A former Pennsylvania nurse has been linked to 17 nursing home deaths

A former Pennsylvania nurse accused of killing two patients with insulin shots is facing additional murder charges and has admitted to trying to kill 19 other people at several locations, authorities said Thursday.

In May, Heather Pressdee, 41, admitted to authorities that she intended to kill three patients she was caring for with insulin doses, resulting in her arrest on two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office says Ms. Pressdee admitted to trying to kill 19 other insulin patients at five different rehab centers around the state as early as 2020, and just this year. Authorities say 17 patients died under Ms. Pressdee’s care.

The new charges announced Thursday include two additional counts of murder, 17 counts of attempted murder and 19 counts of neglect of a dependent.

Ms. Pressdee was arraigned on Thursday, but it is not clear what plea she entered. A message left with her attorney, Phillip P. DiLucente, was not immediately returned.

“The allegations against Ms. Pressdee are disturbing,” said Michelle Henry, the U.S. Attorney Media Release. “It is difficult to understand how a nurse, entrusted with the care of her patients, could decide to deliberately and systematically harm them.”

According to the attorney general’s office, charges of first-degree murder were brought against Ms. Pressdee only in cases where “physical evidence” was available. 17 charges of attempted murder were filed in cases where “the victims either survived an insulin overdose, or the cause of death could not be determined.”

She is accused of mistreating a total of 22 patients, ages 43 to 104.

One of the victims was Marianne Bower, 68, who died in September 2021 under Ms Pressdee’s care at Belair Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Lower Burrell.

For two years, family members believed Mrs. Bower had died of respiratory failure. Then, in September, investigators informed them that Ms. Pressdee had admitted to killing Ms. Bower, who was not diabetic, with insulin, according to Rob Peirce, a lawyer who represented Ms. Bower’s estate in a separate wrongful-death lawsuit against the rehabilitation center.

“This is one of the worst cases we’ve seen where someone in the health care system went from facility to facility and, unfortunately, admitted to killing multiple people,” Mr. Peirce said in a telephone interview.

Ms Bower’s family want to know how Ms Pressdee managed to work in 11 rehabilitation facilities over five years as of 2018, Mr Peirce said.

Belair Health and Rehabilitation Center did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the lawsuit, staff members at the center began noticing that Ms. Pressdee was behaving “alarmingly” and that the health of patients under her care would “unexpectedly deteriorate.”

Several staff members, the lawsuit alleges, began calling her a killer nurse.

That same year, the state Department of Health investigated the center after discovering a pattern in which residents were showing signs of acute complications from diabetes, according to the lawsuit.

Ms. Pressdee told Health Department investigators that she did not call the facility’s physician to attend to one such patient, a violation of center policy. The Department of Health cited the rehabilitation center in August 2021, deeming its residents “at imminent risk,” according to the lawsuit.

Still, the lawsuit continued, the center “failed to investigate further” Ms. Pressdee.

The Criminal charges filed Thursday by the state attorney general, laid out a history of troubling statements Ms. Pressdee made over several years, both on social media and in conversations with colleagues at rehab centers.

Witnesses told investigators, according to the complaint, that Ms. Pressdee denigrated the people in her care and made comments such as, “When is she going to die?”

Prosecutors said in a news release that Ms. Pressdee usually administered insulin doses “during night shifts when staffing was low and emergencies would not lead to immediate hospitalization.”

If Ms. Pressdee sensed that the victim was “going to get away,” she would take additional measures to kill the person “by either administering another dose of insulin or using an air embolism to ensure death,” the complaint states.

Ms Bower’s relatives were “sickened” earlier this year when they learned of Ms Pressdee’s confession, Mr Peirce said.

“Today’s charges do not lessen that pain,” he said. “But they are optimistic that this is the next step towards bringing justice in this matter not only for their family, but for all the other families involved.”

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