“And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand.”
– 2 Samuel 24:16
The Angel of Death is a figure of lore and legend, of myth and story, found in legends the world over. But there is another meaning for this term.
Some criminologists and crime writers have described “angels of death” as serial killers who work in a caretaking position, such as a doctor, nurse or healthcare worker, who prey on their patients. Their victims are particularly vulnerable because of their health conditions and these killers have an unusual amount of access to their victims, who depend on them for treatment and care. This may be the rarest type of serial killer and their very existence seems to stand out against our assumptions about typical serial killers.
First of all, many angels of death are female, unlike the vast majority of serial killers. Additionally, they often use hard-to-detect means to carry out their heinous acts, such as administering lethal overdoses of medications or withholding life-saving treatments. They may intentionally make their patients sick and then “save” them to appear heroic or they may disguise their murderous actions as the natural outcome of a patient’s health conditions.
One such killer came to the town of Lufkin, Texas, in 2008, and the town has never been the same.
In 2008, Kimberly Saenz murdered as many as 5 patients by injecting them with bleach in the IV lines of their dialysis machines at the DaVita Lufkin Dialysis Center. Though she was eventually convicted of multiple counts of aggravated assault and one count of capital murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment, she may have killed many more patients. It is certainly likely that she injured many more patients than those for which she was charged and convicted.
Reportedly, Kimberly Saenz seemed to enjoy the attention she received during the four years between her arrest and her conviction following her trial. This detail and many more are found in the primary source I used to research this episode: the excellent book “Killer Nurse” by the talented writer John Foxjohn. I highly recommend this book if you want to learn even more details about this case, as I could only cover so much and you can find a copy of this great book here:
One of the most puzzling aspects of this case is Kimberly Saenz’s motive for committing multiple murders. She certainly had a troubled life and was reportedly addicted to narcotics and was arrested for committing domestic violence against her husband. However, it is not entirely clear why she progressed from being simply troubled to being a serial murderer of helpless dialysis patients.
District Attorney Clyde Herrington, who helped to prosecute Saenz, speculated that Saenz was a troubled woman who may simply have taken out her frustrations from her disrupted life onto her patients. Saenz did not offer a clear explanation for her actions and, until she does, we may never know why she did what she did. I didn’t address the topic of her motive in the podcast because I couldn’t find definitive answers on this topic. However, you can read some of DA Herrington’s comments and more about Saenz here on Murderpedia:
To learn more about the case of the Angel of Death of Lufkin, killer nurse Kimberly Saenz, listen to my episode for more details and information.