How The Nurse Serial Killer Kristen Gilbert Was Finally Caught

Kristen Gilbert was an ordinary and well-liked nurse — at least at first — at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Northampton, Massachusetts, (via Oxygen). She was dutiful and dedicated, just like any good nurse would be, or at least that's what her coworkers believed. But unbeknownst to them, she had a history of lying and manipulating. When several deaths occurred on her shift, they jokingly referred to Gilbert as "The Angel of Death." They would later find out that she indeed was. 

She portrayed herself as having a picture-perfect life. All That's Interesting states that Gilbert was also a married mother of two. However, that wholesome image fell apart when she was assigned to the night shift and began an affair with security guard James Perrault. With her marriage crumbling, Film Daily reports that she allegedly tried to poison her husband. When that didn't work, she decided to leave him for Perrault. At the same time, the VAMC noted that there was an increase in the number of fatal heart attacks. They all happened to be in the same ward Gilbert was working in. According to the Boston Globe, she was on duty for half of the 350 deaths that occurred in seven years. A later study released by the prosecution in her trial would find the statistical probability of that happening was 1 in 100 million.

Kristen Gilbert's coworkers were suspicious of her

According to Grave News, Gilbert's fellow nurses became distrustful of her as more of her patients died. Though many were old or sick, several did not have heart problems but somehow died of cardiac arrest. They also noticed a shortage of epinephrine, a drug that Oxygen describes as one that can save lives or end them if not used properly. As rumors began to swirl, patients refused to go into Gilbert's ward. In February 1996, three nurses reported Gilbert, citing the recent death of two patients and the decrease in the supply of epinephrine (via All That's Interesting).

As a result, Film Daily reports that Gilbert quit her job. Her relationship with Perrault was also disintegrating and shortly after, she was institutionalized for attempting suicide. Per the Boston Globe, she later called Perrault from the psych ward telling him, "You know I did it. I did it. You wanted to know. I killed those guys." However, Gilbert was not done causing chaos. Perrault decided to go to the authorities and upon learning this, Gilbert called in a bomb threat at the VAMC. It backfired and she was promptly arrested. At her 2000 trial, prosecutors alleged that Gilbert killed her patients to show off to Perrault. She was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, and two counts of attempted murder. Although prosecutors wanted the death penalty, Gilbert was instead sentenced to life in 2001 (per History of Yesterday).