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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
''She told me that she was very
upset because there were 13 people who died of overdoses of insulin,''
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
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
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
She checked into a mental
hospital in January 1985, and Florida suspended her license.