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Caregiver Convicted in Freezing Death of Elderly Woman

LANSING – Colleen Kelly O’Connor, 58, of East Lansing, was convicted by a Clinton County jury today of Vulnerable Adult Abuse—Second Degree related to the death by exposure of an 82-year-old woman, on December 23, 2022, announced Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. 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.

“This verdict does not undo the tragic loss of life, but we hope it serves as a reminder of the immense responsibility caregivers have,” said Nessel. “I want to thank the Bath Township Police Department for their partnership during the investigation of this difficult case.”

The Attorney General admitted evidence during the 2.5-day trial showing 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. As a caregiver, O’Connor recklessly failed to act to prevent the victim from going outdoors into the storm, resulting in her death.

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.

O’Connor is scheduled to be sentenced on July 29th at 10:30 a.m. by Judge Cori E. Barkman of the 29th Circuit Court.

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.


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