Cayce PD spokesperson confirms Twilite Manor evacuation case is “criminal” but the crime remains unclear

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Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 6:11 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2022 at 7:16 PM EST
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CAYCE, S.C. (WIS) - On Friday, the spokesperson for Cayce Police Department confirmed the investigation into an assisted living facility is criminal, but no specific crime has yet been alleged.

The confirmation comes after WIS obtained two incident reports related to the evacuation of the facility. One incident report names a suspect, but WIS is not releasing the name of that individual because no arrests have been made and Cayce PD has not yet identified a specific crime.

On Feb. 18, the Cayce Police Department in conjunction with the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) and Lexington County EMS evacuated 14 residents from Twilite Manor on Forrest Street, moving them back with families or to other appropriate facilities.

RELATED STORY | Officials: Cayce police felt grave concern for residents of assisted living facility

First responders were called after a resident, later identified Timothy Frank Catalano, 69, was found dead.

At the time, Cayce Police Chief Chris Cowan raised concerns about the conditions within the facility.

“We want to make sure that the environment that they’re living in is going to care for them and give them their needs and make sure that their needs are taken care of so we basically are going to make the assessment of what the conditions are, what the environment is, making sure that they can get the care that they need. Leaving them here today is not an option,” Cowan said.

That day, staffers with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control also arrived on the scene.

The department released a statement that day which read in part “DHEC staff did not observe any conditions or practices that pose an immediate threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the residents.”

The next Tuesday, (Feb. 22) DHEC released a joint statement with DSS and Cayce PD. It linked its inspection documents of the facility which outlined:

  • Twilite Manor did not have sufficient staff to provide adequate supervision, direct care and basic services for all residents as of 7 a.m. on Feb. 18.
    • State law requires one staff member per eight residents, and Twilite Manor has 16 residents. Two staff members should have been present.
  • Twilite Manor did not administer medications to residents the morning of Feb. 18.
  • Residents were not provided breakfast the morning of Feb. 18.

The Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher published a release about Catalano, 69, stating in part:

Preliminary results did show that Mr. Catalano had severe pneumonia with abscess formation in both lungs, but further studies are needed to determine if there are any other medical conditions that may have contributed to his death.

She went on to state:

Healthcare providers usually recommend urgent medical attention. Pneumonia can be dangerous or life-threatening if untreated. Of course, pneumonia is usually treatable by a medical professional if diagnosed in time.

WIS submitted a Freedom of Information request for Cayce PD records in association with the case, producing two incident reports.

The first report is written by a Cayce PD Corporal who arrived at 9:55 a.m. in relation to the death.

The Corporal wrote that the Cayce Fire Department was on the scene and directed him to Catalano’s room. He wrote that he was unable to gather any information about Catalano due to the housekeeper being the only staffer present and did not have access to resident medical records.

Additionally, he wrote Catalano’s roommate told him that Catalano had complained of chest pains the day before and the roommate offered to get staff to call EMS for assistance.

The corporal wrote the roommate said Catalano refused, and noted no visible injuries on Catalano and no suspects were listed.

The second report was written by an investigator regarding “emergency protective custody” as part of a follow-up report, and lists a suspect which WIS will not identify due to the lack of an arrest.

The investigator wrote the housekeeper said she was the only staffer there since 7 a.m., and further wrote she said Catalano was complaining of chest pain the day before but EMS was not called despite his request.

Additionally, the investigator wrote the housekeeper said Catalano was again complaining about chest pain the day of.

She said she was notified by a patient that something was wrong with Catalano and she found him not breathing and subsequently called 911.

The investigator wrote the housekeeper said she had no medical experience outside of CPR and was not allowed to give medications to the residents.

She stated the residents had not received their medicine that day and there was no one there to do it, and calls to the owner and administrators were unsuccessful.

Lexington County GIS and S.C. Secretary of State records identify Ronald Gunraj as the owner of the facility.

The investigator says the housekeeper conveyed that “no one is ever on-site to help” the patients and management “expects her to do everything for them.”

The investigator wrote the housekeeper said the medical records were locked in a room for which only the owner and administrator had the keys, the investigator wrote he then contacted a Cayce PD lieutenant who said DSS would be contacted, and a search warrant would be started.

WIS reached out to Cayce Police spokesperson Ashley Hunter for guidance on if the investigation was criminal and what the suspect is suspected of.

Hunter said no charges have been filed and no arrests have been made.

She also listed off two other individuals as suspects, who are not named as suspects in the incident report. WIS is not publishing their identities due to the lack of a clear crime and arrest.

Both DHEC and DSS referenced the statement released on Tuesday, Feb. 22 as the most up-to-date information from their agencies.

Twilite Manor Owner Ronald Gunraj declined to comment.

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