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Genene Jones, once dubbed ‘Angel of Death,’ pleads guilty in 1981 death of 11-month-old

SAN ANTONIO – Genene Jones, 69, once dubbed the “Angel of Death” faced a Bexar County judge Thursday and pleaded guilty to the 1981 murder of Joshua Sawyer, an infant under her care.

In exchange for her guilty plea, Jones was sentenced to life in prison. Her plea was the culmination of more than a decade of work by victims’ rights advocates and parents of murdered children.

“You took one of God’s most precious gifts. Babies, defenseless, innocent,” said Judge Frank Castro. “I truly believe your ultimate judgment is in the next life.”

Jones is suspected of killing more than 40 babies during her time as a pediatric nurse in San Antonio and Kerrville in the late 70s and early 80s. However, the now-shuttered hospital Jones worked for shredded thousands of pounds of medical records concerning infant deaths just as a grand jury investigation was taking shape.

Jones was accused of giving already ailing babies overdoses of muscle relaxants or blood thinners and then appeared to go to “heroic” lengths to try to resuscitate the children when they stopped breathing.

Jones was convicted in 1984 of murdering 15-month-old Chelsea McLellan and sentenced to 99 years in prison. However, Jones was sentenced under an old Texas law meant to alleviate prison overcrowding. That law, which was repealed by the Texas legislature, allowed violent offenders like Jones to accrue so-called “good time.”

This means for every day a prisoner showed good behavior behind bars they were allowed to knock a day off the end of the time they are required to remain in prison before the state is required to grant them parole. In Jones’ case, it meant she would have been released from prison in March of 2017.

Houston Crimestoppers’ Andy Kahan and Chelsea’s mother, Petti McLellan-Wiese, embarked on a campaign to rally parents of other children who died under Jones’ care to put pressure on the Bexar County DA’s office to reopen the old cases.

That work paid off in 2017 when Jones was charged with five additional murders, including Sawyer’s murder.

“So I will leave you with this, I hope for you to live a long and miserable life behind bars, goodbye,” said Sawyer’s mother, Connie Weeks during her victim impact statement.

Sadly, Petti McLellan-Wiese died in 2019, but her daughter honored her memory by delivering a victim impact statement.

“I often wonder how a person could sleep at night after taking so many helpless babies’ lives, you must have a very large black heart,” Kiley McLellan said.

In exchange for her guilty plea, the four other murder charges were dismissed. However, her sentence means Jones will likely die in prison.

Kahan attended the hearing and told KPRC 2, “One of the nation’s most prolific serial killers finally received just punishment for taking the lives of over 40 infants and babies who could not run, scream or cry for help. She is truly a narcissistic psychopath who doesn’t deserve to breathe free air.”