HOUSTON -- A convicted serial baby killer who has been behind bars since 1985 is scheduled for mandatory release in 2017 due to an old Texas law.
"Unless we come up with a miracle,” said Andy Kahan, the city of Houston’s crime victims' advocate.
In 1977, Genene Jones became a nurse. She went on to work in hospitals and clinics in the San Antonio area. Jones helped treat Petti McClellan's infant daughter, Chelsea.
“Up until now I never worried about her getting out, but now I’m worried and I'm scared,” McClellan said.
She's said she’s scared because Jones was a nurse who tried to play God. She would inject infants with heparin or succinylchlorine to make them sick and then would later try to resuscitate them. She would try to save their lives to look like a hero.
But not all of them survived. It is believed that, while she worked for the Bexar County Medical Center, Jones murdered anywhere from 11 to 47 babies who were in her care.
The exact number is unknown because one hospital, worried about litigation and public outrage, destroyed all of its records.
Chelsea was 15 months old when she died.
“She was fine. She wasn't even sick that day,” said McClellan.
“Cameron, my son, was the one who was sick. He had the flu. He went in to be seen. They wanted to get Chelsea’s immunizations up to date,” she said.
But then, all of a sudden, Chelsea became unresponsive.
“The hospital in Kerrville had already started doing its internal investigation so there were red flags out there,” McClellan said.
They took their own medical staff, which included Jones, off the case.
“They said this baby is going to San Antonio,” said McClellan.
They rushed Chelsea to a waiting ambulance.
“And I knew Jones knew. Genene Jones knew, if we got this baby to San Antonio, it was over. It was absolutely over. So, in the chaos, she ended up in the ambulance with Chelsea and she injected her again,” said McClellan. “And then she crashed."
McClellan was driving a car following the ambulance when Chelsea died en route.
“She would have been 27 this year. I think about what she would have looked like. What she would have been doing,” said McClellan.
Jones was convicted for two murders and sentenced to 99 years in prison.
So why is she about to be released?
“Especially someone who diabolically killed helpless infants that were left in her care,” said Kahan.
Kahan said it’s all because of what’s called "mandatory release." Under Texas law, if you were convicted of a crime from 1977 to 1987, when prison overcrowding was a serious issue, you get extra credit for every day you behave yourself. And someday, you'll get out of prison.
“A lot of murderers, rapists, aggravated offenders, who were sentenced between 1977 and 1987, who got lengthy sentences, they are maxing out their time and they are coming out,” Kahan said.
Seven years ago, serial killer Coral Eugene Watts was scheduled to be released under the same law, but prosecutors connected him to another murder. He spent the rest of his life in prison.
Kahan is looking for another miracle.
“To go back in time to see if there are any other cases that they might have missed that might be stored in a filing cabinet that might be sitting in a box somewhere that they can resurrect to keep her from being legally released,” Kahan said.
They have six years to find something, and McClellan said she hopes the effort doesn’t fall through.
“It's going to be here before we know it. And we are going to look up one day and those doors are going to open up and she is going to walk out,” said McClellan.