Unexplained Deaths: The Truth May Never Be Known

(Linda Kurle & The Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. Picture credits: Chicago Tribune)

This is one of those cases that you may not have heard about considering that it took place in 1980 and received little to no coverage. I actually stumbled across this story whilst going through one of my old true crime books which had been published many moons ago. I started to do some digging about the case to see if there had been any conclusion or updates and what I found was quite interesting to say the least. 

As you know I have written about killer nurses in the past (Lucy Letby & Beverley Allitt)  as well as the shocking crimes of Doctors Harold Shipman and Josef Mengele who have abused their position and harmed or murdered innocent patients in their care. It's a frightening thought to know that the stories I have written about involving these individuals are just a tiny speck on a huge number of cases which are still going on to this day. We used to be able to say that whilst in hospital you were considered to be in the best place, it was seen as safe, clean and staffed by qualified medical professionals that only had your best interests at heart. We used to be able to say that you could 100% trust your Doctor but in this day and age with numerous mistakes being made, patients concerns being ignored, corner cutting and unexplained deaths, you really do have to think twice. 

So back in 1980 in Chicago, Illinois, USA, a shocking story briefly hit the headlines involving a 24 year old nurse by the name of Linda Kurle. Apparently Linda, who had been working her usual 11pm to 7am nightshifts at The Good Samaritan hospital was being suspended due to an investigation into two unexplained deaths of elderly female patients who had primarily been in her care. The two patients had been in hospital for routine surgery (one of the patients was in hospital for a hip operation) but suddenly died due to lapsing into a insulin induced coma. The two women had been perfectly fine previously so their deaths became a mystery and shock to the staff of the hospital. Linda was in charge of 12 patients on that particular ward and was the one who had apparently found both of these patients not responding and raised the alarm. According to Linda, she had done everything she possibly could to keep both of these women alive. 

Both of the women had undergone autopsies which revealed that both of them had died through heavy doses of insulin. After the autopsies the remains were released to the families for cremation. Linda Kurle was suspended by the hospital who continued on with their investigation into the unexplained deaths. Linda contacted a lawyer and got the press involved declaring that she was innocent and had been targeted by the hospital. Her argument was that the insulin had been kept in a room which anyone could have had access to as it was always open and was situated right next to a public elevator. Her lawyer also argued the fact that the hospital was not questioning everyone who had access to that room, the focus was purely on Linda.

A hearing about Linda's suspension was held and she turned up with her lawyer and an army of friends who were prepared to provide a positive character reference for Linda. She had also alerted the media. The hospital forbid the press to attend but interviews with Linda and her lawyer as well as the attorney representing the hospital were conducted outside. The hearing only lasted 20 minutes but Linda was provided with a two-page document which contained the concerns that the hospital had in regards to her conduct during her shifts. Linda was in tears and again declared that she was innocent and even offered to take a polygraph (lie detector) test. 

The shocking story did make the nightly news and the public were waiting to hear what the final decision was going to be in regards to Linda's possible guilt, innocence and her career as a nurse. The hospital board were set to make a decision within days of what manner in they wished to proceed. It ended up with Linda being fired from her position but because the deaths could not be proven to be her responsibility they still let her go. The hospital still believed the deaths to be highly suspicious and unexplained but they could not prove that Linda was 100% responsible although they did suspect her. Nobody else was ever questioned. 

Not one to take the news of her nursing career at the age of 24 being over, Linda pressed forward and took the hospital to court to fight for her nursing reputation, employment and financial damages. She claimed that her life and professional career had been ruined and that she'd been made a scapegoat. 

In a surprise turn of events due to lack of evidence which could 100% prove that Linda had been the person who had administered the insulin to the patients, the court decided that the hospital give Linda back her nursing position as well as money owed and financial compensation for distress caused. 

The story quickly vanished from the media which is quite interesting because if it had occurred today, I think that members of the public and the media would be interested in getting to the bottom of it all. We have seen with the likes of Dr Harold Shipman, with his patients who had routine ailments mysteriously passing away out of the blue but those relatives of those victims and members of the public would not let it lie despite the victims being of a certain age. I could be wrong but it seems like because the two patients in the Good Samaritan Hospital case were elderly women and it occurred in 1980, there seemed to be an attitude of just letting the case dwindle away. You'd think that the hospital would continue their investigations into everyone who worked there, not just Linda. At the end of the day the hospital was left with a bad reputation as well as being dragged through the court in front of the media by Linda, you'd think they'd want to get to the bottom of the unexplained deaths. To not only bring some sort of closure to the patient's families but to help repair their image to the public. 

Linda returned to her position as a nurse at the hospital which is quite baffling to me for a number of reasons. One being that she was allowed to return (by order of the court not by the hospital wanting her back) to her position despite the fact that it was not known if she had been responsible for the deaths. Two that she would even return to a place where everyone suspected her of being a murderer basically. In this situation I think that if there's any doubt (obviously with some sort of evidence) about someone's conduct in that position with vulnerable people, I think that chances should not be taken. 

After Linda's return no other incidences were reported but was Linda 100% innocent all along or was it the case that she was guilty and knew that all eyes were on her, so if anything was to happen she knew they'd look to her first? 

The unexplained deaths of Ellen O'Hara and Vivian Brown were never solved, nobody was brought to justice and their families were left with unanswered questions. Linda continued on with her career and reportedly passed away at the age of 35 in 1991 taking any possible secrets to the grave. This case was over 43 years ago and the people that were working in the hospital at the time are probably no longer with us or at least in their late 60s if they were around the same age as Linda. 

The Good Samaritan Hospital still exists to this day but goes by the name of Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. Linda having passed away at the young age of 35 one wonders if it was illness related or had she taken her own life? I couldn't find any information except for a death notice. If Linda was indeed innocent, it's a very sad end to a very tragic story. To be accused of murder at the age of 24 then passing away not that long after at the young age of 35 the ordeal of being falsely accused and no doubt suffering PTSD afterwards as a result for the rest of those years, one hopes that she did find some peace towards the end. On the other hand, if she was guilty, it is still tragic and questions remain why did she do it? was it an error in judgement or a deliberate act? 

What would you have done in that situation if you had been accused of something you hadn't done? Would you have given up your nursing career? This is a case that leaves a lot of unanswered questions which in my opinion we'll never know the answers to. Too much time has passed, no evidence was saved and unless someone has a death-bed confession we may never know. 

I think about the families of the deceased women and hope they were able to find some sort of peace despite everything. 

RIP Ellen and Vivian 

I feel that I should say RIP also to Linda because even I am not psychic and cannot say whether she was or was not guilty. 

The story of what happened at that hospital back in 1980 has long been forgotten I'm sorry to say. It's popped up on my blog now in 2024 and it may inspire others to look for answers or cover the story but it's one of those cases that has been lost in the sands of time and it really is a tragedy no matter how old the victims were. There's also the thought that if Linda was innocent, someone spent all of those years allowing her to suffer and have her reputation as a nurse called into question. If that is the truth of the matter, I hope that karma has come back around for that person. 

Further reading & sources: 

Linda Kurle: Article | Chicago Tribune

Kurle Courtcase | Case Text

Hinsdale High School Yearbook

The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes | Book by Michael Newton

Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital

Linda Kurle | News Report 


Thank you as always for joining me in my latest true crime post, I hope that you found it interesting and informative. please let me know your thoughts below, by email (jocaledoniankitty@gmail.com) or on my Socials

See you next time and stay safe x 

No comments:

Post a Comment