A sentence has been handed down to a former respiratory therapist who pleaded guilty to the murders of two patients while she worked at a Missouri hospital 20 years ago, according to KCTV.
On August 18, 2023, a judge sentenced 42-year-old Jennifer Anne Hall to 18 years in prison with the possibility of parole for the murders of 75-year-old Fern Franco and 37-year-old David Wesley Harper, KCTV says.
Originally, Hall pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge regarding Franco in September 2022, then offered the same plea in March 2023 for Harper’s case. She changed her plea to guilty for both in May. The charges were reduced to first-degree involuntary manslaughter upon taking the plea deal.
However, the probable cause affidavit indicates that Hall could be involved in as many as nine deaths which occurred during her employment at the Hedrick Medical Center in Chillicothe between December 2001 and May 2002. All in all, 18 cardiac arrests or “Code Blue” events occurred during this time period.
Before this, the hospital averaged one “Blue Code” a year, the statement continues, noting that this resumed being the average after Hall was put on administrative leave in May 2002. Colleagues claimed to have seen her near or in the rooms during each of the nine deaths, and notified staff of each one.
The criminal complaint regarding Harper’s death states that a vial of succinylcholine was allegedly found in Hall’s pocket while she was in his room participating in the clean-up. Hall was never certified to give that drug to anyone, nor was Harper ever prescribed it.
It made investigators take a second look at Fern Franco’s death, that complaint continues, and upon testing tissue samples from her body, they found succinylcholine, which also hadn’t been prescribed to the elderly pneumonia patient.
Succinylcholine is a muscle relaxant which the statement explains “paralyzes the victim’s muscles, including the diaphragm, causing the victim to suffer a ghastly death from suffocation while still maintaining full consciousness and awareness that they are unable to breathe.”
Livingston County Prosecutor Adam Warren released a statement following the sentence hearing:
“A sentence 20 years in the making,” Warren said. “I am happy that justice is finally served for Jennifer Hall. Families of loved ones, Doctors, and Nurses have been waiting for this day. It wouldn’t have happened without the efforts of the Chillicothe Police Department who gave this complicated cold case enough time and energy to get this conviction. The sentence was for 18 years. Jennifer Hall will be able to parole someday. But for now, we all sleep better knowing she is behind bars.”