LifeNews has twice profiled Daniela Poggiali, an Italian nurse who was arrested in October for allegedly killing up to 38 patients because she found them or their relatives annoying. Later, reports indicated she may have killed as many as 96 patients.
One of her victims, Rosa Calderoni, brought her crimes to light after she died from an injection of potassium. Officials suspect that Ms. Poggiali may have killed two more patients on the same day of Calderoni’s death.
Under Italian law, killing a patient through direct euthanasia with an overdose of drugs is illegal. Not that it would make it any better, but Ms. Poggiali didn’t claim that she killed her patients because she saw that they were in pain or were suffering. She simply didn’t want to deal with them anymore and killing was a quick fix.
Poggiali has denied killing anyone and insists she’s being framed but investigators said they found pictures of Poggiali posing with patients who had just died.
Today, Newsweek has a more extensive profile of Poggiali and says that if she is convicted of killing these dozens of patients that she would qualify as oneof the most prolific serial killers in history.
An Italian nurse nicknamed “The Angel of Death” is in jail in Italy under investigation for the murder of up to 96 patients in the course of a single year in the hospital ward where she worked – that’s one death every three days between April 2013 and April 2014. If found guilty of killing all those patients, she will be classed one of the most prolific serial killers in history.
The dubious record is currently held by the Colombian Luis Garavito, whose victims, it was proven, were 138 children, murdered over a five-year period during the 1990s. The record for the greatest number of murders committed by a nurse is held by an American, Charles Cullen, who was given six life sentences in 2006 for the murder of 40 patients (though he was suspected of causing up to 400 deaths) in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over a 16-year period.
What makes this case especially chilling is the supposed motive: whereas some doctors or nurses who kill their patients do so for reasons of mercy – as Cullen did, or at least claimed to have done – Daniela Poggiali is believed to have killed her patients simply because they irritated her. She had also allegedly given them laxatives, which made them incontinent, and even had photographs taken of herself next to the corpse of one of her patients on her smartphone, which she posted online. In some of them, taken in January 2014 by another nurse, she is laughing and making lewd gestures next to the corpse of an old lady, who had just died in her ward. In one, she is leaning over the corpse grinning and making a thumbs-up sign. In the other, she is lying down next to the corpse with her mouth open, pointing a finger at her face as if it were a gun. “She was particularly euphoric and wanted to have a photo next to the dead body,” her colleague later told police, Il Corriere della Sera reports.
Poggiali, 42, is a passionate supporter of the Juventus football team and the music of Elton John, keen on exotic travel and gym workouts. She qualified as a nurse 17 years ago and for the last 12 has worked in the 30-bed general medicine ward at the Umberto I hospital in the small city of Lugo, between Bologna and Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. She has cropped blonde hair and a number of striking tattoos. She has no children, but is dating Luigi Conficconi, a car mechanic, who is also a semi-professional soccer referee.
Hospital bosses only became suspicious of Poggiali in March 2014, after the unexplained deaths of five patients, who died in the space of a week during night shifts when she was working more or less alone on her ward. They did not call the police but moved her to day shifts in order, as they would later put it, to keep a closer eye on her. Three days later, on the morning of 8 April, another patient died: Rosa Calderoni.
The 78-year-old woman’s daughter, Manuela Alci, who was present that morning, has said she was told to leave the room while Poggiali gave medication to her mother, who had multiple health problems. Ten minutes later, Manuela was allowed back into the room and noticed that her mother’s eyes were rolling uncontrollably and that she had a glass tube inserted in her arm like a drip which, she said, had not been there before. Then, while she was holding her hand, her mother died.
Lead prosecutor, Alessandron Mancini said that Ms. Poggiali seemed “unperturbed” when she was arrested. He also said that police found a disturbing “selfie” of Ms. Poggiali’s phone showing her giving a thumbs-up in front of a deceased patient.
It was reported in the Italian paper, Corrieredella Sera, that colleagues of Ms. Poggiali overheard her saying things like, “Leave it to me, I’ll quiet them” and was known to be cynical and a vindictive nurse.
Mancini said, “I can assure you in that all my professional years of seeing shocking photos, there were few such as these.” He also said that homicide will be difficult to prove since potassium chloride is hard to detect after a few days in the bloodstream.
Additionally, Ms. Poggiali would deliberately give laxatives to patients at the end of the day so that other nurses would have to deal with the effects and she would sedate patients who complained about their treatment. It seems like Ms. Poggiali believed she had the right to do away with inconvenient or difficult patients.
Unfortunately, similar ideology to that of Ms. Poggiali is not unheard of in the medical community. Take, for example, infamous bioethics professor, Peter Singer, who believes medical professionals should be permitted to lethally inject Alzheimer’s “non-persons”, even if they never asked to be killed.
As Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo, explains in his article, Yes, We Have a Culture of Death, there are many examples of life threatening prejudices plaguing the disability community and those who are medically vulnerable.
Schindler writes, “Tragically, too many of us today have become disconnected and desensitized to our own dignity and intrinsic worth. It seems we no longer know how to love, and we place more significance and value on what a person can or cannot do, instead of understanding the value and dignity of the human person, simply because they are human.”
While some prejudices might seem “kinder” than Ms. Poggiali’s reasoning, they all lead down the same path; killing people because they are inconvenient or unwanted.