An 87-year-old man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is facing murder charges after beating his roommate to death at a suburban Denver assisted living facility.
Homer Castor was originally arrested for crimes against an at-risk adult after he assaulted 76-year-old Gerald Propp in their room at the Atria Applewood assisted living facility in Lakewood, Colorado. Propp died from his injuries late Monday, resulting in the assault charges being changed to homicide.
The assault took place early Saturday morning. One of the nurses at the facility heard screaming from the room occupied by the two men, and saw Castor walking away from Propp’s bed.
The nurse told police that Castor said, “If he says one more word, I’m going to kill him.”
Castor told police that Propp, another Alzheimer’s patient, had tried to beat him up in the middle of the night. He said Propp then went back to bed and “was pretending to be asleep.”
The police report states that Castor was difficult to understand, but that he admitted to assaulting his roommate.
In a statement released after Propp’s death, the facility said it is “cooperating fully” with investigators.
“We were saddened to learn of the death of one of our residents. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family,” the statement said in part.
Director of family and information services for the Chicago-bases Alzheimer’s Association, Ruth Drew, told CBS News that such an incident is unusual, and that violence among Alzheimer’s sufferers is rare.
“If a person has not displayed these things before, it can be difficult,” Drew said. “But you might have clues along the way.”
However, Atria Applewood staff confirmed that Castor had previously displayed aggressive behavior, and an aide who had experience with the Alzhiemer’s patient said that he was “never listening, hard hitting, and did not make much sense.”
The facility staff also noted in Castor’s file that he needed monitoring because he wandered at night — a behavior common in Alzheimer’s patients, as noted in the this earlier Inquisitr report. Both Castor’s wife and the staff told police that he was easily confused and sometimes did not even recognize his own reflection in a mirror.
According to USA Today, the facility’s records also documented prior problems between the two Alzheimer’s patients, including an altercation ten days earlier, in which Castor left minor scratches on Propp’s neck.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will be conducting a routine investigation of Atria Applewood, but a spokesman for the agency noted that the facility had followed proper procedure in reporting the incident and has a history of compliance in such matters.
Castor appeared in court Tuesday on murder charges, but the judge has ordered that he undergo a competency evaluation before formal charges are made.
What do you think? Is an Alzheimer’s sufferer is aware enough of his actions to be charged with murder?
[Image via China Photos/Getty Images]