A 30-year-old UK nurse has been charged with the murder of eight babies, and the attempted murder of 10 more while she was employed at the Countess of Chester Hospital in Cheshire. The charges were leveled against Lucy Letby after a three-year-long investigation into her role in infant deaths at the hospital's neonatal unit.
Letby, from Arran Avenue, Hereford, was arrested for a third time in relation to the case and was charged with the murders of the infants on Tuesday. The nurse's killing spree is believed to have lasted between March 2015 and July 2016, when the unusual death rate among babies caught the attention of the authorities. She is set to appear before the Warrington Magistrates' Court on Thursday.
Angel of Death
When the hospital's doctors learnt that premature babies had succumbed to lung and heart failure, an internal inquiry was launched, according to The Sun. The unnaturally high infant death rate—which was 10 percent above average—between March 2015 and July 2016 caused worry among the hospital administration.
Following this, the Cheshire police formally launched an investigation into the matter. During the course of the investigation, Letby was arrested three times, according to The Daily Mail—in July 2018, June 2019, and November 2020. He home in the Blacon locality of Chester, and her parents' home in Hereford were searched during her previous arrests. Letby had also worked at the Liverpool Women's Hospital at one point.
"A dedicated team of detectives have been working extremely hard on this highly complex and very sensitive case doing everything they can as quickly as they can to identify what has led to these baby deaths and collapses," said Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hughes, in charge of the investigation, according to The Sun. He also added that the parents of the babies have been updated about the latest developments in the gruesome case.
Evil In The Guise of Goodness
What makes the crimes of Letby ghastlier is her perceived image of a good-natured and kind-hearted nursing professional who strived to care for the babies in her charge. Reports state that she served as a student nurse at the same unit during the course of her three-year training period, before receiving her stripes from the University of Chester in 2011 as a qualified children's nurse.
According to The Daily Mail, Letby spearheaded and served as the face of a campaign to raise £3 million for the building of a new pediatric unit at Countess of Chester Hospital in 2013. "My role involves caring for a wide range of babies requiring various levels of support. Some are here for a few days, others for many months and I enjoy seeing them progress and supporting their families," she had told a local newspaper during an interview related to the campaign.
Jordan Sands, an acquaintance, said: "She was quite awkward and geeky but seemed like a kind-hearted person." Another friend, who requested to not be named, portrayed her as "an amazing person".
One of Letby's parents' neighbors, who has known them for nearly 25 years, described her as "a very career-driven person" who was dedicated to her job. She added that Letby's parents doted on their daughter and were immensely proud of her accomplishments. "I just truly can't believe it. She was a delight. Her parents must be going through hell," the neighbor said.