Charles Cullen murdered at least 40 patients in the many medical facilities where he worked as a nurse, The Killing Oath examines how his co-worker Amy Loughren helped bring him to justice.
Charles Cullen was a nurse working in New Jersey when he embarked on a murderous killing spree, targeting the very vulnerable patients he was supposed to be caring for.
Cullen’s mental health issues started very young and he made several attempts to kill himself aged just nine-year-old. Eventually he seems to have changed the focus of that self-hatred to that of his patients.
Over a period of 16 years he worked the graveyard shift in various intensive care units, where he was able to use prescription drugs to tip some very sick people over the edge to death.
Eventually a pair of Somerset County detectives began to investigate the death of several patients who had high levels of a heart related drug called digoxin, something that should not have been in their system.
This investigation led them to nurse Amy Loughren, who was good friends with Cullen and worked with him. She other nurses had suspicions that he’d been ordering and administrating abnormally high amounts of certain drugs. Loughren took her suspicion and evidence from the hospital records to the detectives.
Meantime, like many of his previous posts, Cullen was eventually fired from Somerset Medical Center in October 2003. Just two months later he was arrested and charged with the murder of 68-year-old Reverend Gall and the attempted murder of 40-year-old Jin Kyung Han.
When detectives analysed data from the medical center’s electronic drug-dispensing machine they were able to draw up a full picture of just what Cullen had been ordering and using. This proved to be vital evidence in their case against Cullen and helped identify some of the patients he’d targeted.
Cullen eventually agreed to co-operate with authorities in order to avoid the death penalty. He confessed to killing at least 40 people, though some investigators think his murder total could be as high as 400.
He was sentenced to eighteen consecutive life terms and his case resulted in some changed to the law in respect of hospitals reporting ‘serious preventable adverse events.’
The only other medical professional with a similar toll of victims is English doctor Harold Shipman, who killed at least 250 of his patients.
The Killing Oath airs at 9:00 PM on Investigation Discovery.