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Originally Printed At: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/18/national/18NURS.html?todaysheadlines
July 18, 2002
Nurses in Missouri and Texas Charged With Killing Patients
COLUMBIA, Mo., July 17 (Reuters) — A Missouri grand jury indicted a former veterans' hospital nurse today on charges of killing 10 patients in 1992, while in Texas another grand jury has charged a nurse with killing four elderly patients about a year and a half ago.
The indictment here said Richard Williams, now 36, administered the drug succinylcholine, a derivative of curare that is used as a poison by South American Indians, to kill nine men and one woman while working as a nurse at Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital in Columbia.
A prosecutor said he would announce next week whether he would seek the death penalty.
Though Mr. Williams was charged by the authorities last month, prosecutors sought a formal indictment, returned today by a grand jury here in Boone County that heard from 121 witnesses.
Prosecutors have yet to describe a motive for the killings, whose victims ranged in age from 58 to 85.
Mr. Williams, who worked at the hospital from 1989 to 1993, was implicated by new technology that detected a byproduct of the poison in the victims' remains.
In Texas, meanwhile, the authorities unsealed an indictment today charging the nurse there, Vickie Dawn Jackson, 36, with killing four elderly patients by injecting them with lethal doses of a muscle relaxant.
The deaths occurred about 75 miles northwest of Dallas, at Nocona General Hospital, where as many as 20 other people also died in suspicious circumstances from December 2000 to February 2001.
The bodies of 10 people who died at the Nocona hospital during that period have been exhumed to check for traces of mivacurium chloride, the muscle relaxant that Ms. Jackson is charged with using in the four deaths cited by the indictment.
The hospital, which has about 45 beds, called in the authorities to investigate after discovering that several vials of mivacurium chloride were missing.
Nocona is in Montague County, whose district attorney, Tim Cole, said further indictments might be issued as tests were carried out on exhumed bodies over the next few months.
The indictment against Ms. Jackson, which was returned on Tuesday, charges her with capital murder, but Mr. Cole said he was not sure whether he would seek the death penalty.
Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company