Charles Cullen is a real American killer whose true story inspired the movie The Good Nurse, released on Netflix in October 2022. In this article, we will tell this individual’s actual, horrible deeds.
2003, New Jersey. Amy Loughren is a 38-year-old single mother who works as a nurse at Somerset Medical Center. She has to raise her two children alone and to guarantee them a future, she dedicates herself with outstanding commitment and passion to her profession.
Amy suffers from heart disease, and during her shifts at the hospital, she forms a bond with a colleague named Charles Cullen, 43. The two seem to be united by suffering: if Amy has to deal with significant physical discomfort, Charles, in turn, wages a daily battle against depression. Over time their friendship solidifies, and both are always willing to give each other a hand.
It would seem like a nice story if it weren’t for something unexpected that happened at some point. The police contact Amy. Investigators tell him they suspect her friend Charles Cullen is a serial killer who voluntarily injects lethal doses of drugs into patients, consequently enlisting her help in gathering information about him and trying to extract a confession.
Amy is shocked by this news. It seems impossible that Charles could have committed such actions. The woman decides to collaborate, thus discovering a reality far beyond imagination.
It appears that the colleague had ordered several medicines whose use was not part of the patients’ therapies in the ward where he worked. Through the log on the hospital computer, it emerges that Cullen had cared for inpatients who were not assigned to him, and during his surveillance, some of them had died of cardiac arrest.
One day Amy invites Charles to have lunch together. The woman has hidden a bug that records their entire meeting. During the conversation, the woman urges her friend to let go and free himself, and at this point, the suspicions become certainties. Charles Cullen confesses to being a serial killer.
But what do we know about his life, and how did his crazy project originate?
Born February 22, 1960, in West Orange into a large family, he is the youngest of eight children. The mother is a housewife, and the father is a bus driver. Charles will never meet his father, actually, as he dies when the baby is only seven months old.
His childhood is certainly not simple. At school, he is continually targeted by bullies, leading him to live in a state of chronic depression that leads to self-harm. At nine, he attempts suicide for the first time by ingesting chemicals. Throughout his existence, Cullen attempts to take his own life twenty times.
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Another tragedy hits him when he is 17: his mother dies in a car accident. An event that devastates him deeply. Following this, Charles abandoned his studies and joined the navy. During the period of service, he becomes the protagonist of worrying episodes. On one occasion, he shows up for the shift with a doctor’s coat, surgical mask, and latex gloves.
In the meantime, his suicide attempts continued, leading him to be discharged from the navy.
After returning home, Cullen enrolls in nursing school, a path that leads him to find work at Livingston hospital. In the same period, he meets a girl, Adrienne, who will become his wife and with whom he will give birth to two children. Their relationship lasted until January 1993, when his wife asked for and obtained a divorce, also denouncing him for domestic violence. According to documents and complaints, Charles had problems with alcoholism and indulged in bizarre and reprehensible behavior. He made phone pranks at funeral parlors, mistreated animals, and poured the lighter fluid into other people’s drinks.
In March of the same year, he received a complaint for stalking, as he harassed a colleague by following her on the street and calling her constantly. On one occasion, he entered her house secretly while she was sleeping. Because of this behavior, Charles is placed on probation for one year.
This picture would be enough to outline Charles Cullen as a troubled and disturbing type, but despite this, there is a secret in his life that makes him even more socially dangerous. The young nurse deliberately kills patients during hospital shifts.
It started on June 11, 1988, inside the Livingston medical center. Inside the facility is a 72-year-old man who had an allergic reaction to an anticoagulant drug. Charles is on duty and inexplicably administers a lethal dose of an intravenous drug to the man, which leads to his death. Cullen has just begun a devious and silent death path. During his years in the facility, he kills 11 other patients, in the same way, managing not to be discovered by anyone. In January 1992, the suspicion that someone was tampering with the bags of intravenous fluid for patients began to emerge inside the hospital. At this point, Charles, alarmed, decides to resign.
The following month he always found a job as a nurse in Philipsburg. Even in the new facility, he continues with evil intentions, killing three women with fatal doses of digoxin. During the following years, Cullen passed from one hospital to another, in some cases being fired for his particular behavior, on other occasions he resigned. On his way through the various medical centers, he continued to sow death, killing patients of different ages. The youngest victim was 21 years old.
A lethal trail that lasted many years until Somerset hospital signaled to authorities that it suspected one of its employees was administering deadly amounts of drugs to patients. From this moment, the investigation began, involving Amy Loughren. On December 14, 2003, the police arrested Charles Cullen.
A few days after being placed in custody, Cullen begins to confess his acts. The nurse declared that he had killed those people because he wanted to end their suffering by preventing their conditions from leading them to a slower and more painful death. However, many of his victims were not terminally ill and would be released once healed.
Charles says he doesn’t remember how many people he killed.
On March 2, 2006, he was sentenced to 18 consecutive life sentences. The confirmed victims are twenty-nine. However, the suspicion is that during his 25 years of criminal career Cullen has committed many more and that he may have killed up to 400 people.
The story had a strong media impact; even today, people and media keep discussing it. In October 2022, the film The Good Nurse, inspired by the book of the same name by Charles Graeber, was released on Netflix. The film traces the story of the serial killer’s capture through Amy Loughren’s involvement in her mission on behalf of the authorities.
Read other true stories behind movies and TV series on Auralcrave
murderpedia.org – Charles Cullen
medicalbag.com – Charles Cullen, The Killer Nurse: A Deeper Evil
nypost.com – how nurse caught nation’s deadliest serial killer, her co-worker
thesportsgrail.com – Who Is Amy Loughren Who Caught Serial Killer Nurse Charles Cullen, Where Is She Now Today In 2022, Age, Biography And Heart Condition
glamourmagazine.co.uk – “How i caught America’s most prolific serial killer”