A former hospital worker who told police he hastened the deaths of up to 50 patients says he made the story up in hopes of getting the death penalty because he couldn't muster the courage to kill himself.

"I wanted the system to do to me what I couldn't do to me," Efren Saldivar, 28, told the ABC-TV news show "20/20," according to a network news release Wednesday. "I was looking to die . . . but I didn't have the courage."No charges have been filed and Saldivar remains free, but police have opened a wide-ranging investigation to find evidence to corroborate his original claim that he killed patients at Glendale Adventist Medical Center over several years.