Charges expected from grand jury in Worcester probe

March 26, 1992|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer

SNOW HILL -- A Worcester County grand jury looking into the suspicious death of a 91-year-old Pocomoke City nursing home patient may return criminal indictments as early as today or tomorrow, according to sources close to the investigation.

The grand jury, which met privately in the county court building here yesterday, has sifted through evidence reportedly showing that Maidie Lang Shay died Jan. 29 as a result of an unauthorized dose of the morphine-based painkiller Roxanol.

Acting on a tip, officials at Hartley Hall Nursing Home discovered two different forms of morphine stored improperly in the office of the facility's nursing director a week after Mrs. Shay's death.

The Eastern Shore woman's remains were exhumed and sent to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore, where toxicologic tests revealed traces of morphine in tissue samples.

Worcester County Deputy State's Attorney Joel J. Todd yesterday declined to comment on the investigation.

As part of the home's internal investigation, nursing director Karen Alpaugh was asked to take administrative leave, according to Louis Huber, president of Housing and Health Services Inc., the Baltimore firm that manages Hartley Hall.

Mrs. Alpaugh, who had been with Hartley Hall less than a year, resigned immediately on her own accord, said Mr. Huber. Three other staff workers -- a registered nurse and two licensed practical nurses -- were placed on administrative leave.

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