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Police Acknowledge Expanded Probe Into Michigan Nursing Home Deaths

December 4, 1988

WALKER, Mich. (AP) _ Police confirmed Saturday they were investigating eight suspicious deaths of elderly residents of a nursing home in this Grand Rapids suburb.

Police said earlier that the investigation was limited to the deaths of Marguerite Chambers, 60, and Edith Cook, 98, whose bodies underwent autopsies after being exhumed last week.

But Police Chief Walter Sprenger said during a Saturday news conference that Chambers and Cook were among eight Alpine Manor Nursing Home residents whose deaths during the first six months of 1987 were under investigation.

Sprenger said police have not determined a motive. He would not elaborate on potential suspects, saying: ″We’re trying to focus in on who are the specific suspects. We have rumors, we have names, we have a list of names.″

Autopsies were not conducted at the time the patients died because the deaths were considered natural at the time.

But Sprenger said detectives began investigating the deaths in early October, using a list of ″eight potential victims″ provided by a source he would not identify.

″We’ve continued on because we are convinced that something has occurred,″ Sprenger said, adding that police were investigating reports that some victims had been suffocated.

Results of an autopsy on Chambers were inconclusive, and results of a Saturday autopsy on Cook were not immediately available, Sprenger said. At least one other body might have to be exhumed, he said. Three of the eight were cremated.

A woman answering the telephone at the nursing home Saturday evening referred all questions to a public relations firm. There was no answer there.

Update hourly