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July 8, 2013

Local woman helped catch murderer

Amy Ridgway to appear on "Katie" today

Amy Ridgway of Oneonta helped stop a serial killer.

While a nurse at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, N.J., in 2003, she became a confidential informant to help detectives capture Charles Cullen, a colleague and friend who killed dozens of patients during a 16-year career.

Ridgway said she became an informant and is speaking about the case to give a voice to patient victims and in defense of the nursing profession.

At 3 p.m. today, Ridgway will appear on the nationally syndicated television show, “Katie.” “I Stopped A Serial Killer!” airs locally on WUTR, channel 7, in the Oneonta area. Tim Braun, a detective from the case, also is interviewed by host Katie Couric on the program.

Cullen, who was sentenced in 2006, is serving multiple life terms at the New Jersey state prison in Trenton, according to the Associated Press. He claimed to have killed 40 hospital and nursing home patients during his nursing career, but some experts said the victim tally was higher, with estimates numbering into the hundreds. 

A prosecutor said Cullen was driven by a compulsion to kill and wasn’t an “angel of death” administering mercy killings. Some patients he killed had been on a road to recovery, the prosecutor said.

Ridgway’s identity was revealed in “The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness and Murder,” a book by Charles Graeber published this year by Twelve/Hachette Book Group.

“The book really gets it right,” Ridgway said. She has been promoting the book and interviewed for other media reports, including “60 Minutes,” a segment she said will be broadcast again this summer.

Ridgway, whose maiden name was Park, spent most of her childhood growing up in Norwich and was Norwich High School homecoming queen in 1983. She attended St. Elizabeth College of Nursing in Utica, graduating in 1988.

She became a travel nurse and met Cullen while working weekend shifts at Somerset Medical Center. They became friends. Nurses sometimes aren’t nice to each other, she said, and she sensed Cullen was an underdog.

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