Ann Arbor Hospital Murders

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The Ann Arbor Hospital Murders were the murders of 10 patients in an Ann Arbor, Michigan, Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital during the 1970s. Filipino nurses Filipina Narciso and Leonora Perez were tried for the crimes.

In 1975, 35 patients at the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, suffered respiratory failure, 10 of whom died. The FBI launched an investigation into the matter due to its suspicious jump from monthly averages at the hospital, and eventually accused two Filipina nurses recently immigrated to the U.S., Filipina Narciso and Leonora Perez, of responsibility for the murders in June 1976.[1] The case against Narciso and Perez was, by admission of the assistant U.S. Attorney General, Richard Delonis, “highly circumstantial,” yet resulted in a guilty conviction.[1] The FBI’s devotion to cracking the case was considerable, in total using an estimated 200 agents and devoting over $1 million in resources to the case.[1]

In a trial marred by accusations of racism, a man slated to be the lead witness for the prosecution (though dropped by the Federal prosecutor just prior to trial), referred to Perez and Narciso as “slant-eyed bitches” and that there was a nationwide conspiracy of Filipino nurses to murder veterans.[2] Racial tensions at the time were also running high due to high rates of immigration to the U.S. by Asian immigrants.[3] Despite the lack of any concrete evidence linking the two nurses to the crime, they were found guilty on three counts of poisoning in July 1977.[4] Pacifico Marcos, president of the Philippine Medical Association and brother of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, headed a defense fund and called the verdict a "miscarriage of justice".[4] In February of the following year, however, the case was overturned on an appeal by the defense, due to several instances of misconduct by the prosecution during several stages of the trial.[5] The prosecution was given permission for a retrial, but the case was dropped. Narciso and Perez had suffered as a result of their lengthy trial process. The struggles of Narciso and Perez became a focal point for many protest groups and Filipinos, who united in their condemnation of the handling of the case and support for the two nurses.[2]


A documentary titled "U.S. vs. Narciso, Perez and the Press" was released by Michigan State University's "Sandbox" film production group in 2013 which features interviews with some of the participants (not with the nurses themselves) as well as archival news footage (which does show them).[6]


  1. ^ a b c Galang, M. 2003. Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images. Coffee House Press
  2. ^ a b Choy, Catherine (2003). Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino-American History. Duke University Press. 
  3. ^ Ngai, Mae. 2005. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Princeton University Press
  4. ^ a b Time Magazine. July 25, 1977. “Long Count to A Guilty Verdict
  5. ^ Pratt, Phillip. 1978. US. v. Narciso and Perez, Memorandum Opinion and Order Regarding Defendants’ Motion for a New Trial p. 17.
  6. ^ "Sandbox Films - Media Sandbox - Integrated Media Arts Program - College of Communication Arts & Sciences - Michigan State University".