According to the Vermont Attorney General's office, an 83-year-old resident at the Thompson House nursing home in Brattleboro was murdered by a staff member in the spring of 2009.
Authorities say Jodi LaClaire, 37, gave the female resident a shot of insulin which caused the elderly woman to fall into a coma and later die. The woman was not a diabetic. The attorney general's office says LaClaire used the resident's credit card while the woman was in a coma and after she was dead.
Officials at the nursing home have been cooperating with the investigation since it began. However, because that investigation is ongoing, they declined to speak on camera and instead, released a written statement. The statement by Thompson House Administrator Dane Rank reads:
"This is a terrible situation. Thompson House takes the welfare of our residents very seriously... Every employee, including caregivers, are put through a thorough vetting process that includes multiple criminal background checks, both state and federal, verification of Vermont licensure, and a referral process."
"I think it is very sad and unfortunate," said Joyce Lemire, the executive director of Senior Solutions.
Senior Solutions is a nonprofit advocacy group for the elderly.
"How can we learn from this? Can we do something to make this better? Can we prevent this from happening again?" Lemire asked.
Not helping matters, Lemire says, is the fact that funding for social services including support for the elderly has been reduced over the past few years.
"And I am certainly not trying to equate a criminal act with the funding or lack of funding on the part of the state. But I do think we do have to look seriously. This is the fastest growing population in our state-- the aging group. And we need to make sure we are responsible to them to give them whatever services they need to be safe," Lemire said.
LaClaire was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Brattleboro. She pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge as well as abuse of a vulnerable adult. She was held on $150,000 bail.
According to the attorney general's office, because this had to do with insulin and was a medical case, multiple experts were needed. LaClaire pleaded not guilty in April of last year to charges in connection with the alleged use of the credit card. It wasn't until last Friday when an arrest warrant was issued for the new charges.
The nursing home itself is not in any trouble. The attorney general says the focus of the investigation is on LaClaire and not the nursing home. It was the nursing home that first brought the case to authorities back in 2009.
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