Nursing Home Visitor Killed Elderly Resident

nursing home security failure

Nursing Home Resident Was Smothered to Death by Signed-In Visitor

Police in Florida have arrested William Hawkins, 47, after being charged with breaking into the Tiffany Hall Nursing & Rehab Center in Port St. Lucie and smothering a 95-year-old resident to death with a pillow. The man matched the description provided by staff members and was also listed as a visitor for the victim. The murder happened in January 2020.

The man reportedly confessed to the crime while speaking to his estranged sister in jail and explained that the nursing home resident had written a book about him that upset him. According to The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Hawkins answered “yes” when asked if he smothered the victim and confessed to planning the killing for years.

It was a nurse at the facility who called 911 after seeing a man sitting on the victim’s chest and holding a pillow over their face. The suspect, who wasn’t known at the time, fled the scene.

Should Families Be Concerned About Nursing Home Safeguards Against Violent Crime?

When it comes to protecting residents from questionable visitors, in 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released revised nursing facility regulations that supports the rights of residents to “receive visitors of their choosing at the time of their choosing and require the facility to provide immediate access to the resident in accordance with the regulations.” Although these rights are necessary, nursing homes must still carry out the duty to supervise residents in all areas of the facility at all times. Homes should also have a visitor management system in place for the security of patients, which involves registering and monitoring the coming and going of visitors in a staffed check-in center for a higher level of protection against crime.

While a homicide of this nature is rare in elder care facilities, crime can occur anywhere, even where and when least expected. Even worse, victims may not be aware of the risk of attack or be able to alert others due to health conditions such as dementia. More shocking, security concerns can be reported by the residents themselves but never taken to the police and department of public health due to a fear of CMS violations and fines. Still, the failure to prevent sexual assaults, rapes and harassment, and violent crimes of nursing home visitors may all be considered nursing home negligence.

Representing Nursing Home Abuse Victims for Over 25 Years

If you suspect physical abuse or a violent crime has happened to your loved one while residing in a skilled nursing facility, our nursing home abuse attorneys are here to help. We will review your case and go over all of your legal options together in a free and confidential consultation. You will never pay any fees unless we successfully resolve your case, so call us in Chicago at 877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872 to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.

Also read: Nursing Home Abuse Is Alarmingly On The Rise

Lawyer Monthly - Legal Awards Winner
The National Trial Lawyers
Elder Care Matters Alliance
American Association for Justice
Fellow Litigation Counsel of America
Super Lawyers
Contact Information