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Caregiver Charged in Freezing Death of Elderly Woman
November 21, 2023
LANSING – Today, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has announced that Colleen Kelly O’Connor, 58, of East Lansing, was charged in the 65A District Court in Clinton County with Second-Degree Vulnerable Adult Abuse related to the December 2022 death by exposure of an 82-year-old woman. The charge is a 4-year felony.
At the time she died, the victim was under O’Connor’s care at Vista Springs Imperial Park at Timber Ridge, an assisted living facility in Clinton County where O’Connor was employed.
“Caregivers have a responsibility under the law to act in the face of grave danger to a vulnerable person in their care,” said Nessel. “I want to thank the Bath Township Police Department for their partnership during the investigation of this tragic case.”
The People allege that during the very early morning hours of December 23, 2022, O’Connor twice observed the victim attempt to go outside without appropriate attire into a blizzard with single-digit temperatures, subzero windchill, and blowing and drifting snow. A snowplow driver found the victim in the parking lot around 7 a.m., partially buried in snow. It is unknown precisely how long she was outside before she was found. The victim was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital but died due to hypothermia shortly after arrival.
The charge against O’Connor alleges that, as a caregiver, O’Connor recklessly failed to act to prevent the victim from going outdoors into the storm, resulting in her death.
O’Connor was arraigned on November 20th before Magistrate Nikki Maneval and granted a $5,000 cash/surety bond. The case is scheduled for a probable cause conference before Judge Michael Clarizio on November 30th at 10:00 a.m.
The Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Division (HCFD) handled this case for the Department. The HCFD is the federally certified Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for Michigan, and it receives 75% of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award totaling $5,541,992 for the fiscal year 2024. The remaining 25% percent, totaling $1,847,326 is funded by the State of Michigan.
Please note: For all criminal proceedings, a criminal charge is merely an allegation. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The Department does not provide booking photos.