The Netflix film “The Good Nurse” sheds light on the gruesome story of former nurse Charles Cullen, who confessed to murdering over 40 patients during his 16-year healthcare career in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Known as the “Angel of Death,” Cullen claimed his crimes were mercy killings, leaving a chilling legacy. Behind this horrifying spree lies a troubled family history that may provide clues to Cullen’s descent into darkness.
Early Losses: A Tragic Childhood
Cullen’s journey into infamy began with early tragedies. The Morning Call reveals that his father passed away when he was a baby, followed by his mother’s death in a car wreck during his high school years, leaving him effectively orphaned. More sorrow awaited him as his brother succumbed to a drug overdose at home, and another brother later fell victim to cancer. These early losses shaped Cullen’s somber and solitary demeanor, hinting at the turmoil within.
Navy Service and Struggles: Signs of Trouble
Seeking a fresh start, Cullen joined the Navy after his mother’s death. However, his time in the service was marred by erratic behavior and strained social interactions with fellow sailors. These challenges led to his discharge in 1984. Undeterred, Cullen pursued a career in healthcare, attending the Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing, as reported by NYT.
Marriage and Disturbing Divorce: A Troubled Family Life
In 1987, Cullen married Adrienne Taub, and the couple had two daughters. However, Taub’s divorce filings, detailed by The Morning Call, paint a disturbing picture. Cullen’s behavior, marked by extreme cruelty towards family pets and emotional withdrawal, led to the dissolution of their marriage in 1994. One unsettling incident recounted by Taub involved Cullen abusing the family pets in the basement, revealing a dark side hidden behind a seemingly ordinary family life.
The Masked Facade: A Deceptive Family Man
Despite the troubling allegations in the divorce proceedings, Cullen was granted joint custody of his children. The Morning Call highlights Cullen’s ability to mask his darker tendencies when needed. Divorce lawyer Seth Levine, who represented Cullen, described him as a hard-working, likable person and a loving father. The contrast between Cullen’s public persona and private actions added layers to the enigma surrounding his character.
Neighbor’s Perspective: Children’s Drawings and Suicide Attempt
Following the divorce, Cullen’s neighbor, Karin Ziemba, recalled glimpses of normalcy in his life. She noted seeing his children’s drawings in his apartment, providing a stark contrast to the heinous acts he would later commit. Ziemba, who saved Cullen from a suicide attempt around 2000, experienced the complexities of his character firsthand.
Media Silence: A Protective Stance
In the aftermath of Cullen’s crimes, Taub and Cullen’s children opted to stay away from the media. Taub, when approached by a reporter in 2003, emphatically stated, “Leave my family and children out of it. I have nothing to say.” This silence reflects the desire to shield the family from the horrific legacy left by Charles Cullen.
In exploring Charles Cullen’s disturbing family life, we find a trail of tragedy and troubled relationships that may offer insight into the mind of a serial killer. The unsettling details of his past serve as a backdrop to the heinous acts that shocked the nation.