Charges of murder against a hospital respiratory therapist who denied being a serial killer

A 37-year-old patient’s death was the subject of a first-degree murder complaint filed against a former hospital respiratory therapist on Wednesday. She is suspected of being responsible for the deaths of nine patients who were under her care.

Prosecutors claim that Jennifer Anne Hall killed David Wesley Harper, 37, on March 21, 2002, at a hospital in Chillicothe, Missouri, by “administering unprescribed medicines to him,” according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

On March 18, 2002, Harper was being treated at Hendrick Medical Center for bronchitis.

Harper was discovered sitting on the side of his bed three days later, as Hall, now 42, allegedly told nursing staff. According to the records, Harper allegedly told Hall that he felt sick before collapsing backward onto his bed and going into “full respiratory arrest.” Later, he passed away.

Prosecutors claim that Hall was discovered at the scene of his death with a bottle of succinylcholine that she was not authorized to administer.

The documents stated that the drug used to end Mr. Harper’s life, succinylcholine, paralyzes the victim’s muscles, especially the diaphragm, allowing the victim to die a horrifying death from suffocation while still being fully conscious and aware that they are unable to breathe and are dying.

Hall worked at Hendrick Medical Center between December 2001 and May 2002, observing an “alarming increase in the frequency of cardiac collapse events.” According to the documents, these occurrences were thought to be “medically odd” by hospital workers.

Nine deaths are said to have resulted from eighteen similar occurrences that purportedly happened during her five-month job.

Prior to Hall’s employment, the hospital experienced one cardiac collapse episode on average each year, per court records.

In 2012, amid rumors that she had anything to do with the patients’ demises, Hall consented to a KMBC interview in which she categorically denied being a serial killer.

At the time, Hall told the television station, “It’s disturbing to realize that someone can think something so nasty of you, and the genuine truth is out there somewhere.”

Hall is accused of murdering a second person. According to a previous PEOPLE article, she was charged with first-degree murder in May 2022 in relation to the passing of 75-year-old patient Fern Franco. She entered a plea of not guilty.

Nursing staff “believed Hall was responsible for the patients’ deaths” because of Hall’s “unique proximity to afflicted patients, her access to drugs that are dangerous if misused, and her discovery and technique of telling staff of every patient’s cardiac emergency,” according to prosecutors.

During Hall’s forthcoming court appearance on Wednesday, Hall’s defense attorney, Molly Hastings, told people that she intends to submit a not guilty plea to the second murder charge as well.

“I look forward to the chance to defend her against each and every one of these charges,” Hastings said. “I believe the facts will support an acquittal when we have our day in court.”

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