An 86-year-old man was fatally injured, allegedly by his 58-year-old roommate, while both were being cared for in the dementia ward of a CareOne nursing facility in Randolph on Tuesday, according to Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey’s office.
The victim was identified as James Schappell, who was allegedly attacked before 8 a.m. with a ceramic trash can by his roommate, Walter Rice Jr., according to documents filed in Quincy District Court.
Schappell was rushed to Boston Medical Center but died at the hospital Wednesday night, prosecutors said.
CareOne staffers summoned Randolph police to the scene on Thomas Patten Drive, leading to the arrest of Rice on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, described in a police report as a heavy ceramic flower pot that was being used as a trash can.
Randolph Officer Stephen Morse wrote that when he arrived at the nursing facility for a report of a head wound, firefighters had already placed Schappell in an ambulance and said he was unlikely to survive, according to the report.
Rice was sitting in a separate room away from everyone.
“I immediately noticed that both beds in the room had a extremely large amount of blood on them,” wrote Morse, describing a gruesome scene that he said suggested Schappell had been hit over the head with the ceramic pot while on his bed.
Morse said he called for additional officers to guard Rice while he secured the crime scene, which had already been touched by staff.
“There were attempts made by staff to clean the defendant and the room prior to my arrival,” Morse wrote.
Rice appeared in Quincy District Court Wednesday. Judge Mark Coven ordered a mental competency evaluation, prosecutors said. The court clinician concluded Rice was not competent, and Coven ordered further evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital. Rice is due back in court Sept. 21.
CareOne issued a statement Thursday: “CareOne’s first priority is always to ensure the safety, security, and comfort of our residents and their families. We are fully cooperating with the authorities as they conduct their investigation. Our support and prayers are with the affected families and our entire CareOne at Randolph community.”
The agency also defended its workers at the nursing facility. “We also would like to recognize the competency and professionalism of our nurses and caregivers who responded to this incident to ensure that it was contained and that emergency medical services for the residents involved were quickly provided,” it said.
CareOne describes itself as a family-owned company founded by Daniel E. Straus. It handles 20,000 patient admissions annually.
The investigation, by state and Randolph police, along with Morrissey’s office, is ongoing.