Napa State Hospital Nurse Murdered; Patient Arrested

NAPA (KCBS/AP) – Grief counselors were made available to the staff at Napa State Hospital on Monday, in response to the weekend murder of a longtime employee, allegedly by a mental patient at the facility.

Napa County prosecutors announced plans Monday to file charges against the mentally ill patient, Jesse Willard Massey, 37, who stood accused of robbing and murdering nurse Donna Gross, 54, of Concord.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Gross’ body was found in a hospital courtyard Saturday. Massey was arrested the next day.

Authorities initially declined to say how Gross was killed. A coroner’s report has not been released by early Monday afternoon.

“Mr. Massey had a grounds pass which allowed him to exit the secure building he was in, into a secure outdoor area,” explained Napa County Sheriff’s Capt. Tracey Stuart. “So that’s the outdoor area where it occurred.”

Gross was reportedly on her dinner break at approximately 6:00 p.m. Saturday.

Massey was one of hundreds of mentally ill criminal defendants at the hospital who were declared mentally unfit for trial.

“Ninety two percent of our population comes from the criminal justice system so they do bring with them many unpredictable behaviors,” explained Jennifer Turner, spokeswoman for the State Department of Mental Health, which was charged with running the hospital.

In the wake of the tragedy, complaints mounted that the hospital was not a safe place to work. Some even said it had been simply a matter of time before someone was killed there.

According to Turner, safety improvements were always a consideration.

“Recently the hospital has actually implemented safety measures such as Rounds on Grounds program, community policing and work groups that address incidents as they arise to further reduce aggressive actions.”

“I would say there’s plenty of workers there that don’t feel safe. And they have good reason, as you can see, not to feel safe,” countered Brad Leggs, president of the union that represented Napa’s Psychiatric Technicians.

He called for the immediate implementation of a walking grounds patrol.

“It would just increase the security that’s already there. Right now we don’t have a grounds patrol that walks around and keeps their eyes on stuff and we need that in place.”

“We have difficult patients,” Leggs added. “We expect that things will happen on the units but in this case, this was a staff member who was on their break. They were outside on grounds and this incident took place.”

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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