https://www.cbsnews.com/news/jennife...spital-deaths/

In the five months Jennifer Anne Hall was a respiratory therapist at Hedrick Medical Center, the rural Missouri hospital experienced 18 "code blue" incidents ? an alarming increase in sudden cardiac arrest events for a hospital that historically averaged one of them a year, according to a police investigator.

Nine of those patients died, and nine recovered. Twenty years later, Hall was charged this month with first-degree murder in one of the deaths ? that of 75-year-old Fern Franco.

Livingston County Prosecuting Attorney Adam Warren, who launched an investigation 10 years ago, said Franco died of lethal doses of succinylcholine ? a relaxant that paralyzes the respiratory muscles ? and the pain reliever morphine. The prosecutor did not disclose a possible motive or say why the investigation took a decade.

Hall's attorney, Matt O'Connor, said she is innocent and that as a respiratory therapist, she didn't have access to succinylcholine, morphine or any other drugs. He said Hall became a scapegoat for the deaths at Hedrick because of an arson conviction that she was cleared of in 2005.

It's unclear if Hall will face additional murder charges in the 2002 deaths at Hedrick. Warren declined interview requests, and Livingston County Sheriff Steve Cox did not respond to phone and email messages seeking comment.

Aprille Franco, Franco's granddaughter, hopes investigators get to the bottom of the other deaths.
Hospital Death Charge
In this self portrait, Aprille Franco holds a photo of her grandmother, Fern Franco, when Fern Franco was young in this photo taken Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Aprille Franco / AP

"Just for the other families' sake," Franco, 44, of Kansas City, Missouri, said. "They've been waiting 20 years for answers. It's up to my grandma's case to find answers for them."

Hall, 41, pleaded not guilty Thursday and is jailed without bond. O'Connor said he will seek bond so Hall can get chemotherapy treatment for leukemia. A hearing on that request was set for May 27.

She began working at Hedrick in December 2001. The small hospital is in Chillicothe, a town of 9,100 residents 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Kansas City.