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City man, 83, indicted as death ruling is changed

Nursing home resident now homicide victim

YOUNGSTOWN — Horace A. Landers, 83, of High Street, was indicted Thursday on murder and felonious assault in the 2019 death of Watson R. Wilcox Jr., 89, in the Youngstown nursing home where both men lived.

Landers is accused of causing fatal injuries to Wilcox on July 24, 2019, at Windsor House Guardian Healthcare Center, 1735 Belmont Ave. Mahoning County Coroner David Kennedy this week ruled Wilcox’s death a homicide.

The death certificate for Wilcox originally listed the manner of his death as undetermined. The initial death certificate was filed in January 2020.

The amended death certificate states Wilcox died from complications of blunt force injuries of the head and that contributing were dementia, hypertension, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Wilcox died Aug. 6, 2019, after being found on the floor of his room in the Guardian Healthcare Center with a head injury, according to documents.

A Youngstown police report states that officers were called to the nursing home 3:32 a.m. July 24, 2019, after Wilcox was found on the floor of his room with a swollen eye and nose with bleeding from the mouth. He had bruising on his right shoulder.

The report states that an employee of the nursing home reported that nobody saw what happened to Wilcox and that workers went into his room about 1 a.m. July 24 and saw Wilcox on the floor in a pool of blood. Landers was sitting in the chair next to Wilcox with blood on his knuckles, the report states.

The employee told a nurse practitioner at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital that the room where Wilcox stayed was in the Alzheimer’s unit and that Wilcox and Landers both had dementia.

Wilcox’s guardian told police she received a call from a Winsdor House employee 1 a.m. July 24 saying Wilcox fell out of bed. But the guardian said Wilcox could not have fallen out of bed because he was unable to move on his own or speak.

The police department sent detectives and crime scene personnel to investigate.

A call to the Mahoning County Coroner’s Office seeking information on the reason for changing the ruling on Wilcox’s death was not returned. A call to the nursing home also was not returned.

The amended death certificate states that Wilcox was released from the hospital Aug. 5 to receive end-of-life care from the Belmont Avenue Windsor House facility and died there the next day.

An autopsy was conducted by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office on Aug. 7, 2019, the death certificate states.

erunyan@vindy.com

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