Over the course of 16 years, Angel of Death Charles Cullen killed 30 to 40 unsuspecting patients while working as a nurse at several facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Netflix depicted Cullen’s murderous rampage in the new true crime film The Good Sister. Cullen avoided the death penalty by admitting to killing as many as 29 patients between 1988 and 2003. He was jailed for two years before being convicted in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and officially sentenced in 2006 to 11 life terms. Tensions grew when Cullen revealed he wanted to use the right to miss a sentence, where the families of his victims would be able to approach him for the first time. That all changed when a serial killer who some investigators believe may have killed as many as 300 people was asked to donate his kidney. Read ahead for everything we know about why Charles Cullen donated his kidney.
Who did Charles Cullen from The Good Nurse donate his kidney to?
According to New York Magazine, Cullen received a newspaper clipping of a story about a man in need of a kidney donor with the note “You can help” written in italics. The man in need turned out to be Ernie Peckham, a husband and father of four who worked as a metalworker in Farmingdale, New York. According to New York Magazine, Ernie was the brother of Cullen’s ex-girlfriend, who was also the mother of Cullen’s youngest child, a daughter he never saw. Cullen shared two daughters with his ex-wife Adrienne Taub.
Peckham contracted strep in 2002, which developed into an infection in both of his kidneys. Doctors placed Ernie on a seven-year donor waiting list until his mother, Pat Peckham, secretly clipped the link and mailed it to the Somerville prison where Cullen was incarcerated.
After submitting the necessary blood tests, Cullen was found to be the perfect match and donor for Ernie. Cullen, who was still awaiting sentencing, wanted to be an anonymous donor to avoid media reports of his involvement, but someone leaked the story to the press. Cullen’s lawyer Johnnie Mask opened up to New York Magazine about what happened once Cullen was proven to be a match. “When he was [decided to be a match] and it got in the papers, suddenly there are all these problems. The judge, the prosecutor and the families of the victims were outraged that Cullen was going to the hospital again – they thought he would kill someone, or probably himself. Then he would everyone was cheated of the ability to yell at him.”
When did Charles Cullen donate his kidney?
Mask was later informed that Cullen could not donate until after he was sentenced in December 2005. Two counties in Pennsylvania were still completing investigations into Cullen’s crimes, causing significant delays in sentencing. “That’s why on January 10, Charlie stopped cooperating with the prosecution and said, ‘Conviction me now.'” Mask explained. “It forced their hand. We realized that by the time they finished, Ernie might be dead.”
Despite Cullen’s insistence, the delay continued for months. “I don’t know what’s true now. We thought it would happen in January. Stony Brook keeps giving us new dates – now they say April; before that it was March. And Charlie is getting worse and worse every day. I think [ Enabling] donation was always just a big dangling carrot for Charlie to jump on.” Cullen was finally cleared to donate a kidney in August 2006.
Why did Charles Cullen from The Good Nurse donate his kidney?
Cullen opened up to New York Magazine about the concerns many people may have had about him donating his kidney while awaiting sentencing for the mass murders. “I know people see me as trying to control things; they think I’m trying to get something out of it. But the idea that I traded my appearance at the sentencing for a donation is just a lie,” he said. . “My lawyer, Mr. Mask, told me that I don’t have to appear.
Cullen also talked about why he didn’t want to attend his sentencing at first: “I mean, you know who would want to go,” he said. “The detectives suggested I go to speed up the donation. They said I had to give them something. But it’s not me holding the gun to the prosecution. It’s the other way around!” Despite being convicted of dozens of senseless murders, Cullen believed he could still bring good to the world. “I admit I’ve certainly done some very bad things – I’ve taken lives, but does that stop me from doing something positive?”
Despite the speculation, Cullen explained what inspired him to donate his kidney. “I know a lot of people are surprised that someone like me would want to do that, to donate. But for me, it’s completely consistent. For me as a nurse, that’s what I would do, what I’d always do. It’s who I am. But if you need to wonder why I should or why someone like me would do that, it really depends on how you think about people. And what you think people are capable of.”