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Former nurse arrested in Indiana hospital deaths

December 29, 1997 GMT

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) _ A former intensive care unit nurse who was on duty during dozens of unexplained deaths was arrested today and accused of killing six people.

Orville Lynn Majors, who was a licensed practical nurse at the former Vermillion County Hospital in Clinton, was arrested on six counts of murder, Sgt. Mark Hartman said from the State Police post in Terre Haute.

An affidavit filed in court said the deaths were by injection but did not say what substance or substances were used. It listed six deaths between Jan. 8, 1994, and Feb. 16, 1995.

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``I am shocked, stunned and severely disappointed,″ said his attorney, I. Marshall Pinkus of Indianapolis. ``It’s a travesty.″ He said he would not comment further until he had a chance to study the charges.

Majors has maintained his innocence throughout the more than 2 1/2-year investigation into a series of suspicious deaths from May 1993 to March 1995. He was suspended from his job after authorities realized the death rate when he was on duty was triple the normal rate.

Majors was on duty during 130 deaths at the hospital, and was publicly named as a suspect in an unspecified number of them in July.

During their $1.5 million investigation, authorities exhumed and autopsied the bodies of 15 patients who died during the 22-month period. They also conducted a $300,000 computerized study looking for common patterns in more than 100 deaths.

An affidavit unsealed earlier this year said police had searched Majors’ former residence and seized several syringes and needles there.

The state Nursing Board suspended Majors’ license in December 1995, saying he failed to apprise doctors of patient conditions and exceeded his authority in one case by increasing a patient’s oxygen supply.

Marjorie Doran also told investigators that her 76-year-old father-in-law, John, died after Majors made unidentified injections into his intravenous tube. But John Doran was not on the list of six patients cited in today’s charges.

As a licensed practical nurse, Majors was not authorized to give injections, hospital authorities said.

Vermillion County Hospital has been sold since the suspicious deaths came to light and is now called West Central Community Hospital.

Majors, 36, was to be held without bail pending a court appearance Tuesday, authorities said. He was arrested at his parents’ home in Linton.

The patients whose deaths were cited in court documents, and their dates of death, were: Luella A. Hopkins, Jan. 8, 1994; Cecil Ivan Smith, April 3, 1994; Dorothea L. Hixon, April 23, 1994; Mary Ann Alderson, Nov. 7, 1994; Margaret A. Hornick, Nov. 25, 1994; and Freddie Dale Wilson, Feb. 16, 1995. The document did not give their ages.