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Nurse Who Told of Killing 23 Patients Pleads Guilty to 3 Murders With AM-Nursing Home-List

April 9, 1992

LARGO, Fla. (AP) _ A nurse who allegedly admitted killing 23 nursing home patients pleaded guilty Thursday to murdering three elderly patients with drug overdoses and was sentenced to life in prison.

Brian K. Rosenfeld, 34, was sentenced to three life terms, to be served at the same time, with no parole for at least 25 years.

″He also has another judgment day - in heaven,″ said his father, Lewis Rosenfeld.

The number of deaths for which the younger Rosenfeld was responsible may never be known, authorities said.

David Greenway, a former cellmate of Rosenfeld, told investigators Rosenfield admitted killing 23 patients and gave the names of some, a boast that led to exhumations of five drug-laced bodies and two of the three murder charges.

Circuit Judge Claire K. Luten ordered that, should Rosenfeld ever win release from prison, he never be allowed to work at a nursing home.

Before Rosenfeld was led from the courtroom, his father, three sisters and a brother tearfully hugged and kissed him goodbye.

″I love you, Brian,″ sobbed Debra Rosenfeld, a sister from New York City.

Their father, who lives in the St. Petersburg area near Largo, said he felt sorry for the victims and their families.

″I don’t know where Brian went wrong,″ Rosenfeld said.

″I’m not looking for forgiveness for him. I know he was a workaholic, overworked and under great pressure because he lost loved ones,″ including a homosexual lover and his mother, his father said.

Although no one discussed motive, the deaths were not viewed as mercy killings, but rather, as a voracious appetite for inflicting abuse.

One former co-worker, Ellen Mackowiak, said Rosenfeld once grabbed the legs of a patient suffering from arthritis, pulled them apart, then crossed them again rapidly. The patient screamed in pain and yelled, ″I hate you,″ she said.

Orderly Wesley Cherry said Rosenfeld sometimes snapped patients’ catheter tubes and bent their fingers back until they screamed in pain.

Rosenfeld answered ″yes, ma’am″ and ″no, ma’am″ as the judge quizzed him extensively about whether a decision to switch his plea from innocent to guilty was his own and that he understood the consequences.

As part of a plea agreement, defense attorney Larry Hoffman wanted the state to promise not to prosecute Rosenfield on any additional deaths.

Prosecutors said there were no active investigations and none were contemplated, but they wouldn’t rule one out should something develop.

In five years, Rosenfeld was fired from 14 nursing homes. Some of his past employers said they received complaints from other staff members about his mistreatment of patients.

Assistant State Attorney Fred Schaub told the judge that of 201 deaths during Rosenfeld’s stints at the nursing homes, 170 bodies were cremated by the time suspicions arose.

One of Rosenfeld’s victims, Muriel Watts, was scheduled for cremation when investigators moved in for an autopsy. The 80-year-old patient at Rosedale Manor Nursing Home had enough of the drug Mellaril in her system when she died July 29, 1990, to kill an elephant, officials said.

Rosenfeld, who has been in custody at Pinellas County Jail without bond since August 1990, also pleaded guilty to giving Hazel DeRemer, 81, and Alphonse Silva, 76, lethal doses of the same, anti-anxiety drug.

Investigators collected reams of documents as they probed dozens of nursing home deaths, examined records of each shift and each job Rosenfeld worked and interviewed numerous witnesses and colleagues.

DeRemer died at Sunshine Village nursing home July 17, 1987. Her body was exhumed in Williamsport, Pa. Silva died at Rosedale Manor on May 6, 1990. His body was exhumed in Pawtucket, R.I.

Rosenfeld worked at Sunshine from February 1987 to September 1987 and at Rosedale from April 1990 to late July of that year.

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