A nurse may be one of the world’s most prolific serial killers.
Her name is Daniela Poggiali, 42, and she does her killing on the job, in a hospital in the small city of Lugo, Italy, not out of mercy because the patients were dying, but because she found them annoying.
Nicholas Farrell reports for Newsweek, Dec. 19, 2014, that Poggiali, nicknamed “The Angel of Death,” is in jail in Italy under investigation for the murder of up to 96 patients in the course of a single year in the 30-bed general medicine ward at the Umberto I hospital in the small city of Lugo, between Bologna and Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. That’s one death every three days between April 2013 and April 2014. If found guilty of killing all those patients, she will be one of the most prolific serial killers in history.
The dubious record of the most prolific serial killer is currently held by the Colombian Luis Garavito, whose victims, it was proven, were 138 children, murdered over a five-year period during the 1990s. The record for the greatest number of murders committed by a nurse is held by an American, Charles Cullen, who was given six life sentences in 2006 for the murder of 40 patients (though he was suspected of causing up to 400 deaths) in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over a 16-year period.
What makes the case of Daniela Poggiali especially chilling is her motive: whereas some doctors or nurses kill their patients for reasons of mercy – as Cullen did, or at least claimed to have done – Daniela Poggiali is believed to have killed her patients simply because they irritated her. She had also allegedly given them laxatives, which made them incontinent, and even had photographs taken of herself next to the corpse of one of her patients on her smartphone, which she posted online. In some of them, taken in January 2014 by another nurse, she is laughing and making lewd gestures next to the corpse of an old lady, who had just died in her ward. In one, she is leaning over the corpse grinning and making a thumbs-up sign. In the other, she is lying down next to the corpse with her mouth open, pointing a finger at her face as if it were a gun.
Poggiali qualified as a nurse 17 years ago and for the last 12 has worked at the Umberto I hospital in Lugo. Hospital bosses only became suspicious of Poggiali in March 2014, after the unexplained deaths of five patients who died in the space of a week during night shifts when she was working more or less alone on her ward. They did not call the police but moved her to day shifts in order to keep a closer eye on her. Three days later, on the morning of April 8, another patient died under Poggiali’s care — 78-year-old Rosa Calderoni.
Calderoni’s daughter, Manuela Alci, who was present that morning, said she was told to leave the room while Poggiali gave medication to her mother. Ten minutes later, Manuela was allowed back into the room and noticed that her mother’s eyes were rolling uncontrollably and that she had a glass tube inserted in her arm like a drip which had not been there before. Then, while she was holding her hand, her mother died.
Steve Ertelt reports for LifeNews, Dec. 23, 2014, that under Italian law, killing a patient through direct euthanasia with an overdose of drugs is illegal. In the case of Poggiali, that law doesn’t apply because she didn’t claim that she killed her patients because she saw that they were in pain or were suffering. She simply didn’t want to deal with them anymore and killing was a quick fix.
It was reported in the Italian paper, Corrieredella Sera, that colleagues of Poggiali had overheard her saying things like, “Leave it to me, I’ll quiet them.” Known to be cynical and a vindictive nurse, Poggiali also would deliberately give laxatives to patients at the end of the day so that other nurses would have to deal with the effects.
Poggiali has denied killing anyone and insists she’s being framed but investigators said they found incriminating pictures of Poggiali posing with patients who had just died.
Lead prosecutor Alessandron Mancini said that Poggiali seemed “unperturbed” when she was arrested. Mancini said, “I can assure you in that all my professional years of seeing shocking photos, there were few such as these.” He also said that homicide will be difficult to prove since potassium chloride is hard to detect after a few days in the bloodstream.
While the case of Daniela Poggiali is horrific, her justification of murdering patients because they’re annoying is not that uncommon in the medical community.
As an example, infamous bioethics professor, Peter Singer, maintains medical professionals should be permitted to lethally inject Alzheimer’s “non-persons,” even if they never asked to be killed. Singer also favors not just abortion, but after-birth abortion or infanticide, as well as bestiality when the animal isn’t harmed. He has admitted that if his mother, who has Alzheimer’s, were in his care (instead of his sister’s), his mother might not be alive today.
Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo, explains in his article, “Yes, We Have a Culture of Death“:
“Tragically, too many of us today have become disconnected and desensitized to our own dignity and intrinsic worth. It seems we no longer know how to love, and we place more significance and value on what a person can or cannot do, instead of understanding the value and dignity of the human person, simply because they are human.”