The “Lidocaine Killer:” Robert Diaz

Nov 22, 2010 - by Ronnie Smith

Robert Diaz

Robert Diaz (photo from San Quentin warden's office)

Robert Diaz, the nurse who killed by injecting elderly patients with Lidocaine, evades the lethal injection execution awaiting him by dying at age 72.

by Ronnie D. Smith

Over the years I had thought how ironic it would be when they executed “Lidocaine Killer” Robert Rubane Diaz by lethal injection. On August 11, 2010, Diaz, 72, died of natural causes on California’s death row. Dying of natural causes was a luxury he never afforded the dozen, helpless old people he murdered in their hospital beds by injecting them with lethal doses of the heart drug Lidocaine three decades ago in Riverside County.

I first made contact with Diaz in May 1981 when he was a 43-year-old registered nurse and I was a reporter for a daily newspaper in Riverside, California. I had gotten a tip that investigators searched his home in the Mojave Desert town of Apple Valley, California -- known then for its most famous residents, cowboy movie stars Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

I didn’t know as I stood at the front door of the ranch-style home Diaz had rented from a county politician that six months later the soft-spoken, cardiac care nurse would be charged with twelve first-degree murders in a case that made national headlines and plunged Southern California into a health care crisis.

Answering my knock, the front door opened inches and a woman friend of Diaz peered out, saying he wasn’t home. Her neck was peppered with hickeys and she tried to cover them with her hand. I explained that I wanted to talk to Diaz about police searching his house. She turned and spoke to someone behind the door and I heard a man’s whisper. Through the cracked door, she handed me a hand-written note. Signed “Bob Diaz,” it stated that he was tired of police “harassment” and that he didn’t want to say “anything to the press that might hurt the investigation.”

As I read the shaky scrawl in black ink I didn’t know that he had already been asked by authorities if he believed in mercy killing. I was also unaware that only hours ago county district attorney and coroner’s investigators had found damning evidence in Diaz’s home -- hypodermic ampoules of Lidocaine.

In effect, they had seized his murder weapon.

 

A Dozen Mysterious Deaths

My paper had already reported that police were looking into two dozen “mysterious” deaths at a tiny hospital in the city of Perris in western Riverside County where, the paper would report later, Diaz had worked on the graveyard shift in the cardiac care unit. Known at the time for the colorful parachutes circling down in the sky over Perris Airport, a haunt for skydivers, Perris was soon to become ground zero for what was then thought to be the largest case of mercy killing in the state’s history.

All of the victims had been gravely ill elderly people who had died violent, convulsive deaths after being injected with Lidocaine, a heart drug meant to save lives by sedating acute cardiac stress. A drug routinely used in emergency rooms, Lidocaine was lethal in large doses and some patients had twenty times the normal amount in their bodies, according to autopsies.

Once Diaz, who had worked as a cardiac care nurse in hospitals in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, was linked to the Lidocaine deaths, 10 hospitals in the three counties feverishly examined charts of dozens of patients who had died on shifts he had worked. Within days, county coroners dug up bodies, autopsied them and performed tests for Lidocaine poisoning. Ultimately only Riverside County prosecutors charged Diaz with murder, an even dozen. At the time, authorities agreed he likely murdered more but the cases couldn’t be made. Indeed, Riverside County’s investigation alone involved more than two dozen deaths at just the Perris hospital. There was also a death in San Bernardino County that he was never charged with. Looking back now, it is arguable that had Diaz been content with an occasional murder –- say one every six months -- he might have gone on killing for years, maybe he already had. (He had been a nurse in California for three years.) Perhaps he never would have been caught. Elderly people die in hospital cardiac care facilities all the time and, if they were admitted to a cardiac unit, they likely got Lidocaine through an intravenous drip. So, finding some Lidocaine in their bodies was no surprise. But, greedy bloodlust was the murderer’s undoing.

Diaz began injecting and killing two patients on a shift. After he double-downed on April 20, 1981, an anonymous caller telephoned Riverside County Deputy Coroner Mickey Worthington and demanded an investigation into a rash of deaths in the intensive care unit of Community Hospital of the Valleys in Perris.

 

The Arrest

On May 1, Diaz’s house was searched. For the next six months as investigators painstakingly pieced together the complicated case, Diaz remained free. His name was poison in medical circles, however, and no hospital would hire him, so his murder spree ended. The case against him hinged heavily on sophisticated toxicology tests on human tissue performed at a specialty lab in Utah, and on November 23, 1981, Riverside County District Attorney’s investigator Dave Tolford and coroner Worthington woke Diaz at his home and allowed him to put on pants and a collared shirt, arresting him without incident at his home.

Handed the indictment, Diaz read the Penal Code section on it. “187?” he inquired, as they cuffed his hands.

“Murder,” Tolford translated the bitter three-digit number.

“Twelve counts of murder,” Worthington piled on.

Outwardly a soft-spoken, sensitive man whose emotions could fire up quickly, he might have wept right there had he understood other numbers on the indictment -- 190 P.C., California’s death penalty. As they led him out Diaz quietly kissed his 3-year-old daughter who slept through the arrest on the couch.

For the two investigators, Tolford and Worthington, it was the biggest investigation they would ever undertake. At the time it was unusual for the coroner’s office to investigate murder, such cases normally handled by the county sheriff's detectives. Years afterward Tolford would help produce a television documentary about the murders and Worthington, perhaps knowing the case amounted to his 15 minutes of fame, would admit he had kept personal copies of the documents prepared in the investigation.

 

Pre-Trial

After the arrest, nearly three years of legal maneuvering followed before Robert Diaz was tried, including a First Amendment case in which my newspaper, The Press Enterprise, sued a Riverside County judge for closing Diaz’s preliminary hearing to the press and public. In a ruling two years later, the United States Supreme Court agreed with the newspaper that such hearings should be open to the public, setting an important precedent in media law, a ruling still covered in law school constitutional law classes. And, while important to the paper, it was a sideshow for Diaz, who stood charged with the premeditated murders of 12 mostly elderly people, all residents of Riverside County.

Awaiting trial, the nurse had spent three years in the squalid, old Riverside jail, a facility constantly under court review for deplorable conditions. Broke, Diaz’s legal defense was provided by the Riverside County public defender himself. When his trial date came in 1984, Diaz had already decided to have a trial before a judge without a jury. It wasn’t a dumb idea in one main respect.

In a trial before a dispassionate judge, the public defender smartly removed an emotional element that might have inflamed jurors against his client. You might call it the “Everybody-Has-A-Grandma Rule.” Many of his victims were grandmothers and grandfathers. The evidence against Diaz was strong but circumstantial because nobody could testify that they actually saw Diaz inject patients with lethal doses of Lidocaine before they had seizures. Key evidence against him included the Lidocaine found in his home, which had unusually heavy concentrations of the drug. The deputy district attorney who prosecuted Diaz was a former public defender who would later be appointed a county Superior Court judge, partly because of the notoriety he received in the heavily publicized case. During the trial he likened the Lidocaine found in Diaz’s home to a “smoking gun.”

In another respect, the decision to forego a jury probably militated against Diaz. A central question was whether all of that Lidocaine got into the bodies of the victims by the malevolent hand of Diaz or was it the permissible accumulation of the Lidocaine they had received in the course of their hospital stays. The ton of prosecution evidence about toxicity and milligrams of Lidocaine in body tissue was highly technical and its very complex nature, and indeed explanation by expert witnesses, could have easily confused jurors to the point they might have been unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Simply put, juror confusion always benefits the defense.

In addition, 12 jurors probably would have been sickened by mismanagement of the intensive care unit at the Perris hospital, a cardiac ward Diaz called “screwy” in interviews with me before his arrest. For instance, in the first quarter of 1981, state medical regulators repeatedly cited the hospital for having vocational nurses rather than the required registered nurses on duty in the ICU. Something akin to letting a Cessna pilot fly a fighter jet. Even before Diaz arrived at the hospital on March 30, 1981, the unit’s death rate was 20 per cent, twice that expected. After he came aboard and started killing them nearly half of all patients admitted to the heart unit died. On his very first shift Diaz murdered a grandmother, which has always been enough evidence for me to believe that he was killing patients before he ever set foot in Community Hospital of the Valleys in Perris in 1981.

 

The Trial

Diaz testified in his defense and denied committing the murders, although unable to explain how so much Lidocaine got into the bodies of the victims. After hearing weeks of testimony and evidence, the judge convicted Diaz on all counts and sentenced him to death. Apropos of the Southern California lifestyle, Riverside County Superior Court Judge John Barnard, who has since died, told me right after his verdict that he picked death for Diaz over the alternative sentence of life in prison without parole after he had pondered and weighed the choices in a long stroll alone along the beach.

Months before his arrest, I interviewed Diaz twice. Each interview lasted more than an hour and one was conducted in the restaurant of the then-fashionable Apple Valley Inn near Diaz’s house. The Inn, only a stone’s throw from where Roy Rogers and Dale Evans lived in a new home built for them by their son, Dusty Rogers, had gained local fame two years before as the location where movie star-director Robert Redford had directed Mary Tyler Moore in scenes for his hit movie Ordinary People.

Robert Diaz in Court 1982

Robert Diaz in Court 1982 (Photo from Press-Enterprise)

In our first conversation at his home in Apple Valley on June 15, 1981, Diaz talked about his background and his childhood. The father of five children from two marriages, he said he was raised a strong Catholic and had considered becoming a priest. As he talked in what at times became an excited voice, he mashed one cigarette butt after another in an ashtray on a table next to his overstuffed chair in his living room. Over the course of more than an hour the ashtray filled with ash and butts. His mannerisms were slightly effeminate and, as he formed thoughts, he blew smoke upwards. His dark eyes were deep set behind eyeglasses and his dark curled hair had been permed.

 

An Odd Duck

He said he had been born in 1938, one of 16 children, and raised by his grandmother in Gary, Indiana. He never knew his father, he said, and when he finally saw the man, he was dead from a heart attack. He told me a strange story about his father.

“I was working in a hospital in the emergency room and they brought this man in,” he said, his voice somewhat nasal. It was 1972 and he said he worked as a nurse at St. Catherine’s Hospital in East Chicago. “I didn’t pay any attention to the last name because back home it (Diaz) was fairly common. It ended up that I was told the next day, that that had been my father.” I’ll admit that the anecdote struck me as more Hollywood script than biography, casting a haze of doubt on everything he was telling me that day. Diaz said he came to California from Indiana in 1979 after he learned that his first wife had never divorced her first husband. He told me he had been in the Marine Corps, an assertion I found difficult to believe until months later when a military source confirmed that he had been in the Marines but records showed that Diaz had been discharged in 1958 after they found evidence that he was schizophrenic. I knew he was an odd duck after investigators told me they had found leather “sex apparatus” in a bedroom closet, and although the stuff was irrelevant to the investigation they suggested it tended to show sadomasochistic behavior.

In the interview, Diaz told me he was brilliant, and he did come across as intelligent, although somehow naïve in a street-smarts sense. He told me that his IQ in high school was “180.” That made him smarter than one of his childhood heroes, Albert Einstein, whose IQ was a mere 160. (The average IQ is about 110.) Said Diaz: “I knew the theory of relativity backwards and forwards by the time I was in the eighth grade.” In fact, he told me that when Einstein died, it had crushed him emotionally.

Diaz claimed a royal bloodline. “If we go back to Spain now, we would claim an aristocracy. We’re related to Rodrigo Diaz De Avalon. That is my great, great, great grandfather, El Cid.”

He told me that he was fascinated with Egyptology and with pyramids and how they were built to gather energy from the cosmos. He spent time showing me how he fashioned pyramids out of wire and placed them over his head to drawn in energy from the heavens. He seemed absolutely sincere.

After the first interview I assumed his talent wasn’t nursing but effortless exaggeration. Yet, slinging bull didn’t make him a killer. At the close of the first interview, he agreed to meet with me for a second talk, if I bought him dinner. What he didn’t know was that in the second session I would do my reportorial best to learn whether he was a murderer.

 

Motive?

Despite television courtroom dramas where unless police show motive the case falls apart, motive isn’t something prosecutors normally have to prove to win a murder conviction in California. Exceptions include motive-specific crimes like murder-for-financial-gain. The question of why Diaz had killed all of those people was brisk fodder in the courthouse hallway. Two main theories emerged, although a third: he simply liked to kill people, won adherents. The first hallway theory said he was a mercy killer who ended the suffering of the infirm. You know, play God. Diaz knew people thought that about him. During our first interview, after telling me that Jesus had been a childhood hero, he immediately regretted saying it. “In the situation I am in now, it could create problems because they could say I’m a fanatic.”

I buy into the second hallway theory. While it took some dot-connecting, it held that Diaz had a pathological need to prove he knew the practice of cardiac emergency medicine better than the doctors who bossed him around. How? He put patients into deadly convulsions by injecting them with Lidocaine. Once the patient’s heart “flat lined,” cardiac-care nurse Diaz swung into action directing, what for him were exhilarating life-saving efforts. Saving a life made him a medical hero. Even better than the “dumb” doctors he despised. And, a few times he managed the chameleonic task of going from silent killer to celebrated savior. “Nothing is said about the patients we saved and got out of that (Perris hospital) unit,” Diaz told me before his arrest. “I know we got four or five out of there.” Of course saving patients whom he had put in peril depended a lot on how much Lidocaine Diaz had pumped into these frail, elderly bodies in the first place. Sometimes it was 20 times normal.

Someone visiting a busy hospital today might wonder how a nurse could kill patients with so many other hospital employees, nurses, physician assistants and doctors around. But, Diaz mostly worked the night shift, where oftentimes he was the only R.N. in the unit, giving him a free hand to kill. In one instance, hospital staff found a syringe full of Lidocaine crammed down between a bed mattress and the bed frame. It was believed that somebody had unknowingly walked in on Diaz before he was able to inject his death needle and he had hidden it in the sheets. Diaz usually injected his victims with Lidocaine around midnight. In little more than an hour they would have seizures, turn a purplish color and either die or he saved them.

In 1981 Diaz was a frustrated doctor. “My big aim was to go to medical school,” he told me. By orchestrating patients into the throes of death, it allowed him to essentially practice medicine, show what a 180 IQ could do. Listen to him talk about a “dumb” doctor, who came into the ICU after Diaz tried to revive an old woman, whom, he was later convicted of killing. “We called a code. I had pushed I think Lidocaine or atropine. I don’t remember. I pushed one medication and the doctor walked in. And he looked at the monitor and he looked at me. And he said well, ‘Do what you have to do and I’ll just stand here and watch.’ I looked at him and said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘I don’t know how to read the monitors.’ So, I had to make a decision whether to practice medicine and maybe lose my (nurse) license or just let the patient die. I said, oh well, I can always appeal my license.”

Diaz universally painted medical doctors as buffoons. Here’s what he said about a doctor who worked the shift Diaz killed 80-year-old Marian E. Stewart on April 14, 1981. “When I came on (to work) she was in trouble. With the EKGs, she was all over the place, and she coded on me. The doctor I had on didn’t know how to read the monitor, didn’t know what drugs to do.” Of another he said: “I was mad at (the) physician because when he came in and I showed him what was going wrong nothing was done. He (patient) was in heart block, complete heart block. He should have had a pacer put in right then and there.”

His medical finger-pointing was as effort to cast suspicion on others. He even tried to blame bad Lidocaine. Diaz had already notched 11 victims when he walked into the intensive care unit of San Gorgonio Pass Memorial Hospital in Banning, California on April 25, 1981, his first day on the job as a temporary nurse, and that night he killed his last helpless patient. The suspicious deaths at the Perris hospital was national news and a big topic of conversation in hospitals in Southern California. Diaz recalled that he was talking to nurses in the Banning hospital about the patient deaths in Perris and told them: “I turned to (another nurse) and said, ‘What kind of Lidocaine do you use here?’” He said she told him and he said the brand was suspect. “She pulled it off (the shelf) after I told her.”

Buying Diaz a $35 steak in exchange for the second interview was about as far as my newspaper would venture into the checkbook journalism common today. (After Diaz’s arrest his estranged wife called me to say she had a story about her husband she wanted to sell. I met her and she asked how much I was willing to pay for the story. I stood, reached into my pocket and pulled out a quarter, a nickel and a penny, and said, 31 cents. She blabbed her story anyway, saying she had found a diamond ring she believed belonged to her husband’s patient and that he might have killed to steal jewelry. The story was worth what I had offered to pay.)

 

Dinner with Diaz

Our dinner on June 17, 1981 was unlike any I had ever had before or will ever have again. Looking back today it was ghoulish. Then I was doing my job: I had convinced the prime suspect in a bunch of homicides to talk about them. How? As Diaz ate a T-bone steak at the fashionable Apple Valley Inn, I handed him death certificates of patients who had died “mysteriously” in the Perris and Banning cardiac care units. He read the names and dates of death on the certificates. On several he said he hadn’t worked that day or that he didn’t recall the name. Of course he could have lied. But, of other death certificates he said he clearly remembered the names and circumstances of their deaths because he had worked those shifts. Most of them, it would turn out, were people he was convicted of murdering. He was found guilty of the 1981 murders of Irene Annie Graham, 89, on March 30; Bernard Vernon-Lee Kean, 52, April 4; Beatrice Roberson Cline,79, April 5; Minnie Lee Dempsey, 89, April 6; Gertrude I. Bryant, 63, April 8; John W. Rainwater, 95, April 11; Kenneth Lancelot Silvera, 82, April 14; Marian E. Stewart, 80, April 14; Virginia Bayless, 78, April 20; Henry Lucero Castro, 65, April 20; Bertha Mae Boyce, 74, April 22; and J. Clifford Swanson, 79, April 25.

Obviously, he never told me how he killed them, only how he tried heroically to bring them back. But, in talking outside the formality of the courtroom, Diaz made little slip-ups. They are what lawyers call admissions, the building blocks of guilt in a circumstantial murder case. For example, Diaz recalled Beatrice Roberson Cline, of Perris, Calif., fondly, distinctly. He explained that he was the only registered nurse in the heart unit when, after 11 p.m. on April 4, 1981, the emergency room transferred the woman dressed in unusual pajamas to Diaz’s cardiac unit. Diaz said the ER nurses told him, “They expected (Cline) to get pretty bad during the night.” Little did the emergency room nurses know that their prognosis amounted to a gold-filigree invitation to Diaz to kill her.

“We got her on her birthday (April 4),” Diaz said of Cline, whose death certificate showed she had suffered coronary artery disease for years. Diaz became excited, remembering her: “This is grandma in the bunny suit. The old lady that we all had to kiss.” He recalled that three people worked the six-bed cardiac care unit that shift, himself, a medical technician and a vocational nurse. “She was a 79-year-old Hollywood-type grandma, you know with the white hair, real frail, real small,” Diaz said. “She was in a zip-up bunny suit, like pajamas. Her husband came with her and we admitted her to the unit. She didn’t appear to be as bad as they had reported in the emergency room. I went into the room and made a quick assessment. She looked like she was breathing good, no apparent outward distress. The monitor said sinus rhythm (normal heartbeat). She looked good and I was talking to her and she looked kind of apprehensive and she said this was the first time she had been in the hospital, and her birthday. I know I stood in there for about 10 minutes holding her hand and talking to her. And she said don’t leave me alone. I’ve never been in the hospital before. That’s when she told me it was her birthday and they called everybody in and gave her a birthday kiss. I told her I had to go and attend to some other things and I left the room.”

Diaz just admitted he was alone with her, his perfect opportunity. It was around midnight when he usually killed his victims, and, that is probably when he injected the grandma in the bunny pajamas whom he had just given a birthday kiss full of Lidocaine. Predictably, about an hour later, she convulsed. “Somewhere between 12 and one, we (Diaz and the vocational nurse) were standing talking and we could see her (Cline),” Diaz said, noting that the vocational nurse was the first to see trouble on the woman’s heart monitor. It fits: The killer isn’t going to be the first to point out his crime. “I ran an (electrocardiogram) mini strip, ripped it off and went to the ER,” Diaz said. “The emergency room doctor said he was more or less expecting this to happen because she was throwing kind of weird, peculiar beats when they were monitoring her in ER. And I said I can get a 12-lead, which is more intense EKG.” He said the emergency room doctor told him to call a heart specialist. Diaz said he did and the cardiac specialist told him to “just watch her.” In the interview, Diaz made a motion like he was hanging up a phone and a facial expression that essentially said, “duh,” as if that is all the dummy had to say.

It is at this point Diaz talked in a rushed voice as if playing medical hero, back in the exhilaration of the unit during a code. “I said I need a 12-lead, stat, and, and I have no lab; I have no lab work or nothing because there was no one in the labs at night. We got the 12 lead and you could still (see) the changes on our little monitor, it was getting worse. And, (she, Cline) yelled out that she wasn’t feeling good. The three of us ran into the room. And now she was very pale and she stayed pale. She was one of the very few who didn’t change colors on us. She just convulsed and went out, went into a straight line (no heartbeat).” Remarkably Diaz had just compared this murder with the rest of them. He said that this patient hadn’t turned the same purplish as his other Lidocaine-poisoning victims. And, for the first time -- real or faked – he expressed sorrow over a victim. “She made me cry,” he said, with a ring of sincerity. “The one in the bunny suit. That really, really hit me hard.”

In the steak-dinner interview, Diaz also revealed without knowing it how he might have thought that he could get away with murder at the tiny Perris hospital. He explained that when he had worked at large hospitals in Los Angeles County and there was a death in the cardiac unit, the body would routinely be autopsied to find cause of death. It wasn’t like that in Perris, according to Diaz, who said coroner autopsies weren’t routine.

“Here (Community Hospital of the Valleys) we would call (the mortuary),” he said. Knowing there would likely not be an autopsy on the bodies of his victims, Diaz must have believed his chances of getting caught were slim. In recalling the death of 89-year-old Irene Annie Graham, whom he murdered on his first shift in Perris, Diaz recalled: “This is the lady that was a coroner’s case because in the process of a robbery or somebody breaking into her home she had had a heart attack. That was never passed on to us. We were never told that she was a coroner’s case in case she died.” Had he known she would be autopsied by order of the coroner, Diaz might not have pumped her full of Lidocaine. Additionally, Diaz mentioned that the Perris hospital was poorly managed, another reason he probably thought he could kill with impunity.

Sitting at the round table in the Inn’s restaurant, Diaz read the name on the death certificate, holding it over the meatless steak bone on his plate: John W. Rainwater, 95, of Perris, who died April 11, 1981. “This one I remember,” he said, claiming that when he got to work he complained to another nurse that Rainwater was on a high dose of Lidocaine administered by IV. “I just couldn’t figure out why he was on so much Lidocaine,” said Diaz. “A gram to some people is toxic,” he said. “It could wipe you out.” Diaz said he told two other nurses that he was going to drop the dose of Lidocaine to one milligram, and did so.

I think this was a sophisticated way of throwing suspicion off himself. He could have injected a syringe of concentrated Lidocaine into the man’s IV tube and, at the same time, reduced the IV drip to cover his crime. He would have two nurse witnesses able to testify that he had reduced the Lidocaine IV drip. He was a cunning killer.

Hours after he had talked to the nurses, Diaz said, Rainwater sat up in bed and tried to get out. “Three of us went in there and said, ‘what’s the matter, John?’ He said, ‘I’m starving, I’m going to get some breakfast.’ I said John, you can’t have breakfast it’s four o’clock in the morning. He said ‘That’s all right, I’m starving. I said I’ll tell you what. We’ll find you a snack, let’s get you back into bed.” He knew his victim would soon have a Lidocaine seizure. He wasn’t going to let him go anywhere.

Predictably, it wasn’t long and Diaz said that the patient’s “eyes just started blinking and he went ridged and he just stopped breathing.” Of course Diaz was ready to swing into action. “And they brought in the crash cart and we plugged it in,” he said. “I defibbed him at 400-watt seconds. Electric shock to try to convert him. And it didn’t convert (start his heart). I hit him again.” The patient never revived. Diaz was convicted of killing him.

 

A Twofer

His near month-long murder spree began to come to an end on April 20, the night he did a twofer, which led to the anonymous call to authorities. Diaz gently put his knife on his plate, pushed it away, and lighted an after-meal smoke. He read the name on the death certificate I had handed him: Virginia Bayless, 78. He blew smoke into over the table and said matter-a-fact: “And here comes my favorite.” Evidence at his trial showed that Diaz murdered two of three patients in the Perris unit that gruesome night: Bayless, a housewife, and Henry Lucero Castro, 65, a heavy equipment operator. (He was not charged with killing the third, a 66- year-old woman, who succumbed the next day. Who’s to say he hadn’t shot her up with Lidocaine as well. Unfortunately, some bodies had been cremated before investigators got to them.)

“These three coded on me on the same day,” Diaz recalled. He said that when he arrived at work that afternoon he was told that “Bayless was in bad shape, that she was 90 percent dead. I remember this night because I had been off for a couple of days and they said, hey, Bob, they were trying to get a hold of you the other night because they had two codes in here and because they wanted you to come into work.”

He said three people worked in the heart unit that night. “About one o’clock it really got bad,” Diaz recalled. “(Henry) Castro started going down.” He said he asked another nurse to call a doctor. He said the other nurse then noticed the heart monitor attached to patient Bayless. “She yelled out, my God, Bob! I said what’s the matter and she says ‘Bayless is flat line.’ The monitor (alarm) didn’t go off. So she called the doctor, I ran in here. I said hit the code button; she hit the code button. And I hit her (Bayless) with an epinephrine (a heart stimulant). Because epinephrine -– well adrenalin -- hopefully will start the heart again.” Diaz said a doctor then came in from the emergency room. “He said, ‘What’s going on?’ I said well Castro is the one we called you for but this one’s (Bayless) been flat lining. He said, ‘Oh, God.’ He said, ‘What’d you do?’ I said, I gave her an amp (one milligram ampoule) of Eppy, and I was doing the compressions. He said all right, give her another amp and I’m going next door, which was the other room.” Despite his “heroic” efforts, patients Bayless and Castro died.

Afterward, according to Diaz, he was told by a doctor to call the Bayless family to inform them of her passing. It wasn’t his job, he said, but Diaz called “because I didn’t want to cause anymore problems.” That call to the distraught family of the woman he had just murdered must have brought a whole new sadistic dimension to this serial killer’s heinous crimes.

Is that what the killer nurse meant when he had called her murder, “my favorite”?

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