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An everyday angel of life became an angel of death. Kimberly Saenz would inject bleach into the IV lines of her patients. Here's what we know.

Angel of death: The frightening story of the Bleach Killer Nurse

Nurses are supposed to be bastions of care and wellness, so when those expectations go sideways it sends chills up the spine. Millions of people put their lives in the hands of nurses as they ride out illnesses and hope to get better. In the age of the coronavirus, the thought of a killer nurse is almost too much to bear. The words killer and nurse should never even go together. 

What would make a caretaker disrespect their profession so badly that they’re willing to betray a patient’s trust? 

In 2008, a nurse who was supposed to be helping give life to dialysis patients would be handing out death by lethal injection. Kimberly Saenz would inject bleach into the IV lines of her patients, causing serious illness and death. An everyday angel of life became an angel of death. 

From angel of life to angel of death

Saenz worked at the DaVita Lufkin Dialysis Center as a vocational nurse. Prior to getting this job she had been fired from several other places, including the Lufkin Hospital. The reason for Saenz’s dismissals was because she had been accused of both stealing drugs and faking a urine test. 

The patients in Saenz’s hands surely had no idea about her past. They were at the DaVita center to simply get their dialysis treatments and go about their day. Having their blood filtered by a dialysis machine because their own bodies couldn’t handle the task was a part of their daily life. They never expected to die by the machine that was supposed to be prolonging their life. 

Saenz had been reported to have frayed relationships with several of her patients. It was common knowledge she didn’t like some of them. When the DaVita Lufkin Dialysis Center started experiencing an increase in deaths and illnesses, they sent clinical coordinator Amy Clinton to investigate. 

 

Clinton managed procedures and began looking into the circumstances surrounding the two deaths that the center had experienced so far. She decided to switch up the roles of nurses and assign them different patients to see what would happen. Clinton noted that Saenz was clearly unhappy when she received her new role as a patient care technician. Some people even said she looked “teary-eyed” after the change. 

Not long after, two patients claimed they saw Saenz prepare a bleach solution and then inject it into the IVs of two other dialysis patients. 

By the time Saenz was fired, she had killed 5 patients total. The DaVita Lufkin Dialysis Center shut down for two months and released a public statement saying the person who was responsible for the tragedies had been released. 

A trial for an angel of death

At the trial, Saenz’s lawyers claimed that Saenz was merely cleaning the dialysis tubes with bleach, but DaVita denied this as being a procedure they carried out at the center. Although Saenz didn’t take the stand, she did state that she felt “railroaded,” and insisted that she “would never inject bleach into a patient.” 

Computers seized from Saenz’s home said otherwise. In their history, they revealed that Saenz had looked up “bleach poisoning” and tried to figure out whether or not bleach could be detected in dialysis lines. 

After four weeks of testimony, the jury found her guilty of aggravated assault and capital murder. Saenz was spared the death penalty, but was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Several appeals have been denied. 

Some loved ones of the victims expressed disappointment that Saenz didn’t receive the death penalty, while others said they were satisfied to have her locked in prison. One woman, Wanda Hollingsworth, who was the daughter of one of Saenz’s victims, was absolutely disgusted by Saenz’s actions particularly because she is a nurse herself. 

Hollingsworth said to Saenz, “You have disgraced your family and the medical field. I honestly say I hope you rot in hell.”  

For more tragic stories about nurses who disgrace their professions, check out the Netflix series Nurse Who Kill. Saenz’s case was also featured in a bonus of Oxygen’s License to Kill.

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