Charles Cullen

Confirmed Kills
Suspected Kills
Total Possible Kills
Years Active
February 22, 1960
Incarcerated 127 years
Alive or Dead?
In Prison
US States Operated
New Jersey
Info Box

Charles Edmund Cullen (Charles Cullen) born February 22nd, 1960 is a serial killer convicted for over 40 murders. He told authorities in December 2003 that he had killed as many as 45 patients during the 16 years that he worked at 10 different hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Authorities believe that the actual number of his victims may be as high as 400 due to discrepancies with Cullen’s confessions and personnel reports. 

He was arrested in December 2003 and  he faces 18 life sentences!

Early Life

Charles Edmund Cullen was born in West Orange, New Jersey to eight siblings. His father drove a bus and his mother stayed at home to raise them. When he was a baby, his father died of cancer. Only two of the children survived into adulthood; when Cullen was a child, his own mother sexually abused him.

Charles Cullen described his childhood as being very troubling. Around the age of nine he attempted to take his own life by drinking chemicals from a chemistry set. He first underwent surgery in college, as soon as he left high school, when he stabbed himself in the head with a pair of scissors. This was one of many suicide attempts throughout his life. Later on in life, Cullen worked as a nurse and fantasized about stealing drugs like Dilaudid or Versed (medications used to stop patients from moving on surgical tables so that doctors can operate quickly), using these drugs to attempt suicide again but it didn’t work out for him. He tried taking too many pills and caused liver failure.

When Cullen was 17, he lost his mother in an accident, something which left him devastated. To cope with the loss, he dropped out of High School and joined the United States Navy where he was part of the team who operated Poseidon missiles. He rose to the rank of Petty Officer Third Class but once again and after numerous attempts to *take his own life* Cullen was discharged from the Navy in March 1984.

After he left the Navy in 1987, he relocated to New Jersey where he took up a job at St Barnabas Medical Center. He got married to Adrienne Taub and had two daughters with her.


Judge John W. Yengo Sr (June 11, 1988)

Charles Cullen committed his first murder on June 11, 1988 . Judge John W. Yengo Sr ., was admitted to St. Barnabas Medical Center suffering from an allergic reaction to a blood-thinning drug. Cullen administered a lethal overdose of medication intravenously. The 88 – year old judge was given an injection in the wrong spot and he died hours later . Cullen admitted to killing 11 patients at St. Barnabas , including an AIDS patient who died after being given an overdose of insulin . Cullen quit his job at St . Barnabas in January 1992 when hospital authorities began investigating who might have tampered with bags of intravenous fluid.

Three elderly women (1992)

In 1992, Cullen, who was a New Jersey registered nurse at the time, received a job offer to work at Warren Hospital in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. Three elderly women died as a result of Cullen’s unannounced presence, having had an overdose of heart medication digoxin injected into them during their sleep. The victims’ families dismissed their relatives’ claims that it happened because of some “sneaky male nurse”, thus not creating any suspicion within the hospital.

Beginning in 1994 Cullen worked at the intensive care unit and cardiac care units of Hunter Medical Center in New Jersey. Cullen claimed he didn’t murder anyone. But unfortunately, the hospital’s records for those two years had already been destroyed at the time of Luke’s arrest in 2003. This hindered any investigation into his claims.

Five patients (1996)

However, Cullen did admit to murdering five patients in the first nine months of 1996. In those instances, he administered overdoses of dioxin. 

On December 30, 1998, Charles Edmund Cullen was a Male Nurse at Elston Hospital in Elston, Pennsylvania where he murdered another patient with digoxin. A coroner’s blood test showed lethal amounts of dioxin in the patient’s blood but an investigation never concluded anything and nothing pointed definitively to Cullen as the murderer.

One patient (1999)

In March 1999, Cullen was hired again as part of a nationwide nursing shortage. He got a job at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania where he murdered one patient and tried to kill another without being detected.

Multiple patients (1999)

In April 1999, Cullen resigned from Lehigh Valley Hospital. In May of that year he started working at St. Luke’s Will County Hospital, and repeatedly murdered patients over the next three years until his arrest in March 2003, Cullen murdered five more patients and attempted to murder two.

Eight Patients (2002)

In September 2002, Charles Cullen began working at the Somerset Medical Center in Somerset, New Jersey. Mr. Cullen was assigned to the critical care unit. During his time there, Cullen murdered eight patients and attempted to murder another by giving them lethal doses of dioxin and insulin.

Phillip Gregor (June 18, 2003)

On June 18, 2003, Mr. Cullen attempted to murder Phillip Gregor by overdosing him on insulin as well as dioxin – but unfortunately for Mr. Gregor, he survived this attempt and was released from Somerset hospital later that month but then died a 6 months later due to natural causes. 

Shortly afterwards, Somerset Hospital’s computer system showed that Cullen was accessing the files of patients he was not assigned to. The executive director of New Jersey Poison Information and Education System warned in July 2003 that the records of four suspicious overdoses indicated that an employee was killing patients at the hospital. But the hospital waited until September to contact law enforcement. By then, Mr. Cullen had killed six more people and attempted to kill an additional patient and even had sex with the victims. 

State officials penalized the Somerset Medical Center after concluding that it had violated protocols when it failed to report a nonfatal insulin overdose in August. The hospital fired Cullen in October 2003 after concluding that he had lied on his job application and he was under police surveillance. 

Arrest (December 12 2003)

Charles Cullen was arrested on one count of attempted murder and one count of murder on December 12 2003. 

On December 14, 2003, Mr. Cullen admitted his role in killing Rev. Florian Gall and the attempted murder of Tin Kyushu Han, both patients at Somerset Medical Center.


In April 2004, Charles Cullen admitted to killing thirteen patients and attempting to murder two more at Somerset Medical Center where he worked. He also promised to cooperate with authorities if they did not seek the death penalty for his crimes. A month later, he again pleaded guilty in a New Jersey court to three more patient murders and an attempted murder that occurred in New Jersey as well.

Mr Cullen also pleaded guilty in a Pennsylvania court to killing 6 patients and attempting to kill 3 others in November 2004. 

The serial killer Charles Cullen is currently serving a sentence of life in prison without parole for 30 years, to be served consecutively with his other sentences in Pennsylvania. On the day of March 2, 2006, Cullen was sentenced to another eleven consecutive life terms in New Jersey and in this instance he was given an additional 397 years sentence respectively to be ineligible for parole. He is held at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. 

On March 10, 2006 Cullen was presented with another six consecutive sentences. All together he now faces 18 life sentences!

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