Fight between Alzheimer's patients ends in murder; men shared room at Atria Applewood in Lakewood

Did assisted living center break any laws?

LAKEWOOD, Colo. - Two elderly men in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease were allowed to live in the same room at a Lakewood assisted living center. One of the men is now accused of beating the other to death.

Homer Castor, 87, is undergoing a competency evaluation to see if he can stand trial in the killing of Gerald Propp, 76.

The incident occurred on Feb. 21, at the Atria Applewood assisted living community in Lakewood.

7NEWS Anchor Eric Kahnert sat down with the head of the state agency that's looking into whether the Atria Applewood broke any laws.

"We will look into this thoroughly and completely," said Health Facilities Division Director Randy Kuykendall.

Kuykendall's department is investigating whether Atria followed the law by providing patients with protective oversight.

"Is it recommended to have two people with this stage of Alzheimer's living in the same room?" asked Kahnert.

"Alzheimer's and dementia are highly individualized disease processes," said Kuykendall.

Castor and Propp had a history, according to an affidavit.

In early February, during a walk outside the facility, Propp's wife told police that she heard Castor say, "Makes me so mad I want to punch him out."

According to the affidavit, 10 days before Propp was killed, "Atria Applewood documented a prior incident between Homer and Gerald, which resulted in superficial scratches to the back of Gerald's neck."

"It appears from the report there were prior altercations -- is this something that the facility should have looked at and separated these two?" asked Kahnert.

"Until we're able to look at the investigation, we're not able to comment on this investigation," said Kuykendall.

7NEWS asked Atria Applewood officials why the two men were kept in the same room, despite prior physical and verbal incidents. A spokesperson wouldn't comment.

The Colorado Health Department said Atria has had three complaints since it was licensed in 2008.  All of them were minor and led to no citations.

Over the past 15 years, this is the third time someone has died in Colorado after a fight between residents in assisted living centers.

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