Kristen Gilbert is an American medical serial killer charged and convicted of murdering several veterans while she was a nurse at a VA hospital in Leeds, MA. Gilbert may have been responsible for over 100 deaths during a 7-year killing spree. She is serving life in prison without parole.
"The VA will own my soul."
Henry Hudon proudly served in the United States Air Force before Nurse Gilbert killed him on December 8th, 1995. The USAF discharged Hudon after a near-fatal bar fight, where a broken beer bottle hit the back of his head so hard that it detached his retina. Although Hudon was lucky to survive, the traumatic event brought symptoms of paranoid-schizophrenia that left him in need of a primary caretaker.
Assigned to Ward C and in the care of Kristen Gilbert, Hudon suddenly felt that his life was in real danger. "You can't leave me here!", Henry told his mom and brother, "People are dying around here for no reason! The patients are talking about it. The staff is talking about it. The staff is talking to the patients about it." 😧
Staff ignored Henry's cries for help. They knew of his propensity to hear voices. He was delusional, they thought.
Hudon died 45 minutes later after Nurse Kristen Gilbert visited his hospital room, alone.
Caregiver or killer? Playing the role.
Kristen Heather Strickland (later Gilbert) was born on November, 13, 1967 in Fall River, Massachusetts. The Stricklands lived in a middle class home and raised two daughters, Kristen being the oldest.
From an early age, Kristen’s peers found her behaviour troubling. Although she excelled in her grades, leading the Math Club and her honors classes, many other kids knew her as a manipulator. "Twisted but not stupid." as one of her former boyfriends had claimed. This boyfriend claimed that she would tamper with his car, claw his skin with her fingernails, and once even left a suicide note that claimed she had eaten glass.
Kristen's father even told a psychiatrist that her daughter was a habitual liar. Being from Fall River, Gilbert would brag throughout her life that she was a distant relative of Lizzie Borden, the Fall River murderess who chopped to pieces her entire family.
After Kristen graduated from Greenfield Community College, she met and married her husband Glenn Gilbert. Although Kristen Gilbert proved to be unfaithful to Glenn, their marriage still produced two sons. The first child was born in 1990, followed by the second in 1993 when Kristen was 26-years-old.
One of her co-workers, Nurse Frank Bertrand, said about Kristen, "I don't know if she had two personalities or something that she could turn on or turn off, much like an actor playing a role."
Special Agent Bruce Sackman, in his book Behind the Murder Curtain, described Kristen Gilbert as a "code junkie". He found Kristen deliberately put herself around emergency situations where a patient's life depended on her actions. We believe that Kristen Gilbert would cause many times these "codes" after spiking an IV bag or injecting her patients.
Gilbert found pleasure in the praise her peers gave her for "saving lives". Only later they discovered she was the reason they needed saving at all.
Although Kristen was a married mother of two, she still found time to blossom a romantic relationship with a co-worker and VA security employee, James Perrault.
Perrault, a Persian Gulf War Army veteran, was required to respond to hospital codes as well if someone was dying. Soon Kristen and James started a secret affair. Perrault testified, "After a few weeks of just flirting back and forth, we were down at the VFW, and after the VFW close, I walked her out to her vehicle and had a kiss." 💋
It soon became clear that Kristen Gilbert was purposely trying to kill her patients so that she could see her lover for a just a few minutes. Newspapers reported that co-workers even caught the two "playing footsie", while doctors struggled to bring her victims back to life.
Gilbert soon left her husband with her two children and moved closer to James Perrault after trying unsuccessfully to poison her husband, Glenn.
Pumped To Kill
Stanley J. Jagodowski was a decorated Army veteran that served in the Korean War. The 66-year-old had since became overweight, developed diabetes, and spent many of his days in the care of medical professionals.
On August 21, 1995, the VA assigned Jagodowski to Ward C under the care of Kristen Gilbert while he recovered from a post-operative bowel obstruction operation. He was on his way to recovery and better health.
Two licenced nurses documented that at 8:43pm Stanley was in good spirits and his vitals were normal.
"Just after leaving, one of the nurses saw Gilbert go into Jagodowski's room with a needle and a swab in her hand, under the pretext of 'flushing' his intravenous line with 'saline' to keep the line open," Assistant US Attorneys said in court papers.
One nurse overheard Stanley cry out, "Ow! It hurts. You're killing me."
Jagodowski's body shot into cardiac arrest, and he was dead within 3 hours. Kristen Gilbert had pumped her victim with epinephrine, a heart stimulant.
Curtains for Kristen Gilbert
On March 26, 2001, a jury convicted Kristen Heather Gilbert to life imprisonment for murdering patients while employed at the Northampton VA. Gilbert narrowly avoided the death penalty and is currently serving her sentence at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.