Its Only A Story - Go To Sleep


I was born in Texas in 1969. During my early childhood, in this area in which I am now raising my children, a campfire ghost story became popular suggesting that Bexar County Hospital (now University Hospital of San Antonio) experienced a string of odd deaths, "the patients dying systematically in room order - first 201 would go, then 202, 203, 204. The nurses and doctors were very suspicious, especially when patients began talking about a nurse in an old-style uniform. They watched the security tapes and saw the patients talking to someone when no one else was in the room. They were puzzled, until the next room in order was left empty. Then, the deaths stopped. There have been no more incidents since." This is the story I heard told around the fire at camp, more than once between 1976 and 1983, complete with flickering shadows and exaggerated pantomime sneaking on the part of the teller.  Every year, the group of camp veterans knew what was coming and thrilled to intone spooky counting each time the next infanticide was about to occur, knowing that Bexar was not far from where we were about to bed down, leaving the lights on in our bunkhouse, having a hard time falling into sleep, only to be visited by nightmares.

Between 1977 and 1982 a woman named Genene Jones killed children, many children, while working as a licensed vocational nurse at Bexar in the pediatric intensive care unit. "A statistically improbable number of children died under her care. Because the hospital feared being sued, it simply asked all of its LVNs, including Jones, to resign and staffed the pediatric ICU exclusively with registered nurses. No further investigation was pursued by the hospital." She moved on to continue killing at Medical Center Hospital in 1981 and 1982. "Despite long-standing suspicions that Jones was a serial killer—other nurses called her hours on duty 'the Death Shift'—she was not charged in the hospital deaths during the original 1980s investigation. However, she was convicted in 1984 of using a paralyzing muscle relaxant to murder 15-month-old Chelsea McClellan. That crime occurred at a different medical institution, a small-town pediatric clinic where Jones went to work after being sent off from the San Antonio hospital with a good recommendation."  

As an adult, I completed a Ph.D. in psychology with an emphasis in mythology, studying and teaching about the myths we live by and in, the ways that belief gestates as narrative and makes its way into both day and night life as mirroring belief and related behavior. "First 201...then 202, 203, 204..."  The most frightening ghost stories are ones that are real. Have you ever been told that something with an essential message, even psychological truth, is "only a story?"