SOMERVILLE, N.J. | Killer nurse Charles Cullen was cooperative and even volunteered information in his first interview with Lehigh County investigators Wednesday.
But Lehigh District Attorney James Martin refused to give details of the interview, the names of possible victims or the number of patients, if any, Cullen killed at St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill, Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township and Liberty Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Allentown.
After waiting four months to get a crack at Cullen following his arrest in Somerset County, Lehigh County investigators questioned him for seven hours at the offices of Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest.
''He volunteered quite a bit of information,'' said Martin, who called the session productive. ''In some instances, his recollection is better than in others. It is there that we tried to help him refresh his recollection.''
Martin said he and detectives from the Bethlehem and Fogelsville barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police discussed several deaths at St. Luke's, LVH and Liberty Nursing Center. They questioned Cullen about possible victims and asked him to review some medical files.
Cullen worked at St. Luke's from June 2000 to June 2002, at LVH from December 1998 to April 2000, and at Liberty Nursing Center from February to October 1998.
Martin would not say whether Cullen confessed to specific cases and would not name the patients he was questioned about. He said the names of Cullen's Lehigh County victims probably would be released when Cullen enters a guilty plea.
Martin said he would prefer to have Cullen plead guilty to all of the homicides or attempted homicides at the same time, when the investigation is complete.
Forensic pathologist Isidore Mihalakis, hired by Martin to help with the investigation, was also present for the interview.
To avoid the death penalty, Cullen, of Bethlehem, pleaded guilty April 29 to 13 murders and two attempted murders at Somerset Medical Center, Somerville. He also agreed to help prosecutors track down his victims in Lehigh and Northampton counties and four New Jersey counties besides Somerset.
Authorities say Cullen, 44, told them after his December arrest that he killed up to 40 patients during his 16-year nursing career.
Martin said he has not scheduled a date for the next interview.
Cullen's public defender, Johnnie Mask, said Cullen was trying to comply with the terms of his plea.
''He just wants to follow through and get it done judiciously,'' Mask said.
Capt. Scott Snyder, commander of state police Troop M in Bethlehem, said his investigators will take the information Cullen provided and try to verify it and investigate further.
''We expected the fact that we would have to verify facts or information provided by Mr. Cullen,'' Snyder said, adding that he could not discuss the interview.
Cullen was transferred to Forrest's offices about 9 a.m. and whisked out the back door of the government center away from reporters about 4 p.m. Investigators had carted in boxes of documents.
Snyder said the interview did not include possible cases at Easton Hospital, where Cullen worked from November 1998 to March 1999.
As part of his plea, Cullen agreed to plead guilty to the Dec. 31, 1998, murder of Ottomar Schramm at Easton Hospital in Wilson.
Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli and state police investigators from the Belfast barracks are probing at least one other death that occurred at Easton Hospital while Cullen was employed there.
Snyder said no date has been set to interview Cullen about those deaths.
''That is going to be scheduled in the near future,'' Snyder said.
Morganelli could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Investigators from the Warren County prosecutor's office are expected to meet with Cullen today.
Warren Prosecutor Thomas Ferguson has said his primary goal is to question Cullen about the 1993 death of Helen Dean of Lopatcong Township after she was treated at Warren Hospital, where Cullen worked.
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