SAN ANTONIO – A former nurse who prosecutors believe could be responsible in the deaths of up to 60 Texas children has been indicted on two new murder charges.
The Bexar County district attorney's office said in a statement that Genene Jones, 66, was indicted Thursday in the deaths of 8-month-old Ricky Nelson in 1981 and 4-month-old Patrick Zavala a year later. She now faces four new murder charges, all filed in about the last month. Last week, she was indicted on a murder count in the 1981 death of Rosemary Vega, and she was indicted on a murder count last month in the 1981 death of 11-month-old Joshua Sawyer.
Jones is serving concurrent 99-year and 60-year sentences in state prison for the 1982 killing of another toddler and the sickening of a 4-week-old boy who survived. She was scheduled for release in March under a mandatory release law in place when she was convicted, but District Attorney Nico LaHood has previously said he's trying to ensure she never leaves prison because she's linked to the deaths of many more children who died in the early 1980s either during her shifts or shortly after.
"I believe that she should take her last breath from behind bars. And that is our intent," LaHood said at a Thursday news conference.
LaHood has said the latest indictments were prompted by new evidence and the re-examining of decades-old evidence.
"Justice demands for all of these innocent children's deaths to be investigated and accounted for," he said. "We will continue to follow the evidence wherever it leads us and work diligently to account for every child whose life was stolen at the hands of Jones. This remains an open and continuous investigation."
That investigation aims to build cases to support indictments "for as many deaths as the evidence can prove," LaHood said.
Prosecutors said the fresh material they've reviewed includes a 2011 letter from Jones to the Texas Board of Nursing in which she apologizes "for the damage I did to all because of my crime." In the letter, obtained by Texas Monthly and ProPublica for a joint report published Thursday, Jones said she "was not of sound mind" and looks back on her actions as "heinous."
Jones, whose case has been chronicled in two books, a TV movie and numerous articles, had previously maintained her innocence. It's not clear if she has an attorney to address the most recent allegations against her.
During Jones' time working at a San Antonio hospital and a clinic in Kerrville, northwest of San Antonio, children died of unexplained seizures and other complications.
Prosecutors at Jones' 1984 murder trial said the nurse lethally injected children at the Kerrville clinic to demonstrate the need for a pediatric intensive care unit at a nearby hospital.
Other prosecutors theorized that Jones' tactic was to take swift medical action and save some of her victims, making herself appear to be a sort of miracle worker.
It's not clear why Jones' actions, involving so many suspected victims, were not detected earlier. But Sam Millsap, a previous district attorney in Bexar County, told KSAT-TV in 2013 that medical records at the San Antonio hospital at one point were accidently destroyed, hampering efforts by investigators to prove their suspicions.