CLINTON, Ind. (WTHI) - Ten years ago this week, the Wabash Valley was thrown into thenational spotlight.
Orville Lynn Majors, of Linton, Ind., was sentenced to 360 yearsin prison for killing six people. Majors was a nurse at the formerVermillion County hospital and was convicted of injecting patientswith a deadly amount of potassium.
It was a trial that would take years to investigate. News 10first broke the story in April 1995: A quiet, small-town nurse wasunder suspicion for dozens of deaths at the former VermillionCounty hospital.
It was the civil suit filed by Terre Haute attorney Joe Andersonthat kick-started the case.
"There were a significant number of families who had suspicions.They just felt like something was wrong," Anderson said.
Families were questioning the hospital, hospital administratorsand Majors of wrongful death.
The Indiana State Board of Nursing quickly realized somethingwas terribly wrong. They recognized a staggering pattern of deathsand nurse Majors was immediately suspended.
Deaths in the intensive care unit at Vermillion County Hospitalalmost quadrupled in the 21-month period Majors worked there. Itjumped from an average of 25 or 30 deaths a years, to 100 in 1994.But Majors maintained he was innocent.
"I care about my patients. I care about life. I want to see mypatients get better," Majors said.
He was a man with no prior criminal record, yet when he wasworking, people were dying. The hard part was figuring out how.
It was the medical expertise of a world renownedelectrophysiologist in Indianapolis that blew the case open. He wasa heart expert who nailed down the murder weapon forinvestigators.
Dr. Eric Prytowsky was the person who first understood how thedeaths occurred. It was a huge turning point in a complicatedcase.
"[I] went through case by case, EKG by EKG and I must have seena pattern. It really disturbed me," Prytowsky said.
This pattern found in more than 100 medical charts showedsuddenly and unnaturally, the patients' hearts stopped beating.
"I could go years before seeing a pattern like this and,suddenly, I'm seeing a bunch of them in one small hospital. Ithought this statistically can't be," Prytowsky said.
Prytowsky proved to investigators and, ultimately, a jury thatpotassium was Majors' murder weapon. Nurse Majors was injecting hispatients with lethal amounts of potassium, which stopped theirhearts.
Co-prosecutors Greg Carter and Nina Alexander worked tirelesslyon this case.
"The discovery of potassium vials in his garage and van and addto that the eye-witness testimony of the family members whoobserved injections that were not ordered or charted. We felt thecombination of evidence was significant," Carter said.
Both Carter and Alexander were hometown people, who wanteddesperately to prove someone was killing their neighbors.
"There was a certain randomness in the natural order of thingsand it was all gone here. If that man was working, people weredying," Alexander said.
Many people even today are convinced Majors killed as many as100 people. He was convicted of murdering six.
Majors is currently serving his 360 years sentence in MichiganCity, Ind. He has appealed his sentence twice, but the courtsupheld his conviction.
It was a trial that drew national attentional and a story 10years later many still want to forget.
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