In an abuse case built in large part on secretly recorded cellphone video, a onetime Lino Lakes care center employee has pleaded guilty to taunting a patient about how soon she was going to die and threatening to set her on fire with a cigarette lighter.
Chanta Hampton, 27, of Coon Rapids, on Wednesday admitted in Anoka County District Court to abuse of a vulnerable adult by a caregiver, a gross misdemeanor. The plea deal calls for a felony stalking charge to be dismissed.
Hampton, who resigned from Lino Lakes Assisted Living and Memory Care within minutes of being confronted about the incidents on Feb. 3 and 4, is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 22.
A second defendant, Sarah A. Mills, 27, of Circle Pines, allegedly joined in with Hampton during the three to four hours of abusing 70-year-old dementia patient Suzanne Edwards.
Mills remains charged with felony stalking and the same abuse charge that drew Hampton’s guilty plea. Mills also quickly resigned from the home.
Messages were left Thursday with attorneys for both women seeking comment.
Police were given videos taken by another employee that reveal some of the abuse inflicted on Edwards, a former emergency room nurse. The videos, in concert with witness statements from staff members, formed the foundation of the investigations by police and the state Health Department.
One employee acknowledged witnessing Hampton as she “had a cigarette lighter turned on, and it was put right by Suzanne Edwards’ face,” a police report read.
The Health Department investigation found that Edwards replied: “Are you going to light me on fire? Well, do it already.” To which Hampton replied, “I will; don’t test me, woman.”
The two twice confined Edwards, once by locking her behind her door and clutching the doorknob to keep her from getting out. The other time, they put a chair against her leg and laughed as she struggled to get up.
An employee also reported seeing Hampton and Mills “making fun of [Edwards] because she didn’t have on underwear.” Police records indicate that Hampton lifted Edwards’ nightwear and exposed her bare buttocks.
Abusive comments hurled at Edwards in a “singsong” delivery, according to the state investigation, included “I can wipe my own [buttocks],” “I’m gonna live longer than you” and “I don’t pee the bed.”
When Edwards was asked by a staffer about Hampton and Mills, she said, “The staff from the night before were [expletive],” according to the police investigation. Her dementia otherwise prevented her from recalling nearly all of what happened.
Kent Edwards, the patient’s son, told KARE-TV, Channel 11, that care center administrators informed him of taunts and harassment but kept the specifics from him, citing an ongoing investigation. He went to the Health Department for details and said he got the same answer.
The son learned of the specifics months later when charges were filed, he told KARE.
“I sat there begging for information, and they said we cannot discuss the case with you because it’s under investigation,” he told the television station.