The Good Nurse true story: Who is "angel of death" nurse Charles Cullen and what did he do to his patients?

Charles Cullen (Photo by John Wheeler/Getty Images/via Oxygen)
Charles Cullen (Photo by John Wheeler/Getty Images/via Oxygen)

Jessica Chastain's upcoming crime drama film, The Good Nurse, focuses on the notorious American serial killer and former nurse Charles Cullen, who's reportedly believed to have killed at least 40 patients. In the movie, Cullen is played by award-winning actor Eddie Redmayne, who is best known for The Theory of Everything.

The film is set to be released on Netflix on Wednesday, October 26, 2022. It was earlier released in select cinemas on October 19, 2022, and has received mixed-to-positive reviews from audiences and critics.

Charles Cullen's early life, career, and crimes


Charles Cullen was born on February 22, 1960, in West Orange, New Jersey. His father died when he was nearly seven months old. Cullen reportedly had a troubled childhood wherein he'd get bullied by other students at school and even tried to take his own life when he was very young. His mother, Florence Cullen, passed away in a car accident in 1977, when Cullen was 17 years old.

Charles Cullen quit high school and went on to join the US Navy. During his stint with the Navy, Cullen allegedly attempted to die by suicide and eventually received a medical discharge.

He's also believed to have been bullied by other fellow officers. Cullen later studied nursing at Mountainside Hospital's nursing school. He subsequently started working at the Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. Cullen then went on to marry a woman named Adrienne Taub in 1987. The couple had two daughters.


According to The Sun, while working as a nurse, Cullen would go through the records of patients at the hospital in order to choose his victims. His first killing happened in June 1988 at the Saint Barnabas Medical Center. He allegedly killed one of his patients by giving them an overdose of intravenous medication.

The Saint Barnabas Medical Center also became the site for several other killings by Charles Cullen. He quit his job at the hospital and later began working at Warren Hospital in Phillipsburg, where he continued to murder his patients, many of whom were elderly people. A large number of his patients died after being injected with an overdose of a medication called digoxin, which is reportedly used to treat different kinds of heart conditions.

Charles Cullen later left the hospital and got a job at Hunterdon Medical Center, where he worked as a nurse in the ICU. Sometime during the mid-late 90s, Cullen allegedly killed numerous patients by injecting them with an overdose of digoxin. He was also suffering from depression and sought treatment during this time and would frequently quit and find new jobs at various hospitals.

When was Charles Cullen arrested?


Cullen is believed to have killed 13 patients at Somerset Medical Center during the early 2000s. Authorities at the hospital became suspicious of Cullen when they discovered that he'd been looking into the records of patients he wasn't assigned.

The biggest turning point happened when the hospital informed the police after a patient died due to low blood sugar. This ultimately led to Cullen being terminated from Somerset Medical Center after authorities began digging deeper into the nurse's history.

In another pivotal moment that would eventually lead to Charles Cullen's arrest, Amy Loughren, Cullen's fellow nurse at Somerset Medical Center, reportedly told the police about Cullen accessing drugs and his possible connections with the deaths of numerous patients, which further raised authorities' suspicions.

Cullen was arrested in December 2003 after authorities asked Loughren to wear a wire and talk to the nurse for a confessional. Following his arrest, Cullen confessed to killing 40 patients in a span of 16 years, although, as per Crime + Investigation, only 29 murders were confirmed. The official count is believed to be much higher.

Cullen escaped the death penalty as he entered into a plea agreement with the authorities, which required him to help investigators identify his victims. According to The Sun, Cullen was sentenced to 17 life terms.

You can watch The Good Nurse on Netflix on Wednesday, October 26, 2022.

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Edited by Susrita Das