Lucy Letby: How Was the Child Serial Killer Caught?

Disclaimer: This article contains mentions of murder and abuse. Reader discretion is advised.

Lucy Letby is a 33-year-old British woman who formerly worked with NHS as a neonatal nurse. She murdered multiple infants and babies under her care between June 2015 and June 2016. Her murder methods include injecting babies with air, forceful feeding of milk, and insulin poisoning. Although the motive behind the murders remains undetermined, the prosecution argued that she derived a thrill and sense of enjoyment from her crimes.

The neonatal care unit of the Countess of Chester hospital recorded only one to three infant deaths in an average year, until 2015, as the Guardian reported. In June 2015, three infants died and one’s health saw a drastic fall, all within a fortnight.

On the night of August 3, 2015, the mother of premature twin boys arrived at the hospital. She rushed into the nursery area when she heard a scream and found her baby in his incubator, with blood around his mouth. Lucy Letby claimed it was from the feeding tube rubbing on his neck. The child soon lost a lot of blood and died.

Next, Letby poisoned the dead boy’s twin brother with insulin. The infant’s heart rate began to rise and one of his legs was swelling. The doctors helped him recover before it was apparent that someone had deliberately injected insulin into the victim. After the death of two healthy infants from a set of triplets in July 2016, the hospital authorities began getting suspicious. They removed Letby from the neonatal unit. The deaths then stopped.

In May 2017, the incidents were reported to the police and she was arrested in 2018. Upon questioning, Lucy Letby claimed that it was the incompetence of her co-workers that led to the death of her victims. All of her victims were prematurely born or had some complications.

What was Lucy Letby convicted of?

Lucy Letby was convicted of killing seven newborns and of attempting to kill six more. She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the Independent. Letby reportedly looked for her victims’ families on social media and sometimes went to the extent of sending condolences.

On June 8, Lucy Letby injected air into an intravenous line connected to an infant who was reportedly born six weeks early. The boy died and this was Letby’s first known murder. The victim had a twin sister who was also admitted to the same hospital. The next day, the girl became extremely ill and her skin began to show white and purple patches. However, this time, the child didn’t die. Her stay at the hospital extended over the month.

In the days after she attacked the twins, Lucy Letby murdered two more babies and with that, it became apparent that the causes of death weren’t natural. The victims displayed patches on the skin suggesting there occurred a forced injection of air into the bloodstream. Upon internal investigation, they found that Lucy Letby was the nurse on shift during all four incidents. Suspicions were, however, dismissed considering Lucy’s reputation in the neonatal unit.

Over the months that followed, Lucy Letby reportedly tampered with a baby’s feeding tube, overfed one infant with milk, and poisoned two babies with insulin. Soon, Letby began poisoning and injecting babies towards the end of her shift so that their deterioration would occur after the shift ended. Letby did not remain under suspicion for long until the incident in August 2015.

Lucy Letby: The Nurse Who Killed is an episode of Panorama that aired on BBC One on August 18, 2023.

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