Where is Charles Cullen now? The real life criminal of Netflix's The Good Nurse

He's the focus of the new critically acclaimed film

Charles Cullen now
(Image credit: Netflix)

Viewers of Netflix's The Good Nurse want answers as to where Charles Cullen is now - the man of which the film is based on.

Netflix seems to be rolling out true crime content at the moment, with viewers shocked by The Watcher ending (opens in new tab), shaken by the true story of The Stranger (opens in new tab) and seeking answers for where Tracy Edwards is now (opens in new tab) - Dahmer's last victim who managed to escape and bring the killer to justice. The latest watch comes in the form of film The Good Nurse based on the true story (opens in new tab) of a certain Charles Cullen, a former nurse who killed hundreds of patients over a 16-year time period.

Whilst Eddie Redmayne gives a sinister performance as Cullen in The Good Nurse, there are viewers who want to learn more about what happened to the real Charles Cullen - from where he is now and whether he went to he prison? We share everything there is to know. For those wanting a recap of the chilling ending and to fill in any gaps about the film's finale, we have The Good Nurse ending explained (opens in new tab).

Where is Charles Cullen now?

Charles Cullen is now serving time in jail and is held at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. On 2 March 2006, he was sentenced to eleven consecutive life sentences by Judge Armstrong in New Jersey.

Charles was spared the death penalty in exchange for co-operating with authorities in identifying his victims.

a close up of Charles Cullen now with a police officer

(Image credit: Alamy)

Speaking from prison in 2013, Charles said: "I thought that people aren’t suffering anymore, so in a sense, I thought I was helping."

He added: "My goal here isn’t to justify. You know what I did there is no justification. I just think that the only thing I can say is that I felt overwhelmed at the time.”

What did Charles Cullen do?

Charles Cullen killed hundreds of patients during his 16 year career as a nurse. The serial killer would sneak into a victim’s room and inject them with a lethal dose of drugs. He often used digoxin, a powerful medication used to treat heart conditions, as well as dobutamine, nitroprusside, norepinephrine, and pavulon. 

He is also thought to have injected insulin into some victims’ IV bags. Although many of his victims were elderly, Charles also killed patients who were as young as 21.

Charles graduated from nursing school in 1987, before getting married. He and his wife had two daughters, before getting divorced in 1993. It was during this time that he is believed to have killed his first victims.

Charles worked in in nine hospitals and one nursing home during his time as a nurse. He ended up quitting several jobs after being investigated over allegations of misconduct. On one occasion, he quit because an elderly woman complained that he kept coming into her room and giving her injections when he wasn't the nurse assigned to her.

He was also fired from one hospital for hiding heart medicine in a bin meant for disposing of needles.

How many people did Charles Cullen kill?

Charles was initially charged with one count of murder and another count of attempted murder. But later, during his confession, he admitted to murdering around 40 patients, though authorities could only confirm 29 victims. 

However, the true number is thought to be closer to 400 - which would make him the most prolific serial killer in US history.

Charles' lawyer said his client believed the victims were “terminally ill and it was dehumanizing to prolong people’s lives by artificial means."

Charles Cullen now

Eddie Redmayne plays Charles Cullen in the Netflix film The Good Nurse.

(Image credit: Netflix)

How did Charles Cullen get caught?

Authorities finally caught up with Charles while he was working at Somerset Health Center in Somerville, New Jersey. While working there, Charles met a nurse - Amy Loughren - and they formed a friendship.

Following the sudden death of two patients, detectives became suspicious of Charles and approached Amy with evidence linking him to the deaths, at which point she says "it was like everything shut down. I completely disassociated from reality because I could not process it. It was such an intense emotion that I couldn’t even grasp it.”

She added to CBS (opens in new tab): "There were so many withdrawals of lethal medications that you wouldn't order unless you wanted to kill someone." 

Amy then worked with detectives to build a case against Charles, collecting evidence at the hospital. She also admits to manipulating him to try to get him to confess.

She went to lunch with Charles in December 2003 wearing a wire, where she confronted him about the deaths and offered to go with him to the police station to confess. The police were locating in the parking lot and listened to the entire conversation.

Loughren recounted the exchange to People (opens in new tab). “He sat straight up. The color of his eyes changed. He put a smirk on his face and said, ‘I’m going to go down fighting,’" she said.  While he didn't confess, there was enough evidence to arrest him.

The Good Nurse

(Image credit: Netflix)

Will Charles Cullen ever be released?

No, Charles Cullen will never be released from prison. He is serving 11 consecutive life terms, totalling 397 years, and he is not eligible for parole until the year 2388.

Charles told investigators that he administered the drug overdoses to put "very sick" patients out of their misery - but this isn't true, as many patients showed signs of improvement before Charles killed them.

One patient, Florian Gall, a reverend, was recovering from pneumonia during his hospital stay, but then had a massive heart attack and died. It was later determined that he had a lethal level of digoxin, and his death was caused by an unauthorised dose of the drug.

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