Police say a patient at a South Jordan Alzheimer’s care center died after an assault by another resident — and that care center employees did not immediately report the alleged attack.
Administrators at Pheasant Run Alzheimer's Special Care Center say staff "appropriately notified law enforcement" after a 69-year-old patient was acting violently on Sept. 19.
But South Jordan Police say staff did not alert them to the most serious attack, which led to an 88-year-old fellow patient being hospitalized. He died days later.
The suspect in the homicide also has died since the alleged attack, according to an obituary last week.
Lt. Matt Pennington said officers first received word of the alleged attack a full day later, when staff at a hospital called to report that a patient who had suffered head injuries in an assault had slipped into a coma and likely would be taken off life support by the end of the week.
Investigators then spoke with staff at Pheasant Run, who said that on Sept. 19 they saw the 69-year-old shove the victim, causing the older man to fall backward and hit his head on the wall and floor, police wrote in court documents unsealed this week. The younger man then got on top of the victim and hit him repeatedly, police wrote.
When employees pulled the resident off the victim, they found he had apparently stabbed the victim in the face with a “writing utensil” he was holding, police wrote.
Pheasant Run staff later told state health regulators that they contacted the victim's family that day, according to officials with the Utah Department of Health. The victim's daughter was the one who took him to a hospital, Pennington said.
"When she showed up, she didn't feel like he was acting normal," Pennington said. "She took him to hospital when she saw his facial injuries."
The same night, after the victim and his daughter had left, police were called to another "disturbance" at Pheasant Run, involving the same patient who had allegedly assaulted the 88-year-old, Pennington said.
"By the time we arrived, the fire department had him calmed down and he was in his room," Pennington said. "We were never informed the [earlier] assault had happened until the next day, when we heard from hospital he was already in a coma.
"There definitely is a little concern as to why we weren't contacted on the initial assault," Pennington added.
Pheasant Run is required to report any suspected abuse or neglect to adult protective services or law enforcement, said Charla Haley, a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Health. Care center staff did "self-report" to the health department in October and told licensing officials "that they informed the police the evening of [Sept. 19,] when the incident happened," Haley said.
In a prepared statement, Pheasant Run administrator Rhett Wimmer said: "We appropriately notified law enforcement of the incident, along with all other necessary entities. We’re cooperating fully with authorities, and there have been no allegations of wrongdoing against the community itself."
However, Pheasant Run administrators declined to comment further when asked whether the attack on the 88-year-old or the second disturbance was the "incident" they reported to police.
Pennington said the alleged attacker eventually was transferred to another medical facility with more security. An obituary for the man states that he “succumbed to his battle with dementia” on Oct. 4.