Photo/IllutrationThe nursing care facility, Soleil, in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture (Chihito Shin)

  • Photo/Illustraion

TAKAYAMA, Gifu Prefecture--Police on Feb. 3 arrested a former caregiver on suspicion of inflicting horrendous injuries on a 91-year-old female resident of a nursing home where other elderly patients died in quick succession, and in suspicious circumstances, a year and a half ago.

The suspect, 33-year-old Takeshi Odori, attended to all the residents who died. However, he denied any involvement in the deaths or injuries of five residents in his care during an interview with The Asahi Shimbun and other media outside his home in August 2017.

Police said they suspect that Odori, a resident of Nagoya’s Minami Ward, gave the elderly woman such a beating that she suffered fractured ribs, which pierced her lungs.

Police would not say if Odori had admitted to inflicting injuries on the woman when they announced his arrest on Feb. 3.

The incident occurred at the Soleil nursing care facility in Takayama around 2:10 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2017, according to Gifu prefectural police.

The woman's injuries took two months to heal.

She was rushed to a hospital after a staff member during the rounds discovered deep bruising in her chest.

The resident was discharged from the hospital after about a month and moved to another nursing home.

She died of natural causes on Oct. 3, 2017, while recuperating at home.

Autopsy results showed no causal relationship between her injuries and her death, police concluded.

Odori was in charge of caring for the woman's needs on the day she was injured.

Police are investigating his involvement in the case, deeming that Odori intentionally injured the woman and that her injuries did not happen by accident while receiving care.

Of the five elderly female and male residents who suffered from broken bones and other injuries, three died between July 31 and mid-August of 2017.

Odori provided care to all of these residents, police said.

Four female residents among the five lived in quadruple-occupancy rooms on the second floor of a specialized wing for dementia patients at the facility.

Police will also investigate whether Odori was involved in those deaths and injuries.

Odori worked at Soleil for about a year from August 2016. His job was to help feed the elderly residents, change their diapers and perform other duties.

A colleague described Odori as “diligent and calm” during an interview with The Asahi Shimbun, adding that he was not known for “any problematic behavior.”

That was at odds with an account by a former colleague at another facility where Odori had worked.

The person said Odori had a violent temper and frequently hurled abuse at residents and his superiors. Odori agreed to leave after failing to pass his probationary period.

Although the Soleil facility urged him to quit, claiming his presence was “a nuisance to other staff,” Odori refused, arguing that “if I quit this job, it would mean I admit" to involvement in the deaths and injuries of the residents.

After he left the facility in August 2017, Odori worked at a construction company in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture.

Kenichi Orishige, head director of the Dojinkai Foundation, a medical corporation that operates the nursing home, said early Feb. 4 that he had only heard of Odori's arrest but not details of the case from the police.

Family members of the residents who suffered injuries or died are pressing the nursing home to provide an explanation for the incidents.

Soleil was established in 1997, and houses up to 100 residents.