Fight in assisted living facility leads to homicide charges in Lakewood

LAKEWOOD, Colo. - Staff at an assisted living facility ran to a room where they heard yelling, and found one resident severely injured. He died Monday.

Lakewood Police have arrested another resident, an 87-year-old, on suspicion of homicide and crimes against an "at risk adult." The victim, Gerald Propp, was 76 years old.

Both men are residents of the Atria Applewood assisted living facility in the 2700 block of Youngfield Street on Saturday around 6 a.m. Staff told police they went into the room and found Homer Castor, the suspect, walking away from the severely injured victim.

Propp's injuries appeared to be caused by blunt force, police said.

Propp's wife told 7NEWS that her husband was a great guy who loved cars and motorcycles. She also said he had suffered from Alzheimer's over the last eight to ten years. 

Castor was originally arrested on suspicion of second degree assault, but the severity increased after the 76-year-old victim died Monday.

"Immediately our case turned from an assault case now to some type of a homicide case," said Lakewood Police spokesperson Steve Davis. 

According to court documents,  one of the agents that responded spent time with Castor after the attack. The agent explained at one point Castor reached for his quilt and said, "he tried to touch it." He then said, "It didn't work out for him too well," while saying that Homer made a slight striking gesture with his hands and said, "fourteen times." When asked if that was how he got blood on his sleeves, he looked confused and started talking about his wrist watch. 

The arrest affidavit also says Castor's wife explained Homer was in 6th stage of Alzheimer's and suffered from dementia. She described issues where Castor would, "urinate in a waste basket in his room and put his dirty adult diaper in his dresser." 

Castor's wife also said her husband had told her Propp had been hitting him. However, it is unknown when this would have occurred.  Investigators documented numerous old bruises on his hands and his right middle, ring and pinky knuckles were red. 

Investigators also spoke with the victim's wife, she said three weeks ago she was walking with her husband and Castor at the facility. She explained how Castor made the comment, "he makes me so mad I want to punch him out." 

Ultimately, Davis said the District Attorney’s Office will make the decision on the most appropriate charges to file in this case.

"Aside from the fact you've got an 87-year-old very elderly man as your suspect, at least for right now, we've gotta proceed by the book," he said. 

Castor's competency will be evaluated at a state mental hospital, said Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office. 

Atria Applewood send 7NEWS the following statement about Propp's death:

"We were saddened to learn of the death of one of our residents. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family.

Ensuring the safety and well-being of our residents is our highest priority. We are cooperating fully with the police and the Department of Public Health and Environment as they continue to review the circumstances of the incident. We are committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure that our residents continue to feel safe and protected in our community."

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