INDIANAPOLIS (TCD) -- A judge sentenced a 60-year-old man to what could be the rest of his life in prison for raping and smothering an 80-year-old woman to death in the nursing home where they both lived.
Marion County court records show Dwayne Freeman pleaded guilty June 8 to one count of murder and one count of rape for the death of Patricia Newnum. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped additional murder and rape charges. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison Thursday, June 22.
On Feb. 2, 2022, at about 5:30 a.m., Indianapolis Police responded to Homestead Healthcare Center on Madison Avenue after receiving a report of a female deceased under suspicious circumstances. Police collected evidence at the scene and arrested Freeman, who also lived at Homestead.
WTHR-TV reports the medical examiner determined Newnum’s cause of death was asphyxiation by smothering and her manner of death was homicide. An employee at Homestead Healthcare Center reportedly walked into Newnum’s room and saw Freeman on top of her and covering her face with a pillow. Freeman reportedly told police Newnum was "already dead" when he went into her room.
Freeman reportedly later confessed to having sex with Newnum but said it was consensual.
The lawsuit alleges the nursing home and its parent hospital fostered "a culture of crime, drugs, alcohol abuse, and poor treatment of residents."
According to the criminal complaint cited by Law & Crime, Newnum was "incapable of protecting herself" from Freeman.
Newnum’s family argued she died to the "egregious mismanagement and conscious allowing of rampant criminality, assaults, and alcohol/drug abuse to be omnipresent at Homestead Healthcare Center," which was cited over 20 times in the last three years.
A former Homestead Healthcare Center employee told Newnum’s attorney about her rape and killing, "That doesn’t surprise me."
The complaint also cited other alleged cases of negligence and violations.
A Homestead Healthcare Center spokesperson told the Indianapolis Star at the time, "We continue to be saddened for the family’s loss; however, it is our policy not to comment on pending litigation."