Evidence critical to the prosecution of convicted baby murderer Genene Jones was destroyed as part of an alleged cover-up 30 years ago by the Bexar County Hospital. But a letter written by Jones from prison could be seen as a smoking gun confession in an effort to keep the killer nurse behind bars.
Jones was a pediatric nurse at the Bexar County Hospital in 1981 and 82 where she was suspected of secretly injecting babies with fatal drugs. It’s alleged that she killed up to 60 infants. When she took a job at a Kerrville pediatric clinic the pattern of child deaths continued but there the authorities took action.
She was convicted of the murder of 15-month old Chelsea McClellan and given a 99 year prison sentence. But Jones due to mandatory probation will be released in March. However, District Attorney Nico LaHood says he’s working to keep Jones behind bars by convicting her of four other child murders from her time at the Bexar County Hospital.
“The idea that a serial killer getting back on the streets and not being held accountable for many many deaths –I think it shocks people’s conscience.”
But the new effort to convict Jones faces a major challenge because the actions 30 years ago by the Bexar County Hospital. Reporter Peter Elkind covered the Jones story for Texas Monthly and later wrote a book about it called “The Death Shift: Nurse Genene Jones and the Texas Baby Murders.” He said the hospital was engaged in a cover up.
“They had every reason to notify the authorities and failed to do so. In fact even when the news broke in Kerrville and another child had been harmed under her care. That the pattern had resumed. The pattern they knew about. They had a hospital meeting with top level doctors and they were discussing what to do about this and I have the notes about this in my book and they have this one internal memo of this sort and there’s a whole litany of this behavior – and the notes will say and this is January 1983 before she’s been charged and they decided not to come forward with what they knew.”
Also the Bexar County Hospital destroyed medical records which could show how Jones may have caused the deaths of the children under her care. Literally tons of paper work was shredded while it was under a court order to be preserved.
Assistant District Attorney Jason Goss.
“As far as the destruction of the records – you have 47 to 60 babies and I think we’re pretty confident that we’re not going to be able to bring 47 to 60 cases for that reason. If we had the medical records that would be a different proposition but my understanding is after the D.A. got done with the investigation he gave a lot of these records back to the hospital and they were in the process of some civil lawsuits and some other things and those were destroyed and I know that because we tried to get them and they’re gone. And the hospital tells us they have no records now. And there are a lot of records – medical charts that are vital to some of these cases that we cant get. Now in all these cases we don’t need medical charts because we have other evidence but in the cases where we did need medical charts that’s vital evidence that we don’t have anymore.”
But the case for the prosecution does have a 2011 letter written by Jones in prison that could be considered a confession. Elkind said Jones wrote the letter to the Texas Board of Nursing. “in which she said “I will take this opportunity to apologize to the board and the nurses it represents for the damage I did to all because of my crime I look back then to what I did and agree with you that it was heinous and that I was heinous.” She didn’t explicitly say I killed this child or that child but she certainly was making admission and it was an extraordinary thing.”
D.A. LaHood said he expects Jones’ defense attorney to try to challenge the letter from being admitted as evidence but his prosecution team is going to fight to use it in trial.
“We were moving forward without that letter but the letter certainly doesn’t hurt our position right? It’s affirmation to what we believe and we believe the evidence that we’re going to have to present to a jury will show so you want to give nothing and take everything so we’re going to do everything ethically – we’re going to do everything legal – but we believe that this is something that should be before a jury and we’re going to argue like hell that it should be. We believe the rules of evidence will allow that but we’ll take that up with a judge at the right time.”
Jones is due to be released on March 1st 2018 but she’ll be immediately brought to Bexar County to be booked, jailed and face murder charges for baby deaths that happened 35 years ago.