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Arrest ignites inquiry into deaths of elderly

KENTON, Ohio - A 21-year-old nurse's aide with a history of mental problems made his first court appearance yesterday to answer to charges he murdered an elderly nursing home patient, but the county prosecutor refused to say how the woman was killed.

Daniel E. Brodman, whose last known address was in Upper Sandusky, was indicted last week by a Hardin County grand jury on charges of aggravated murder and involuntary manslaughter by “patient abuse.”

Hardin County Prosecutor Terry Hord refused to discuss the case and would not say how Mr. Brodman allegedly killed Thelma Longberry.

“No comment. I don't try cases in the media,” Mr. Hord said after the brief court hearing.

Miss Longberry, 87, had been a resident of the Corinthian Nursing Home in Kenton for two years when she died Dec. 16, 1998. Her death certificate states that the death was considered natural and no autopsy was conducted.

Harry Hooyenga, owner and administrator of the Corinthian, has said Miss Longberry's death was completely expected and aroused no suspicions. It wasn't until March 24 when Mr. Brodman called police in Carey where he was living at the time and allegedly confessed to killing the woman that an investigation into her death was opened.

Carey police Chief Dennis Yingling said he at first wasn't sure whether to turn over the tape-recorded conversation to the Hardin County prosecutor's office because police there had dealt with Mr. Brodman.

Less than two weeks before, a Carey woman had called police to report that Mr. Brodman had called her home and asked her son how old he was and whether he was gay.

When police confronted Mr. Brodman about the incident, he denied asking the questions but “went on to say he realizes he has problems and needs help.” He said his roommate “thinks he may have split personalities.” Police suggested he talk with someone at Firelands Counseling Service.

The next day, March 16, police were called to Mr. Brodman's apartment because he was talking to a Firelands counselor about committing suicide. Officers took him to Wyandot Memorial Hospital for an evaluation, then to Memorial Hospital in Fremont, according to reports.

Mr. Brodman's alleged confession caused authorities in Hancock and Wyandot counties to also begin looking into any suspicious deaths at nursing homes in their counties where Mr. Brodman was employed.

“I think there's a possibility [of additional charges], but I actually don't know where they're at in their investigations,” said Kenton Police Lt. Charles Inmon.

In Findlay, Lt. Chuck Wilson said Mr. Brodman worked at several nursing homes - at times as a direct employee and at others through his employment with a temporary agency. He said it was too early to tell whether any charges would result, adding, “We do have a meeting coming up with our county prosecutor to review where we're at in the investigation.”

Mr. Hooyenga said Mr. Brodman may have worked at as many as 10 to 15 nursing homes in northwest Ohio - usually for two months or less.

The Corinthian fired Mr. Brodman after just 58 days on the job because a criminal background check conducted by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation “didn't come back clean,” according to Mr. Hooyenga.

Randy Hertzer, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health, said Mr. Brodman was a certified nurse's aide “in good standing” until Feb. 9, 2002, according to the Ohio Nurse Aide Registry. The registry is a state database primarily used by employers to determine whether a job applicant has completed nurse aide training and has passed both a written and skills test to become certified in Ohio. The registry also lists whether there have been findings of patient abuse, neglect, or theft against an individual.

In court yesterday, Judge David Faulkner set bond for Mr. Brodman at $50,000 and appointed Lima attorney Maria Santo to represent him. Mr. Brodman is to be back in court for arraignment Tuesday.

He is being held in the Multi-County jail in Marion on an unrelated charge of theft from Hardin County and passing bad checks from Hancock County.

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