Who's to Blame for Homer Castor's Fatal Beating of Fellow Alzheimer's Patient?

The late Gerald Propp. Additional photos and a video below.
The late Gerald Propp. Additional photos and a video below.
Family photo via 9News

Last February, we told you about the tragic death of Gerald Propp, 76, an Alzheimer's patient who was fatally beaten by Homer Castor, his 87-year-old roommate at an assisted living home who also suffered from the malady.

Castor wasn't prosecuted for the crime owing to his condition — and as reported by 9News, he died in November.

However, Propp's widow has filed a lawsuit in the case.

She believes that the facility where they were living — Atria Applewood in Lakewood — didn't do enough to keep Propp safe.

Images of Atria Applewood from 7News coverage.
Images of Atria Applewood from 7News coverage.

At about 6 a.m. on Saturday, February 21, as we reported, Lakewood police officers were dispatched to Atria Applewood, which specializes in what its website describes as "memory care services."

The cops were called to investigate what was originally reported as an assault involving two elderly male residents.

As they arrived, a man later identified as Propp was being placed in an ambulance and hurried to an area hospital with serious injuries from blunt-force trauma.

Atria personnel told investigators they heard screaming coming from one of the rooms, and when they rushed to find out what was happening, they found Castor walking away from Propp, whose face was covered with blood.

Homer Castor after the attack.
Homer Castor after the attack.
Lakewood Police Department via 9News

According to the arrest affidavit in the case, the beating was so severe that blood also splattered the walls, carpet and furniture in the room; an autopsy listed among Propp's injuries a broken nose and a brain hemorrhage.

The report adds that when a nurse asked Castor what happened, he told her, "If he says one more word, I'm going to kill him."

Castor subsequently met with investigators, and in a later portion of the affidavit, he gave some hint as to what set him off. As he reached for his quilt, he told the agent, "He tried to touch it," adding, "It didn't work out for him too well."

As he made this last statement, the report goes on, Castor allegedly made what's characterized as "a slight striking gesture with his hands" and added the comment, "Fourteen times."

If this statement indicates Castor understood what happened, at least at that moment, other information in the affidavit gives an indication of how the disease has diminished him. His wife told investigators that he was in the sixth stage of Alzheimer's and would "urinate in a waste basket in his room and put his dirty adult diaper in his dresser."

At first, Castor was arrested on charges of second-degree assault. But when Propp died two days later, a homicide allegation was added to the roster. But the counts went by the wayside when Castor was found incompetent to stand trial. He died in November at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo.

Now, the law firm of J.M. Reinan has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, and its release about the case maintains that Castor was a risk upon his arrival at the center in December 2014.

The suit maintains that Atria personnel knew at the time of his admission that Castor exhibited “significant behavior problems that seriously disrupt the rights of other residents" and "a propensity for exhibiting destructive and intentionally dangerous physical behaviors."

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During the last part of 2014 and the early weeks of 2015, the suit documents "numerous incidences of [Castor's] aggressive and intentionally violent conduct, but that appropriate measures were not taken in response to protect Mr. Propp and other vulnerable residents at the facility."

On or around February 9, 2015, Castor allegedly attacked Propp, causing scratches and redness to his neck — but the incident was allegedly not deemed an instance of resident-on-resident abuse.

Then, on February 20, the suit claims that Propp "again became agitated with Mr. Propp, resulting in an actual or threatened physical altercation." But they weren't separated — and the next day, Propp suffered the assault that caused his death.

In the wake of the filing, Atria shared the following statement with 9News: "This was a tragic event. While we cannot comment on the pending lawsuit, we continue to offer our condolences to the Propp family and all those affected by his death."

We do so as well. Here's a 7News piece broadcast in the immediate aftermath of Propp's death.



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