true crime

TRUE CRIME: 'Angel of Death' nurse killed kids while they were held in their mothers' arms.

Genene Jones is a child killer. There is no doubt of that. The only question is, how many children did she kill?

In 1984, the nurse was sentenced to 99 years jail for giving a fatal overdose of a muscle relaxant to 15-month-old Chelsea McClellan at a clinic in Texas. Chelsea’s mother Petti was holding her at the time, believing she was receiving normal immunisations.

“She was facing me, and Jones gave her the first shot in her left thigh,” McClellan told ABC News.

“Immediately Chelsea had trouble breathing. Chelsea was trying to say my name, but she couldn’t. I was extremely upset.”

She then gave Chelsea a second shot, and the child went limp and stopped breathing. As the child was being rushed to hospital, Jones slipped in the ambulance with her and gave her a third shot. Chelsea didn’t survive.

In 1984, Genene Jones was sentenced to 99 years jail for giving a fatal overdose of a muscle relaxant to a 15-month-old. (Image: CNN)

Jones was also sentenced to 60 years jail for injecting four-week-old Rolando Santos with a large dose of blood thinner. Rolando became extremely ill, but recovered.

It’s suspected the nurse began killing children in the early 1980s. When she worked at Bexar County Hospital as a licensed vocational nurse, her colleagues noticed more children died during her shifts, and they tended to be her patients.

According to the Texas Monthly, they also noticed Jones seemed to thrive on the excitement of being in the middle of a life-threatening medical emergency.

Nurse consultant Joyce Riley says babies were dying in “very unusual” ways.

“Granted, these children were already sick because they were in the paediatric ICU, but they would suffer from these really untoward events,” Riley told ABC.

"Things like an infant burn victim all of a sudden going into a respiratory attack. These kids would suddenly bleed out or go into cardiac arrest. Their causes of death were not related to their illnesses at all.”

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One of the babies who died unexpectedly was 11-month-old Joshua Sawyer. He was brought in suffering smoke inhalation after a fire at his family’s home. He was well on the way to recovery when, during Jones’s shift, his condition worsened. He died of heart failure. He was later found to have a toxic level of an anti-seizure drug in his blood.

Nurses complained to their supervisors about Jones, because of all the children who were dying during or just after her shifts, but no action was taken against her.

Eventually, due to the high number of deaths in the unit, the hospital asked all its licensed vocational nurses to resign. According to the Texas Monthly, Jones was given a letter of recommendation, describing her as “loyal, dependable and trustworthy”.

Jones went on to work at a paediatric physician’s clinic in Kerrville. It was here that she injected Chelsea McClellan with the fatal overdose.

When Jones was imprisoned in 1984, a mandatory release law was in place. Under that law, Jones was due to be released in March 2018, when she would have served one-third of her sentence.

Joshua Sawyer was found to have a toxic level of an anti-seizure drug in his blood. (Image: CNN)

In 2013, when family members of the victims realised Jones could be out so soon, they formed a support group on Facebook. They wanted a new murder conviction to keep Jones behind bars. But so much time had passed, and records had disappeared from the hospital.

A young assistant district attorney, Jason Goss, who was barely born when Jones committed her crimes, made it his mission to come up with enough evidence. He worked on the case after hours.

He got the breakthrough he needed from Connie Weeks, the mother of Joshua Sawyer. She had kept her baby son’s medical records for three decades.

“It’s all I had left of Joshua,” Weeks says. “Everything else was destroyed in the fire.”

Last Thursday, Jones was charged with murdering Joshua.

"She is pure evil and justice warrants that she be held accountable for the crimes she committed." (Image: Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

“She is pure evil and justice warrants that she be held accountable for the crimes she committed,” District Attorney Nico LaHood said in a statement.

“Our office will attempt to account for every child whose life was stolen by the actions of Jones. Our only focus is justice.”

Weeks says she’s “scared and nervous” about the upcoming trial over her baby Joshua’s death. But when it comes to Jones, she has one goal in mind.

“I want her to stay in prison. I want her to die in there.”