Skip to main content /US /US

Texas nurse charged in hospital deaths

More charges likely, prosecutor says

Vickie Dawn Jackson  

MONTAGUE, Texas (CNN) -- A former hospital nurse charged with killing four patients is likely to be accused in the deaths of six more, a district attorney said Wednesday.

And he said the number of victims -- both the dead and survivors -- could reach 25.

"I'm confident that those [six] cases will reveal the same evidence that we have in these," said Montague County District Attorney Tim Cole.

"What we have are experts telling us by looking at medical records ... [that] there was no medical explanation for those deaths. That's why I expect that the other six will show the same results," Cole said.

"We're already talking about serial killings," Cole said.

Vickie Dawn Jackson, 36, a licensed nurse who worked at the 38-bed Nocona General Hospital for about a year before being fired in February 2001, was taken into custody Tuesday after being indicted by a grand jury. Nocona is about 100 miles northwest of Dallas, near the Oklahoma border.

Jackson was charged with two counts of capital murder in the deaths in 2001 of four people: J.T. Nichols, 80, who died January 1; Jim Holder, 65, January 7; Oma Wyler, 95, January 24; and E. E. Jackson, 91, February 4.

A former hospital nurse charged with killing four patients is likely to be accused in the deaths of six more. CNN's David Mattingly reports (July 18)

Play video

According to Cole, E.E. Jackson was the grandfather of Vickie Jackson's husband.

In Texas, capital murder is committed by intentionally or knowingly causing the death of two or more people during the same scheme or course of conduct. Cole said more charges may be filed.

The district attorney said all the victims died after being injected with mivacurium chloride, a muscle relaxant that can be deadly in large amounts. The drug is used to paralyze the diaphragm to make it easier to insert a breathing tube, he said.

Jackson was jailed on $2 million bond; no date for her arraignment has been set.

If convicted, she could face death by lethal injection or life in prison. Cole said he hasn't decided whether to seek the death penalty.

Tests still are being done on the six bodies, which were exhumed. Cole was confident results would show each contained amounts of the drug. No other exhumations were planned, he said.

Cole refused to discuss a possible motive in the case, saying that would be revealed in court.

Cole said he has met with families of the victims.

"The mood is torn. This is not a situation they're going to feel good about," he said. "They are gratified the case is moving forward."

The investigation began after hospital officials noticed that the number of deaths during December 2000 and early 2001 were twice the normal amount. Several vials of mivacurium chloride came up missing around the same time.

Several vials of mivacurium chloride, a muscle relaxant that can be deadly in large amounts, were discovered missing around the time of the patients' deaths.  

Jackson was fired two days after a patient, Donnelly Reid, then 61, alleged that the nurse pushed a needle into his saline drip and administered an unprescribed drug that caused him to lose consciousness. At the time, the hospital refused to give a specific reason for Jackson's dismissal.

Reid was revived and later filed a lawsuit against Jackson. He died late last summer from an unrelated bout with pneumonia.

Jackson, who worked at a Nocona nursing home and several other hospitals before coming to Nocona General, is also being sued by the family of Boyd Bruce Burnett, who died on Christmas Eve 2000 from what the family alleges was an injection from the nurse.

The Texas Board of Vocational Nurse Examiners confirmed that it has been investigating Jackson but declined to comment on the focus of that inquiry.

The bodies of 10 people who died at the hospital in December 2000 and January 2001 were exhumed from cemeteries in Texas and Oklahoma last summer. Almost all of those exhumed were in their 80s when they died.




Back to the top