83-year-old accused of beating nursing home resident to death with walker to undergo mental evaluation

HAVERHILL, MASS. (WHDH) – An 83-year-old man who allegedly used his walker to beat another resident at a Haverhill nursing to death on Saturday has been ordered held without bail pending a mental health evaluation.

Jose Veguilla appeared in Haverhill District Court Monday on a murder charge, according to the Essex District Attorney’s Office.

Officers responding to a report of an assaultive patient at Oxford Manor on Main Street around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday found a 76-year-old man suffering from injuries following a physical assault, the DA’s office said.

The victim, who authorities identified as Robert Boucher, was taken to Holy Family Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

He had been living there since April after having a leg amputated.

“When police got there, he still had the walker,” prosecutors said. “He was swinging the walker. The walker was covered in blood.”

Officers arrested Veguilla in connection with the assault. He was later taken to Bridgewater State Hospital.

Veguilla suffered a traumatic brain injury during a fall at his home last year.

A court psychologist questioned his competency in court.

“He is not oriented. While he knew he was at the court, he doesn’t know the day of the month or even the year,” she said.

Veguilla’s son Henry said his father had not been taking his medicine and that he felt it was the facility’s duty to ensure the health and safety of all their patients.

“How does an 83-year-old man have the time to do what he is being accused of doing and no one stepping in to intervene?” his son said.

Boucher was engaged to be married.

“I think it is terrible,” his fiance Beatrice Duchesne said. “They are fully responsible I think.”

Athena Health Care Systems, which runs the nursing home, released a statement that read, “The Oxford’s heart goes out to the families of those involved in last night’s incident. Our center is making additional support services available to our staff and residents. The Oxford Center and staff are working with the Haverhill and State Police Departments in their investigation. Based on our initial internal investigation, our staff acted quickly and appropriately in the matter; we are unable to comment further or provide additional details.”

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