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'Rogue nurse' charged with murder after patients were given lethal doses of insulin at North Carolina hospital, officials say

Johnathan Hayes, 47, is accused of administering lethal doses of insulin to two patients who died and a near-fatal dose to a third patient who survived.

A "rogue nurse" in North Carolina has been arrested on murder charges after the deaths of two patients he is accused of giving lethal doses of insulin, state officials announced Tuesday.

Johnathan Hayes, 47, who worked as a nurse at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, is accused of having administered the doses in late 2021 into early 2022, Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill said at a news conference Tuesday. 

O’Neill said Hayes was arrested earlier in the day on warrants charging him with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. 

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.Google Maps

Hayes is alleged to have administered a lethal dose of insulin to patient Gwen Crawford on Jan. 5. She died three days later on Jan. 8, O’Neill said. 

The second patient who died was Vickie Lingerfelt, who is alleged to have gotten a lethal dose of insulin on Jan. 22. She died Jan. 27. 

Hayes was further charged with administering a near-fatal dose of insulin to a third patient on Dec. 1; she survived, O’Neill said.

Denise Potter, the vice president of communications at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, stressed that the actions Hayes is accused of are not in accordance with the hospital's standards.

“As soon as we identified a deviation in patient care … we took immediate action to remove the employee from the patient care environment and terminated his employment," she said.

Hayes, who worked for Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist as a registered nurse at various times over the last 15 years, was fired March 18, a spokesperson for the hospital said. 

O'Neill said the hospital conducted an internal investigation and contacted Winston-Salem police and state officials in March to look into the issue. 

The police investigation stretched for months, including interviews, evidence collection and discussions with relatives of the victims. 

O'Neill said “the totality of the information” led him to conclude there was probable cause to support charging Hayes with murder.

He described Hayes as a “rogue nurse,” saying that there was no evidence Hayes knew the patients before the incidents and that he acted alone.

No details about a possible motive were released; an investigation continues.

“Johnathan Hayes has forfeited the honor of being called a nurse. From this day forth, he’ll be known as a defendant,” O'Neill said.

The hospital said in a statement that in addition to contacting authorities, it “notified the appropriate regulators and licensing boards and have been working with them throughout their investigations.”

“What is alleged to have taken place certainly does not represent the high standards of safety and integrity that we always expect from each and every one of our dedicated teammates,” the statement said. “We have conducted an in-depth analysis to ensure we have done everything possible so an event like this can never happen again.”

Hayes was booked into the Forsyth County jail on no bond Tuesday, booking records show.

It was not immediately clear whether he has retained a lawyer.