BONNER SPRINGS, Mo. — An 87-year-old patient at a Bonner Springs (Mo.) nursing home has been charged in the death of another patient, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Douglas Nelson was charged in Wyandotte County District Court with mistreatment of a dependant adult in connection with an attack at the Bonner Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 520 E. Morse Ave.
The victim was identified as William Webb, 48. He and Nelson were patients at the center.
Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome A. Gorman said he thought Nelson was the oldest person the county had ever charged with a crime. Nelson had been a patient at the facility about three days, Gorman said.
Police were called to the nursing home about 8:30 p.m. Sunday to assist an ambulance crew on a medical call. They tended to Webb before he was pronounced dead.
"It wasn't a situation where they (the nursing home staff) came in and found him dead," Gorman said.
Wyandotte County Coroner Alan Hancock said that no cause of death had been determined from the preliminary autopsy. There were signs, including facial bruises, that Webb had been beaten, he said.
Gorman said the investigation would continue.
"Until we get that final autopsy report, we probably won't comment on exactly what happened or what we are alleging that happened that led to the charges," Gorman said.
Depending on the autopsy results, there could be more charges, Gorman said. He declined to say what those charges could be, but homicide was a possibility.
"It is clear that this is not a clear-cut case of a natural death," Gorman said.
Gorman would not comment on why Webb was a patient at the nursing home. He did not know how long Webb had been a patient there.
Gorman also would not comment on Nelson's medical condition.
Gorman said he did not know whether the two men shared a room, as some patients do at the center.
"Whatever kind of issues that can arise in three days must have occurred in that period of time," Gorman said. "I don't believe they had any previous knowledge of each other."
Nelson was being held in the Wyandotte County Jail; bond was $50,000. He appeared before a county judge Monday afternoon, when Nelson was ordered committed to the Larned State Security Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. The evaluation could take from 30 to 90 days, Gorman said.
Prosecutors said they did not expect any further hearings until the court received the evaluation report.
Barb Conant, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department on Aging, said surveyors conducted an annual inspection of the nursing home last week. The results were not available Tuesday, because the center has 10 days to submit a plan to correct any deficiencies found in the inspection.
There were no serious citations in its last annual survey, which was conducted in December 2006, Conant said.
A spokeswoman for the nursing home could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
To reach Robert A. Cronkleton, call 816-234-5994 or send e-mail to [email protected]