How old is Charles Cullen now?

By Adam Lock
Published: November 11, 2022 (Last updated: February 3, 2024)

How old is Charles Cullen now? We discuss the serial killer Charles Cullen, who is the subject of the Netflix releases The Good Nurse and Capturing the Killer Nurse. 

The serial killer genre continues to be a valuable asset for Netflix. The company has started to capitalize on this renewed interest in true crime even further in recent months, with the dual release of a live-action adaptation and a documentary accompaniment. Take, for example, the horrid tale of Jeffrey Dahmer, which was released as a Ryan Murphy TV series (Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story) and then a follow-up docu-series titled Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes.

The terrifying true story of Charles Cullen gets a similar treatment. Netflix has released a feature-length, The Good Nurse, starring Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) as the horrifying murderer, and paired it with the documentary film Capturing the Killer Nurse. This smart marketing technique allows for a much wider exploration of these killers and the possibility for Netflix to practically double its viewership figures. With Netflix releasing two feature-length projects about Charles Cullen, it seems like an appropriate time to discuss this infamous murderer in more detail.

Who is Charles Cullen?

Charles Cullen is a serial killer, who murdered many of his own patients whilst working as a qualified, critical care nurse in a number of hospitals throughout his troubled career. Over sixteen years, Cullen worked at ten nursing homes and hospitals and is thought to have killed between forty and four hundred patients. The killer nurse, dubbed The Angel of Death by one newspaper, injected digoxin and insulin into random IV bags, which resulted in an overdose for dozens, possibly hundreds of patients, until his eventual capture in 2003.

In 1986, Cullen graduated from Mountainside Hospital’s nursing school in New Jersey. Two years later, Cullen killed his first victim at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, his very first nursing post. He left when the hospital began to investigate incidents involving contaminated IV bags. He is likely to have killed many more during this employment. Cullen’s second nursing job was at Warren Hospital, where he killed three more elderly patients with an overdose of digoxin. He then moved on to Hunterdon Medical Center in 1994 and Morristown Memorial Hospital in 1996, killing at least five more individuals. Many of the hospitals suspected Cullen of harming or even killing patients, but they never passed on their suspicions to his future employers or the law for that matter. Some hospitals feared lawsuits or garnering a bad reputation if they made these allegations public.

Leaving New Jersey, his next five jobs were based in Pennsylvania. Cullen worked at Liberty Nursing Home, Easton Hospital, Lehigh Valley Hospital, St. Luke’s hospital, and Sacred Heart Hospital, where he is known to have killed at least seven more patients. In September 2002, Cullen moved back to New Jersey and began working at Somerset Medical Center, where he is known to have killed at least thirteen people. It is here, where fellow nurse Amy Loughren (played by Jessica Chastain), noticed Cullen’s suspicious behavior, most notably his odd methods of accessing drugs, and his obvious connections to many of the hospital patient’s deaths. Her dedication and bravery led to Cullen’s arrest.

How long has Charles Cullen been in prison?

Loughren helped the police to gather the appropriate evidence, and Cullen was arrested on December 12, 2003. Cullen would later admit to killing forty individuals, but because of the unique circumstances surrounding these deaths, it is likely to be substantially more. Cullen worked with vulnerable and unhealthy patients on a daily basis, which allowed him to get away with this deadly scheme for so long.

He would eventually plead guilty to killing 29 people, 22 in New Jersey and 7 in Pennsylvania. Cullen was initially sentenced to eleven life sentences, which has since been bumped up to eighteen. He is not eligible for parole until 2403. Cullen has been in prison since his arrest in 2003, which amounts to nearly nineteen years served so far. During his long period of incarceration, Cullen has been assisting the police in identifying additional victims. This was part of his overall plea agreement that allowed Cullen to escape the death penalty for his many, heinous crimes.

How old is Charles Cullen now?

Cullen was born in West Orange, New Jersey, on February 22, 1960. He committed his first murderous act in 1988 when he was just 28 years old and he continued to kill his patients until 2003 when he was in his early forties. Cullen has spent nearly two decades in prison now and is sixty-two years old on the date this article was published. This means that if Cullen is to live to a ripe old age, then he will have spent the majority of his life behind bars.

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