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Bobbie Sue TERRELL

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Nurse - Münchausen syndrome by proxy
Number of victims: 2 - 12
Date of murder: November 1984
Date of arrest: March 17, 1986
Date of birth: October 16, 1952
Victims profile: Elderly patients
Method of murder: Strangulation - Poisoning (fatal doses of insulin)
Location: St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to 65 years in prison on February 23, 1988. Died in prison on August 27, 2007
 
 

 
 

Bobbie Sue Dudley Terrell: A Pinellas County nurse who was the night supervisor when 12 of her patients at a St. Petersburg nursing home fell ill and died in 1984. She admitted injecting elderly patients in her care with fatal doses of insulin. She was charged with killing four and almost killing a fifth. She was sentenced to 65 years in prison, but died in 2007.


Bobbie Sue Terrell (1984-1985) was a 29-year old diagnosed schizophrenic from Woodlawn, Illinois who worked on the midnight shift in nursing homes across Illinois and Florida. She also suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

She killed 12 elderly victims in St. Petersburg, Florida by insulin overdoses, and would cover her tracks by calling the police, mutilating herself, and saying there's a serial killer loose in the home.

Police finally arrested her when they discovered her psychiatric background. She was judged insane and sentenced to 65 years in prison.


Terrell, Bobbie Sue

A native of tiny Woodlawn, Illinois, the future death angel of Florida grew up overweight, myopic, and painfully shy. 

Her seven siblings included four brothers afflicted with muscular dystrophy, two of whom would die from the disease before Bobbie Sue reached her mid-thirties. Above-average grades in school were countered by an outspoken religious fervor that amused or embarrassed Bobbies classmates. Only in church did she shine, playing the organ for Sunday services, displaying a fine singing voice. Graduating high school in 1973, Bobbie Sue was doubtless influenced by family illness in her choice of a nursing career. 

By 1976, she was a registered nurse, ready to take her place in the medical community. Married to Danny Dudley a short time later, Bobbie was despondent at learning she could not bear children. The couple adopted a son, but their marriage collapsed when the boy was hospitalized for a drug overdose. 

Dudley accused his wife of feeding the child tranquilizers prescribed for her own schizophrenia, a charge that led to Bobbie being stripped of custody in the divorce. Alone again, Bobbie Sues health and mental state swiftly declined. In short order, she was hospitalized five times--for fibroid stomach tumors, for a hysterectomy and removal of her ovaries, for surgery on a broken arm that failed to heal properly, for gall bladder problems, for ulcers and pneumonia. 

Bobbie voluntarily committed herself to a state mental hospital, spending more than a year under psychiatric treatment. On release, she held several short-term nursing jobs before she was hired to work at Hillview Manor, a rest home in Greenville, Illinois. It wasnt long before the staff at Hillview Manor started to record bizarre events surrounding Bobbie Sue. She fainted frequently on duty, with no apparent cause, and twice she slashed her own vagina with a pair of scissors. 

The second wound required emergency surgery at Barnes Hospital, in St. Louis, where Bobbie told a counselor she stabbed herself in rage and frustration over her own infertility. Discharged from her job at the rest home, Bobbie Sue moved to St. Petersburg in July 1984, obtaining a Florida nursing license that August. Drifting from job to job in the Tampa Bay area, she was still dogged by mysterious ailments, including a bout of rectal bleeding that led to an emergency colostomy. 

In spite of everything, October found Bobbie Sue employed as a shift super-visor at St. Petersburgs North Horizon Health Center, assigned to work from 11 P.M. to 7 A.M. With Bobbie Sue in charge, the late-night graveyard shift soon lived up to its sinister nickname. Aggie Marsh, age ninety-seven, was the first to die, on November 13, 1984. 

Advanced age made her death seem commonplace, but eyebrows were raised a few days later, when 94-year-old Anna Larson nearly died from an insulin overdose. The riddle: Mrs. Larson was not diabetic, and insulin was kept in a locked cabinet, with Nurse Dudley holding the only key. And the grim toll continued. 

On November 23, 85-year-old Leathy McKnight died from an insulin overdose on Dudleys shift; the same night, an unexplained fire broke out in a hospital linen closet, with arson suspected. Two more patients, 79-year-old Mary Cartwright and 85-year-old Stella Bradham, died on the night of November 25. 

The next day, a Monday dubbed The Holocaust by worried staffers, five more patients died in quick succession. Matters went from bad to worse after that, including an anonymous call to the rest home, a womans voice whispering that five patients had been murdered in their beds. Police were summoned to North Horizon in the predawn hours of November 27, finding Nurse Dudley with a stab wound in her side. 

Bobbie Sue blamed a prowler for the assault, and detectives were further concerned by reports of twelve patient deaths in the past thirteen days. A full-scale investigation was launched, leading to Bobbie Sues December dismissal for the good of the facility.

When Bobbie filed a $22,000 claim for workmens compensation based on her stabbing, the hospital countered with psychiatric reports branding Dudley a borderline schizophrenic who suffered from Munchausens syndrome (a mental condition characterized by self-inflicted wounds and false claims of illness). Reports of Bobbies Illinois self-mutilations were obtained, and her claim was rejected. 

On January 31, 1985, Dudley entered a Pinellas County hospital for medical and psychiatric treatment. By this time, she was already a prime suspect in several deaths at North Horizon, and detectives had obtained exhumation orders for nine patients-- including bodies buried in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Texas. 

Bobbie Sue was still hospitalized on February 12, when Floridas Department of Professional Regulation issued an emergency order suspending her nurses license. DPR spokesmen further asked the states Board of Nursing for a permanent revocation order, calling Dudley an immediate, serious danger to the public health, safety, and welfare. 

Bobbie Sue demanded a formal hearing, and while waiting for her day in court, she married 38-year-old Ron Terrell, a plumber from Tampa. Matrimony failed to do the trick where Bobbies mental problems were concerned, and she soon found herself in another mental ward, this time committed against her will. She was still inside when the Board of Nursing announced a five-year suspension of her license, with reinstatement conditional upon successful psychiatric treatment. 

Licensing became the least of Bobbies problems on March 17, when she was formally charged with attempting to murder Anna Larson in November 1984. Arresting officers found the Dudleys living in a roadside tent, but a search of their former residence still turned up sufficient evidence to support indictments on four counts of murder. Bobbie Sue was held without bond pending trial in the deaths of Aggie Marsh, Leathy McKnight, Stella Bradham, and Mary Cartwright. 

The trial was scheduled to begin on October 20, 1985, but legal maneuvers and psychiatric tests repeatedly postponed the date. 

At last, in February 1988, Bobbie Sue pled guilty to reduced charges of second-degree murder and was sentenced to a combined term of sixty-five years in prison.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans


Suspected Nurse Had History Of Mental Illness

OrlandoSentinel.com

March 31, 1986

ST. PETERSBURG — A ''bizarre'' nurse charged with attempting to murder an elderly woman at a nursing home where 12 patients died mysteriously had a history of mental illness and had lost her license in Illinois, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Bobbie Sue Dudley, 33, was arrested March 17 and charged with attempting to murder Anna Larson, 94, by injecting her with a large quantity of insulin. Larson survived the insulin overdose but died two months later, apparently of natural causes.

While Dudley was the night supervisor at St. Petersburg North Horizon Health Care Center in November of 1984, 12 patients died in two weeks.

''The deaths began shortly after Bobbie Sue Dudley began working at North Horizon . . . and ended when she quit,'' Detective Robert Engelke said in a affidavit.

Under Dudley's mattress, police found a five-page dissertation listing the patients' deaths, identifying them by bed number and indicating what time they died.

Two deaths have been declared homicide by insulin injection, but no charges have been filed. Because insulin breaks up in the body, many of the autopsies, performed months after the deaths, were inconclusive.

Police said Dudley had access to a cabinet where insulin was kept, and altered records.

Dudley has denied involvement in any death. But after five patients died in a single day, she told her psychiatrist, Dr. Arthur J. Forman, about the deaths, The Miami Herald said.

''She told me that she was very upset because there were 13 people who died of overdoses of insulin,'' Forman said.

Dudley, of Woodlawn, Ill., had worked as a nurse in Centralia and Mount Vernon, Ill.

After divorcing and losing custody of her adopted 13-year-old son in 1979, she underwent a series of operations -- five to remove fibroid tumors from her stomach, followed by a hysterectomy, gallbladder surgery and surgery to repair a broken arm.

She checked into a mental hospital for a year, the Herald said.

In July 1983 she was hired as a nurse at Hillview Manor in Greenville, Ill. After Dudley underwent surgery for self-inflicted cuts in her genitals, the nursing home told her to get psychiatric care.

Illinois authorities eventually suspended her license.

She obtained a nursing license in Florida, failing to mention the Illinois incidents, and was hired in St. Petersburg.

''A damned good nurse,'' said Michael Mervis, spokesman for Unicare Health Facilities, North Horizon's owner. ''Lucid as hell, a bright diagnostician.

''We had no idea she went off in other realms.''

Dudley worked at at least six nursing homes in St. Petersburg, quitting most because of illness.

In a psychiatric evaluation Oct. 22, 1985, Forman concluded she suffered a schizophrenic disorder known as Munchausen's syndrome, defined as repeated fabrication of illness. Those suffering from it can produce symptoms of serious illness, he said.

The psychiatrist described Dudley as an ''extremely interesting and quite bizarre patient.'' Dudley was fired from North Horizon after suffering a stab wound she claimed a prowler inflicted.

She later admitted that she had injured herself.

She checked into a mental hospital in January 1985, and Florida suspended her license.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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