State Drops Disciplinary Actions Against Institution Employees Over
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 19, 2004
FORT WAYNE, INDIANA--Whoever is responsible for the beating death of John Reed II on June 9, 2002 might never be punished for his murder.
Not only have law enforcement officials been unable to decide who to charge with the crime, but the state administrators overseeing the institution where he was killed have reversed disciplinary actions against those who may have been involved, the Journal Gazette reported Sunday.
Reed, 38, died at Parkview Hospital three days after he was savagely beaten at Fort Wayne Developmental Center where he had been housed for 16 years. Hospital officials said Reed had a torn pancreas, ruptured intestines, a punctured lung, broken ribs, and other internal injuries. A surgeon told Reed's family that the wounds appeared to have been inflicted many times over several days, that they were too severe to be repaired, and that they appeared more like the injuries of an auto accident victim.
The Allen County Coroner's Office declared Reed's death a homicide, saying he died of blunt-force trauma. But investigators have not been able to determine whether he was attacked by another resident or a staff member of the facility.
Either way, somebody who worked at the facility would be ultimately responsible: Because of his history of "aggressive behavior" Reed was required to have 24-hour, one-on-one support.
The institution's superintendent, Dean Mohnke, said that the center had completed its internal review of the events leading up to Reed's death and determined that none of the facility's current employees "could be held culpable for disciplinary action".
The report from the Family and Social Services Administration recommended that the two employees who had been suspended be allowed to return to work after some additional training, and after receiving a total of about $38,000 in back pay. Three employees who had been reassigned to other jobs were also allowed to return to their original duties, but not in the same complex where Reed died.
The internal investigation, which was only to determine what, if any, employee disciplinary actions were in order, did not address the two employees who resigned shortly after Reed's death. Both of those former employees have denied any wrongdoing in the case.
Last July, Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards said she was frustrated that no witnesses were coming forward, in part, she believed, because they feared being fired. She offered criminal immunity for any witness to step forward with information about the crime and asked the state to guarantee any such employees would still be able to keep their jobs. State officials refused.
At that time, Mohnke defended the policy to not shield witnesses from firing when they have failed to promptly report incidents of abuse -- even if they come forward later with crucial testimony.
Michael Brown Jr, the employee who reportedly discovered Reed in "obvious physical distress" on the morning of his death, said he quit to find another job.
Brown told the Journal Gazette: "I don't know what happened. The staff out there has a bad reputation, but there are really only a few bad apples."
"It wasn't like we were all out there beating the residents."
"State clears 5 in beating death of patient in '02" (Journal Gazette)
"Trouble With Indiana's Institutions" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)