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US Hospital Nurse Charged With Murder May Have Killed 40 - 2003-12-16

A former nurse charged with the murder of a hospital patient in the eastern U.S. state of New Jersey has reportedly admitted killing 30 to 40 other patients.

Charles Cullen was charged Monday in the death of a Roman Catholic priest who was a patient at the Somerset Medical Center. The priest died of cardiac arrest last June after receiving a lethal dose of the heart medication digoxin.

Mr. Cullen was also charged with the attempted murder of another patient at the same hospital. And the prosecutor's office says he has admitted to killing 30 to 40 other patients at various other hospitals in New Jersey and neighboring Pennsylvania over a 16-year period.

Mr. Cullen reportedly said his actions were "mercy killings" aimed at easing the pain of very sick patients.

The prosecutor's office says Mr. Cullen may be responsible for as many as 15 deaths at the Somerset Medical Center alone.