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Kimberly Clark SAENZ

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


Also known as Kimberly Clark Fowler
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Nurse - Poisoner - Bleach killings
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: January-April 2008
Date of arrest: April 1, 2009
Date of birth: 1974
Victims profile: Clara Strange / Thelma Metcalf / Garlin Kelley / Cora Bryant / Opal Few (kidney dialysis patients)
Method of murder: Poisoning (by injecting their bloodstreams with bleach)
Location: Lufkin, Texas, USA
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment with no eligibility for parole on April 2, 2012
 
 

 
 

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Kimberly Clark Saenz, also known as Kimberly Clark Fowler, is a convicted serial killer.

Background

In 2008, at the time of the murders, Kimberly Clark Saenz was a 34-year old licensed practical nurse. Saenz was married with two young children. Saenz suffered from substance dependence and used stolen prescription medication. Saenz had been fired at least four-times from health care jobs and placed disinformation on an application for employment and sought a health care job in violation of the terms of her bail.

Texas District Court

On March 31, 2012, in Texas District Court Kimberly Clark Saenz a nurse was found guilty of the 2008 murders of five kidney dialysis patients and injuring five other patients. On April 2, 2012, the Angelina County jury sentenced Saenz to life imprisonment with no eligibility for parole and three 20-year sentences for aggravated assault.

The five murder victims were: Clara Strange, Thelma Metcalf, Garlin Kelley, Cora Bryant and Opal Few.

The two eyewitness accounts of Linda Hall and Leraline Hamilton confirmed that on April 28, 2008, Saenz drew sodium hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach, into syringes and injected the substance into two patients dialysis lines at the dialysis clinic owned by DaVita in Lufkin, Texas.

The Food and Drug Administration prepared a document confirming that samples linked to some victims tested positive for bleach while others showed bleach "may have been present at one time."

Lufkin law enforcement officers testified at the trial that they arrested Saenz for public intoxication and criminal trespass. These incidents related to the domestic disturbances with her husband, Mark Kevin Saenz. The husband had filed for divorce and had obtained a restraining order against Saenz in June 2007, just one year before the clinic deaths and illnesses.

The trial records reflected that prior to working at DaVita, Saenz was fired from Woodland Heights hospital for stealing Demerol, which was found in her handbag. Saenz was fired from DaVita in April 2008 after the numerous deaths at the clinic. Saenz nursing licence eventually was suspended. Saenz then applied to work as a receptionist in a Lufkin medical office and lied on her job application about previous employment.

At the victim impact statement portion of the trial the daughter of victim Thelma Metcalf told Saenz, “You are nothing more than a psychopathic serial killer. I hope you burn in hell”.

The prosecutor, Clyde Herrington, believed there were more victims than just the ten indicted cases, based on the research of the epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The epidemiologist statistically connected Saenz to other adverse health events to patients. Lufkin Police detectives could only obtain medical waste from two weeks prior to April 28, 2008, so there was inadequate evidence to raise further indictments against Saenz in the other incidents.


The day Kimberly Saenz got caught

By Jessica Cooley - The Lufkin News

June 5, 2012

She got to work around 4:30 a.m., her deadly secret only hours from being discovered.

It was April 28, 2008. Kimberly Saenz arrived at the DaVita Dialysis clinic in Lufkin wearing ponytails and scrubs. Her supervisor, Amy Clinton, told her she would be working as a patient care technician that day.

Clinton, a DaVita head honcho brought in from Houston following two deaths at the clinic three weeks earlier, said the news distressed Saenz, as she was accustomed to being a medication nurse. In her usual role, she had free rein of the facility, going from patient to patient to “push” medication from a syringe, sometimes needle-tipped, into dialysis lines and ports.

According to Clinton, Saenz became visibly upset, wiping tears from her eyes as she reluctantly got ready to do a job she felt was beneath her — monitoring patients, cleaning up vomit and wiping up blood, as it commonly spilled during dialysis.

Around 6 a.m., patients Marva Rhone and Carolyn Risinger entered the facility. For people with failed kidneys, spending hours attached to a dialysis machine three times a week can mean the difference between life and death.

Although everyone at the clinic was on high alert with the recent string of deaths, it seemed to a be a day like any other until two patients said they saw something disturbing.

Sitting no more than 40 feet from Rhone and Risinger, patients Lurlene Hamilton and Linda Hall said they watched Saenz squat down to place a jug of bleach on the floor. She then poured the bleach into her cleaning bucket and drew up 10 ccs of the caustic liquid into a syringe, according to their testimony.

Her actions bothered the women for two reasons — one, the floor isn’t sanitary, and two, Saenz seemed nervous. Hall and Hamilton said they then watched her inject bleach into ports on the dialysis lines of Rhone and Risinger.

Although neither of them went into cardiac arrest, testing would later reveal that Rhone’s dialysis line tested positive for bleach. Risinger’s line was not tested, as it had already been thrown away.

Being seen that day marked the end of Saenz’s reign of terror on the clinic. A little more than four years to the day, a jury found her guilty on a charge of capital murder, set to spend the rest of her life in prison without the chance of parole for killing at least two of the five murder victims named in an indictment. Five other people who did not die were listed as victims of aggravated assault.

Looking back at the trial, prosecutor Clyde Herrington said there was very little of the state’s evidence that the jury did not see. He said he believes there were more victims than just the 10 indicted cases, based on the research of a Centers for Disease Control epidemiologist. Using the dates of adverse occurrences dating to 2007 paired with the days Saenz worked, the epidemiologist statistically connected her to the events more than any other DaVita employee. Because Lufkin Police detectives were only able to obtain medical waste from two weeks prior to April 28, Herrington could not obtain enough evidence to indict Saenz in the other incidents.

“The only days there were deaths in April, she was there,” Herrington said. “Dialysis patients are sick, but every source of information we can find says it is very unusual for patients to die during dialysis treatment.”

While the state doesn’t have to prove motive for a conviction, Herrington said they did talk with a registered nurse who studied more than 100 health care killers. According to her research, only 50 percent of health care killers that go to trial are convicted. The most common method used by a health care killer is injecting a patient with some type of medication or substance.

“Criminal behavior is something we’ve been trying to understand since Cain killed Abel,” Herrington said. “Only when the health care killer confesses do we know motive.”

As to Saenz’s specific motive, Herrington said he believes at the time she was a troubled woman with marital problems who lashed out because of job dissatisfaction. Before working at DaVita, he said, Saenz was fired from Woodland Heights Medical Center for stealing Demerol, a powerful narcotic painkiller.

“From talking to some of the folks who worked with her, it sounded like her husband didn’t want her to quit (DaVita),” Herrington said. “She was depressed. She was frustrated, and I think she took those frustrations out on the patients.”

Maintaining his client’s innocence, defense attorney Ryan Deaton said there is a lot of information he wishes the jury had heard. He said he intends to be involved with Saenz’s appeal. She appeared in court Wednesday to start the process.

“Hopefully she’ll get a new trial,” Deaton said.

Before her trial began, Deaton fought for the jury to have access to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report from May 2008 that was heavily critical of DaVita’s practices. The report was ruled inadmissible by state District Judge Barry Bryan.

According to the report, from Dec. 1, 2007, to April 28, 2008, the facility had 19 deaths compared to 25 for 2007. Those numbers put the facility at a mortality rate 7 percent above the state average.

The facility was also not keeping proper records of adverse occurrences, the report stated. From Sept. 1, 2007, to April 26, 2008, there were a total of 102 DaVita patients transported by ambulance to local hospitals during or immediately following dialysis. Of those, 68 did not have a complete adverse occurrence report.

The report went on to state that based on record review and nursing staff interview, the facility “did not demonstrate competence in monitoring patients during treatment alerting nurses or physicians of changes to a patient’s condition and following the physician’s orders for the dialysis treatment.”

DaVita spokesman Vince Hancock said the company’s actions in April 2008 did not kill any Lufkin patients, as evidenced by the jury’s decision.

“We hope that healing can start to occur for families of victims and for our teammates who also have been victimized by the murderous acts of Kim Saenz,” Hancock said.

While Saenz’s family has maintained their silence since the sentencing, her husband said they are planning a press conference in the near future.

Saenz remains in the Angelina County Jail pending prison transport.


Kimberly Saenz, ex-nurse convicted of bleach killings, sentenced to life in prison

CBSNews.com

April 2, 2012

(CBS/AP) LUFKIN, Texas- Kimberly Saenz, a former East Texas nurse who killed five kidney dialysis patients by injecting them with bleach, escaped the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison Monday.

A jury in Angelia County convicted the 38-year-old on Friday of killing five patients and deliberately injuring five others at a clinic run by Denver-based health care giant DaVita Inc.

Saenz was fired in April 2008 after a rash of illnesses and deaths at the clinic in Lufkin, about 125 miles northeast of Houston. Her lawyers argued Saenz wrongly took the blame for the clinic's sloppy procedures. 

"She's never getting out no matter what you do," said Steve Taylor, Saenz's lawyer, in his closing remarks, urging jurors to choose a life sentence. "Society is protected. You will never see her again."

Taylor reminded jurors Saenz had been free during the trial. Prosecutors failed to show she would present a future danger for violence, one of the questions jurors must answer in deciding a death penalty. 

Angelina County District Attorney Clyde Herrington never specifically urged jurors to impose the death penalty but pointed out how Saenz was found with drugs stolen while she was working as a hospital nurse, and tried to fake a urine test that was required of her.

"I know you'll reach a verdict that's just and in accordance with the law," he said after showing them photos of some of the victims on a large screen in the courtroom.


Nurse facing the death penalty after being found guilty of killing five patients by injecting IV lines with BLEACH

DailyMail.co.uk

March 31, 2012

A nurse is facing the death penalty after she was found guilty of injecting dialysis tubes with bleach, killing five patients and injuring five more.

Kimberly Saenz, 38, was last night found guilty of capital murder in the deaths and aggravated assault in the injuries at the DaVita Dialysis clinic in Lufkin, Texas.

As her trial, which began on March 5, moves to the punishment phase, the mother-of-two will face either life imprisonment or the death penalty. Prosecutors had said they would seek the death penalty if she was convicted.

Saenz was caught after a top fire official wrote an anonymous letter pleading for state health department inspectors to visit a clinic because of numerous calls for paramedics.

The April 2008 letter said: 'In the last two weeks, we have transported 16 patients.This seems a little abnormal and disturbing to my med crews. Could these calls be investigated by you?'

Within days, surveyors arrived. By that time, emergency crews had been called 30 times that month, including seven for cardiac problems. Four people had died.

This was compared to just two calls during the previous 15 months, according to the Texas Department of Health Services.

A review of clinic records by an inspector found Saenz was on duty for 84 per cent of instances where patients suffered chest pain or cardiac arrest.

On April 28, 2008, two dialysis patients said they did not feel well and two others reported that they saw Saenz inject bleach into tubing used by patients Marva Rhone and Carolyn Risinger.

Saenz, who had held her entry-level position as a licensed vocational nurse for eight months, was sent home and fired the next day.

A year later, an indictment listed sodium hypochlorite, also known as bleach, as the 'deadly weapon' used by Saenz to kill five people, including Rhone and Risinger.

Saenz's lawyers previously said she had no motive to kill.

'Kimberly Saenz is a good nurse, a compassionate, a caring individual who assisted her patients and was well liked,' defense attorney T. Ryan Deaton said.

He argued that Saenz was being targeted by the clinic's owner for faulty procedures at the facility, including improper water purification, suggesting that officials at the clinic fabricated evidence against her.

Saenz didn't take the stand in her own defense. But in a recording played at trial, she could be heard testifying before a grand jury that she felt 'railroaded' by the clinic and 'would never inject bleach into a patient'.

Prosecutors described claims Saenz was being set up by her employer as 'absolutely ridiculous'.

They described her as a depressed and disgruntled employee who complained about specific patients, including some of those who died or were injured.

Saenz had sworn in an affidavit she had no previous felony record. But documents filed by Angelina County District Attorney Clyde Herrington listed about a dozen instances of wrongdoing.

They included allegations Saenz overused prescription drugs, had substance abuse and addiction problems, was fired at least four times from health care jobs and put false information on an employment application, the AP reported.

Investigators examined blood tubing, IV bags and syringes used by the DaVita patients, who visited the clinic to have their blood filtered.

They testified that they found Internet searches on Saenz's computer about bleach poisoning in blood and whether bleach could be detected in dialysis lines.

Saenz told the grand jury she had been concerned about the patients' deaths and looked up bleach poisoning references to see 'if this was happening, what would be the side effects'.

She was charged with one capital murder count accusing her of killing as many as five patients, and with five counts of aggravated assault for the injuries to the five other patients.

On the capital murder count, jurors could have found her guilty of the lesser charges of murder or aggravated assault.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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