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86-year-old woman at assisted living facility dies, 3 caregivers charged

Hazel Place died after being left outside in the heat for six hours in Grand Junction, according to the Colorado Office of the Attorney General.

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Three caregivers have been charged in the death of a resident under their care at an assisted living facility in Grand Junction, the Colorado Office of the Attorney General said on Tuesday.

Investigators found the following caregivers at Cappella of Grand Junction Assisted Living and Memory Care were responsible for the death of 86-year-old Hazel Place, according to the attorney general's office:

  • Jamie Johnston, 30
  • Jenny Logan, 50
  • Letticia Martinez, 27

According to the attorney general's office, Place was left outside in the heat for six hours prior to her death.

"She sat out there for six or six and half hours in over 100-degree temperatures. With absolutely not one person checking on her," said Donna Golden, who is Place's daughter. "They knew her routine, knew what she did. And not one of them decided to check on her the whole time."

Family members also said due to her dementia diagnosis and her being a fall risk, she was supposed to be checked on every hour.

"So not only are we dealing with the loss of her, but knowing how she suffered and it could have been prevented, she did not have to die that day," Golden said.

Credit: Photo courtesy of the family
Hazel Place

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All three face one count each of negligent death of an at-risk person, and criminally negligent homicide, according to the attorney general's office.

Martinez and Johnston are also charged with second-degree forgery, according to the release.

“When our loved ones are vulnerable and in need of care, Colorado residents should be able to trust their caregivers implicitly,” Attorney General Phil Weiser said. “My department is committed to holding accountable those who take advantage of and cause harm to our state’s older residents.”

The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Colorado Department of Law, and the Grand Junction Police Department led the investigation.

Capella of Grand Junction released a statement saying it could not share any additional details about the case, but that it immediately reported the circumstances surrounding Place's death to appropriate regulatory agencies, launched an internal investigation and cooperated with the attorney general's investigation.

The internal investigation resulted in the dismissal of two of the caregivers who were charged, and the third is on investigatory leave, Capella said.

The statement continued:

"We are very saddened by the passing of this beloved resident, and we continue to send our sincerest support to this resident's family and friends.

"At this time, we cannot make any further comments as we focus on the support of residents, team members, and families and honor the right to privacy to all involved during this process.

"We care for each other. It is one our most deeply held values as a community, and the ideal we strive for in our daily work in creating a wonderful community where older adults share in making a home."

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