It sounds like a plotline ripped straight from a grisly crime procedural or horror movie: A medical professional meant to do good, heal, and care for their patients instead plays god and takes their lives on a whim.
31-year-old Ayumi Kukobi was arrested last week for the poisoning and tampering death of 88-year-old Sozo Nishikawa. Mr. Nishikawa perished after chemical disinfectant was added to his IV bag. Horrifyingly enough, that murder was just the tip of the iceberg. Kukobi later admitted to killing Nishikawa’s hospital roommate, 88-year-old Nobuo Yamaki in the same fashion. In fact, Ms. Kukobi alleged that she was directly responsible for as many as 20 fatal poisonings.
Still, the trail of bodies may be way higher than that. For three months in 2016, Oguchi Hospital was terrorized by a string of mysterious deaths. 48 elderly patients all suddenly expired between July and the Fall. Authorities quickly recognized trace amounts of benzalkonium chloride in the deceased. The chemical is known to appear in the disinfectant used to clean each hospital room.
During a thorough and intensive murder investigation by authorities, Ms. Kuboki initially claimed to be shocked and saddened by the events at the hospital. She also feigned confusion that such a thing could happen at her place of work.
Later, investigators discovered that out of all the nurses on staff, Ms. Kuboki’s uniform was the only one to have trace amounts of benzalkonium chloride on it.
Ms. Kuboki claimed that she was sick of having to deal with the grieving relatives of the elderly patients, so she made sure to poison them in such a way that they would die while she was not working. She also added that she only ever made sure to kill those who were terminally ill. She admitted to killing as many as 20 patients.
Police are now clarifying that a large number of the apparent victims were not terminally ill. Since many Japanese families cremate their dead, the exact number victims claimed in Ms. Kuboki’s twisted plot may never be known.
Ms. Kuboki’s former coworkers also expressed dismay and surprise at their coworker’s arrest and confession. “We had had no inkling that she was a problem employee,” one said.
“She was the kind of person who was hard to figure out,” another added. “But she was considered competent.”
Staff at the hospital also discovered at least 10 more punctured bags in storage. Evidently, if she hadn’t been caught, Ms. Kuboki would simply have kept on killing.