Genene Jones

Genene Ann Jones, was born July 13, 1950 and was immediately given up for adoption.  Her new parents were Dick and Gladys Jones, who adopted three other children as well—two older and one younger than Genene. She felt that she had a hard time getting attention.  She felt left out and unfavored by her parents. She went around calling herself the family’s “black sheep.”

Sometimes she would pretend to be ill in order to get people to notice, and at school she became bossy.  She was short and overweight, which added to her loneliness.  There were acquaintances who called her aggressive and friends who said she had betrayed them.  She was known for lying and manipulating people.

Genene was close to her younger brother, Travis, who loved to be in their father’s shop.  When he was 14, he put together a pipe bomb that blew up in his face, killing him.  Genene was 16 at the time, and during the funeral, she screamed and fainted.  She had lost her closest companion. Some believe this trauma fed her peculiar cruelty.  Others said she was just hysterical and grabbed any opportunity for attention.

While working at several medical clinics in and around San Antonio, Texas, nurse Jones practiced possibly the worst life-and-death games in history, injecting innumerable babies with life-threatening drugs. Jones seemed to thrill in putting the small children in mortal danger and putting herself into the role of hero when the children pulled or by taking extraordinary measures to resuscitate the doomed infant. Unfortunately, many did  make it. Because she was mobile, moving around Texas to work in different clinics, authorities expect she may be responsible for as many as 46 deaths.

She brazenly continued her pattern even while she was under a CDC investigation, and her medical supervisors defended her. When she lost the 1984 trial, hospital officials throughout Texas shredded records of her employment and activities, preventing further trials and embarrassment.

Though periodically investigated and even being dismissed from two separate medical facilities when suspicions about infant deaths centered on her, Jones continued to inject babies with chemicals that caused cardiac arrest and hemorrhaging. She was even directly accused by a fellow nurse before her dismissal from the Bexar County Medical Center, which conducted three separate investigations into the string of deaths but could never implicate Jones directly.

Babies admitted to the intensive care unit had begun dying at an alarming rate; between May and December 1981, the paediatric department of the Bexar County Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, had witnessed the loss of as many as twenty infants through cardiac arrest or runaway bleeding. In the majority of cases death had occurred while the babies were in her care; Miss Jones, though, was widely regarded as an amazing nurse, and totally dedicated to the care of her small charges. She’s the nurse other nurses go to for help, she helps train new nurses. 

The first child she picked up in her job at Bexar County Medical had a fatal intestinal condition, and when he died shortly thereafter, she went berserk.  She brought a stool into the cubicle where the body lay and sat staring at it. 

It soon became clear to associates that Genene liked to feel needed, and she would often spend long hours on the ward during her 3-11 p.m. shift, insisting that her attention was important to a certain patient.  However, she skipped classes on the proper handling of drugs and in her first year made eight separate nursing errors, including while dispensing medication.  She sometimes developed a dependency on sick children, so she would refuse specific orders because she wanted to do what was “best” for the child. 

While there were sufficient grounds for dismissal, including coming in one night drunk, the head nurse Pat Belko liked and protected her, which gave Jones a feeling of invincibility.  She never liked to admit any mistakes, and now she had someone in power to back her up.  She tried to bully new nurses into looking to her for help, and more than one nurse transferred out of the unit to get away from her.

By 1981, Jones demanded to be put in charge of the sickest patients.  That placed her close to those that died most often.  She loved the excitement of an emergency, and even seemed to enjoy the grief she experienced when a child didn’t make it.  She always wanted to take the corpse to the morgue.

It became clear to everyone that children were dying in this unit from problems that shouldn’t have been fatal.  The need for resuscitation suddenly seemed constant—but only when Jones was around.  Those in the most critical condition were all under her care.  One child had a seizure three days in a row, but only on her shift. “They’re going to start thinking I’m the Death Nurse,” Jones quipped one day.

Then a baby named Jose Antonio Flores, six months old, went into cardiac arrest while in Jones’s care.  He was revived, but went into arrest again the next day during her shift and died from bleeding. Tests on the corpse indicated an overdose of a drug called Heparin, an anticoagulant.  No one had ordered it. 

Then Rolando Santos, being treated for pneumonia, was having seizures, cardiac arrest, and extensive unexplained bleeding.  All of his troubles developed or intensified on Jones’s shift.  Finally one doctor stepped forward and told the hospital staff that she was killing children. They needed an investigation.  Yet the nurses protected her.  Since the hospital did not want bad publicity, they accepted whatever the head nurse said.

Another child was sent to the pediatrics unit to recover from open-heart surgery.  At first, he progressed well, but on Jones’s shift, he became lethargic.  Then his condition deteriorated and he soon died.  Jones grabbed a syringe and squirted fluid over the child in the sign of a cross, then repeated it on herself.

A series of internal inquiries were held without any positive recommendation, and eventually a panel comprising experts from hospitals in the USA and Canada was appointed to look into the deaths. The panel routinely interviewed members of the Bexar’s staff and were surprised when one of her own colleagues bluntly accused Genene Jones of the infants’ murder. The panel, as is so often the case, failed to reach any firm conclusion beyond the suggestion that the hospital dispense with the services of both Jones and the nurse who had accused her of killing babies. 

Because the hospital feared being sued, in 1982, it simply fired all of its LVNs, including Jones, and staffed the pediatric ICU exclusively with registered nurses. No further investigation was pursued by the hospital. They gave Dr Holland a glowing endorsement and said Jones would be a great addition to her practice. That way they got rid of her and she’s now someone elses problem.

Jones left and took a position at a pediatrician’s clinic in Kerrville, Texas, some 60 miles northwest of San Antonio. She worked at a brand new pediatric clinic. In her first month as pediatrician, Dr Kathy Holland had 7 patients stop breathing, have seizures, and had to be hospitalized. 

Chelsea McClellan who was fourteen months old was brought into the clinic for a routine immunisation against Mumps and Measles. Genene Jones was responsible for giving the child the injection and immediately after the child suffered a seizure. The baby was rushed to San Antonio for emergency treatment but on the way suffered cardiac arrest and died. It seemed that many of the children that were treated by Genene had various attacks and seizures but none were fatal.

At the funeral, Mrs McClellan, Cgelsea’s mother, screamed and fainted, and her relatives sent her to get psychiatric help.  Thanks to that, she had spent a considerable amount of time in a haze, but the sharp grief had not yet dulled.

A week after the funeral, she went to the Garden of Memories Cemetery to lay flowers on her daughter’s grave. 

As she approached the grave, she saw the nurse from the clinic, Genene Jones.  Oddly, she was kneeling at the foot of Chelsea’s grave, sobbing and wailing the child’s name over and over.  She rocked back and forth, apparently in deep anguish, as if Chelsea had been her own daughter.

“What are you doing here?” McClellan asked. She thought did this nurse feel guilty about her role in Chelsea’s death?  Perhaps she had neglected to do something that had made the crucial difference?

Confronted, Jones returned a blank stare, as if in a trance, and walked away without a word.  When she was gone, McClellan noticed something else.  While Jones had left a small token of flowers, she had taken a bow from Chelsea’s grave. 

The doctor in the office discovered two puncture marks in a bottle of succinylcholine in the drug storage, where only she and Jones had access. Contents of the apparently full bottle were later found to be heavily diluted with water, where it was estimated that only 20% of the vial’s contents were actually the drug. Succinylcholine is a powerful short-acting paralytic that causes temporary paralysis of all skeletal muscles, as well as those that control breathing; the drug is used as a part of general anesthetic. A patient cannot breathe while under the influence of this drug. In small children, cardiac arrest is the ultimate result of deoxygenation due to lack of respiration. The body of Chelsea McClellan was exhumed and her tissues tested; her death appeared to have been caused by an injection of the muscle relaxant.

Jones claimed she was trying to stimulate the creation of a pediatric intensive care unit in Kerrville. Nurses from Bexar County also recalled Genene’s plan to promote a pediatric intensive care unit in San Antonio,  by raising the number of seriously-ill children. “They’re out there,” she once told a colleague. “All you have to do is find them.” 

In 1985, Jones was sentenced to 99 years in prison for killing 15-month-old Chelsea McClellan. Later that year, she was sentenced to a concurrent term of 60 years in prison for nearly killing Rolando Santos with heparin.

As of May 2016, Jones was held at the Lane Murray Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She had been scheduled for mandatory release in 2018 due to a Texas law meant to prevent prison overcrowding.  To avoid this, Jones was indicted on May 25, 2017, for the murder of 11-month-old Joshua Sawyer.  The Bexar County District Attorney, stated that additional charges could be filed in the deaths of other children. Due to the mandatory early-release law covering Jones’ original convictions, she would otherwise have been released upon completion of a third of the original sentence. The new charges were filed to avoid her release. 

In April 2018, a judge in San Antonio denied a request to dismiss five new murder indictments against Jones. On 16 January 2020, Jones pleaded guilty to the murder of 11-month-old Joshua Sawyer on 12 December 1981 as part of a plea deal in which four other charges were dropped. She was sentenced to life in prison. She will not be eligible for parole until she is roughly 87 years old.

You can watch episodes of her on Season five Episode ten of Forensic Files titled “Nursery Crimes” or Season two, Episode four of  Deadly Women titled “Dark Secrets”

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