HOUSTON - One of Texas' most infamous child killers is scheduled to be released from prison after serving barely a third of her sentence.
Genene Jones was 33-years-old when she was sentenced to 99 years in prison. The parents of Joneses' victims believed that sentence meant the former nurse would die in prison, but Local 2 investigates has learned she is scheduled to be released from prison in February 2018.
"Losing a child is something you never get over, you just learn to cope," said Petti McLellan-Wiese.
In September of 1982 McLellan-Wiese took her children to a pediatric clinic in Kerrville. Her son had the flu, but her 15-month-old daughter, Chelsea, was healthy.
"She didn't have an appointment, she wasn't supposed to be seen that day," said McLellan-Wiese.
McLellan-Wiese said the clinic's doctor told her Chelsea needed immunizations and since she was in the clinic, they could give her shots. McLellan-Wiese said while she held Chelsea in her arms the clinic's nurse, Jones, gave her daughter an injection. McClellan-Wiese said Chelsea almost immediately had trouble breathing.
"I said, 'Something is wrong, something is wrong,'" said McClellan-Wiese. "(Jones) was like, 'No, she's just mad because she got a shot,' and she gave her another shot."
McClellan-Wiese said after the second injection Chelsea stopped breathing. Chelsea was rushed to a hospital in Kerrville where doctors were able to resuscitate her. McClellan-Wiese said doctors at the hospital then decided to send Chelsea by ambulance to a hospital in San Antonio.
McClellan-Wiese said even though doctors ordered Jones not to accompany Chelsea to the hospital she somehow managed to slip into the back of the ambulance and give Chelsea one final injection.
Chelsea died en route to San Antonio.
"I remember the paramedics testified that they kept asking (Jones), 'what are you giving her, she's stable," said McClellan-Wiese.
Chelsea's death was originally ruled to have been caused by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
"After it happened, I kept saying, 'They did something, they did something,' but I was just the grieving mother," McLellan-Wiese recalled people telling her. "I wasn't thinking rationally."
However, Wiese's intuition was correct. Investigators later determined Chelsea had been given injections of a powerful muscle relaxant called succinylcholine.
"They determined Chelsea had been given enough of the drug to sedate six men who weighed 150 pounds each," said McClellan-Wiese.
At the time of Chelsea's death McClellan-Wiese did not know that Jones was already under suspicion. Before moving to Kerrville, Jones worked at the now shuttered Bexar County Hospital in San Antonio.
Court testimony revealed doctors at the hospital began noticing an unusually large number of children dying or becoming gravely ill during Joneses' nursing shifts.
However, Jones was allowed to leave the hospital without incident.
During her trial prosecutors argued Jones may have been responsible for the deaths of between 11 and more than 40 children.
Part of the problem in determining how many children were killed is because prosecutors learned the Bexar County hospital shredded thousands of pounds of pharmaceutical records just as grand jury was impaneled to investigate Jones.
"Second to losing Chelsea that is the hardest thing for me," said McClellan-Wiese. "The hospital knew."
In 1984 Jones was convicted of Chelsea's murder and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Several months later Jones was also convicted of injury to a child in a similar case involving a 4 week old boy.
"I'm the one who put that baby in the back of that hearse," said Chelsea's great uncle, James McCllelan. "She was so small in that little casket, I put her in there myself."
At the time of her sentencing, no one in Chelsea's family realized that Jones would be eligible for something called 'mandatory release.'
To help alleviate prison over-crowding state lawmakers allowed offenders to accrue so-called 'good time.' This meant for everyday a prisoner was considered to have good behavior in prison they were allowed to knock a day off the end of the time they were required to stay in prison before being released.
Texas lawmakers banned this practice in the 90s for violent offenders, but the United States Supreme Court ruled the state could not apply the change in the law to cases prior to 1987.
"Texas is going to release a serial killer of children," said McClellan-Wiese.
"Sometimes you think the world's gone crazy," said McClellan.
Victim's rights attorney and former prosecutor Kim Ogg said the state should keep pushing to find another case to bring against Jones before her scheduled release from prison.
"The state needs to set-up a hotline for tips and create a task force to go over all the old cases," said Ogg.
However, Ogg concedes this effort may be difficult at best since so many of the hospital records were destroyed and the difficulty investigators had at the time in tracing the drugs Jones is suspected using on children. McLellan-Wiese said she will never stop fighting for her daughter.
"It's never been over, it has never been over and now it's really not going to be over," said McClellan-Wiese. "Sometimes I think God put Chelsea here to stop Genene Jones."
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