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Vernon special-care patient faces murder charge

Police tape demarking a crime scene.


A 95-year-old resident of a special-care home in the Okanagan community of Vernon is facing a murder charge after his 85-year-old roommate was assaulted on Sunday in what police are calling an unusual case.

John Furman was remanded for a court appearance on Wednesday following a hearing earlier this week.

Gord Molendyk, a spokesman for the RCMP, said the Crown is still trying to decide how to handle the case based on information being gathered by a police investigation.

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Mr. Molendyk said in an interview that Mr. Furman is being held at a facility where all his medical needs are being looked after, but he declined to provide the location.

"I have never seen anything like this before – the age of the victim and, of course, the accused being even older," said Mr. Molendyk, representing the Vernon North Okanagan Detachment. "This is a highly unusual case – a tragic, sad case."

On Sunday night, a report of an assault drew the RCMP to Polson Special Care, a 26-bed secure dementia unit adjacent to Vernon's Jubilee Hospital. The unit focuses on patients whose dementia is complicated by behavioural or psychiatric issues. Most are elderly.

Mr. Furman was admitted to the facility in August, but his roommate had been there for some time, said Cathy Renkas, a spokeswoman for the B.C. Interior Health Authority. She declined to say where Mr. Furman had come from.

"When [the RCMP] arrived, soon after, they determined they were actually investigating a homicide," Mr. Molendyk said.

The 85-year-old victim died on the scene, and Mr. Furman was arrested and taken into custody.

Mr. Molendyk said an autopsy on the victim is scheduled for Wednesday.

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He declined to say if a weapon was used in the assault.

Meanwhile, the Interior Health Authority has struck a critical-incident review committee to look into the incident, but there is no time frame for completing that assessment.

Ms. Renkas said the authority has been in touch with the families of both residents, and conveyed its condolences to them.

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