Uruguay Nurses Kill 16: Deaths Spread Fear Throughout Country

Two nurses have been charged on separate counts of murdering 16 patients at two different hospitals in Uruguay.

The number 16 is tentative and may, in fact, not represent all of those killed by the two nurses. "It does not appear that there were any connections" between the two nurses "even though they both worked at the same place," Judge Rolando Vomero told reporters.

None of the patients appeared to be terminally ill and were injected with morphine, which quickly killed them. The two nurses' names have not been released to the public pending further investigation. Neither has a previous criminal record, and one's attorney states that her client acted "out of pity."

Both men are being held without bond, but what exactly led to their actions?

"After 20 years of working in intensive care, with stress and in contact with death, he could not stand it anymore," Ines Massioti, representative for one nurse, told the press.

One man killed five patients and is charged with five counts of aggravated homicide; the other has been charged with 11 counts of the same charge. According to CNN, the hospitals where the men worked had been investigated for some time. An anonymous tip about suspicious deaths led authorities to the Maciel and La Espanola hospitals in Montevideo.

South America's Public Health Ministry has issued a statement saying it is cooperating fully with investigators as well as conducting its own investigation into "presumed criminal acts linked to the health area."

"Angel of Death" cases are not new to the medical field. In 2011, Colin Norris was arrested and charged with four counts of murder after giving patients an overdose of Insulin. Norris bragged to colleagues that "someone always died" when he was on duty and accurately predicted if a patient would lapse into a coma.

"Here we have a killer caught at the very beginning of his career," Detective Chris Gregg told the Telegraph.

"I am convinced that Colin Norris would have gone on to kill considerably more people if he was not stopped in his tracks. Norris was growing in confidence; he believed he was perfecting his craft. If he had not been caught he would have carried on. Why? Because he enjoyed it," he added.

It appears as though the motives vary greatly between the Uruguayan nurses and Colin Norris. In Norris' case, he received a sentence of life without parole, and is currently serving time in Newcastle.