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Prosecutors mum on talks about Cullen
Prosecutors were scheduled to meet with the niece of Helen Dean on Friday, but did not say whether they would be charging confessed killer nurse Charles Cullen in her 1993 death at Warren Hospital in Phillipsburg.
''We are not ready to do a press release yet,'' Warren County Prosecutor Thomas Ferguson said Friday.
Ferguson, who would not even confirm the meeting took place, said he still is wrapping up loose ends and expects to make a statement early next week on what was learned in his office's Thursday interview with Cullen.
Dean's niece, Sharon Jones of Nazareth, could not be reached Friday.
Cullen pleaded guilty April 29 in Somerville, N.J., to killing 13 patients and trying to kill two others at Somerset Medical Center, in a deal to avoid the death penalty.
As part of the plea agreement, he also promised to plead guilty to the 1998 murder of 78-year-old Ottomar Schramm of Nazareth at Easton Hospital in Wilson and to help prosecutors in Lehigh, Northampton and five New Jersey counties identify his other victims.
In an interview with authorities following his December arrest, Cullen estimated he killed as many as 40 patients in his 16-year nursing career.
The Warren County prosecutor's office investigated Dean's death in 1993.
Investigators questioned Cullen and even administered a lie detector test, but came to no conclusions and brought no charges.
Dean, of Lopatcong Township, told family members she had been ''stuck'' with a needle shortly before her release from Warren Hospital following cancer surgery.
She died hours later at a nursing home.
Prosecutors exhumed Dean's body in January to perform toxicology testing to look for the presence of the heart drug digoxin, which Cullen confessed to injecting into some of his Somerset County victims. Results are pending.
An autopsy was performed following her death in 1993, but Dean's blood was not screened for the drug.
Cullen worked at Warren Hospital between February 1992 and December 1993.
Pennsylvania State Police investigators from the Belfast barracks will question Cullen next week on deaths he may have caused at Easton Hospital, where he worked between November 1998 and March 1999 through a nursing temporary agency.
Capt. Scott Snyder, commander of state police Troop M in Bethlehem, said he would not say which day the interview was scheduled to avoid attracting reporters to stake out the Somerset County prosecutor's office.
He said it would cover all deaths Cullen may have caused at the hospital, including Schramm's.