Nurse Suspected of Killing Up to 46 Kids Set to Leave Prison

A Texas law requires that Genene Jones be released from prison.

ByABC News
August 2, 2013, 12:19 PM

Aug. 13, 2013— -- A nurse convicted in 1984 of killing an infant and suspected of murdering dozens more will be released from prison without completing her 99 year sentence because of an expired Texas law that grants a "mandatory release" to inmates with good behavior.

On May 14, 1984 Genene Anne Jones, now 63, was sentenced for the murder of 15-month-old Chelsea McClellan in 1982 in a small-town pediatric clinic where Jones was a nurse.

"I was holding Chelsea, she was facing me, and Jones gave her the first shot in her left thigh. Immediately Chelsea had trouble breathing. Chelsea was trying to say my name, but she couldn't. I was extremely upset," Petti McClellan, the victim's mother, told ABC News.

Jones began injecting the child with a lethal dose of the muscle relaxant succinylcholine while the baby was still in her mother's arms, according to McClellan and court records.

Jones was also convicted of injuring a child in another attack in which the child survived. She was sentenced to 60 years on that conviction, but it was ordered to be served concurrently with the 99 year sentence.

Ron Sutton, the criminal prosecutor who won the murder conviction, estimates that Jones is responsible for the deaths of between 11 and 46 infants in Bexar County from 1978 and 1982.

"I was present when all the investigators were adding up the numbers and, 11 to 46... I can confirm that that's what it was," Sutton told ABC News.

For Petti McClellan those numbers are stunning.

"Just the idea of a serial killer walking free in the United States of America is the craziest thing I have ever heard of," McClellan said.

McClellan, 59, and those opposed to Jones' release are trying to find another of her alleged victims for a fresh murder prosecution in order to prevent her release.

"I truly feel it in my heart that this is something I have to do," McClellan said. "How does it make me different from her if I don't do anything?"

But their efforts are complicated by the fact that the facilities where the children died have destroyed records surrounding the infants' deaths.

"A lot of the victims' medical records and documents were shredded or disappeared from the hospital where Jones worked," Andy Kahan, a victim's advocate for the Houston mayor's office, told ABC News.

The facility, now called University Hospital, declined to comment on any aspect of the story.

Jones is scheduled to be released from prison on Feb. 24, 2018, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She will have served 35 years, about one-third of her sentence.

McClellan was meeting with Texas State senators in the early 1990s when she discovered that Jones would be scheduled for early release.

"A congressman came up to me and as I told them Chelsea's story he stopped me and asked when Genene Jones was sentenced," McClellan recalled. He then told McClellan he would be back in a minute and left.

"When he came back he looked upset and he told me, 'We have a problem'," McClellan said. "That's when he told me Genene Jones would not serve her full sentence. I couldn't believe it."

"I was stunned, sad, and so, so, angry. Probably the angriest I have been since Chelsea died. This makes no rhyme or reason. Not just for me and my family, but anybody who suffered. There were so many other victims," McClellan said.

"This is going to happen. There is nothing we can do. Nothing I can do," Petti McClellan, continued. "This has nothing to do with the parole board, the courts. Genene Jones is going to walk free."

Jones will be released because of a Texas law called Mandatory Supervision. Enacted in 1977, the law allowed all convicted criminals to be automatically released on parole after they complete a certain amount of calendar time and good conduct time, which includes participating in work and self-improvement programs, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice parole and mandatory release guide.