General Nursing, Nursing Staff Development

Tragedy in the Hospital Lab

December 31, 1983

Some extra sleep on this Saturday morning felt good as I turned my body around from night shift. I nonchalantly opened the newspaper and gasped as I read the headlines. Two female employees at my hospital had been stabbed to death in the lab late Friday afternoon. No one had heard any commotion and they had no leads yet. I had never met either of the murdered women but immediately prayed for their families to look to the Lord Jesus Christ and be comforted. I asked the Lord to help the police find and arrest the murderer. No one ever dreamed that murder could occur at this 1000 bed hospital located in a nice middle-class neighborhood with a low crime rate.

Tragically, two women were murdered in the lab.
Tragically, two female employees were murdered in the lab.

January 2, 1984

This will be my first night to return to work since the murders on December 30. The nursing supervisor called me this afternoon and told me to report to their office on the first floor when I arrived at 11 p.m. rather than go to my office on the eighth floor alone as I normally do. The hospital hired 12 extra security guards to work the night shift to assist the 2 guards we normally have. She said I would also need to show my identification badge at the hospital door. Then they would call a guard to escort me to my office since I am the only one who works on the entire 8th floor at night. The rest of the staff development staff works on day shift and one other person works on evenings similar to my position. Before I left home, I looked in my Bible concordance and read verses on “fear not” and “courage” and prayed that God would give me a quiet heart.

Fear thou not; for I am with thee. Be not dismayed; for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Ephesians 6:10

I arrived at the nursing office and greeted the two nursing supervisors on tonight, Janet and Lisa. They said all the employees were tense, as expected. They paged a guard and Jim came and escorted me on the elevator to the eighth floor. I saw that the hallway was brightly lit tonight rather than only partially lit like normal. I knocked on Jane’s door, the evening nurse, and she opened her door and greeted me with relief.  Jim asked me to page him when I was ready to go on rounds, and then escorted Jane down to the first floor so she could go home. I went into my office and locked the door behind me.

Around midnight, I called Jim and he began making rounds with me as I checked on each of my new nurses who were in their last two weeks of orientation on the night shift. I then returned to the nursing office and spent the middle of the shift with the supervisors since none of us felt like being alone tonight. I then made second rounds with Jim and spent the last hour in my office, waiting for the day shift staff to arrive. I was so glad to see the sunrise out my window and thanked God for keeping us all safe during this long tense night.

A few weeks later, the hospital installed electronic locks on all the doors that were secured each night which could only be unlocked with our ID badge.

I later read in the newspaper that they suspected the husband of one of the women had killed her. The second woman must have entered the lab when he was doing it, so he killed her also. They could not prove it was him, so he was never arrested. Several months later, he collected her life insurance money of $350,000 and moved to Florida. Three years later, he was involved in a shootout with the FBI over a robbery, and they killed him, but not before he had slain two FBI agents. In 2012, they reopened the cold case and one of the original detectives came out of retirement to try and solve the mystery.

I’ve included this episode in my story to remind me to be compassionate and pray for my coworkers. We never know what difficulties someone at work may be enduring at home with their family. I also am comforted that God is the righteous judge and knows who killed those women, so I can rest in His great sovereignty.

Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord. Romans 12:19

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Genesis 18:25

I don’t know why my cousin was killed in the war in Vietnam when I was a teen. But I know God used that tragedy to get my attention and caused me to seek Him. When my sister gave me the gospel two years later, I  joyfully received Christ as my personal Savior. (See Life Changing Letter post) I need to remember that God sees the big picture while I can only see my little corner, so I trust Him one day at a time.

For a wonderful Bible study on God’s 12 Principles of Judgement, follow this link.

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