A Pennsylvania nurse is facing additional charges after prosecutors say she admitted to trying to kill 19 patients in her care, according to the state’s attorney general.
Heather Pressdee, 41, was already facing charges after Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Michelle Henry said the registered nurse from Natrona Heights confessed to intentionally administering a lethal dose of medication to three patients at the Quality Life Services nursing facility in Chicora, a borough in western Pennsylvania. She was charged in May with homicide and attempted murder after two men, ages 55 and 83, died and a third was hospitalized, Henry said in a news release.
On Thursday, Henry’s office filed additional charges related to the mistreatment of 19 other patients Pressdee treated between 2020 and 2023 at five different care facilities, Henry said in a news release. The new charges include two counts of first-degree murder, 17 counts of attempted murder and 19 counts of neglect of a care-dependent person, according to the release.
In total, 17 patients who were being cared for by Pressdee died, Henry’s office said.
Pressdee’s defense team told CNN she is “cooperating” with prosecutors and investigators. She hasn’t entered a plea in any of the charges, attorneys Jim DePasquale and Phil Di Lucente said. “The goal from the very beginning of these matters was to not have the death penalty imposed. We are in pursuit of that goal,” the attorneys said.
In the criminal complaint filed against Pressdee, Henry’s office said that Pressdee admitted to “harming, with the intent to kill” all 19 patients named in the complaint whose ages ranged from 43 to 104.
The patients were being treated at numerous facilities, including Concordia at Rebecca Residence, Belair Healthcare and Rehabilitation, Quality Life Services Chicora, Premier Armstrong Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and Sunnyview Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, according to the complaint.
“Pressdee would often work the medication cart, administer insulin during the night shift when staffing was lowest and the facilities were quiet,” the complaint reads. “Pressdee often took steps to ensure her victims would expire prior to shift change so that they wouldn’t be sent to the hospital where her scheme could be discovered through medical testing such as C-peptide tests.”
Pressdee also allegedly administered a second dose of insulin or would use an air embolism to make sure a patient died if she felt that they might survive, the complaint states.
In one instance, staff members at the Belair Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center suspected that Pressdee was killing patients and alerted administrators, according to the complaint.
In response to complaints, Belair suspended Pressdee pending an investigation but later said an internal investigation concluded there was “no identifiable evidence uncovered to support the concerns of Pressdee’s coworkers,” the complaint states.
CNN reached out to Belair Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center and Guardian Healthcare, which operates the facility, but did not immediately hear back.
Guardian Healthcare told CNN affiliate WPXI that everyone at the facility was “devastated and disheartened that someone entrusted to care for our patients could do something like this.”
Attorney Robert Peirce III, who is representing the family of Marianne Bower, 68, identified as “M.B.” in the criminal complaint, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in September against Belair Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, where Bower died.
According to Peirce, Bower’s family initially believed Bower died of respiratory failure but were later approached by investigators who told the family that Bower was given a fatal dose of insulin even though she was not diabetic.
“The goal of the lawsuit is to determine how Heather Pressdee was able to work at 11 different facilities for a year period, where it is acknowledged and admitted by her that at least 17 of her patients passed away,” Peirce told CNN. “In the Belair facility alone, four individuals passed away even though there were multiple complaints from staff members that Pressdee was killing patients. Yet, Belair did a small investigation, determined she still could work and then she went to other facilities where more patients were harmed or passed away.”
In its statement to WPXI, Guardian Healthcare offered its “deepest sympathies” to those impacted, including Bower’s family.
“While we cannot comment extensively about Ms. Bower’s residency at Belair due to privacy laws and pending litigation, our top priority is always to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our residents and to employ qualified, caring staff to deliver the care our residents deserve,” the statement reads. “Belair has hiring policies and procedures in place that are designed to vet the qualifications and background of potential employees. Management at Belair or any Guardian site take seriously their responsibility not to employ an individual who has the potential to intentionally harm one of our residents.”
Pressdee was arraigned Thursday for the additional charges. She waived her preliminary hearing and is being held at Butler County Prison without bail, according to Henry’s office.
“The damage done to the victims and their loved ones cannot be overstated,” Henry said. “Every person in a medical or care facility should feel safe and cared for, and my office will work tirelessly to hold the defendant accountable for her crimes and protect care-dependent Pennsylvanians from future harm.”
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