‘Pure evil’: Nurse pleads guilty to murdering multiple patients and attempting to kill at least 19 more

News & Politics

Heather Pressdee of Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania, worked at over 11 rehabilitation clinics between 2018 and 2023. She consistently got fired or had to resign on account of concerns over her abusive behavior toward staff and patients.

Pennsylvania’s Office of the Attorney General conducted an investigation after receiving a referral about a patient under Pressdee’s care in late 2022. It soon became clear that she wasn’t just abusing patients — Pressdee was murdering them.

To avoid the death penalty, Pressdee, 41, has pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and 19 counts of criminal attempt to commit murder. She will, however, die in prison as a Butler County judge sentenced the killer nurse to three life sentences for the three confirmed murders plus 380-760 years of consecutive incarceration for her other murder attempts.

“The defendant used her position of trust as a means to poison patients who depended on her for care,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry
said in statement Thursday. “This plea and life sentence will not bring back the lives lost, but it will ensure Heather Pressdee never has another opportunity to inflict further harm. I offer my sincere sympathy to all who have suffered at this defendant’s hands.”

victims, who were spread over four counties at five different facilities, include Alice Stewart, Ann Victain, Betty Hutchison, Betty McQueeney, Elmer Allbee, Gerald Shrum Sr., Irene Simons, Purple Heart recipient Jack Rogers, James Bartoe, James Fair, Joseph Campbell, Louise Skinner, Marguerite Laskovich, Marianne Bower, Mary Colwell, Nicholas Cymbol, Norman Hendrickson, Ruth Erikson, Sandra Lincoln, and Sherry Stilitino. Their ages were 43-104.

Victims (Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office)

Blaze News
previously reported that the victims had been at Concordia at Rebecca Residence; Belair Healthcare and Rehabilitation; Quality Life Services Chicora; Premier Armstrong Rehabilitation and Nursing Center; and Sunnyview Rehabilitation and Nursing Center — all locations where Pressdee served as a registered nurse.

Investigators indicated the killer nurse would load her victims up with fatal doses of insulin during overnight shifts when there were few staff members on hand and “often took steps to ensure her victims would expire prior to shift change so that they wouldn’t be sent to the hospital where her scheme could be discovered through medical testing.”

In the event that victims appeared as though they might survive, Pressdee took additional measures to snuff them out.

According to the
criminal complaint, when insulin failed to kill one victim whom Pressdee later told investigators “needed to die,” she administered a syringe full of air into the victim’s catheter to create a lethal air embolism.

Pressdee appears to have developed a taste for killing after dropping out of the nursing program at the Community College of Allegheny County and becoming a veterinary technician. She later told investigators that during her 14 years providing “critical animal care,” her duties included euthanizing animals.

The murderer later finished her nursing degree then went to work treating human beings like lesser animals.

A number of Pressdee’s text messages to her mother that were detailed in the complaint hint at a murderous mentality, such as when she wrote:

  • “I’m gonna murder already” on June 10, 2022;
  • “If you get like this you will get pillow therapy,” referencing a patient on June 26, 2022;
  • “She’s gonna die!!!!” on July 5, 2022;
  • “I drugged him already and I don’t know how he is awake” on Sept. 6, 2022;
  • “I’m going to kill this bitch on the phone” on Oct. 17, 2022;
  • “She could be dead, she hasn’t made a noise since 9 and I’m not checking on her,” adding later on Dec. 7, 2022, “Well she’s alive and she may die now”;
  • “Whatever I’m gonna stab a bitch today” on Jan. 21, 2023; and
  • “But I may kill this resident” on May 12, 2023.

In court, Phil DiLucente, Pressdee’s defense attorney, attempted to humanize the murderous nurse,
reported WTAE-TV.

“Let me just say this. There is not all bad in everyone. And you could see at the end, she was remorseful,” said DiLucente. “There was a tear in her eyes, and some folks could see up in the jury box from the press that I handed her a handkerchief to wipe her tears away. So, at the end of the day, we’re all human, and this is a very, very tragic — a tragic case.”

Family members of the victims weren’t fooled by the attorney’s last-ditch effort and the killer’s crocodile tears.

One relative told the judge, “She’s not sick. She’s not insane. She’s evil personified.”

Another victim’s granddaughter told Pressdee, “You are not a nurse, you are a black mark on the nursing profession.”

“She’s pure evil,” Melinda Brown, sister of victim Nicholas Cymbol, told WTAE. “There’s no justice for this. We’ll get justice when she meets her maker.”

Elizabeth Simons Ozella, the daughter of victim Irene Simons said, “I’ll never forgive her for what she did. We’re angry and hurt that she disguised herself as a caring nurse.”

“She took someone from this earth that she had no right to take,” continued Ozella, “and she played God when she didn’t have that right.”

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