A British nurse was charged in the murder of eight babies and attempted murder of 10 others after being arrested for the third time in connection with the horrific crimes at a hospital’s neonatal unit since 2016, according to reports.
Lucy Letby, 30, who worked at the Countess of Chester Hospital, was arrested after a three-year probe that was launched after the facility raised an alarm about the large number of deaths there between March 2015 and July 2016, the Sun reported.
The hospital in Cheshire, southeast of Liverpool, conducted an internal inquiry when health care workers found that premature babies had suffered heart and lung failures, according to the outlet.
“The Crown Prosecution Service has authorized Cheshire Police to charge a healthcare professional with murder in connection with an ongoing investigation into a number of baby deaths at the Countess of Chester Hospital,” according to a statement.
“Lucy Letby, of Arran Avenue, Hereford, is facing eight charges of murder and 10 charges of attempted murder,” it added.
After her arrest this week, police said the parents of all the victims have been kept apprised of the developments in the grisly case and were receiving emotional support from specially trained officers.
“A dedicated team of detectives have been working extremely hard on this highly complex and very sensitive case doing everything they can as quickly as they can to identify what has led to these baby deaths and collapses,” said Detective Chief Inspector Paul Hughes, who is in charge of the probe, the Sun reported.
“This is an extremely difficult time for all the families and it is important to remember that, at the heart of this, there are a number of bereaved families seeking answers as to what happened to their children,” he added.
Letby is expected to appear in Warrington Magistrates’ Court later Thursday.
The nurse was first arrested in July 2018 on suspicion of murder as investigators tied her to the deaths of eight babies and attempted murder of another six infants at the hospital.
Authorities had been investigating the deaths of 17 babies between 2015 and 2016, and another 16 “nonfatal collapses,” described as when an infant’s health severely declined but the child survived, according to local reports.
Letby had been out on bail since July 2018. After her prior arrests, police searched her home in the Blacon area of Chester, the Sun reported.
She worked at the neonatal unit as a student nurse during three years of training before qualifying as a children’s nurse and continued working at the unit after graduating, the Guardian reported.
One friend at the time, Jordan Sands, said “she was quite awkward and geeky but seemed like a kindhearted person.” Another called Letby “an amazing person.”
Letby also had been active in a $4 million fundraising campaign to build a new neonatal unit at the hospital, which experienced an unexplained mortality rate spike.
“I hope the new unit will provide a greater degree of privacy and space,” she told the Chester & District Standard in supporting the campaign.