Assisted-Living Worker Charged With Murder Set to Stand Trial

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on November 16, 2022 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights
Updated on April 24, 2024

assisted living worker standing trial for death of resident An assisted-living care worker has been charged with the murder of an elderly resident living at an Iowa facility.

The caregiver, 31-year-old Catherine Forkpa, a former employee of the Courtyard Estates at Hawthorne Crossing in Bondurant, is facing charges of second-degree murder. The victim is 77-year-old Lynne Stewart, a resident at the facility.

Charging a caregiver for murder in a case of neglect is highly unusual. If convicted, Forkpa could face up to 50 years in prison.

Events That Caused Stewart’s Death

According to state records, Stewart was able to wander out of the facility, unchecked, on January 21 at about 9:40 p.m. As expected, alarms were set off by the resident as she exited the building. However, Forkpa, who was captured by surveillance video walking around at the facility when this happened, neither checked on Stewart or took steps to reset the alarm system.

Just after 6 a.m. the next day, other workers discovered Stewart still outside and lying on the ground. Part of her body was covered in ice. After being transported to a local hospital, Stewart was pronounced dead.

This incident led to the termination of Forkpa and written warnings being given to four other employees who also failed to respond when the door alarms went off.

The Facility Failed to Provide Proper Training

The Iowa Capital Dispatch Reports that the assisted living facility also failed in its duty. Under the law, Forkpa should have been given a minimum of eight hours of dementia training during her first 30 days of employment. However, state inspectors say the facility’s records show that Forkpa received 4.75 hours of training, or less, during that time.

Additionally, although the executive director at the facility and all on-call registered nurses were sent a series of door alarm alerts to their cellphones, no one responded.

Courtyard Estates has subsequently been fined $10,000 and issued a citation for failing to provide the necessary training to Forkpa.

Forkpa immigrated from Africa, arriving in the U.S. in 2004. She told the Iowa Capital Dispatch that she would never harm anyone and feels the murder charge is not warranted.

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