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CNN Today

"Angel of Death" Killer Formally Charged in Connection With Six Deaths

Aired January 10, 2001 - 2:20 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: More than two years after he admitted to dozens of the killings and then recanted the story, the self- proclaimed Angel of Death is behind bars today. The former hospital worker was taken into custody yesterday in connection with the deaths of six patients. Today, authorities tried to fill in some blanks.

CNN's Jim Hill has the full story now from Los Angeles -- Jim.

JIM HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Joie. The man they call the Angel of Death; an alleged mass murderer, Efren Saldivar, has now been formally charged with murder. This felony complaint charges him with killing six people; all of them apparently ill parents -- terminally ill -- in a hospital where this man allegedly worked for 10 years.

According to this affidavit, he killed the people by injecting them with lethal doses -- overdoses, if you will -- of the muscle- relaxing drug, Pavulon. Now, he was arrested early yesterday morning by Glendale, California police. He now remains in jail without bail pending his arraignment tomorrow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRY M. GOLDBERG, SALDIVAR ATTORNEY: It appeared to me, as an outsider without having a medical background, that he was very disturbed, very distraught and very upset.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: In March of 1998, Salvidar allegedly gave a full and detailed confession to Glendale police saying that he killed up to 15 terminally ill patients at Glendale Adventist Medical Center, where he had worked for almost 10 years. At the time, they said they had to release him without charges, and just a couple of hours ago, prosecutors here in Los Angeles talked about why they could not file charges 34 months ago, but could file them now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL MACKENZIE, DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Even though they may have made statements indicating they committed a crime, we have to have independent evidence. You cannot convict based on a confession or a statement alone. (END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE COOLEY, L.A. COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: A profile had to be developed of possible victims. I think the numbers were 171 deaths at the hospital fit the profile and then they had to refine it down to those that they felt were sufficient evidence to exhume and disinter the bodies for further scientific testing, and then scientific testing had to be conducted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Now, the complaint filed against Saldivar, whose arraignment, by the way, is tomorrow, as I pointed out, includes two special circumstances. One, mass murder; the other, death by poison. In California, such special circumstances mean that he could be sentenced to death if he is convicted on those charges or he could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole -- Joie.

CHEN: CNN's Jim Hill reporting to us from Los Angeles.

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