Police: Pa. Dementia Patient, 78, Killed Another

EBENSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A 78-year-old dementia patient in a nursing home killed a 70-year-old living on the same floor by bashing his head with a door, authorities said, but it's unclear whether he will be charged with homicide.

Ray Dunmyer Jr. was charged with aggravated assault and transferred to another facility.

Officials at the Cambria Care Center in Ebensburg said they don't know why Dunmyer attacked Thomas Shaw on Saturday even after staff tried to stop him, said Mark Fox, a spokesman for Grane Healthcare, which owns the facility.

"Apparently, it all happened within a matter of moments," Fox told the Altoona Mirror for Wednesday's editions. "One second, he's in the room visiting Mr. Shaw and the next, staff is screaming for help."

Two nurse's aides discovered Shaw lying in a pool of his own blood and saw Dunmyer slamming a heavy wooden door against Shaw's head, state police Trooper Kenneth Durbin said. The aides struggled to control Dunmyer, who hit one of the aides in the face and kicked the other in the back before they could subdue him, Durbin said.

The Cambria County coroner ruled Shaw's death a homicide Tuesday, saying he died of head trauma from being struck with the door. Shaw also had bruises all over his body from being beaten, the coroner found.

Durbin charged Dunmyer with aggravated assault and other crimes on Monday and referred questions about whether a criminal homicide charge would be filed to District Attorney Kelly Callihan. Callihan did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Fox said Dunmyer had been a patient at the 370-bed nursing home since September and gave no indication "anything like this could happen." Dunmyer and Shaw lived on a floor that can accommodate 60 memory-impaired patients.

"Oftentimes they are in fine physical shape, but the brain is another story," Fox said.

Fox said Grane officials notified state health department officials and have been cooperating with the police investigation.

Pennsylvania Health Department spokeswoman Holli Senior said Grane followed proper reporting procedures, which trigger a site investigation by the department. If problems are found, Grane will have 10 days to come up with a plan to fix them, Senior said.

"The main goal here is to make sure the situation is rectified and what if anything can be done to ensure this kind of thing doesn't happen again," Senior said.

Grane bought the nursing home, about 70 miles east of Pittsburgh, from Cambria County for $14.3 million and has been running it since Jan. 1, 2010. The county was losing money on the home, then known as the Laurel Crest Rehabilitation & Special Care Center, and couldn't keep enough patients in the home to justify its staff.


Information from: Altoona Mirror, http://www.altoonamirror.com