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Nursing Home Workers Charged After a WWII Vet Was Left Alone to Die

Washington Post

Lindsey Bever and Avi Selk

The World War II vet threw one of his legs over the edge of his hospital bed, gasped for air and called out desperately to an empty room: “Help me, help me, help me.”

Minutes later, 89-year-old James Dempsey, who had pressed a call button in his room, cried out again: “Help me. Help me. Help.”

It was early on a February morning in 2014 — and Dempsey was dying, all alone.

The wrenching scene was captured on hidden video camera his family had placed in the room at Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation. It showed a staffer at the nursing home check on him, then leave. Later, it showed workers discovering that he was unconscious. Even later, it showed them calling 911 for help.

The video also showed a moment someone laughed as nurses struggled to get Dempsey’s oxygen machine to work.

On Wednesday, nearly four years after Dempsey gasped for air and died, two nurses and an aide were indicted on numerous charges, including murder, according to NBC affiliate WXIA.

Dempsey’s family had placed the hidden camera in his room because he had been anxious about staying in a nursing home, his son told WSB. The son said Dempsey knew it was there but the nurses didn’t — and it would become instrumental in building a case against the home and the workers after the veteran’s death.

In front of that camera on Feb. 27, 2014, Dempsey cried out for help — calls that went unanswered.

Following a police investigation, a lawsuit and a grand jury indictment, former licensed practical nurse (LPN) Loyce Pickquet Agyeman is now charged with felony murder and neglect to an elder person. Another former LPN, Wanda Nuckles, is charged with depriving an elder person of essential services. Nurse assistant Mable Turman is charged with neglect to an elder person.

All three women are also charged with concealing the death of another person, according to WXIA.

It was not immediately clear Thursday morning whether the three women have attorneys.

The case made national news late last year after WXIA and other news organizations aired portions of the hidden video footage that showed Dempsey’s last breaths.

The video shows that at 4:34 a.m. Feb. 27, 2014, Dempsey, who had pressed a button to call a nurse, labored to breathe and called out: “Help me, help me, help me.”