Nine mysterious deaths have long puzzled a Missouri hospital wondering what caused them. Two decades later and now, the response may be grim after a former nurse is arrested for murder.
On Thursday, police in rural Livingston County, Missouri, arrested Jennifer Anne Hall, a former nurse at Hedrick Medical Center where all of the deaths took place. In 2002 Hall had been working for five months as a respiratory therapist at the hospital when the deaths occurred and authorities say they believe she was responsible for the murder of at least one of the patients.
A decade ago, Livingston County District Attorney Adam Warren opened an investigation into the 2002 death of 75-year-old Fern Franco in hospital, where he died of what Warren said was a fatal overdose of succinylcholine – a relaxant that paralyzes respiratory muscles. – and morphine.
This overdose, authorities say, was administered by Hall when she was employed at Hedrick Medical Center.
Hall has previously pleaded not guilty to the murder of Franco, the only 2002 death she is charged with. Despite this, police noted in their probable cause statement for Hall’s arrest that cardiac arrests at the hospital “had increased alarmingly” during the time she worked there.
Hedrick’s officials were reportedly alerted to concerns about Hall and she was suspended after Franco’s death for three days, which lowered the number of heart incidents, police say.
However, she was not fired by the hospital until months later after being convicted of arson at another nearby hospital.
Hall’s attorney, Matt O’Connor, accused law enforcement and the hospital of scapegoating Hall for the deaths due to the arson conviction, a charge she was accused of. acquitted in 2005. Accusing her of Franco’s murder, O’Connor said it was “unfathomable” that her client was charged with murder now.
“Crossing it once is terrible,” O’Connor said. “Crossing it twice is a recurring nightmare.”