Despite my work with older prisoners at the Project for Older Prisoners (POPS), you sometimes find people that buck the trend and commit crimes late in life. Police say that Laura Lundquist is one such “later bloomer.” She is 98 years old and accused of killing her 100-year-old roommate Elizabeth Barrow (shown here) in Massachusetts at the Brandon Woods Nursing Home.
It appears that the two did not get along. Bristol Police alleged that Lunquist believe Barrow was taking over their shared room. This could make for a difficult trial given her age and mental condition. Lundquist’s medical records allegedly include a “long standing diagnosis of dementia and exhibited other erratic behaviors.”
What is interesting (and commendable) is the reaction of the victim’s family. Her son, Scott Barrow, said that prosecuting Lundquist would be absurd and wrong: “I don’t see how you can prosecute a 98-year-old woman. It’s like prosecuting a 2-year-old. But it’s not for me to decide. The law has to take its course. I don’t feel vengeful at all. I feel pity for her.”
Lunquist allegedly strangled and suffocated Barrow over the course of 20 minutes. She was found under a bed sheet with a plastic bag tied loosely around her head.
The most interesting question is whether the son will sue the elderly home for negligence. While criminal and intentional acts can cut off proximate causation, they are something viewed as foreseeable. Court papers state that “[t]he defendant made statements prior to the victim’s death that she would get the victim’s bed by the window because she was going to outlive her.”
The night before, the victim also reportedly complained that Lundquist has placed a table at the foot of her bed that blocked her path to the bathroom. A nurse allegedly also reported Lundquist punched her when she moved a particular table back to where it was. When staff discovered Barrow’s body, the table had been moved back to the foot of the bed.
Lundquist told police that she was in the bathroom and had nothing to do with the death. She said that she heard Barrow scream and it appears that the police initially believed her — ruling that she had committed suicide.
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