Police investigate suspicious death at nursing home

PERKINS TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Police are investigating the suspicious death of a nursing home resident after a confrontation with his roommate.

Perkins Police Detective Joe Rotuno said Richard Cain, 65, was found unresponsive in his room at Concord Care and Rehabilitation Center around 7 p.m. Thursday.

Rotuno said Cain’s roommate, who is 63 and usually in a wheelchair, told staff Cain was lying on the ground, and he believed he was dead. Staff then found Cain clutching a chunk of his roommate’s hair and called police, according to investigators.

The roommate told officers that the pair had argued over whether to close the room door when Cain began choking the roommate, according to Rotuno. He said the roommate reported he then punched Cain in the stomach, causing him to fall backward and hit his head.

Rotuno said investigators are awaiting autopsy results and a cause of death before deciding on potential criminal charges. Preliminary results are expected this week.

“That should give us a lot of insight into what possibly caused his death, whether from a strike to his head or something else internally that caused him to fall,” Rotuno said, noting that Cain fell several days before the incident for an unknown reason.

“One of the things we're concerned with is the size difference between the two, also that our suspect's in a wheelchair,” Rotuno said. “I believe it’s going to be very difficult for him to throw a punch to knock a guy this size down.”

Rotuno said both roommates suffered from mental health and other issues, and that staff reported the roommate had a history of anger issues. He said they had gotten into arguments in recent weeks, but they did not turn physical.

“We've heard there's been a lot of verbal altercations between the two,” Rotuno said. “Our suspect does have a history of being what we would call ‘angry’ at the facility, having issues with other residents, having issues with other staff.”

The victim’s daughter said Cain was in the home for five months and suffers from dementia.

“If his roommate had to defend himself, I don't blame him at all. I blame the nursing home and staff for not paying attention,” said Bonnie Cain. "They've been in several verbal confrontations weeks prior and nobody's done anything about it. Why couldn't you separate them?”

She said she wants justice and more training for nursing home staff.

“Every time I close my eyes I see my dad, and it's just so heartbreaking,” Cain said. “Why couldn't something be done? Maybe my daddy would still be with me today.”

A police report states Cain wandered away from the home without notice two days before his death and a passerby called police. He told officers he was walking to the Veteran’s Home.

Concord Care and Rehabilitation Center declined comment.