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September 2, 2014

Patient killed at St. Peter security hospital, another patient in custody

A mentally ill man accused of killing a patient at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter Wednesday night is in police custody, the Star Tribune reports.

KARE 11 reports officers and medical personnel were called to the facility just before 8 p.m. after hospital staff found 41-year-old Michael Francis Douglas unresponsive.

“A patient died, apparently as a result of injuries inflicted by another patient,” Deputy Corrections Commissioner Anne Barry said in a written statement.

Sources told the Star Tribune that Douglas of Mankato was killed after his skull was crushed in his room. Douglas was brought to the facility in mid-December and was awaiting a mental evaluation.

A 31-year-old man, also a patient at the facility, is being held at the Nicollet County jail for probable cause murder. The Star Tribune reports the suspect was transferred to St. Peter about six weeks ago and has a violent criminal past. He has not yet been formally charged.

Local law enforcement, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and state health department are investigating.

This is the first homicide at the hospital in at least three decades, according to the newspaper.

The facility has seen a series of management lapses in the last few years, including the accidental release of a violent offender last summer. In 2012, Dayton determined the hospital was in crisis after a personal visit.

A 2013 legislative audit found shortfalls in psychiatric care and assaults against staff members had doubled.