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Nessel: Parole Board Decision Puts Public Safety at Risk

LANSING - Citing a grave concern for the safety of the state’s residents, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today filed a brief with the Kent County Circuit Court in opposition to the Michigan Department of Corrections Parole Board’s decision to parole Catherine Wood, 57, of West Michigan. Wood, a former nurse’s aide, pleaded guilty in 1989 to Second Degree Murder and Conspiracy to Commit Second Degree Murder for her role in carrying out several killings of her vulnerable, elderly patients.

Between 1986 and 1987, Wood and her co-conspirator, Gwendolyn Graham, carried out their crimes against frail, elderly patients at Alpine Manor Nursing Home in Walker, Michigan. The victims often could not speak and required around-the-clock assistance, needing help eating and getting dressed. In total, Wood confessed to helping kill at least five patients, but said that she and Graham planned to kill many more.

Wood was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison for her crimes and has spent nearly three decades incarcerated.

The parole board has considered and denied Wood parole eight times – most recently in 2016. Each time, the board’s denial was due to the severity of Wood’s crimes and the threat she posed to public safety. In her ninth request, Wood was granted parole. The victims’ families have now filed an appeal. 

"Repeatedly, the parole board determined Ms. Wood to be a threat to the public,” Nessel said. “I am not sufficiently persuaded that Ms. Wood does not remain a threat to the public or that she has demonstrated true remorse for the many helpless, vulnerable victims she ruthlessly murdered while in her care. She continues to be a threat to the public and it is incumbent upon me as the state’s chief law enforcement officer to do everything possible to protect our state’s residents from those who endanger them.”