PALMETTO BAY(CBS4) – A nursing home patient has confessed that he murdered his 73-year-old roommate at a Palmetto Bay nursing home, according to Miami-Dade Police.
The victim, 73-year-old Robert Verser, was a hospice patient, said Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta.
Zabaleta told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that Verser’s body was discovered at 8:05 a.m. inside his room at the South Dade Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at 17475 South Dixie Highway.
At first it was believed that Verser had fallen. Then Miami-Dade police detectives discovered that Verser had been the victim of a battery.
Zabaleta said Verser’s roommate, 41-year-old Michael Poole, gave them a confession.
“He did tell investigators that he struck the victim and the victim is deceased.”
A check of records shows that both Verser and Poole had been arrested before for drug offenses. They had lived at the nursing home for several years, Zabaleta said. It’s not known what prompted this crime.
“That’s part of the investigation and any statements that Poole does provide probably can not be released,” said Zabaleta.
Zabaleta was asked if there was an reason to believe that the murder involved a “mercy killing” since Verser was a hospice patient. Zabaleta said it was too early to say if there was any evidence of that.
He said charges against Poole are pending.
Miami-Dade Police spent the day at the nursing home. Several crime scene unit vehicles were seen outside the facility.
D’Oench also spoke with a number of people who were visiting loved ones at the facility and several of them told him they were alarmed.
“It’s kind of scary,” said Reva Roberts, whose mother is a patient at the nursing home. Especially if you have a family member in this facility. That’s crazy. I come here twice a day to feed my mother and I had no idea something like this was going on.”
“They need to figure things out and have a structure in place,” said Roberts.
It is also not known why the 73-year-old victim had a roommate who was much younger.
“I understand facilities have to do what they do,” said Roberts. “But maybe they now need to do something different.”
Elsa Eastman is in the process of moving her 80-year-old mother from the South Dade Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to another facility.
“My concern is that someone could slip into another person’s room and something like this could happen,” said Eastman.
“I have a lot of concerns,” she said. “I was in the process of taking my mother out of this facility but now this is a deciding factor.”
“I would say to anyone who has a family member that they need to stay on top of situations where their family members are being taken care of,” Eastman said.
D’Oench reached out to the Center for an on camera interview or statement. A woman who answered the phone said she could not comment.