Netflix’s crime film ‘The Good Nurse’ follows Charles “Charlie” Kullen, a serial killer who kills the patients of the hospitals he works in. In reality, Cullen had worked in nine hospitals and supposedly killed around four hundred patients during the period. The serial killer was eventually arrested by detectives Tim Braun and Danny Baldwin with the help of Amy Loughren, who worked with Cullen at Somerset Medical Center in New Jersey. Cullen’s arrest and eventual conviction unraveled the barbarous murders he committed but how exactly was he captured by the authorities? Well, let us share everything you need to know about the same!
How Did Charles “Charlie” Cullen Get Caught?
By the time Tim Braun and Danny Baldwin got involved in the unnatural deaths that had been happening in Somerset Medical Center, five patients were already dead. Digoxin, a heart medication, was detected in some of the dead patients’ bodies as well. Braun and Baldwin requested Somerset to transfer any documents they had prepared after their internal investigation and in the same documents, the detectives noticed that Cullen was interviewed by a lawyer and Somerset’s risk manager Mary Lund. Under suspicion, they checked Cullen’s name in the system and find out that he was charged with criminal trespass in Palmer, Pennsylvania.
Braun contacted Palmer police to know more about Cullen and one of the officials informed the detective that a note that read, “digoxin,” was pasted in his case file. Braun then found out that digoxin was detected in the dead body of a patient in Easton Hospital, where Cullen had previously worked. Baldwin and Braun realized that there was more to him. Their suspicions were proven right when Amy Loughren joined the two detectives as an informant. When Baldwin showed Amy the records of medicine Cullen had withdrawn from the dispensing system, she realized that her best friend is involved in the unnatural deaths, as per Charles Graeber’s eponymous source text of the film.
As per Graeber’s book, Amy explained to Braun and Baldwin that Cullen had withdrawn an enormous amount of digoxin from the dispensing system, although the drug was not an essential medication in the critical care unit they worked in. The two detectives didn’t take much time to connect the same with the presence of digoxin in the dead patients of Somerset and Easton. “We think he [Cullen] killed a patient. Maybe more than one. And we think he may have been killing patients for a long time,” one of the two detectives clarified to Amy, according to Graeber’s book.
Amy then went through Cullen’s Cerner records, a computer system that stored patient records. She discovered that her co-worker had accessed the records of patients he wasn’t assigned to and the records “contained lines and lines of Charlie Cullen’s log-ins at the computer, thousands of them, sometimes hundreds a night,” as per Graeber’s book. Amy realized that the serial killer was keeping track of the impact of the ”lethal cocktail,” which was administered to the patients. “Cerner would tell him [Cullen] where his loaded IVs landed. He wouldn’t need to be present for the death to feel the impact; you could just scan back on the Cerner anytime and follow the action,” Graeber explained in his book.
Braun and Baldwin wanted Cullen’s confession to the murders he committed. For them, the best way to elicit the same was sending Amy to him with a wire. She met Cullen for lunch at a restaurant, with a wire. Amy told him that she knows he committed the murders and she asked him to turn himself in. Cullen responded “I can’t” several times without trying to dismiss Amy. Cullen then left the restaurant. Braun and Baldwin didn’t get enough from Amy and the serial killer’s conversation to ensure his conviction. Still, they arrested him. The clock started to tick. The detective duo had hours to elicit a confession from Cullen.
It wasn’t easy for Braun and Baldwin to elicit the same. “The truth was, they couldn’t make Charlie talk, nobody could. The best the detectives could hope to do was create an environment in which Charlie wanted to,” Graeber added in his book. The detective duo had to rely on Amy again. Amy met Cullen in prison and her efforts yielded results as he started to confess. In April 2004, Charles Cullen pleaded guilty to thirteen murders and two attempted murders. Over the years, the serial killer has confessed to killing around 40 patients. He is currently serving 18 consecutive life sentences at the maximum-security New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.