SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri woman charged with murder in the road-rage death of another motorist previously worked as a nurse in Arkansas until her license was suspended for stealing prescription painkillers.
Elizabeth McKeown, 46, is jailed without bond after pleading not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the Nov. 20 death of 57-year-old Barbara Foster, the Springfield News-Leader reports. No attorney is listed for her in online court records.
During an interview with police, McKeown said she got upset sitting in afternoon rush-hour traffic behind Foster’s vehicle because she was in a hurry to get to the bank to make her car payment. A probable cause statement says McKeown told police that when Foster “wouldn’t go,” she started nudging Foster’s car and then “decided to hit it full out.”
After the initial crash, the statement says Foster got out of her car to assess the damage. McKeown told police she “tricked her” and tried to “make her think I was going to be nice, be still and everything” but instead “slammed into her and cut her in half.” Prosecutors say McKeown then dragged Foster 58 feet (18 meters) before getting into another crash a couple of blocks away.
Witnesses there boxed in McKeown’s car until police arrived.
Before moving to Missouri, McKeown was fired from St. Edward’s Mercy Medical Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The Arkansas State Board of Nursing’s general counsel, Fred Knight, said McKeown’s nursing license was suspended in 2006 after she was twice caught stealing the prescription painkiller Nubain. Knight said McKeown took the drugs out of the hospital’s internal system but never gave the drugs to the patient. When pressed, McKeown admitted to using the drugs herself, Knight said.
He said she didn’t follow through on the conditions of her suspension, which included “a complete psychological evaluation/addiction evaluation,” participation in a treatment program and random drug tests.
McKeown also had a nursing license in Missouri, which expired in 2013. An online search did not reveal any professional discipline cases involving McKeown in Missouri.
Springfield police spokeswoman Jasmine Bailey said it’s too early in the investigation to determine whether McKeown was under the influence of any substance at the time.
Court documents also detail a string of money problems McKeown has encountered over the past decade, including unpaid medical bills and tax liens.