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 December: Laura Lundquist, 98, Indicted in Death of Her 100-Year-Old Nursing Home Roommate

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PostSubject: December: Laura Lundquist, 98, Indicted in Death of Her 100-Year-Old Nursing Home Roommate   Fri May 14, 2010 1:38 am

Laura Lundquist, 98, Indicted in Death of Her 100-Year-Old Nursing Home Roommate
December 14, 2009

For approximately a year, Laura Lundquist, 98, shared a room with 100-year-old Elizabeth Barrow at the Brandon Woods nursing home in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Barrow, however, was found dead in her bed on Thursday, September 24, 2009, with a plastic shopping bag tied around her head. The police thought Barrow’s death had been a suicide at first, but an autopsy indicated that she had died from strangulation. As a result, the case was revisited and her death was ruled a homicide. Last Friday, December 11, 2009, a grand jury indicted Lundquist on a charge of second-degree murder.

Lundquist is believed to be the oldest person facing a murder charge in Massachusetts history, but may never go to trial because of her mental health issues. In addition, given her advanced age, she might not live long enough to see the inside of a courtroom. According to her lawyer, Carl Levin, Lundquist was diagnosed with dementia and other issues centering on cognitive impairment. Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter, however, said that Lundquist suffered from paranoia. She believed that Barrow "was taking over the room they shared." Prosecutors went after the second-degree murder charge because they did not believe that Lundquist had the cognitive ability to form premeditation.

According to Sutter, Barrow had complained to nursing home staff that Lundquist had been making her life "a living hell." The night prior to the homicide, Lundquist reportedly moved a table in the room to block Barrow from access to the bathroom, then struck a staff member who removed it. Sutter also said that Lundquist "harbored hostility toward the victim."

Lundquist, who had indicated that she wanted to be near the room's window, purportedly told Barrow that she would soon get her wish because she would outlive Barrow.
A relative of Barrow's said that he had asked nursing home staff earlier this year to separate the two women, but they had assured him that they were getting along. At the time that Barrow's request was made, she told her relative that she did not want to leave her room, because she and her husband had lived there together for several years prior to his death in 2007. A nursing home representative said that the two women walked and ate lunch together almost daily, and said "goodnight" and "I love you" to each other before going to bed.

A Superior Court judge recently acted on a motion, filed jointly by Sutter and Levin, and ordered that Lundquist be sent to Taunton State Hospital for a mental competency evaluation. If found incompetent to stand trial, which seems likely, the prosecution will likely move that Lundquist be committed to the state hospital.

"It is my intention to advance this case in a professional, ethical and humane manner," Sutter said.

"Her family is very saddened for the loss of Ms. Barrow, and they are also very saddened by what’s happened," Levin said. "Without acknowledging her responsibility, it's a sad event for both families. It just really points to the issue of mental health with the elderly."
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December: Laura Lundquist, 98, Indicted in Death of Her 100-Year-Old Nursing Home Roommate
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