Genene Jones is a licensed vocational nurse who is suspected to have killed up to 60 infants and children in her care using extremely strong drugs to precipitate medical crises. Because of the unusually high rate of mortality of the children in her care, Genene regularly came under investigation and was even sacked by two different medical facilities, however, she continued to inject children with chemicals that induced heart attacks and severe hemorrhaging. She was finally tried for killing a four-week-old infant undergoing a routine checkup and causing injury to several others and given a sentence of 99 years, subsequent to which, she received another sentence of 60 years for a second child murder attempt. Her parole was denied due to strong opposition by the families of the victims. While she is eligible for early release because of a Texas rule to free up prison space, she will remain in jail pending prosecution for five fresh indictments of murdering children. How many children “The Angel of Death”, as she was labelled by the media, really killed is still unknown as the Texas hospital authorities first, misplaced and then destroyed her employment and duty records to prevent more embarrassing litigation.
Genene Jones started her working life in a hospital beauty salon and was extremely attracted to doctors. With the intention of being closer to them, she underwent a year’s training at the San Antonio Independent School District’s School of Vocational Nursing to qualify as a vocational nurse. Her first job at the San Antonio's Methodist Hospital ended when she was fired after only eight months because not only did she try to make decisions in areas she was not authorized to but also because she was rude to a patient.
After another short-lived job, she found employment on October 30, 1978 in the intensive care unit of Bexar County Medical Center Hospital’s pediatric unit. She proved not to be a disciplined worker, spending more hours than required on duty, disobeying orders to do what she thought was best for the child, skipping mandatory classes, and making as many as eight errors in nursing, including administration of the wrong medicine. She would have got fired had it not been for the head nurse, Pat Belko’s fondness for her. The protection made her even more willful and her growing confidence made her crass and aggressive; her attitude made her colleagues seek transfers out of the ward. Of unstable temperament, she often thought she was ill and made more than 30 visits to the outpatient clinics in two years but was never diagnosed.
James Robotham, who became the director of Bexar hospital in 1981, liked her passion for nursing and acceded to her request to be put in charge of the patients who were very sick. Her involvement beyond the call of duty to take care of dead children’s bodies impressed Dr. Robotham so much that he wasn’t alarmed when children started dying from non-fatal conditions. Even when Genene’s colleagues started calling her shift “The Death Shift”, both Belko and Dr. Robotham paid no heed.
After three infants died in succession due to drug overdose, the hospital administration became alarmed, however, Dr. Robotham’s request for a formal inquiry into nurse Jones’ behavior was turned down fearing negative publicity. Genene reacted to her transfer out of the pediatric ward by resigning from Bexar.
In 1982, Dr. Kathleen Holland, who was setting up a pediatrics clinic in Kerrville, Texas, hired Genene. Dr. Holland, who had done her three-year residency at Bexar, went ahead despite being aware of the investigation at Bexar and after being cautioned by Dr. Robotham about hiring Genene. Within the first few months of the clinic commencing operations, as many as seven children suffered unexplained seizures but all recovered after receiving treatment at Sid Peterson Hospital nearby. Even though eyebrows were raised at the hospital, Dr. Holland assumed that being a specialist she had been sent the worst cases. The death of Chelsea McClellan, while being shifted to another facility from the hospital, changed everything and the devastated Dr. Holland started investigating. A medical committee asked Dr. Holland about her use of Succinylcholine, a muscle relaxant with potentially fatal consequences when administered inappropriately. On September 27, 1982, a stock check revealed two bottles apparently full, however, one had pinprick holes in the stopper, and the other proved to contain only saline; another bottle was completely missing.
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The Investigation & Conviction
On October 12, 1982, a Kerr County grand jury organized hearing of the cases of the eight children who had developed emergency problems at Holland’s clinic and the death of the fifteen-month-old Chelsea McClellan. Upon exhumation of the child’s body, it was determined that a Succinylcholine overdose had caused the death. Another grand jury was convened in February, 1983, in San Antonio to investigate the suspicious deaths of 47 children at Bexar Hospital during the four years period Genene was employed there.
Genene Jones was convicted of murder of Chelsea McClellan and injuring seven others on February 15, 1984, and sentenced to 99 years, the maximum possible. In a second trial, for the attempted murder of Rolando Jones, a four-week-old, she was sentenced to 60 years on October 24, 1984 to be served concurrently. Severely embarrassed with the negative publicity, Bexar hospital administrators shredded hospital records in 1984, including several documents under subpoena by the grand jury, sparing Jones further prosecution. Her parole in 2017 after serving only one-third of her sentence as per a Texas law to reduce prison overcrowding was denied after protests by the families whose children had been killed. Her scheduled release in March 2018 was also not possible as she was indicted on May, 25, 2017 for the killing of five more children in 1981 and will have to face charges. Bail for each case has been set at $1 million. Genene Jones is in the Bexar County jail awaiting trial and will remain there till each of the cases are adjudicated in the 399th state District Court, presided by Judge Frank Castro. She has declined a plea offer and insists that she is not guilty of killing the children.
Born on July 13, 1950, Genene Anne Jones was immediately adopted by Dick and Gladys Jones, a San Antonio couple who had earlier adopted three children, one younger to Genene. Dick was a professional gambler and a serial entrepreneur; first, a nightclub, and then a restaurant followed by a billboard business, all failed due to his free-spending ways and took a toll on the family. Feeling left-out and lacking approval by her parents, she continually feigned illness to attract attention. Her loneliness was exacerbated due her being short and overweight and she gained a reputation of being aggressive as well as lying, manipulating and betraying people. The sudden death of her younger brother, Travis, when he was just 14 due to an accident, followed by the loss of her father a year later due to cancer, left her devastated.
In an attempt to seek security, she wanted to get married but met with opposition by her mother, Gladys, on the grounds that it was too early as she had not even passed high school. She married a high school dropout after graduating from John Marshall High School, however, after seven months, her husband James “Jimmy” Harvey DeLany Jr. joined the Navy and went away. Sexually voracious, Genene had multiple affairs and even bragged about her carnal exploits. Urged by her mother to consider a career, she trained to be a beautician at Mim’s Beauty School and even had a child, Richard Michael DeLany, after Jimmy returned, however four years into the marriage on June 3, 1974, she divorced him though they reconciled and then again went their own ways. On July 17, 1977, Heather, her second child, was born having conceived during the period of reconciliation with Jimmy. Though fond of children, she left her own two children under the care of her mother.