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‘Angel of Death’ Nurse Suspected of Killing 60 Children Is Charged with Toddler’s Murder in 1981

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Genene Jones
Texas Department of Criminal Justice. via AP

A Texas pediatric nurse who prosecutors suspect killed as many as 60 children and who is currently imprisoned for the murder of a toddler was charged last week in another toddler’s death, PEOPLE confirms.

The new charge stems from the suspicious death of 11-month-old Joshua Sawyer, who died from a toxic level of the anti-seizure drug Dilantin in 1981. The boy was under the care of Genene Jones, 66, in the pediatric intensive care unit at Bexar County Hospital at the time of his death.

Prosecutors suspect Jones killed up to 60 children at various hospitals and clinics around San Antonio between 1977 and 1982. Their deaths all occurred during or shortly after Jones’ shifts, according to the Associated Press.

“She is pure evil and justice warrants that she be held accountable for the crimes she committed,” San Antonio District Attorney Nico LaHood said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “Our Office will attempt to account for every child whose life was stolen by the actions of Jones. Our only focus is justice.”

Jones, who was nicknamed “Angel of Death” by the media, was sentenced to 99 years in prison in 1984 for the fatal overdose of 15-month-old Chelsea McClennan at a clinic in Kerrville, near San Antonio.

Chelsea’s mother Petti McClellan told ABC News in 2013 that she was holding her daughter when Jones administered the fatal dose.

“I was holding Chelsea, she was facing me, and Jones gave her the first shot in her left thigh. Immediately Chelsea had trouble breathing. Chelsea was trying to say my name, but she couldn’t. I was extremely upset,” she said.

AP

Jones was also found guilty of injecting 4-week-old Rolando Santos with the blood thinner Heparin. Santos survived, and Jones was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Cheryl Pendergraph, a nurse who worked the same shift as Jones at Bexar County Hospital, said she and other nurses in the pediatric ICU began noticing more infant deaths during Jones’ shifts.

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“Most of the deaths were on the 3-11 shift, which was the shift that Genene Jones worked on,” Pendergraph told ABC News. “And most of the infants who died were Genene’s patients. She was assigned to them.”

Joyce Riley, a nurse consultant, also worked at Bexar County Hospital with Jones.

“There was talk within the pediatrics unit in the hospital that there were a lot of babies dying,” Riley told ABC. “And the way the babies were dying was very unusual. Granted, these children were already sick because they were in the pediatric ICU. But they would suffer from these really untoward events… Things like an infant burn victim all of a sudden going into a respiratory attack. These kids would suddenly bleed out or go into cardiac arrest. Their causes of death were not related to their illnesses at all.”

Scheduled for Release in 2018

Jones, who was serving her sentences concurrently, was set to be released in March of 2018 under a state law allowing inmates with a record of good behavior to be given early release due to overcrowding.

The new charge came about after LaHood approved a task force in January of 2015 to look into Jones and the alleged crimes she committed.

Jones’ bond for her latest charge was set at $1 million.

It was not immediately clear if Jones had entered a plea or retained an attorney for the new charge against her.

Before her scheduled March 2018 release, prosecutors say she will be extradited back to Bexar County where she will await trial for the new charges.