The Good Nurse: the true story of killer Charles Cullen - how many victims did he murder, when was he caught?

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For 16 years Cullen worked as a nurse in hospitals across New Jersey and Pennsylvania where he is believed to have murdered over 400 patients

Netflix’s latest true crime film The Good Nurse tells the true story of nurse Amy Loughren as she works to uncover the horrific crimes of serial killer Charles Cullen.

The chilling thriller sees Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) take on the role of Cullen, with Jessica Chastain (The 355) playing Loughren who helped the police crack the case of one of America’s most prolific serial killers. So, who is Charles Cullen and where is he today? Here’s everything you need to know.

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Charles Cullen admitted to killing 40 terminally ill patients in nine hospitals and a nursing home in the past 16 years (Pic: Getty Images)Charles Cullen admitted to killing 40 terminally ill patients in nine hospitals and a nursing home in the past 16 years (Pic: Getty Images)
Charles Cullen admitted to killing 40 terminally ill patients in nine hospitals and a nursing home in the past 16 years (Pic: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Who is Charles Cullen?

Cullen is one of America’s most prolific serial killers. For 16 years he worked as a nurse in hospitals across New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where he would murder patients by administering a lethal cocktail of drugs into their IVs.

The 62-year-old was born in West Orange, New Jersey in 1960. Cullen had a troubled childhood, with his father dying when he was seven months old and his mother during his senior year of high school. He enrolled in the navy before opting to study nursing at Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing in Montclair. He graduated in 1987, married Adrienne Taub and the pair had two daughters.

However their marriage was short lived with Taub filing for divorce citing domestic violence. Reported by Crime and Investigation, she told police Cullen had “previously spiked people’s drinks with lighter fluid”.

He was eventually apprehended in 2003 and plead guilty to committing 40 murders, however he was only convicted of 29. Cullen was handed 11 life sentences, but made a plea deal, which prevented him from getting the death penalty. He is still serving his sentence in a New Jersey penitentiary and will not be eligible for parole for 397 years.

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Eddie Redmayne as Charlie Cullen and Jessica Chastain as Amy Loughren in The Good Nurse (Pic: JoJo Whilden / Netflix)Eddie Redmayne as Charlie Cullen and Jessica Chastain as Amy Loughren in The Good Nurse (Pic: JoJo Whilden / Netflix)
Eddie Redmayne as Charlie Cullen and Jessica Chastain as Amy Loughren in The Good Nurse (Pic: JoJo Whilden / Netflix) | JoJo Whilden / Netflix

How many victims did he murder?

The true number of victims that Cullen claimed is disputed. According to Netflix Life he admitting to killing 40 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but was convicted of 29 murders. However, the real number has been estimated to be closer to 400, making Cullen the most prolific serial killer in America.

How did he get caught?

Cullen was eventually caught in 2003 after a 16 year crime spree. At the time he was working at Somerset Medical Centre in Somerville, New Jersey and treating a patient called Florian Gall who mysteriously died from a heart attack, despite showing signs of improvement.

It was discovered that Gall had been given a lethal dose of digoxin which had caused their death and suspicions that someone was drugging patients began to grow.

Nurse Amy Loughren had struck up a friendship with Cullen but started to grow concerned after detectives showed her that Cullen had ordered these drugs. Loughren began cooperating with police and spoke to Cullen wearing a wire, whilst she couldn’t get him to confess, she got enough evidence for him to be brought in for questioning. Cullan was arrested in December in 2003 and admitted to investigators that he would sometimes give “very sick” patients drug overdoses.

When can I watch Netflix’s The Good Nurse?

The Good Nurse will be available to stream on Netflix from Wednesday 26 October.

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