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No charges filed in Duke patient's death

Posted February 4, 2011

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— Police have ended their investigation into the death of a Duke University Hospital patient without filing charges.

Cheryl Lynn Suber, 30, of Garner, had sickle cell anemia and was admitted to the hospital in October for acute chest syndrome. She died Oct. 5, and an attending physician asked for a police investigation because he was suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the death.

Search warrants state that Suber's boyfriend told a nurse as he was leaving the hospital after a visit that someone should check on Suber. The nurse then found Suber unresponsive.

Hospital personnel trying to resuscitate Suber found a syringe in her bed, according to the search warrants. The syringe was labeled "saline," but the liquid inside was colored and opaque.

Nurses, physicians and a hospital pharmacist said that they didn't recognize the liquid in the syringe and that it was inconsistent with any medications administered on the unit where Suber was being treated, the search warrants state.

An autopsy determined that Suber died of toxic levels of oxycodone and diphenhydramine. Oxycodone is a pain reliever, and diphenhydramine is an antihistamine.

Duke University police turned over the findings of their investigation of the death to the Durham County District attorney, who determined that no crime had been committed, Duke spokesman Keith Lawrence said Friday.


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  • davidgnews Feb 4, 2011

    This sounds suspicious they way it's being reported here.

  • kikinc Feb 4, 2011

    She may have given herself the drugs. That's Percocet and Benadryl, both of which I have in my medicine cabinet. Could have been a complete accident. But, the syringe is a little strange. I doubt the hospital being Duke had anything to do with since they were the ones that notified authorities.

  • one of the little people Feb 4, 2011

    Is this because it is DUKE hospital that no charges are filed? There certainly was criminal activity and if I was this young woman's family, I would not rest until it was found out why and who administered this potent poison to cause her death. Outrageous

  • john283594 Feb 4, 2011

    Weird story all the way around. poor girl she was very pretty.

  • kjstoli Feb 4, 2011

    How did this mystery syringe get into her bed? Who administered this deadly concoction? Did the hospital staff find her unresponsive immediately after boyfriend left? Was this death a suicide? So many questions left unanswered. The crime committed is clearly lousy news reporting.
    Excellent investigative journalism