VILE Podcast: Texas 'killer nurse' Genene Jones
This is Vile: The story of the woman known as Texas' killer nurse, and how a vial of a powerful drug became a smoking gun in the case against her.
VILE Podcast: Texas 'killer nurse' Genene Jones
Author: Stacey Welsh
Published: 12:55 PM CST January 10, 2018
Updated: 6:19 PM CST January 31, 2018

Genene Jones was convicted of killing one child and injuring another in the 1980s, and the Bexar County District Attorney's Office recently brought charges against her in five additional cases stemming from that time period involving children.

But more than three decades after her original conviction, it seems many people don't know who Jones is or remember the pain her crimes caused.

She was a nurse in San Antonio and Kerrville in the early 1980s before an investigation and a high-profile trial put her behind bars. She was set for early release in 2018 after serving just a third of her prison sentence.

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Jones has been convicted of one child's death and of causing injury to another.

"Because of old parole laws, from the 1970s, which is why we're here, she got (credit for) good time and she was getting out in about 30 years of a 99-year sentence," Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood said.

LaHood and a team of investigators are working to keep her behind bars, and the only way to do that is to bring new murder charges against her. So far, Jones has been served with five more murder indictments in 2017 alone, cases that were not prosecuted back in the 1980s.

Author Peter Elkind has been following the Genene Jones case for more than 30 years. (KENS-TV file photo)
Author Peter Elkind has been following the Genene Jones case for more than 30 years. (KENS-TV file photo)

Under the state's antiquated Mandatory Release Law, passed by the Texas Legislature in 1977, Genene Jones was scheduled to get out of prison on March 1, 2018, regardless of the severity of her conviction. In her case, she was convicted of murder and injury to a child. She served those sentences concurrently. Thousands of other violent offenders also have been released under the law.

The law was amended in 1986 to exclude violent offenders, and the law later was abolished all together. However, because it was not abolished retroactively, the law still applies to Jones. In order to keep her in prison, prosecutors would need to seek a conviction on another crime so that Jones would receive a new prison sentence.

"She worked certain shifts. We know that during certain shifts, the code blues went up astronomically, meaning that the child that was in grave danger," LaHood said. Child deaths went up astronomically. That's all I'm going to say about that."

"There's substantial proof of that. When she worked, children lost their lives, and we have to even take it a little bit further. That's why we say 'suspected.' Not 'accused' and not 'convicted.' [She's] suspected of this. Evidence has to back that up for us to bring a case forward," he said.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studied Genene Jones’ effect on the ICU like an infectious disease spreading, an epidemic. A study found children under her care were 10 times more likely to die.

Her 3-11 p.m. shift at Bexar County Hospital became known as "The Death Shift," which is also the title of author Peter Elkind's book. He spoke with KENS 5 extensively about the case.

"Bad things happened. Kids died surprisingly at times. There was a pattern that had emerged that was so troubling that nurses who worked with her began to refer to her as the ‘death nurse’ and began to refer to the shift she worked on as the ‘death shift.’ They had specifically gone to their bosses and said, ‘Look at the number of kids that have died under Genene,'" Elkind said.

Genene Jones is suspected in the deaths of several children while she worked in the pediatric intensive care unit at Bexar County Hospital. (KENS-TV file photo)
Genene Jones is suspected in the deaths of several children while she worked in the pediatric intensive care unit at Bexar County Hospital. (KENS-TV file photo)

Jones was a licensed vocational nurse, or LVN, in the pediatric intensive care unit at Bexar County Hospital in the South Texas Medical Center. The name later changed to Medical Center Hospital and is currently University Hospital.

She's accused of administering drugs to children that caused them to crash and eventually die.

However, at the time, Elkind says hospital officials didn't want people to know what was going on.

In the wake of several suspicious deaths, officials at Bexar County Hospital eliminated her position without singling her out or confronting her.

"They never called the authorities at that point. In fact, they never called the authorities, period. They instead sent her off with a good recommendation to get rid of her after conducting a study that explicitly pointed fingers at her: A secret study by medical experts," Elkind said.

Even as rumors were swirling surrounding Genene Jones, a doctor who had worked with Jones in the PICU hired Jones as a nurse at her private practice clinic in Kerrville, about an hour outside of San Antonio.

KENS 5 reporter Ted Dracos broke the story about the investigation into Jones’ actions. The allegations against her first aired on KENS-TV in 1983.

ted dracos_1508350045033.JPG
Ted Dracos on KENS-TV on Feb. 16, 1983. While Genene Jones' name was not mentioned yet, this report marked the first time allegations against a nurse were made public in connection with the deaths of children.

Just about a year before the news broke, a rash of suspicious deaths plagued the ICU where Jones worked and a Kerrville family doctor’s office.

But how did she land behind bars?

"To throw away a child's life in their mom's arms… We know that, right? A child was inside of their mommy's arms, and someone with an animalistic mentality [threw] away a child's life like a chewing gum wrapper. That's a different mindset. No one is safe from that person," LaHood said.

We do know that, because one mother said Genene Jones deliberately injected a dangerous drug into her daughter while she was holding her in her arms.

Petti McClellan’s 15-month-old daughter, Chelsea, would become the reason Genene Jones went to prison more than 30 years ago.

We'll have her story in the next chapter of the VILE podcast.

KENS 5 is taking a look back at the history of the Genene Jones case and following new developments in the Vile podcast. This is an ongoing project. If you are connected to the case, and you would like to speak with us, email

Stick with for the latest updates in our podcast series, plus photos, videos and audio recordings related to the story.