Genene Jones was born in Texas on July 13, 1950 and was immediately given up by her birth parents. She was adopted by Dick and Gladys Jones, a wealthy San Antonio couple, who adopted three other children as well. They all lived together in a large and comfortable home just outside the city. And, while Genene’s adoptive father, Dick, had several failed business ventures and at least one run-in with the law for burglary, he eventually recovered and began a successful billboard business.

However, appearances can be deceiving.

Genene Jones High School Graduation Photo
Genene Jones High School Graduation Photo

Even though Genene once described riding around with her father in his truck to put up billboards as “the happiest time of [her] life,” there was something missing for her in the Jones household. Genene often felt left out and neglected by her parents, describing herself as the family’s “black sheep” to anyone who would listen. Her one confidante was her younger brother, Travis. Feeling ignored at home, and unpopular (even disliked) at school, Genene felt true companionship with her little brother. So when he put together a pipe bomb in their father’s shop that blew up in Travis’s face, killing him, Genene was heartbroken. At Travis’s funeral, the 16-year-old Genene screamed and fainted. Then, during Genene’s senior year of high school, Dick began to get sick. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, he succumbed just over a year after the death of Travis.

Genene was so upset that even though she hadn’t yet finished high school, she believed that getting married was the only option that would relieve her pain. However, her mother Gladys wouldn’t agree, so Genene had to wait until graduation – after which she immediately married James “Jimmy” DeLany, Jr., an overweight high school dropout. Soon after they were hitched, rumors spread that Genene had “trapped” Jimmy into marriage by pretending to be pregnant, so it was no surprise that after only seven months together, he enlisted in the Navy. For her own part, Genene was immediately unfaithful and went after any other man that would have her. She even had affairs with married men and bragged about it openly. Yet none of these relationships – including her marriage – panned out to provide enough income for Genene to live on. Even as a married adult, she was dependent on her mother, Gladys, for money.  So Genene enrolled in beauty school, got a job in a hospital salon, and began earning a living wage. Jimmy then returned from the Navy and they had a child together. It seemed like life might finally be turning around, and yet…

After four years of marriage, Genene abruptly left her husband while he was recovering in the hospital from a boating accident. Then, soon after, Genene’s older brother died of cancer. It made Genene fear working with the caustic hair dyes at the salon. Besides, she was pregnant again, and she reasoned that she needed to think about making more money than a job in the beauty industry could offer (despite leaving both children in the care of her mother, Gladys). Thus, Genene resolved to become a nurse.

Nurse Genene Jones (via AP)
Nurse Jones (via AP)

She subsequently trained for a year to become a licensed vocational nurse, and got hired on at San Antonio’s Methodist Hospital. After only eight months, she was fired. She was dismissed because she didn’t listen to doctors’ orders and often tried to make decisions about issues over which she had no authority. Her next nursing job or two worked out much the same way until Genene was finally hired on to the Intensive Care section of the Pediatric Unit of Bexar County Medical Center Hospital.

It soon became clear at Bexar that Genene Jones liked to feel needed. She often spent long hours on the ward, insisting that her personal attention was important to a specific patient. She even developed an attitude about treating her favorite patients, including refusing orders because she wanted to do “what was best for the child.” Genene also skipped several mandatory classes in her first year at Bexar and made eight separate nursing errors, including administering the wrong medication. There was certainly enough evidence to justify firing Genene, but the head nurse Pat Belko liked and protected her, which gave Genene even more latitude to act with impunity.

In fact, as her confidence grew, she grew increasingly more aggressive and crass. Genene often talked about her multiple sexual exploits and made “predictions” about which baby was going to die next, which resulted in nursing colleagues transferring off the ward to get away from her. In her personal life Genene was more out-of-control as well. She visited outpatient clinics frequently (30+ times in two years) for her own complaints – even though she was rarely diagnosed with anything.

Bexar County Medical Center Hospital (now University Hospital)
Bexar County Medical Center Hospital (now University Hospital)

Genene Jones Case History

When new director James Robotham came to the pediatric unit of Bexar in 1981, he agreed to let Genene be in charge of all the sickest patients. After all, she seemed to treat any patient’s death with such reverence! She would prepare the body, sing to it, and personally take the corpse to the morgue. No doubt, Dr. Robotham saw it as a personal level of responsibility he wished to foster in the rest of the staff. He didn’t even become concerned when children on the unit began dying from conditions that shouldn’t have been fatal. Genene was always there to resuscitate in times of emergency. Incredibly, no suspicions were aroused even when Genene’s colleagues began to call her on-duty hours “The Death Shift.” No matter what rumors seemed to be going around about Genene, Pat Belko and Dr. Robotham defended her. They chalked it up to less competent nurses who were simply jealous of Genene’s expertise.

Then, one day, a six-month-old named Jose Flores was brought in. He had common childhood symptoms: fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. But, while in Genene’s care, he began having inexplicable seizures and went into cardiac arrest. Doctors frantically tended to Jose and found that his blood wasn’t clotting normally, but after an hour of working on him, they were able to successfully bring him back. Jose was going to live.

Until Genene’s next shift, that is.

Once again, Jose went into seizures and began to bleed uncontrollably. By early the next morning, his heart had stopped beating. Upon request, Genene initially allowed Jose’s older brother to carry his lifeless body to the morgue. But, after several steps, Genene grabbed the dead baby and ran down the hospital corridor. Several of Jose’s family members ran after her, but she ditched them and brought the body to the morgue herself. No one could explain what Genene’s bizarre behavior was about, but when the blood testing on Jose came back, it started to become clear. Jose had died of an overdose of Heparin – a blood-thinner that had never been ordered for him.


Disasters occurred with several more children including three-month-old Albert Garza who succumbed to an overdose of Heparin. Then, after the hospital administration cracked down on Heparin and its availability to nursing staff, 11-month-old Joshua Sawyer succumbed to an overdose of Dilantin (an anti-seizure medication). Dr. Robatham – once a staunch supporter of Genene’s – started to fear the worst: that Nurse Genene Jones was purposely killing children.

Dr. Robotham
Dr. Robotham

Dr. Robatham began to complain to the hospital administration. He requested a formal inquiry into her behavior.  Yet, shockingly, they refused to do so!  They decided that the negative publicity that the hospital might receive wasn’t worth the effort.  Instead, they impotently decided to replace the Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) on the unit with Registered Nurses (RNs), which meant that Genene would be transferred away from the babies. Genene promptly reacted to this change by resigning her post at Bexar and the administrators considered the problem to be solved.

In 1982, Dr. Kathleen Holland decided to open a pediatrics clinic in Kerrville, Texas. Needing help, she interviewed the newly unemployed Genene Jones. Dr. Holland had briefly worked at Bexar County Hospital with her and was even aware of an “investigation,” but Dr. Holland naively believed that the studious LVN was merely a victim of the male-dominated medical patriarchy. So, even though Dr. Holland was warned in veiled tones not to hire Genene, she went ahead and gave her a chance.

Dr. Holland
Dr. Holland

Within the first several months of the Kerrville Clinic’s opening, seven different children had unexplained seizures while in Dr. Holland’s office. Each child was transported by ambulance to the nearby Sid Peterson Hospital. From the sheer numbers of children afflicted in the same clinic, the hospital staff thought something odd must be going on, especially since the kids always recovered quickly while in the hospital. But Dr. Holland assumed the severity of the situation was because she was a specialist, not a generalist, so, naturally, the worst cases were brought to her. And, all the children had recovered.

But when Chelsea McClellan died while en route from the hospital to another facility, the tide began to change. Dr. Holland was devastated, and started searching for answers. At about the same time, a doctor at Sid Peterson heard about the improbably high number of baby deaths at Bexar. He brought it to the attention of a medical committee and they asked Dr. Holland if she stocked or used a drug called Succinylcholine.


Succinylcholine is a powerful muscle relaxant/paralyzer.  It is often used by anesthesiologists to keep a patient’s body from any involuntary muscle movement during surgery. In high doses, it can cause seizures, heart, and lung failure. The worst thing about the drug is that, if administered to a conscious patient, they will remain awake and aware, but will be unable to respond to what is happening to them.

On September 27, 1982, Dr. Holland examined the bottles of Succinylcholine she’d stocked in her office. They were both nearly full, but one had pinprick holes through the rubber stopper. When Dr. Holland asked Genene about it, she denied any wrongdoing and suggested that Dr. Holland throw it out to “avoid questions.” Luckily, Dr. Holland turned both bottles over to investigators, who later discovered that the other bottle contained no Succinylcholine at all – only saline. All the Succinylcholine had already been used. On top of it all, another bottle had been ordered (under Dr. Holland’s license), but was missing from inventory.

On October 12, 1982, a grand jury in Kerr County organized hearings on the eight children from Holland’s clinic who had developed emergency respiratory problems and the one who had died—Chelsea McClellan. Her body was exhumed, and it was determined that her death was due to a overdose of Succinylcholine.

In February 1983, another grand jury was convened in San Antonio, to look into a total of 47 suspicious deaths of children at Bexar County Medical Center Hospital. All the deaths had occurred over the period of the years that Genene Jones had worked at the facility. In a statistical report presented at that trial, an investigator stated that children were 25% more likely to have a cardiac arrest when Jones was in charge and 10% more likely to die.

On February 15, 1984, Jones was convicted of murder and she was given the maximum sentence of 99 years. Jones came up for parole several times, but relatives of Chelsea McClellan successfully fought to keep her behind bars. However, according to CNN, Jones is scheduled to be released from prison as early as May 2018 because of an old Texas law designed to prevent prison overcrowding. The Mandatory Release law allows inmates convicted of violent crimes between 1977 and 1987 to be automatically released if their “good behavior” credit plus their time served equals their sentence. The law was changed in 1987 to exclude violent criminals, but it isn’t retroactive.

Victim Chelsea McClellan, and Genene Jones (recent)
Victim Chelsea McClellan, and Genene Jones (recent)


Genene Jones Profile

Given all the available information on Genene Jones, it appears that there may be two distinct psychological disorders at work in her case. The first may be Histrionic Personality Disorder.  It can be diagnosed by the patient meeting at least five (or more) of the following criteria:

  • Discomfort if one is not the center of attention. [Noted in Genene throughout her life, including her insistence that she be the one to carry the dead babies down to the morgue].
  • Inappropriate seductive, flirtatious, and provocative behavior. [Noted often, including her constant talk of her love life, even in the most inappropriate situations].
  • Display of shallow and labile emotions. [Genene was known to be quite emotional, changing from one emotion to another very quickly, if it served her interests].
  • Dressing in a manner to draw attention to themselves, e.g., low cut tops, short skirts. [Unknown.]
  • Speech is overly impressionistic and shallow. [Genene was known to brag about her expertise and overextend her authority. She often hinted at knowledge or experience she didn’t have through impressionistic jargon].
  • Dramatic, theatrical, and excessively emotional personal presentation. [Genene often evidenced grand displays of emotion including shaking, crying, and fainting…most of which observers considered to be “ingenuine.”]
  • Suggestible by others and the situation, prone to following fads. [Unknown].
  • Overestimates the level of intimacy in a relationship. [Genene often had tremendous difficulty in her love affairs, partially stemming from the fact that she assumed she had more power/clout in the relationship than she actually did].

The second disorder was likely Munchausen’s Syndrome and/or Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy. This is basically where those affected either feign disease/illness/trauma themselves to elicit sympathy or in which the patient (who is a caregiver of some kind) fabricates, exaggerates, or induces mental/physical health problems in those who are in their care – usually to gain attention and sympathy from others. It is confirmed that Genene did this with her victims, and it appears to be the case that she did it with herself too. We see this in her large number of outpatient hospital visits – where nothing was ever found to diagnose.

Thus, I think it somewhat unlikely that Genene Jones actually meant for all of her many victims to die. She very much longed to be seen as “competent” and she thrived on the power that the doctors afforded her – she absolutely loved being praised by them. So my guess is that Jones underestimated the lethality of the drugs she was administering, and found that she could not resuscitate some of the poor children she chose to use in her attention-getting schemes. Of course, her lack of intent really doesn’t matter. Using another person (be it an infant or – in some of her schemes – another woman’s husband), is wrong in and of itself. Yet, if she indeed does have either/both of these disorders, she may never realize this. The pathology of both Histrionic PD and Munchausen’s Syndrome is typically entrenched and unlikely to change much over time, which means that in Ms. Jones’ mind, the person that everyone should be feeling sorry for, is her.

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