The Washington Post

Man charged with killing nursing home roommate

80-year-old victim described as a frail, thin man who used a walker

- BY PETER HERMANN

A patient at a Northeast Washington nursing home was charged Thursday with bludgeonin­g to death his 80-year-old roommate with a metal bed rail, according to police and court documents.

Police said the attack occurred Feb. 21 in a fourth-floor room at the Deanwood Rehabilita­tion and Wellness Center on Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue. Police said the victim, Dennis Stroy, died March 20 at a hospice center in Maryland.

His death was ruled a homicide from complicati­ons of blunt force trauma, according to police, who on Wednesday took Leon Odoms, 62, into custody. He was charged the following day with second-degree murder.

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered Odoms detained and set a hearing for Aug. 18. His attorney, Wole O. Falodun, declined to comment.

The death raised the District’s homicide count to 120, a 14 percent increase from this time last year.

Court documents say Odoms told police that Stroy attacked him as he slept, and he defended himself. But police said they found only Stroy’s blood on the removable bed rail, according to an arrest affidavit. Two other patients in the room told police they had no knowledge of an attack, according to the documents.

In the affidavit, police described Stroy as a frail, thin man who used a walker, and they quoted a nurse saying it would be a struggle for him to remove a guardrail. Police said a nurse found the victim — described as the only patient in the room who needed assistance on daily tasks — on the floor, his face bloodied.

Efforts to reach Stroy’s relatives were not successful.

Police said in their affidavit that facility managers began an internal review after the incident occurred, but the document did not reveal any conclusion­s. A representa­tive from the nursing home, which houses seniors suffering mental and physical disabiliti­es, did not return calls seeking comment.

Court records show Odoms is facing two charges of assault with a dangerous weapon stemming from the stabbings of two people in a similar incident at a group home in Southeast Washington in 2019. The victims, one stabbed in the chest, the other in the neck, survived.

Odoms pleaded not guilty in the case and court records show he was ordered to St. Elizabeths Hospital, the District’s psychiatri­c institutio­n, after his arrest in the stabbing case. Those records show he was released to a group home last August. It was not clear when Odoms went to the Deanwood facility.

Odoms has a court hearing scheduled for March 2024 in the assault case. His attorney in that matter declined to comment when reached Thursday.

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