Pennsylvania nurse pleads guilty to killing patients with lethal doses of insulin

Pennsylvania nurse pleads guilty to killing patients with lethal doses of insulin

A Pennsylvania nurse who prosecutors say administered excessive doses of insulin to nursing home patients, 17 of whom died, pleaded guilty Thursday.

The nurse, Heather Pressdee, was charged last May with killing two patients and injuring a third at Quality Life Services, a skilled nursing facility in Chicora. Months later, she was hit with new charges after prosecutors said she confessed to trying to kill 19 others at different facilities where she worked.

Heather Pressdee. (Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General)
Heather Pressdee. (Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General)

In total, Pressdee allegedly mistreated 22 patients — some diabetic and others not — with dangerously high levels of insulin at different facilities from 2020 to 2023, the state attorney general’s office said.

Her charges include first-degree murder, attempted murder and neglect of a care-dependent person.

She pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and 19 counts of criminal attempt to commit murder, the attorney general’s office said in a news release.

Several family members of victims have filed wrongful death lawsuits.

The family of Nicholas Cymbol said in a civil suit filed in March that Pressdee "routinely insulted, berated, bullied and abused" him at Sunnyview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Butler.

They described Cymbol as a "brittle diabetic" who had an anoxic brain injury, blindness and neuropathy. The suit alleged that Pressdee would prevent other nurses from feeding or giving him water and would use derogatory terms in reference to his brain injury.

Pressdee was also accused of saying another patient, identified only as J.B. in a criminal complaint, would be "better off dead." That patient, who was a nonverbal at Quality Life Services, was hospitalized twice in 2022 for low blood sugar before he died on Dec. 4, 2022.

Attorney General Michelle Henry slammed Pressdee for using "her position of trust as a means to poison patients who depended on her for care."

"I offer my sincere sympathy to all who have suffered at this defendant’s hands," Henry said in a statement.

Attorney Robert N. Peirce, who represents five families, said in a statement Thursday: "On behalf of all our clients, we are optimistic the resolution of the criminal case will help alleviate some of their suffering."

A probable cause affidavit outlined disturbing details in the case, including alleged text messages Pressdee sent to her mother discussing times she said she wanted to kill someone.

“Can I kill this man at Taco Bell,” one alleged text from April 6, 2022, read.

“I’m gonna murder already,” another one read, dated June 10, 2022.

Other text messages discussed her patients and co-workers.

In a Sept. 2, 2022, text message, Pressdee allegedly told her mother that she was “gonna murder my aides.” In a message a few days later, she complained about a patient who was yelling, according to the affidavit.

“I drugged him already and I don’t know how he is awake,” the message read.

On May 12, 2023, Pressdee complained to her mother that a patient was “driving me nuts” because he was following her, according to the affidavit.

“But I may kill this resident,” the text message read. “I need to set some sort of boundary with him.”

Pressdee was sentenced Thursday to three consecutive life sentences for the first-degree murder charges and up to 760 years for criminal intent to commit murder.

"This plea and life sentence will not bring back the lives lost, but it will ensure Heather Pressdee never has another opportunity to inflict further harm," the attorney general said.

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