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Negligence Examined In Nursing Home Death

46-Year-Old Psychiatric Patient Found Dead In Bathtub

Nov 6, 2002

A man was found dead of unknown causes in a bathtub at a Chicago Ridge nursing home Monday, and authorities were looking into why he may not have been checked on for 12 hours, according to police.

An employee of the Chicago Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation found the body of Dennis Justice, 46, in the bathtub in the psychiatric ward at about 9 a.m., Chicago Ridge Police Chief Timothy Baldermann said Monday night.

The employee who apparently was the last to see him alive checked on him at around 9 p.m. Sunday, Baldermann said.

Baldermann said Justice apparently had been bathing when he died, and it did not appear that he had been placed in the tub.

"We need to know why the last time he was seen was 9 p.m.," Baldermann said.

An employee of the nursing home confirmed that Justice had lived there but said she could not provide further information Monday night.

Justice's body was stiff when he was found, and blood had begun to pool on one side, indicating he might have been dead for a few hours, Baldermann said.

There were no obvious signs of foul play, and no weapons were found nearby, the police chief said.

Police were conducting a death investigation Monday pending the results of an autopsy by the Cook County medical examiner's office, he said.

Someone notified the police by making a 911 call from a pay phone, but the caller apparently was not an employee, Baldermann said.

The origin of the call was under investigation, and officials of the nursing home, at 10602 S. Southwest Highway, in the south suburb, was cooperating with the police, he said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health was notified about Justice's death, Baldermann said. A representative of the agency could not be reached Monday night.

The autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday, according to a spokesman from the Cook County medical examiner's office.

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