CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — A Missouri woman accused of killing a woman 20 years ago while she was a respiratory therapist is in custody.
Jennifer Hall has been charged with killing Fern Franco at the Hedrick Medical Center on May 18, 2002.
The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office reports Hall was arrested by the U.S. Marshals just after 6:30 p.m. in Kansas. Marshals tracked her to a motel in Overland Park near Interstate 435 and Metcalf.
She is now booked in the Johnson County, Kansas jail.
Court documents show Hall and another employee discovered Franco wasn’t breathing in her hospital bed. The nurse said Hall was near Franco’s room at the time Franco stopped breathing and Hall entered Franco’s room with her, which she thought was strange.
Staff attempted to revive Franco as she was “coding” and gave her atropine and epinephrine, but no other substances.
During an autopsy, a coroner found the presence of succinylcholine and morphine. An investigation determined the drugs were not prescribed to Franco or ordered by her doctors.
A medical expert said succinylcholine paralyzes a patient’s muscles, leaving the victim unable to breathe. The victim would suffocate while still maintaining full consciousness, according to the probable cause statement.
The probable cause statement shows Hall was a respiratory therapist at the medical center from December 2001 through May 2002.
She was placed on administrative leave May 21, 2002, three days after Franco died.
Aprille Franco was 24 years old when her grandmother Fern died.
“She happened to be the ninth victim, and in the hospital, they had too many ‘blue codes,’ which means too many deaths,” Franco said.
She followed the investigation and developments in the case through her father, Arlen, over the past 20 years. He died in November.
“I don’t want this to happen to anybody else, and that was my dad’s major thing. I’m doing this for him, and the families. They deserve justice,” Franco said.
According to the probable cause, hospital employees reported the number of cardiac emergencies among patients receiving care at the medical center rose to 18 during Hall’s employment. Before she was hired, the hospital averaged one incident a year. The hospital reported the number of cardiac emergencies dropped after Hall was places on leave.
Of the 18 patients who suffered cardiac emergencies during that time, nine died.
Court documents show other nurses believed Hall was responsible for the patients deaths because of her proximity to the patients, her access to drugs which are deadly if misused, and the fact that she was involved in reporting each of the victim’s deaths.
On Friday, Hall, who now goes by the last name Semaboye, stepped in front of a camera at the Johnson County Jail. Fern’s great-granddaughter Nikki Holsted was with Aprille outside the jail as they watched the court appearance.
“Growing up, I didn’t know about her at all.” Holsted said of Fern after Hall’s appearance. “You know this week I found out that, hey, I knew that I had my great-grandmother, and then to find out that somebody possibly murdered her. And then I found that you know, she murdered possibly other people, you know I just want justice for my grandmother but for the other people as well.”
Hall is only being charged with Franco’s death. She had waivers signed to allow for her extradition back to Missouri.
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