Lufkin, TX

Nurse Kills Dialysis Patients with Bleach in IV Lines

Kimberly Clark Saenz.Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Kimberly Clark Saenz was hired to help people heal. The 34-year-old nurse was working at a dialysis clinic in Lufkin, Texas in 2008. Saenz was married and had two children of her own. From all appearances, she was a devoted healthcare worker, intent on giving her patients the best care she could provide. But on the inside, she was anything but caring.

In March of 2012, Kimberly Clark Saenz was convicted of the murders of five of her kidney dialysis patients. She was also convicted of injuring five more patients. She was sentenced to life in prison plus 60 additional years for aggravated assault.

Saenz was a vocational nurse, hired to work at the DaVita Lufkin Dialysis Center in 2008. She had been fired from her previous job. In fact, she was fired from three jobs prior to that. She would steal prescription medication from her employers and lie on her applications in order to get hired in the medical field. She was out on bail and prohibited from working in health care, but that didn’t stop her from trying.

The clinic began to experience unexplained illness, cardiac arrests, and adverse episodes in several of its patients. Clinical Coordinator, Amy Clinton, began an investigation into the bizarre occurrences. She initially focused on the two most recent deaths in the clinic and devised a strategy to assign nurses to different positions to observe any changes. Saenz was clearly upset about these changes.

Her job at DaVita was to administer medication to patients through dialysis lines using a syringe. On the day in question, she was assigned to another role, one that she was not interested in. Her co-worker claims she became upset about the assignment change. This role required her to clean up after dialysis patients which gave her access to cleaning products, including bleach.

On the 28th of April 2008, two eyewitnesses saw Saenz inject bleach into two of her dialysis patients. Patients Lurlene Hamilton and Linda Hall watched as Saenz drew up 10 ccs of bleach into a syringe. Two other patients, Marva Rhone and Carolyn Risinger, were nearby. Then, in horror, they watched as Saenz injected the chemical into their dialysis lines.

Fortunately, Rhone and Risinger survived!

This was the last time Saenz would ever have the chance to harm another patient.

She was fired from the clinic in Lufkin after it was suspected that she was somehow connected to the unexplainable illnesses and even some deaths that were occurring at the facility.

Saenz was present at the dialysis center every day there was a death in April of that year. No motive could be found for why she would want to kill innocent people already suffering from a life-threatening illness. An investigation into her home life revealed she was having marital problems and was addicted to prescription medication. She had been fired from a previous job at Woodland Heights Medical Center for stealing a narcotic painkiller known as Demerol.

During the trial, her defense lawyers claimed she had no motive to kill and that she had been using the bleach only to clean out the IV tubes, which was not a procedure done in the clinic. She was present for 84% of the instances in which patients were experiencing cardiac arrest and chest pains.

Angelina County District Attorney Clyde Herrington discovered incriminating searches on Saenz’s home computer such as whether bleach can be detected in dialysis lines and information about bleach poisoning. Her explanation for these unusual searches was that she had been worried about the symptoms her patients were exhibiting and wanted to know if bleach poisoning could have caused such illnesses.

It is possible that Kimberley Clark Saenz has had many more victims in the past that were never discovered. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were able to link Saenz to other patients who had experienced negative health reactions while under her care. However, there wasn’t enough evidence to prove her involvement, therefore she was never charged in these incidents.

Unfortunately, her patients had no idea the evil that awaited them. They could never have imagined that the one person responsible for giving them life-saving treatments would instead be taking their lives away from them.

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