The Night Nurse: The gruesome story of the serial killer who won a Netflix movie



Over the course of 16 years, Charles Cullen visited several hospitals across the state of New Jersey, leaving behind a mysterious trail of silent and unexplained patient deaths. Nicknamed “the Angel of Death”, he began his nursing career in 1987 at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. The following year, more precisely on June 11, 1988, he will commit his first crime.

The Night Nurse, Netflix’s new true crime thriller, chronicles part of Cullen’s gruesome and demonic journey from the perspective of Amy Loughren, a dedicated nurse and single mother who has developed a deep friendship with her colleague.

In the plot, we meet Charles at his penultimate job before being discovered by Amy, who with the help of the police, managed to convince him to admit all his crimes. Friends from the start, the two were nurses in charge of the night shift, where they provided all the necessary care to patients at Somerset Medical Center in New Jersey.

While they worked together, Charles ironically helped save Amy’s life. This antagonism of the night nurse character is the main target of the Netflix original, which instead explores Cullen from the capeless heroine who found herself confronted with the questionable relationship she developed with the man who – although he saved her -, murdered a number of invaluable care for unsuspecting patients.

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The thriller The Night Nurse doesn’t feature the serial killer’s story and the little details of who Cullen was before he met Amy at Somerset Medical Center.

Born in 1960, he was the youngest of a Catholic religious family. Orphaned by his father, who died when Charles was still a child, the boy was raised by his mother, who allegedly sexually abused him as a child. His very painful reality led him to several suicide attempts, which began when he was only nine years old.

After his mother’s death when he was 17, Cullen decided to drop out of school and enlist in the US Navy, where he remained between 1978 and 1984. Shortly after his time in the army, the American takes a course as a nurse – which leads him into a chaotic spiral of brutal crimes.

According to biographer Charles Graeber, author of The Night Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder, Charlie Cullen killed more than 400 people during his 16 years working in hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Her first nursing job was at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey, in 1987.

As previously mentioned, his first crime would come a year later, when he allegedly administered a lethal dose of drug intravenously to a hospitalized judge, due to a drug allergy.

And Cullen’s modus operandi has always been like this: overdoses of chemicals like insulin and digoxin.

Cullen’s erratic behavior even caught the attention of management at some of the hospitals where he worked. It is estimated that at least five of them suspected the behavior of the serial killer, but chose not to get involved so as not to damage the image of the place.

Amy Loughren and Charles Cullen’s friendship was one of the big aspects that helped prevent the serial killer’s crimes from continuing.

The nurse teamed up with investigators Danny Baldwin and Tim Braun, becoming a police informant. Over the course of six months, a thorough investigation was carried out to gather enough evidence to confirm the murderer’s crimes.

In 2003, Charles Cullen was arrested and confessed to the murders to Amy, who convinced him to tell the truth in the presence of investigator Danny Baldwin, admitting he had committed 29 murders. Eventually he ended up revealing to the police that he had in fact killed 40 people.

However, during research for the book The Night Nurse, Graeber revealed that Cullen admitted to investigators that he took three to four overdoses a week. Multiplied by 16 years of experience, the death toll is estimated at over 400, which would make him the deadliest serial killer in history.

Charles Cullen is currently serving a life sentence in the state of Pennsylvania.

The Night Nurse is based on Charles Graeber’s novel and was directed by Tobias Lindholm. The screenplay is written by Krysty Wilson-Cairns and stars Oscar winners Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne.

Check out the official synopsis:

Suspecting that a colleague (Redmayne) may be responsible for the mysterious deaths of several patients, a nurse (Chastain) risks her own life to uncover the truth. A breathtaking thriller based on real events.

The cast also includes Kim Dickens, Noah Emmerich, Malik Yoba, Ajay Naidu and Nnamdi Asomugha.

Remember the trailer:

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