Investigation Discovery profiles serial killer Efren Saldivar aka The Angel of Death, who murdered an undetermined number of patients while working as a respiratory therapist at a hospital in California.
Saldivar was eventually put away for killing six of his patients at the Adventist Health Glendale hospital in Los Angeles, CA. Still, some believe he may have killed up to 200 at the facility.
Saldivar chose his victims very carefully; he only selected those who were unconscious and were already close to death. This way, he avoided a spike in deaths at the hospital and evaded detection for ten years.
The Angel of Death would kill his victims by either injecting them with the muscle relaxants Pavulon or succinylcholine chloride or by cutting off their oxygen supply.
The hospital began an internal investigation in the spring of 1997 after rumors surfaced that patients were dying quicker than they should. The investigation came to nothing, but around the same time, the police received an anonymous phone call from a person saying Saldivar “helped a patient die fast.”
Efren Saldivar confessed to killing 50 people
When questioned by police Saldivar confessed to killing up to 50 elderly patients. He told investigators that he began killing patients in 1989, just six months after he’d started working at the hospital.
His motive was allegedly anger at the practice of keeping terminally ill patients alive. When an officer asked him if he saw himself as an “angel of death,” he said, “yes.”
Saldivar would later recant his confession, and the police were, unfortunately, unable to keep him detained due to a lack of any physical evidence. Authorities revoked his license to practice medicine, and he was fired from the hospital.
The police spent the next three years examining the deaths of nearly 200 patients at the hospital and building a case against Saldivar. After traces of muscle relaxant drugs were discovered in the remains of six patients, the police decided they had enough evidence against Saldivar and arrested him in January 2001.
The Angel of Death pleaded guilty to killing six patients in a move that condemned him to serve six life sentences but spared him the death penalty.
More serial killers on Investigation Discovery
Follow the links to read about more serial killers profiled on ID.
Ted Bundy was one of America’s most notorious serial killers who murdered between 30 and 100 young women throughout the 1970s. Arrested in 1975, he managed to escape and continue killing until he was eventually recaptured and sent to the electric chair.
Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins was convicted of nine murders spanning the 1960s to the 1980s in South Carolina, but he claimed to have killed up to 110 people. His attacks were particularly sadistic as he liked to keep his victims alive and torture them for as long as possible.
Murder on the Night Shift airs Monday at 11/10c on Investigation Discovery.