Glendale Police Department and the task force that investigated
Efren Saldivar, a respiratory therapist who worked at Glendale
Adventist Medical Center and initially admitted killing more than 50
Glendale Police Officer Will Currie, lead investigator in the
Saldivar case, was quoted in the New York Times on Dec. 15 after
Cullen confessed. Officer Mario Yagoda was quoted last week in a
story that appeared in a Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger news article.
Additionally, each of the four Glendale Police detectives who worked
the Saldivar case were interviewed extensively for a two-hour
Discovery Channel special on the investigation that recently aired.
The two cases, local investigators say, are disturbingly similar.
Saldivar, who worked the graveyard shift at Glendale Adventist,
confessed to killing more than 50 patients by drugging them, but
later recanted his statements. He ultimately pleaded guilty to six
counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, and is now
serving six consecutive life sentences in prison.
Cullen, who claims to have killed 40 patients by drugging them,
was charged with one count of murder this week. But without the
evidence -- which could include boxes of medical records, years of
investigation and possibly even require exhuming bodies -- the
charges will not stick, investigators contend.
"It sounds like a repeat," said Yagoda, who, along with fellow
investigators, spent nearly four years plodding through medical
records for evidence to prove Saldivar had indeed killed elderly
patients by injecting them with Pavulon, a drug given to patients
before surgery to stop their breathing.
The work of examining medical records for unusual activity was
uncomfortable and unfamiliar for the investigators -- but absolutely
necessary, Officer Dan Hinojosa said.
"It was very complicated, very difficult in the fact that we had
to learn about the medical industry, terminology, and day-to-day
functions of therapists and respiratory therapists," Hinojosa said.
"Basically, [we had to learn] the ins and outs of hospitals. We had
to get a crash course in how to interpret these reports."
The Cullen case immediately caught the attention of Glendale
Police because of its similarities to the Saldivar case.
"When we heard of the case, we immediately drew the parallel to
our case. One of main differences is, in that case, the suspect seems
willing to confess and provide information," Glendale Police
spokesman Sgt. Kirk Palmer said. "In our case, the suspect provided
some information, and then became unwilling."
"This department is very proud of the work that that unit did --
it was groundbreaking and unprecedented. I think in terms of sharing
the expertise from that investigation, we're more than willing to
assist other agencies. This is kind of pushing the scientific
envelope in terms of forensics."