene Jones, sec­ond from right, about to en­ter court in Texas in 1984 in con­nec­tion with the death of a child in her care.

Genene Jones

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