Police: No charges in nursing home death

Posted at: 01/14/2013 4:42 PM
Updated at: 01/14/2013 5:47 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

BALLSTON SPA - Carlton Decker was 85-years old. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War Two.

Mr. Decker died late last month after he was found outside the county-run Maplewood Manor nursing home in Ballston Spa. Police say he'd lived there for many years.

Investigators have been working for weeks to determine how he got out. And now they know.

The investigation revealed that Mr. Decker did not go out a second floor window as police first thought. They say he suffered from severe osteoporosis and would not have been able to drop or fall from the second floor.

They say he was wearing a monitoring bracelet on his ankle when he left his second floor room, walked down the hall, with his walker, to a locked door that required him to punch in a security code, known only to nursing home staff.

"Mr. Decker apparently knew most if not all of code numbers to punch into the panel to bypass the alarm, silence the alarm and exit that unit without any audible alarm at all," said Jim Murphy, Saratoga County District Attorney.

One of Mr. Decker's grandchildren, who is an employee of Maplewood, told police that her grandfather knew at least some of the security code to open the door.

Police say once off the unit where he was being treated for the early stages of dementia, Mr. Decker took the elevator to the first floor, walked down the hall to the exit and out a door, which police couldn't determine if it was locked or had a working alarm.

Prosecutors say no criminal charges will be filed. NewsChannel 13 asked the D.A. whether the county could be civilly liable.

"I suppose there could be civil lawsuits. Certainly far beyond my realm. I don't engage in any civil practice or any civil decision making. That's something that the county attorney and the family will have to decide," said Murphy.