EBENSBURG - The death of a Cambria Care Center resident who police said was beaten by another resident has been ruled a homicide.
Theodore Shaw, 70, died from head trauma, likely from being struck multiple times with a door by the other resident, Camrbia County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski said Tuesday. The autopsy showed that Shaw also had bruising all over his body from the beating.
His alleged attacker, Ray F. Dunmyer Jr., 78, who suffers from dementia and lived in the home's memory-impaired unit with Shaw, also attacked two employees who rushed to Shaw's aid, police said.
Dunmyer already has been charged with three felony counts of aggravated assault and other charges, but it was not clear if those charges will be amended because of the coroner's report or if his mental status would have any impact.
Ebensburg state troopers involved in the case referred questions to Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan, who did not return messages for comment Tuesday.
Dunmyer, originally from the Cresson area, was immediately transferred from Cambria Care Center to another facility after the attack, said Grane Healthcare spokesman Mark Fox, whose company owns and operates the facility.
He could not elaborate on where Dunmyer was transferred, citing confidentiality.
Trooper Kenneth Durbin requested an arrest warrant in a criminal complaint filed Monday, but as of Tuesday afternoon, Dunmyer had not been taken to the Cambria County Prison, jail officials confirmed.
The assault happened quickly, Kwiatkowski said.
Durbin said nursing employees discovered Shaw was being attacked after they saw Dunmyer in his doorway saying "something" that caught their attention.
The workers, both nurse's aides, walked into the room to find Shaw on the floor in a pool of blood while Dunmyer "slammed" a heavy wooden door hard on his head, Durbin wrote in his criminal complaint. Both employees grabbed Dunmyer to stop him, but he resisted, striking one in the face and kicking the other in the back before they got him under control outside the room.
"Apparently, it all happened within a matter of moments," Fox said. "One second, he's in the room visiting Mr. Shaw and the next, staff is screaming for help."
Both employees are "physically fine" but shaken up, Fox said.
Fox called the scenario "shocking," adding there are "more questions than answers" for what would cause one memory-impaired resident to "suddenly" attack another.
Dunmyer was not a problem resident, and most floor employees knew him well, Fox said.
"He'd been here since September. There was nothing to indicate anything like this could happen," Fox added, saying steps could have been taken in-house otherwise or the resident would have been transferred to a more appropriate facility.
Cambria Care Center's memory-impaired floor typically has 60 residents with dementia-related diagnoses, many times for Alzheimer's disease patients "who have reached a point in life where they cannot function independently," Fox said.
"Oftentimes," Fox said, "they are in fine physical shape. But the brain is another story."
He noted the memory-impaired floor has added precautions for that reason.
Nurses on the floor are specially trained to handle patients. Doors to other areas and floors on the 370-bed facility are also locked and require a special code to prevent "wandering."
"We have five memory-impaired units like this," Fox said, "and nothing has ever happened anything like this before."
Grane notified the state Department of Health after the incident and has been cooperating with state officials and police investigators, Fox said.
Grane followed proper procedures in notifying the department, and a thorough investigation will be conducted through their usual process, a department spokeswoman said.
It means a site investigation will occur, and if nursing care deficiencies are found, the information will be provided to Cambria Care Center operators, Health spokeswoman Holli Senior said. They would have 10 days to issue a correction plan, which the department would have to approve.
"It's basically a 45-day process from the time an incident is reported until the findings would be available on our website," Senior said. "But at this point, it's too soon to say if any deficiencies could be found."
Calling the weekend attack "rare," she said incidents of all kinds can occur without a facility being negligent in any way.
"But that's what our investigation will determine," she said. "The main goal here is to make sure the situation is rectified and what if anything can be done to ensure this kind of thing doesn't happen again."
Grane is asking similar questions, Fox said.
"What can the doctors tell us? What will the investigation tell us?" he said. "Is there something we can learn from this horrible situation?"
A preliminary hearing date has not yet been set for Dunmyer on his current charges.
Funeral arrangements are still being set for Shaw, the coroner's office said.
Mirror Staff Writer David Hurst is at 946-7457.